Review of the Work of Mr John Stuart Mill Entitled, 'Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy.'
George Grote

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_Reprinted from the 'Westminster Review,' January 1, 1866._


_An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, and of the
Principal Philosophical Questions discussed in his Writings_. By JOHN
STUART MILL. London: Longmans. 1865.

The work bearing the above title is an octavo volume, consisting of
twenty-eight chapters, and five hundred and sixty pages. This is no
great amount of print; but the amount of matter contained in it is
prodigious, and the quality of that matter such as to require a full
stretch of attention. Mr Mill gives his readers no superfluous
sentences, scarcely even a superfluous word, above what is necessary to
express his meaning briefly and clearly. Of such a book no complete
abstract can be given in the space to which we are confined.

To students of philosophy--doubtless but a minority among the general
circle of English readers--this work comes recommended by the strongest
claims both of interest and instruction. It presents in direct
antithesis two most conspicuous representatives of the modern
speculative mind of England--Sir W. Hamilton and Mr John Stuart Mill.

Sir W. Hamilton has exercised powerful influence over the stream of
thought during the present generation. The lectures on Logic and
Metaphysics delivered by him at Edinburgh, for twenty years, determined
the view taken of those subjects by a large number of aspiring young
students, and determined that view for many of them permanently and
irrevocably.[1] Several eminent teachers and writers of the present day
are proud of considering themselves his disciples, enunciate his
doctrines in greater or less proportion, and seldom contradict him
without letting it be seen that they depart unwillingly from such a
leader. Various new phrases and psychological illustrations have
obtained footing in treatises of philosophy, chiefly from his authority.
We do not number ourselves among his followers; but we think his
influence on philosophy was in many ways beneficial. He kept up the idea
of philosophy as a subject to be studied from its own points of view: a
dignity which in earlier times it enjoyed, perhaps, to mischievous
excess, but from which in recent times it has far too much
receded--especially in England. He performed the great service of
labouring strenuously to piece together the past traditions of
philosophy, to re-discover those which had been allowed to drop into
oblivion, and to make out the genealogy of opinions as far as negligent
predecessors had still left the possibility of doing so.

The forty-six lectures on Metaphysics, and the thirty-five lectures on
Logic, published by Messrs Mansel and Veitch, constitute the biennial
course actually delivered by Sir W. Hamilton in the Professorial Chair.
They ought therefore to be looked at chiefly with reference to the minds
of youthful hearers, as preservatives against that mischief forcibly
described by Rousseau--'L'inhabitude de penser dans la jeunesse en ote
la capacite pendant le reste de la vie.'

Now, in a subject so abstract, obscure, and generally unpalatable, as
Logic and Metaphysics, the difficulty which the teacher finds in
inspiring interest is extreme. That Sir W. Hamilton overcame such
difficulty with remarkable success, is the affirmation of his two
editors; and our impression, as readers of his lectures, disposes us to
credit them. That Sir W. Hamilton should have done this effectively is
in itself sufficient to stamp him as a meritorious professor--as a
worthy successor to the chair of Dugald Stewart, whose unrivalled
perfection in that department is attested by every one. Many a man who
ultimately adopted speculative opinions opposed to Dugald Stewart,
received his first impulse and guidance in the path of speculation from
the lasting impression made by Stewart's lectures.

But though we look at these lectures, as they ought to be looked at,
chiefly with a view to the special purpose for which they were destined,
we are far from insinuating that they have no other merits, or that they
are useless for readers who have already a metaphysical creed of their
own. We have found them both instructive and interesting: they go over a
large proportion of the field of speculative philosophy, partly from the
point of view (not always the same) belonging to the author, partly from
that of numerous predecessors whom he cites. We recognize also in Sir W.
Hamilton an amount of intellectual independence which seldom accompanies
such vast erudition. He recites many different opinions, but he judges
them all for himself; and, what is of still greater moment, he
constantly gives the reasons for his judgments. To us these reasons are
always of more or less value, whether we admit them to be valid or not.
Many philosophers present their own doctrine as if it were so much
ascertained and acknowledged truth, either intimating, or leading you to
suppose, that though erroneous beliefs to the contrary formerly
prevailed, these have now become discredited with every one. We do not
censure this way of proceeding, but we prefer the manner of Sir W.
Hamilton. He always keeps before us divergence and discrepancy of view
as the normal condition of reasoned truth or philosophy; the
characteristic postulate of which is, that every affirmative and every
negative shall have its appropriate reasons clearly and fully

