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false, and the whole edifice of knowledge-society itself—topples; the root of nature is a lie; God is a deceiver; unconditional scepticism is the melancholy result; our personality, our immortality, our moral liberty—in short, man is the dream of a shadow,' "God is the dream of that dream!' No reader of Hamilton but knows these utterances well. How constantly, how unexceptively they are repeated! yet the pole on which they turn, all of them, is a sophism, a fallacy probably without a parallel,' as Hamilton himself says of Brown, 'in the whole history of philosophy, and this portentous error is prolific-Chimæra chimæram parit. Were the evidence of the mistake less unambiguous we should be disposed rather to question our own perspicacity than to tax so subtle an intellect with so gross a blunder.' (Disc. p. 57.) But the evidence is not ambiguous. Hamilton has started with the fallacia accidentis, and entangled himself in error ever the deeper the further. Why, were consciousness inviolable in the sense in which it must be understood to legitimate the conclusion of Hamilton in regard to the evidence of perception, then the tale of history is a dream, for that whole tale is but the transcendence of error after error, and these errors were the errors of consciousness. For what are all our reformatories, refuges, asylums,--for what are missions, - to what use schools,-if special need not the correction of universal consciousness ? History! what is it else than this? What is it else than the transcendence morally, asthetically, and intellectually of sense? Morally, for example, the good is now
above the personal, and æsthetically the beautiful is above the sapid: but was either so, when mankind belched the acorn? Then, intellectually, what original facts of consciousness, so far as sense—so far as perception is consciousness, have not been changed? The earth is no longer a plane; the firmament over it has gone into immensity,--its lights are worlds. History has, in a manner, fixed the sun; and yet that in the morning he rises in the east, and in the evening sets in the west, if false to intellect is true to sense, if false to consciousness, is true to perception.
Nay, why talk of history, when the daily experience of each of us can tell but the self-same tale? For what is experience?—what but a later fact of consciousness transcending (i. e. falsifying) an earlier one? The child is conscious that there is a crooked stick in the water; the man is conscious that the very same stick is straight. This same man, again, is conscious that it is the rose is red, the sugar sweet, &c.; but the philosopher, and, as we shall see presently, even such a philosopher as Hamilton, is conscious that all this is otherwise. Experience, then, is but a mutation of the facts of consciousness, and the assumption of an inviolability of consciousness (in order to counteract and nullify this mutation) would, if followed out to its legitimate consequences, terminate in an intellectual stand-still and a moral quietism destructive of philosophy, destructive of society, destructive of life. In a certain sense, indeed, had consciousness been inviolable, the universe had never been,—God had been but bare identity; and difference
there had been none. For the truth is even that which is viewed by Hamilton as an absurdity: in very truth there is a consciousness beyond consciousness; and it is the function of consciousness, though itself infallible, inviolable, and veracious as nothing else is or can be, to test and try and question consciousness to the uttermost. Consciousness stands under consciousness, and the vocation of consciousness is simply infinitely to transcend itself. In a word, the business of consciousness is to think, and to think is to transcend perception—to think is to transcend thought itself. Nor have we a warrant to think otherwise of the consciousness, otherwise of the thought of God; for He has revealed Himself to us as a Spirit in whose image the spirit of man is made.
What is loudest in Hamilton, however, is his rude and deafening denial—to the cosmothetic idealist (say) --of any right thus to question consciousness. Consciousness, he perpetually exclaims, is imperative as to the existence of self and not self; and consciousness cannot be proved mendacious without annihilating philosophy, and so sisting the whole business at a blow; for consciousness being proved false anywhere, can be trusted nowhere. The cosmothetic idealist, for his part, we may conceive as always on the point of beginning with, But let us look at the fact, when his voice is instantly drowned by a repetition of the clamour about veracious, veracious, mendacious, mendacious, &c. Nevertheless, it is not discrepant, from what we know of Hamilton already, that he shouldat his own time—be actually found to admit the legi
timacy of a subjection of the facts of consciousness to scrutiny and question. That is as much as to say, that Hamilton at once forbids and commands—the examination of consciousness. On the latter head, for example, we find him saying (Disc. p. 87): ‘Psychology is only a developed consciousness, that is, a scientific evolution of the facts of which consciousness is the guarantee and revelation.' We may
conceive the cosmothetic idealist, then, to recover heart here, and to call out cheerily, That is it, that is just what I want—consciousness is, as you say, both revelation and guarantee; but, as you say also, we can develop consciousness, we can accomplish a scientific evolution of its facts; and, perhaps, this development and evolution will not be found to stop precisely at the spot you indicate, if you will but have the goodness to listen to me a moment.
· Philosophy' (Meta. i. 277) 'is only a systematic evolution of the contents of consciousness by the instrumentality of consciousness. This, again, is but the same admission, and Hamilton said no less, indeed, when he told us formerly that, “by inference and analogy, we may legitimately attempt to rise above the mere appearances which experience and observation afford.' It is in the same sense that we find him (Meta. i. 121) describing the three grand questions of philosophy' as '1°, phenomena (the facts) in general ; 2°, their laws; 3o, inferences-results.' Why, these three grand questions of facts, laws, and inferences, are just the points which Hamilton's opponent would inquire into, if he (Hamilton), leaving off his
cry of ultimate and ultimate, would but let him. The cosmothetic idealist would be glad, we may suppose, were he but allowed to act as Hamilton himself implies when he avers that the great business of philosophy is to analyse and discriminate.'
But the cosmothetic idealist, on the whole, has been treated with positive cruelty by Hamilton. How often, for example, do we not find the latter exciting the former's hopes, leading him (the former), in what appears his own (the former's) way, directly up to what again appears his own (the former's) problem; but, when the very point of promise has been reached, suddenly deserting him again with, “The facts of consciousness ?' Thus, for instance (Meta. i. 273), he
cannot but regard Stewart's assertion—that the present existence of the phenomena of consciousness, and the reality of that to which these phenomena bear witness, rest on a foundation equally solid—as wholly untenable, and he exclaims (Meta. i. 276), “It is not the reality of consciousness that we have to prove, but its veracity or—the authority of the facts of consciousness as evidence of something beyond themselves.' Then (Meta. i. 275) he allows himself, accepting the facts given in the act of consciousness itself,' to doubt the facts which consciousness does not at once give, but to the reality of which it only bears evidence ;' nay, he allows himself to be able, without self-contradiction, to maintain that what he is compelled to view as the phenomena of something different from himself is nevertheless (unknown to himself) only a modification of his own mind. A similar avowal is