Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

fore, one would suppose, not only not immediately, not intuitively, not face to face, but simply not at all); and leaving room, consequently, for no knowledge in its, or any, regard that is not of the nature of mere seeming, mere appearance—that is not indirect, accidental, and phenomenal—that is not indirect, accidental, and phenomenal only of what is unknown, incognisable, incomprehensible. Lastly, just to clinch certainty itself here, Hamilton himself, in defining the representationist not to know things in themselves but only in a vicarious phenomenon, would seem directly to identify the position of the representationist with what we can only name his own second position. It seems, too, but to add the last touch to contradiction here, to observe that Hamilton's action in all this cannot be regarded as wholly inadvertent, but must be considered as at least in some degree conscious. “To obviate misapprehension,’ he says (Disc. p. 54), “we may parenthetically observe'—and the parenthesis occurs in the midst of a profession of the strictest noumenalism—‘that all we dointuitively know of self, &c., is only relative,’ &c.” Evidently, therefore, it is not without a certain consciousness that Hamilton scruples not to fling into a single heap the terms of both alternatives at once, or rather even to correct and explain the strict language of noumenalism by the no less strict language of phenomenalism— placing the latter, indeed, as but the defining surrogate of the former. Now we cannot say that our general sense of contradiction, or that our surprise, is in any

* See quotation at p. 6, but consult original also.

degree weakened by our perception of this consciousness of Hamilton. Rather, on the contrary, our sense of contradiction and our surprise are thereby very much increased ; and this, while we experience in addition both discomfort and offence—discomfort and offence, namely, in consequence of the confusion introduced into well-founded and long-established distinctions by what at least seems the arbitrary caprice of a single individual. Nevertheless, this consciousness of Hamilton being admitted as a fact, our general position is necessarily changed. It becomes our duty, namely, to inquire into Hamilton's actuating reasons, which reasons may be found in the end—despite the confusion that may result—to reconcile contradiction and establish their object. Why, then, has Hamilton, at the same time that he holds all our knowledge to be phenomenal only, unequivocally asserted presentationism as well? This question we shall consider presently. It will be well, however, to dwell a moment on some subordimate contradictions which, present with, are not unillustrative of, the main one. Of these the first concerns again Hamilton's alreadymentioned consciousness of this main contradiction itself. On this we have to make clear to ourselves that we know of this consciousness only in that we have seen Hamilton expressly cross the two series, or in that we have seen him expressly apply the one in interpretation of the other. This is conclusive as regards a consciousness of the fact of the action; it is inconclusive as regards any consciousness of what the action itself involves. It seems, indeed, never to have struck Hamilton that presentationism is noumenalism, and therefore the logical contradictory of phenomenalism. Nowhere does he seem aware that he may appear to have committed the contradiction of directly identifying these opposites. Nowhere do we find in him any show of explanation, nowhere any apology, nowhere even an acknowledgment. He seems to have viewed it as a matter of course that he might consistently maintain at once the phenomenalism of the philosophers and the presentationism of Reid. “To obviate misconception,’ that he should be known simply to say so and so, appeared enough to him, even though what he said should be that, when he said noumenalism, he meant phenomenalism—that when he said the one, he meant the other—that when he said this, he meant that 1 Here we go round by the rule of contrairey. When I say Ay, you say No; and when I say Hold fast, you let go! Boys, we know, play at this game with perfect satisfaction, though, unlike Hamilton, they are not only conscious of the fact of the action, but of its contradiction as well. But of these subordinate contradictions, perhaps, however small, the most characteristic and striking, as well as the most illustrative of the main one, is this: if, as is readily seen on reference to the preceding quotations, Hamilton, by way of coup de grâce, applies to his own enemy, the representationist, the wellknown line from the eighth AEneid, ‘Miratur; Rerumque ignarus, Imagine gaudet,”

en revanche, he applies it—and with a similar representative and summarising force — twice to his own self! After this we are not surprised that he should joyfully avail himself of Brown's insight and industry as regards the Micromégas of Voltaire, and should appropriate to himself the warmth of a nest from which, with cuckoo-like regardlessness, he had but just extruded the offspring of its own constructor. Such another point is this, that, while in the extract (Disc. p. 54), he asserts that not only ‘nothing is known, but nothing is, except those phases [i.e. not only is there nothing known, but nothing is, except phases— appearances!] of being which stand in analogy to our faculties of knowledge, we have but to turn the leaf to find several consecutive pages devoted to a long polemic against ‘the principle that the relation of knowledge implies an analogy of existence’s Very marked contradiction is to be found in the last extract of the second series, whether this extract be considered for itself, or in the quotations by which it is so profusely shored. The first aspect we pass, as amounting only to that unexceptive and trenchant phenomenalism which constitutes, with reference to Hamilton's professed noumenalism, the main contradiction thus far. But as regards the second aspect, the shoring quotations, namely, we shall permit ourselves a word or two. , As is matter of familiar knowledge, the leading industry of Hamilton, in all his most important works, is a polemic—sharp, keen, cutting, headlong—for Reid and against the ‘Ideal System, or for Presentative Realism and against Representative Idealism. Now we have but to think of this polemic, and of the distinguished champions in the opposite ranks whom we recollect to have expressly fallen to the spear of Hamilton, to become all at once even startled by the incongruity and absurdity that seem, in such quotations, almost to mock us. That Sir William Hamilton should make tearful appeal ad misericordiam of the very corpses himself had made! That he should summon to the proof the very foes whose bodies are not yet cold on that fierce battle-field which he has just so triumphantly abandoned That he should seek to re-animate them, and just for that for which he slew them In a word, that, as phenomenalist, he should be forced to set up what, as noumenalist, he has but just thrown down! It is not easy to set bounds to one's surprise here, at the same time that it is quite impossible to resist the evidence of the fact. The reference to Kant alone is quite conclusive. Kant is not only a representationist—or Kant is not only universally recognised as such, but he is expressly so recognised, expressly so classed, expressly so fought by Hamilton. Yet to this same Kant, direct appeal is now made, by this same Hamilton, and in behalf of the very doctrine for which he but this instant hacked and hewed at him ‘Such is the testimony of Kant,’ he says, “and a hundred others to the same truth might be adduced from the philosopher of Kaenigsberg, of whose doctrine it is, in fact, the foundation's No one doubts but a hundred, but a thousand testimonies might be adduced from Kant by the easy process of turning over his pages; but everybody must feel

« AnteriorContinuar »