In this point of view the appendix annexed to the lectures is also
valuable; and the four copious appendixes or dissertations following
the edition of Reid's works, are more valuable still. How far Sir W.
Hamilton has there furnished good proof of his own doctrines on External
Perception, and on the Primary Qualities of Matter, we shall not now
determine; but to those who dissent from him, as well as to those who
agree with him, his reasonings on these subjects are highly instructive:
while the full citations from so many other writers contribute
materially not only to elucidate the points directly approached, but
also to enlarge our knowledge of philosophy generally. We set particular
value upon this preservation of the traditions of philosophy, and upon
this maintenance of a known perpetual succession among the speculative
minds of humanity, with proper comparisons and contrasts. We have found
among the names quoted by Sir W. Hamilton, and, thanks to his care,
several authors hardly at all known to us, and opinions cited from them
not less instructive than curious. He deserves the more gratitude,
because he departs herein from received usage since Bacon and Descartes.
The example set by these great men was admirable, so far as it went to
throw off the authority of predecessors; but pernicious so far as it
banished those predecessors out of knowledge, like mere magazines of
immaturity and error. Throughout the eighteenth century, all study of
the earlier modes of philosophizing was, for the most part, neglected.
Of such neglect, remarkable instances are pointed out by Sir W.

While speaking about the general merits and philosophical position of
Sir William Hamilton, we have hitherto said nothing about those of Mr
Mill. But before we proceed to analyze the separate chapters of his
volume, we must devote a few words to the fulfilment of another

Mr John Stuart Mill has not been the first to bestow honour on the
surname which he bears. His father, Mr James Mill, had already ennobled
the name. An ampler title to distinction in history and philosophy can
seldom be produced than that which Mr James Mill left behind him. We
know no work which surpasses his 'History of British India' in the main
excellencies attainable by historical writers: industrious accumulation,
continued for many years, of original authorities--careful and
conscientious criticism of their statements--and a large command of
psychological analysis, enabling the author to interpret phenomena of
society, both extremely complicated, and far removed from his own
personal experience. Again, Mr James Mill's 'Elements of Political
Economy' were, at the time when they appeared, the most logical and
condensed exposition of the entire science then existing. Lastly, his
latest avowed production, the 'Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human
Mind,' is a model of perspicuous exposition of complex states of
consciousness, carried farther than by any other author before him; and
illustrating the fulness which such exposition may be made to attain, by
one who has faith in the comprehensive principle of association, and has
learnt the secret of tracing out its innumerable windings. It is,
moreover, the first work in which the great fact of Indissoluble
Association is brought into its due theoretical prominence. These are
high merits, of which lasting evidence is before the public; but there
were other merits in Mr James Mill, less publicly authenticated, yet not
less real. His unpremeditated oral exposition was hardly less effective
than his prepared work with the pen; his colloquial fertility on
philosophical subjects, his power of discussing himself, and of
stimulating others to discuss, his ready responsive inspirations through
all the shifts and windings of a sort of Platonic dialogue--all these
accomplishments were, to those who knew him, even more impressive than
what he composed for the press. Conversation with him was not merely
instructive, but provocative to the dormant intelligence. Of all persons
whom we have known, Mr James Mill was one who stood least remote from
the lofty Platonic ideal of Dialectic--[Greek: _Tou didhonai kahi
dhechesthai lhogon_]--(the giving and receiving of reasons) competent
alike to examine others, or to be examined by them, on philosophy. When
to this we add a strenuous character, earnest convictions, and
single-minded devotion to truth, with an utter disdain of mere
paradox--it may be conceived that such a man exercised powerful
intellectual ascendancy over younger minds. Several of those who enjoyed
his society--men now at, or past, the maturity of life, and some of them
in distinguished positions--remember and attest with gratitude such
ascendancy in their own cases: among them the writer of the present
article, who owes to the historian of British India an amount of
intellectual stimulus and guidance such as he can never forget.

