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It is to be said, at the same time, that the surprise at my own results, together with the resistance to these results which I met with at the hands of two of Sir William Hamilton's most competent and admiring students, in whose society the relative study was pretty much carried on, threw me so often back on the duty of re-investigation that, in the end, it was impossible for me longer to doubt the truth of my own conclusions.
This deduction is divided into four parts: I. The philosophy of perception, containing as subsections under it—1. Hamilton both presentationist and phenomenalist; 2. The testimony of consciousness, or Hamilton's firs; 3. The analysis of philosophy, or Hamilton's 6tóri; and 4. The principle of common sense: II. The philosophy of the conditioned, containing as subsections under it—1. The absolute; 2. Hamilton's knowledge of Kant and Hegel; and 3. The law of the conditioned: III. Logic; and, IV. A general conclusion.
Of these parts, I publish now only the first ; amounting, perhaps, to about a third of the whole. This part, however, is, so far as Hamilton's activity is concerned, the most important. It will, of itself, probably, suffice to justify, on the whole, the conclusions spoken of as already before the public; and it is solely with a view to this justification that it is published. The other parts are, for the present, suppressed, in submission to the temper of the time, and in consideration of the intervention, on the same subject, and, as I understand, with similar results, of my more distinguished contemporary, Mr. Mill. I am sensible, at the same time, that this partial publication is, in every point of view but the one indicated, unjust to myself. I seem to myself to have discovered in Hamilton a certain vein of disingenuousness that, cruelly unjust to individuals, has probably caused the retardation of general British philosophy by, perhaps, a generation; and it is the remaining parts of my deduction that are, after all, the best fitted to demonstrate this, and establish grounds for any indignation which I may have been consequently led to express—though without the slightest ill-will, of which, indeed, however adverse to the mischievous vein concerned, I am entirely unconscious. Really, grown men, already gray with work, do not take boyish hatreds at what they examine for the first time then, and in general interests. Nay, many of the averments in question occur in those provisional Notes that were intended, in the first instance, for no eye but my own, and arise, therefore, from a man who, in presence only of a scientific fact, feels himself as free in its regard from passion or prejudice as the air that embraces it, or the light that records it.
Such reasons for regret, then, are not wanting as regards the parts withheld, and certainly, too, there may be something in the exhaustive discussion of all that Hamilton has anywhere said of the Germans (part ii. 2) calculated to be of advantage, and give information, at present. As it is, however, I believe I act for the best in publishing, in the meantime, only the philosophy of perception.
THE works of Sir William Hamilton, Logician, present themselves, as is well known, in six volumes of no inconsiderable bulk. Bulk, in this case, need not repel, however; for at the same time that the present inquest has been universal and unexceptive, it has resulted thence that the six volumes stand to the three reviews — ‘Perception,' the “Absolute,’ and “Logic’—pretty much as quantity to quality; so that he who possesses the latter may, with tolerable justice, claim the former also. These reviews, indeed, contain the writer's stock, and any study else in Hamilton—unless of a few of the notes to Reid—may be held superfluous.
IN this stock—we may say it at once—Perception is
the middle-point, and to it, therefore, the present
examination directly addresses itself. Perception,
indeed, constitutes the middle-point of the entire
movement named Scotch Philosophy, and the reason B
lies in the general object of that movement's originator. Reid, namely, sought to replace the Mediate and Representative Perception of the ‘Ideal System' — a perception that asserts itself to perceive, not things without, but ideas within—by the Immediate and Presentative Perception of Common Sense, which believes itself to perceive, on the contrary, not ideas within, but things without. And, if this was the object of Reid, it was equally the object—with but few exceptions (Brown, for example) — of his followers, and, among these, of Hamilton in especial. Hence it was that he (Hamilton)—on the authority of ‘consciousness’ and with appeal to ‘common sense’—opposed to the theory of ‘representationism,' or ‘cosmothetic idealism,’ his own creed of ‘presentationism,' or “natural realism,’ ‘natural dualism.’ This, indeed, is the information of the very first step in Hamilton —information so impossible to mistake, that it is not easy to describe the shock with which we experience the contradiction of the second. It is with this contradiction, then, that we shall open the present discussion.
1. Hamilton both Presentationist and Phenomenalist. We quote at once as follows:–
I hold that Perception is an Immediate or Presentative, not a Mediate or Representative, cognition. (Reid's Works, p. 883.) Perception is the faculty presentative or intuitive of the phenomena of the Non-Ego or Matter. (Reid's Works, p. 809.) In Perception, mind is immediately cognisant of matter. (Reid's Works, p. 755.) A thing is known immediately or proximately, when we cognise it in itself; mediately or remotely, when we cognise it in or through something