Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

astounded that Hamilton should have even dreamed of an appeal to a single one of them. Nor, as regards the other authorities, is the incongruity less. In themselves they are generally only less weighty than a Kant, and Hamilton has not been subjected to any difficulty in finding them. To that, indeed, he had but to count the opposite camp—a camp he could not well miss, either, inasmuch as the stream of writers in general directly led to it. This, at all events, is the confession of Reid, who owns to the company of the vulgar, but complete desertion on the part of the philosophers. Now, for the gaining of votes, to count one's enemies— one must at all events acknowledge the gallantry of the expedient. Consider them! Boethius; and ‘the object is not known from its nature.” Leo Hebraeus; and “it is not the thing in its dignity that is known.' Julius Caesar Scaliger; and ‘we only know the shadow, the glass not the contents, only external accidents.’ Bruno; and ‘we know things, not in themselves, but in another, which other is a species, a simulacrum, an image, a sign.' Bacon; and ‘the senses are not adequate to things.’ Spinoza; and ‘we know ideas only.” In short, the ‘Ideal System’ll It is really curious. Did Hamilton, then, wish us to believe that he knew ‘ideas' only, that perception is not adequate to things, that we perceive and know but ‘signs,’ ‘images,' ‘species,’ ‘simulacra’? Really, one has to think of Hamilton's reputation, to justify to oneself one's own pains in things so glaring. In the simplest and most gratuitous fashion, indeed, contradiction follows contradiction, and of inconsistency, discrepancy, and confusion, one can find no end. Why, for instance, should Hamilton appeal to — of all men that ever breathed — Protagoras? Why, of all doctrines that ever were enunciated, should it be precisely this heathen's that a disciple of Reid should covet? Protagoras, as everybody knows, was the representative Sophist, or Sceptic, and his doctrine, ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ is the very ‘brief’ of that materialistic school which maintains the senses to be the all-in-all both of knowledge and conduct, and with this addition, that, as one man's senses differ from another's, that is true and right for one which is true and right for nobody else. Would Hamilton really have wished us to suppose this principle his, either on the theoretical or the moral side? And again, had he really wished this, why incoherently have made further appeal to Bacon? Protagoras, as quoted by Hamilton, says, “Man is [for himself] the measure of all things;" and Bacon, as quoted by the same Hamilton, says, “The information of sense is always from the analogy of man, not from the analogy of the universe, and it is wholly a great error to assert that sense is the measure of all things.' Now to Protagoras “man” was only the particular sense of each particular man: we may say, then, that while Protagoras asserts man or sense to be the measure of all things, Bacon perfectly contra-asserts man or sense not to be the measure of all things. The one assertion is logically the contradictory of the other, and it is eminently characteristic of Hamilton that he should seek to C

apply both, and in support of one and the same thing. This, indeed, is characteristic — that Hamilton, with such materials before him, should seek to apply two direct logical contradictories, and in support of his own direct logical contradictory to his own self! But in the sentence from Protagoras there is that intercalated ‘[for himself]’—did Hamilton intend thus to meet objection, to remove discrepancy? What really could have been his object here, for, if the intercalation is adequate to anything, is it not adequate only to intensify the peculiar, and peculiarly offensive meaning which the phrase conveys and was intended to convey? Then, again, as regards Bacon, why should a Presentationist, a pupil of Reid, &c., &c., rejoice in his authority for the falsity of sense ? Were sense false, could perception be true? Has Hamilton forgotten his own words: ‘The very things which we perceive by our senses do really evist?” But Bacon, as we have seen, is no exception: we may put the same question as regards the whole of them, seeing that the whole of them simply maintain that Ideal System which Reid and Hamilton believed themselves specially sent to combat and destroy. Really, to love one's enemies is Christian; but, on the part of a philosopher, it is occasionally, we fear, somewhat inconsequent! ‘Protagoras, Aristotle, St. Augustin, Boethius, Averroes, Albertus Magnus, Gerson, Leo Hebraeus, Melancthon, Julius Caesar Scaliger, Francis Piccolomini, Giordano Bruno, Campanella, Bacon, Spinoza, Sir Isaac Newton, Kant'—(will the reader forgive me for pointing out in passing that Leo Hebraeus must be the Hebrew Lion?)—here is a goodly list of names, indeed, and any two of them, say Kant and Aristotle, for example, are quite enough for any single man, but what really at bottom is the value of this whole thing? For testimony, is it enough to get a crumb of each of the Doctorum Eruditorum? If we point out that the doctors differ, will you still eagerly demand their crumbs? Nay, if we point out that the crumbs themselves differ, will you still eagerly exclaim, Give, give? Is it enough for you just to get your pages covered with those glittering spiculae and the more glittering names of which the spiculae themselves are but the occasions and the pretence? Is there authority then, so, in either glittering spicula or glittering name? Or are they not both idle? Strange that Hamilton should have thought so boyish, so very easy, an industry service! To be weak to a quotation that might seem erudite—flauntingly to wear the same, inconsiderate of the occasion:-this is the simple delight of the foreigner in his orders—this is the simple delight of the Negro in his Birmingham buttons. We would, indeed, be just here; but can any man well draw any other or better reflection from that, Sir William Hamilton's long sand-rope of authorities? He calls them a cloud of witnesses, and, folding his hands on his conspicuous erudition the while, he smiles to himself with serene complacency. A cloud of witnesses! Scatter me such clouds, one gleam of sense, one breath of manliness! It may seem now, that we must have exhausted the subordinate contradictions present in these extracts; but we feel sure that the reader, should he be inclined to try, has it still in his power to discover more. For our own part, we find ourselves, on turning to the question we left behind us concerning Hamilton's motives for his apparent confusion of noumenalism and phenomenalism, at once encountered by others. These motives, namely, lie in our last two extracts but one, but so that they seem to lie also in very “nests’ of discrepancy. As we have already seen, the former of these extracts asserts knowledge not to be a simple relation between subject and object, but a sum of several elements, which elements it is the business of philosophy to analyse and discriminate. The latter, again, contains such deliverances as these:—It is contrary to the testimony of consciousness to believe an action or affection of the bodily sense previous to the mental perception; we have no reason whatever to doubt the report of consciousness that we actually perceive at the external point of sensation, and that we perceive the material reality, not a representation, not a modification of the ego, no, the non-ego itself, modified and relative it may be, but still the non-ego; for example, the total object perceived—this book— being 12, the external reality may contribute 6, the material sense 3, and the mind 3; or the external reality may contribute 4, all that intervenes between the external reality and the organ 4, and the living organ itself 4. Now, a touch or two will readily reveal the contradictions here. We know from the quotation (Disc.

« AnteriorContinuar »