When a father, such as we have described, declining to send his son
either to school or college, constituted himself schoolmaster from the
beginning, and performed that duty with laborious solicitude--when,
besides full infusion of modern knowledge, the forcing process applied
by the Platonic Socrates to the youth-Theaetetus, was administered by Mr
James Mill, continuously and from an earlier age, to a youthful mind not
less pregnant than that of Theaetetus--it would be surprising if the son
thus trained had not reached even a higher eminence than his father. The
fruit borne by Mr John Stuart Mill has been worthy of the culture
bestowed, and the volume before us is at once his latest and his ripest

The 'Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy' is intended by Mr
Mill (so he tells us in the preface to the sixth published edition of
his 'System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive') as a sequel and
complement to that system. We are happy to welcome so valuable an
addition; but with or without that addition, the 'System of Logic'
appears to us to present the most important advance in speculative
theory which the present century has witnessed. Either half of it, the
Ratiocinative or the Inductive, would have surpassed any previous work
on the same subject. The Inductive half discriminates and brings into
clear view, for the first time, those virtues of method which have
insensibly grown into habits among consummate scientific inquirers of
the post-Baconian age, as well as the fallacies by which some of these
authors have been misled. The Ratiocinative half, dealing with matters
which had already been well handled by Dutrieu and other scholastic
logicians, invests their dead though precise formalism with a real life
and application to the actual process of finding and proving truth. But
besides thus working each half up to perfection, Mr Mill has performed
the still more difficult task of overcoming the repugnance, apparently
an inveterate repugnance, between them, so as chemically to combine the
two into one homogeneous compound; thus presenting the problem of
Reasoned Truth, Inference, Proof, and Disproof, as one connected whole.
For ourselves, we still recollect the mist which was cleared from our
minds when we first read the 'System of Logic,' very soon after it was
published. We were familiar with the Syllogistic Logic in Burgersdicius
and Dutrieu; we were also familiar with examples of the best procedure
in modern inductive science; but the two streams flowed altogether apart
in our minds, like two parallel lines never joining nor approaching. The
irreconcilability of the two was at once removed, when we had read and
mastered the second and third chapters of the Second Book of the 'System
of Logic;' in which Mr Mill explains the functions and value of the
Syllogism, and the real import of its major premiss. This explanation
struck us at the time as one of the most profound and original efforts
of metaphysical thought that we had ever perused, and we see no reason
to retract that opinion now.[2] It appears all the more valuable when we
contrast it with what is said by Mr Mill's two contemporaries--Hamilton
and Whately: the first of whom retains the ancient theory of reasoning,
as being only a methodized transition from a whole to its parts, and
from the parts up to the whole--Induction being only this ascending part
of the process, whereby, after having given a complete enumeration of
all the compound parts, you conclude to the sum total described in one
word as a whole;[3] while the second (Whately) agrees in subordinating
Induction to Syllogism, but does so in a different way--by representing
inductive reasoning as a syllogism, with its major premiss suppressed,
from which major premiss it derived its authority. The explanation of Mr
Mill attacks the problem from the opposite side. It subordinates
syllogism to induction, the technical to the real; it divests the major
premiss of its illusory pretence to be itself the proving authority, or
even any real and essential part of the proof--and acknowledges it
merely as a valuable precautionary test and security for avoiding
mistake in the process of proving. Taking Mr Mill's 'System of Logic' as
a whole, it is one of the books by which we believe ourselves to have
most profited. The principles of it are constantly present to our mind
when engaged in investigations of evidence, whether scientific or

Concerned as we are here with Mr Mill only as a logician and
philosopher, we feel precluded from adverting to his works on other
topics--even to his 'Elements of Political Economy,' by which he is
probably more widely known than by anything else. Of the many
obligations which Political Economy owes to him, one only can be noticed
consistent with the scope of the present article: the care which he has
taken--he alone, or at least, he more explicitly and formally than any
other expositor--to set forth the general position of that science in
the aggregate field of scientific research; its relation to sociology as
a whole, or to other fractions thereof, how far derivative or
co-ordinate; what are its fundamental postulates or hypotheses, with
what limits the logical methods of induction and deduction are
applicable to it, and how far its conclusions may be relied on as
approximations to truth. All these points will be found instructively
handled in the Sixth Book of Mr Mill's 'System of Logic,' as well as in
his smaller and less known work, 'Essays on Some Unsettled Questions in
Political Economy.' We find him, while methodizing and illustrating the
data of the special science, uniformly keeping in view its relation to
philosophy as a whole.

But there is yet another work in which the interests of philosophy, as a
whole, come into the foreground and become the special object of
vindication in their largest compass and most vital requirements. We
mean Mr Mill's 'Essay on Liberty,' one half of which takes for its
thesis the _libertus philosophandi_. He maintains, emphatically, in this
book, the full dignity of reasoned truth against all the jealous
exigencies of traditional dogma and self-justifying sentiment. He claims
the most unreserved liberty of utterance for negative and affirmative on
all questions--not merely for the purpose of discriminating truth from
falsehood, but also to keep up in individual minds the full sense and
understanding of the matters controverted, in place of a mere partial
and one-sided adhesion. At first sight, indeed, it might seem as if Mr
Mill was fighting with a shadow; for liberty of philosophizing is a
postulate which, in general terms, every one concedes. But when you come
to fathom the real feelings which underlie this concession, you discover
that almost every man makes it under reserves which, though acting in
silence, are not the less efficacious. Every one has some dogmas which
he cannot bear to hear advocated, and others which he will not allow to
be controverted in his presence. A writer has to consider not merely by
what reasons any novelty of belief or disbelief may be justified, but
also how much it will be safe for him to publish, having regard to the
irritable sore places of the public judgment. In July, 1864, we were
present at the annual meeting of the French Academy at Paris, where the
prizes for essays sent in, pursuant to subjects announced for study
beforehand, are awarded. We heard the titles of various compositions
announced by the President (M. Villemain), with a brief critical
estimate of each. Their comparative merits were appreciated, and the
prize awarded to one of the competitors. Among the compositions sent to
compete for the prize, one was a work by M. Taine, upon which the
President bestowed the most remarkable encomiums, in every different
point of view: extent of knowledge, force of thought, style,
arrangement, all were praised in a manner which we have rarely heard
exceeded. Nevertheless, the prize was not awarded to this work, but to
another which the President praised in a manner decidedly less marked
and emphatic. What was here the _ratio decidendi_? The reason was, and
the President declared it in the most explicit language, that the work
of M. Taine _was deeply tainted with materialism_. 'Sans doute,' said
the esteemed veteran of French literature in pronouncing his award,
'sans doute les opinions sont libres, _mais_'--It is precisely against
this _mais_--ushering in the special anathematized or consecrated
conclusion which it is intended to except from the general liberty of
enforcing or impugning--in matters of philosophical discussion, that Mr
Mill, in the 'Essay on Liberty,' declares war as champion of Reasoned

He handles this grand theme--_eleythheroys eleythheros
philosophein_--involving as it does the best interests of philosophy,
as an instructress to men's judgments, and a stimulus to their
intelligence--with great depth of psychological analysis sustained by
abundant historical illustration. And he in the same volume discusses
most profitably another question akin to it--To what extent, and by what
principles, the interference of others is justifiable, in restraining
the liberty of taste and action for each individual? A question at once
grave and neglected, but the discussion of which does not belong to our
present article.

A new work from one who has already manifested such mastery of
philosophy, both in principle and in detail, and a work exhibiting the
analysis and appreciation of the philosophical views of an eminent
contemporary, must raise the highest expectation. We think no reader
will be disappointed who peruses Mr Mill's 'Examination,' and we shall
now endeavour to give some account of the manner in which he performs
it. Upon topics so abstract and subtle as the contents of this volume,
the antithesis between two rival theories is the best way, and often the
only way, for bringing truth into clear view; and the 'Examination' here
before us is professedly controversy. But of controversy in its
objectionable sense--of captious or acrimonious personality--not a trace
will here be found. A dignified, judicial equanimity of tone is
preserved from first to last. Moreover, though the title and direct
purpose of the volume is negative and critical, yet the destructive
criticism is pervaded by many copious veins of constructive exposition,
embodying Mr Mill's own views upon some of the most intricate problems
of metaphysics.

Mr Mill begins his work by analyzing and explaining the doctrine called
the Relativity of Human Knowledge:

'The doctrine (chap. ii. p. 5) which is thought to belong in
the most especial manner to Sir W. Hamilton, and which was
the ground of his opposition to the transcendentalism of the
later French and German metaphysicians, is that which he and
others have called the Relativity of Human Knowledge. It is
the subject of the most generally known and impressive of
all his writings--the one which first revealed to the
English metaphysical reader that a new power had arisen in
philosophy. Together with its developments, it composes the
Philosophy of the Conditioned, which he opposed to the
French and German philosophies of the Absolute, and which is
regarded by most of his admirers as the greatest of his
titles to a permanent place in the history of metaphysical
thought. But, "the relativity of human knowledge," like most
other phrases into which the words _relative_ or _relation_
enter, is vague, and admits of a great variety of meanings,'

Mr Mill then proceeds to distinguish these various meanings, and to
determine in which of them the phrase is understood by Sir W. Hamilton.

One meaning is, that we only know anything by knowing it as
distinguished from something else--that all consciousness is of
difference. It is not, however, in this sense that the expression is
ordinarily or intentionally used by Sir W. Hamilton, though he fully
recognizes the truth which, when thus used, it serves to express. In
general, when he says that all our knowledge is relative, the relation
he has in view is not between the thing known and other objects compared
with it, but between the thing known and the mind knowing--(p. 6).

The doctrine in this last meaning is held by different philosophers in
two different forms. Some (e.g. Berkeley, Hume, Ferrier, &c.), usually
called Idealists, maintain not merely that all we can possibly know of
anything is the manner in which it affects the human faculties, but that
there is nothing else to be known; that affections of human or of other
minds are all that we can know to exist--that the difference between the
ego and the non-ego is only a formal distinction between two aspects of
the same reality. Other philosophers (Brown, Mr Herbert Spencer, Auguste
Comte, with many others) believe that the ego and the non-ego denote two
realities, each self-existent, and neither dependent on the other; that
the Noumenon, or 'thing _per se_,' is in itself a different thing from
the Phenomenon, and equally or more real, but that, though we know its
existence, we have no means of knowing what it is. All that we can know
is, relatively to ourselves, the modes in which it affects us, or the
phenomena which it produces--(pp. 9--11).

The doctrine of Relativity, as held by Kant and his many followers, is
next distinguished from the same doctrine as held by Hartley, James
Mill, Professor Bain, &c., compatible with either acceptance or
rejection of the Berkeleian theory. Kant maintains that the attributes
which we ascribe to outward things, or which are inseparable from them
in thought, contain additional elements over and above sensations _plus_
an unknowable cause--additional elements added by the mind itself, and
therefore still only relative, but constituting the original furniture
of the mind itself--inherent laws, partly of our sensitive, partly of
our intellectual faculty. It is on this latter point that Hartley and
those going along with him diverge. Admitting the same additional
elements, these philosophers do not ascribe to the mind any innate forms
to account for them, but hold that place, extension, substance, cause,
and the rest, &c., are conceptions put together out of ideas of
sensation, by the known laws of Association--(pp. 12--14).

Partial Relativity is the opinion professed by most philosophers (and by
most persons who do not philosophize). They hold that we know things
partly as they are in themselves, partly as they are merely in relation
to us.

This discrimination of the various schools of philosophers is highly
instructive, and is given with the full perspicuity belonging to Mr
Mill's style. He proceeds to examine in what sense Sir W. Hamilton
maintained the Relativity of Human Knowledge. He cites passages both
from the 'Discussions on Philosophy' and from the Lectures, in which
that doctrine is both affirmed in its greatest amplitude, and enunciated
in the most emphatic language--(pp. 17, 18, 22, 23). But he also
produces extracts from the most elaborate of Sir W. Hamilton's
'Dissertations on Reid,' in which a doctrine quite different and
inconsistent is proclaimed--that our knowledge is only partially, not
wholly, relative; that the secondary qualities of matter, indeed, are
known to us only relatively, but that the primary qualities are known to
us as they are in themselves, or as they exist objectively, and that
they may be even evolved by demonstration _a priori_--(pp. 19-26, 30).
The inconsistency between the two doctrines, professed at different
times, and in different works, by Sir W. Hamilton, is certainly
manifest. Mr Mill is of opinion that one of the two must be taken 'in a
non-natural sense,' and that Sir W. Hamilton either did not hold, or had
ceased to hold, the doctrine of the full relativity of knowledge (pp.
20-28)--the hypothesis of a flat contradiction being in his view
inadmissible. But we think it at least equally possible that Sir W.
Hamilton held both the two opinions in their natural sense, and enforced
both of them _at different times_ by argument; his attention never
having been called to the contradiction between them. That such
forgetfulness was quite possible, will appear clearly in many parts of
the present article. His argument in support of both is equally
characterized by that peculiar energy of style which is frequent with
him, and which no way resembles the qualifying refinements of one
struggling to keep clear of a perceived contradiction.

From hence Mr Mill (chap. iv.) proceeds to criticise at considerable
length what he justly denominates the celebrated and striking review of
Cousin's philosophy, which forms the first paper in Sir W. Hamilton's
'Discussions on Philosophy.' According to Mr Mill--

'The question really at issue is this: Have we or have we
not an immediate intuition of God? The name of God is veiled
under two extremely abstract phrases, "The Infinite and the
Absolute," perhaps from a reverential feeling; such, at
least, is the reason given by Sir W. Hamilton's disciple, Mr
Mansel, for preferring the more vague expressions; but it is
one of the most unquestionable of all logical maxims, that
the meaning of the abstract must be sought for in the
concrete, and not conversely; and we shall see, both in the
case of Sir William Hamilton, and of Mr Mansel, that the
process cannot be reversed with impunity.'--p. 32.

Upon this we must remark, that though the 'logical maxim' here laid
down by Mr Mill may be generally sound, we think the application of it
inconvenient in the present case. Discussions on points of philosophy
are best conducted without either invoking or offending religious
feeling. M. Cousin maintains that we have a direct intuition of the
Infinite and the Absolute: Sir W. Hamilton denies that we have. Upon
this point Mr Mill sides entirely with Sir W. Hamilton, and considers
'that the latter has rendered good service to philosophy by refuting M.
Cousin,' though much of the reasoning employed in such refutation seems
to Mr Mill unsound. But Sir W. Hamilton goes further, and affirms that
we have no faculties capable of apprehending the Infinite and the
Absolute--that both of them are inconceivable to us, and by consequence
unknowable. Herein Mr Mill is opposed to him, and controverts his
doctrine in an elaborate argument.

Of this argument, able and ingenious, like all those in the present
volume, our limits only enable us to give a brief appreciation. In so
far as Mr Mill controverts Sir W. Hamilton, we think him perfectly
successful, though there are some points in his reasoning in which we do
not fully concur.

In our opinion, as in his, the Absolute alone (in its sense as opposed
to relative) can be necessarily unknowable, inconceivable, incogitable.
Nothing which falls under the condition of relativity can be declared to
be so. The structure of our minds renders us capable of knowing
everything which is relative, though there are many such things which we
have no evidence, nor shall ever get evidence, to enable us to know. Now
the Infinite falls within the conditions of relativity, as indeed Sir W.
Hamilton himself admits, when he intimates (p. 58) that though it cannot
be known, it is, must be, and ought to be, _believed_ by us, according
to the marked distinction which he draws between belief and knowledge.
We agree with Mr Mill in the opinion that it is thinkable, conceivable,
knowable. Doubtless we do not conceive it adequately, but we conceive it
sufficiently to discuss and reason upon it intelligibly to ourselves and
others. That we conceive the Infinite inadequately, is not to be held as
proof that we do not conceive it at all; for in regard to finite things
also, we conceive the greater number of them only inadequately.

We cannot construe to the imagination a polygon with an infinite number
of sides (i.e. with a number of sides greater than any given number),
but neither can we construe to the imagination a polygon with a million
of sides; nevertheless, we understand what is meant by the first
description as well as by the second, and can reason upon both. There
is, indeed, this difference between the two: That the terms used in
describing the first, proclaim at once in their direct meaning that we
should in vain attempt to construe it to the imagination; whereas the
terms used in describing the second do not intimate that fact. We know
the fact only by trial, or by an estimate of our own mental force which
is the result of many past trials. If the difference here noted were all
which Sir W. Hamilton has in view when he declares the Infinite to be
unknowable and incogitable, we should accede to his opinion; but we
apprehend that he means much more, and he certainly requires more to
justify the marked antithesis in which he places himself against M.
Cousin and Hegel. Indeed, the facility with which he declares matters to
be incogitable, which these two and other philosophers not only cogitate
but maintain as truth, is to us truly surprising. The only question
which appears to us important is, whether we can understand and reason
upon the meaning of the terms and propositions addressed to us. If we
can, the subjects propounded must be cogitable and conceivable, whether
we admit the propositions affirmed concerning them or not; if we cannot,
then these subjects are indeed incogitable by ourselves in the present
state of our knowledge, but they may not be so to our opponent who
employs the terms.

In criticising the arguments of Sir W. Hamilton against M. Cousin, Mr
Mill insists much on a distinction between (1) the Infinite, and (2) the
Infinite in any one or more positive attributes, such as infinite
wisdom, goodness, redness, hardness, &c.[4] He thinks that Sir W.
Hamilton has made out his case against the first, but not against the
last; that the first is really 'an unmeaning and senseless abstraction,'
a fasciculus of negations, unknowable and inconceivable, but not the
last. We think that Mr Mill makes more of this distinction than the
case warrants; that the first is not unmeaning, but an intelligible
abstraction, only a higher reach of abstraction than the last; that it
is knowable inadequately, in the same way as the last--though more
inadequately, because of its higher abstraction.

As the finite is intelligible, so also is its negation--the Infinite: we
do not say (with M. Cousin) that the two are conjointly given in
consciousness--but the two are understood and partially apprehended by
the mind conjointly and in contrast. Though the Infinite is doubtless
negative as to a degree, it is not wholly or exclusively negative, since
it includes a necessary reference to some positive attribute, to which
the degree belongs; the positive element is not eliminated, but merely
left undetermined. The Infinite (like the Finite, [Greek: to
peperasmhenon--to hapeiron]) is a genus; it comprehends under it the
Infinitely Hard and the Infinitely Soft, the Infinitely Swift and the
Infinitely Slow--the infinite, in short, of any or all positive
attributes. It includes, doubtless, 'a farrago of contradictions;' but
so, also, does the Finite--and so, also, do the actual manifestations of
the real, concrete universe, which manifestations constitute a portion
of the Finite. Whoever attempts to give any philosophical account of the
generation of the universe, tracing its phenomena, as an aggregate, to
some ultra-phenomenal origin, must include in his scheme a _fundamentum_
for all those opposite and contradictory manifestations which experience
discloses in the universe. There always have been, and still are, many
philosophers who consider the Abstract and General to be prior both in
nature and time to the Concrete and Particular; and who hold further
that these two last are explained, when presented as determinate and
successive manifestations of the two first, which they conceive as
indeterminate and sempiternal. Now the Infinite (Ens Infinitum or Entia
Infinita, according to the point of view in which we look at it) is a
generic word, including all these supposed indeterminate antecedents;
and including therefore, of course, many contradictory agencies. But
this does not make it senseless or unmeaning; nor can we distinguish it
from 'the Infinite in some one or more given attributes,' by any other
character than by greater reach of abstraction. We cannot admit the
marked distinction which Mr Mill contends for--that the one is
unknowable and the other knowable.

It may be proper to add that the mode of philosophizing which we have
just described is not ours. We do not agree in this way either of
conceiving, or of solving, the problem of philosophy. But it is a mode
so prevalent that Trendelenberg speaks of it, justly enough, as 'the
ancient Hysteron-Proteron of Abstraction.' The doctrine of these
philosophers appears to us unfounded, but we cannot call it unmeaning.

In another point, also, we differ from Mr Mill respecting that inferior
abstraction which he calls 'the Infinite in some particular attribute.'
He speaks as if this could be known not only as an abstraction, a
conceivable, an ideal--but also as a concrete reality; as if 'we could
know a concrete reality as infinite or as absolute' (p. 45); as if there
really existed in actual nature 'concrete persons or things possessing
infinitely or absolutely certain specific attributes'--(pp. 55--93). To
this doctrine we cannot subscribe. As we understand concrete reality, we
find no evidence to believe that there exist in nature any real concrete
persons or things, possessing to an infinite degree such attributes as
they do possess: _e.g._ any men infinitely wise or infinitely strong,
any horses infinitely swift, any stones infinitely hard. Such concrete
real objects appear to us not admissible, because experience not only
has not certified their existence in any single case, but goes as far to
disprove their existence as it can do to disprove anything. All the real
objects in nature known to us by observation are finite, and possess
only in a finite measure their respective attributes. Upon this is
founded the process of Science, so comprehensively laid out by Mr Mill
in his 'System of Logic '--Induction, Deduction from general facts
attested by Induction, Verification by experience of the results
obtained by Deduction. The attributes, whiteness or hardness, in the
abstract, are doubtless infinite; that is, the term will designate,
alike and equally, any degree of whiteness or hardness which you may
think of, and any unknown degree even whiter and harder than what you
think of. But when perceived as invested in a given mass of snow or
granite before us, they are divested of that indeterminateness, and
become restricted to a determinate measure and degree.

Having thus indicated the points on which we are compelled to dissent
from Mr Mill's refutation of Sir W. Hamilton in the pleading against M.
Cousin, we shall pass to the seventh chapter, in which occurs his first
controversy with Mr Mansel. This passage has excited more interest, and
will probably be remembered by a larger number of readers, than any
portion of the book. We shall give it in his own words (pp. 99--103),
since the energetic phraseology is quite as remarkable as the thought:--

'There is but one way for Mr Mansel out of this difficulty,
and he adopts it. He must maintain, not merely that an
Absolute Being is unknowable in himself, but that the
Relative attributes of an Absolute Being are unknowable
also.[5] He must say that we do not know what Wisdom,
Justice, Benevolence, Mercy, &c., are, as they exist in God.
Accordingly, he does say so. "It is a fact" (says Mr Mansel)
"which experience forces upon us, and which it is useless,
were it possible, to disguise, that the representation of
God after the model of the highest human morality which we
are capable of conceiving, is not sufficient to account for
all the phenomena exhibited by the course of his natural
Providence. The infliction of physical suffering, the
permission of moral evil, the adversity of the good, the
prosperity of the wicked, the crimes of the guilty involving
the misery of the innocent, the tardy appearance and partial
distribution of moral and religious knowledge in the
world--these are facts, which no doubt are reconcilable, we
know not how, with the Infinite Goodness of God, but which
certainly are not to be explained on the supposition that
its sole and sufficient type is to be found in the finite
goodness of man."

'In other words' (continues Mr Mill commenting) 'it is
necessary to suppose that the infinite goodness ascribed to
God is not the goodness which we know and love in our
fellow-creatures, distinguished only as infinite in degree;
but is different in kind, and another quality altogether.
Accordingly Mr Mansel combats as a heresy of his opponents,
the opinion that infinite goodness differs only in degree
from finite goodness.--Here, then, I take my stand upon the
acknowledged principle of logic and of morality; that when
we mean different things we have no right to call them by
the same name, and to apply to them, the same predicates,
moral and intellectual. If, instead of the glad tidings that
there exists a Being in whom all the excellences which the
highest human form can conceive, exist in a degree
inconceivable to us, I am informed that the world is ruled
by a being whose attributes are infinite, but what they are
we cannot learn, except that the highest human morality does
not sanction them--convince me of this and I will hear my
fate as I may. But when I am told that I must believe this,
and at the same time call this being by the names which
express and affirm the highest human morality, I say, in
plain terms, that I will not. Whatever power such a being
may have over me, there is one thing he shall not do; he
shall not compel me to worship him. I will call no being
good who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my
fellow-creatures; and if such a being can sentence me to
hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.'

This concluding declaration is memorable in many ways. Mr Mill announces
his resolution to determine for himself, and according to his own reason
and conscience, what God he will worship, and what God he will not
worship. For ourselves, we cordially sympathize with his resolution. But
Mr Mill must be aware that this is a point on which society is equally
resolved that no individual shall determine for himself, if they can
help it.[6] Each new-born child finds his religious creed ready
prepared for him. In his earliest days of unconscious infancy, the stamp
of the national, gentile, phratric, God, or Gods, is imprinted upon him
by his elders; and if the future man, in the exercise of his own
independent reason, acquires such convictions as compel him to renounce
those Gods, proclaiming openly that he does so--he must count upon such
treatment as will go far to spoil the value of the present life to him,
even before he passes to those ulterior liabilities which Mr Mill
indicates in the distance. We are not surprised that a declaration so
unusual and so impressive should have been often cited in critical
notices of this volume; that during the month preceding the last
Westminster election, it was studiously brought forward by some
opponents of Mr Mill, and more or less regretted by his friends, as
likely to offend many electors, and damage his chance of success; and
that a conspicuous and noble-minded ecclesiastic, the Dean of
Westminster, thought the occasion so grave as to come forward with his
characteristic generosity, for the purpose of shielding a distinguished
man suspected of heresy.

The sublime self-assertion, addressed by Prometheus to Zeus, under whose
sentence he was groaning, has never before been put into such plain
English.[7] Mr Mill's declaration reminds us also of Hippolytus, the
chaste and pure youth, whose tragic fate is so beautifully described by
Euripides. Hippolytus is exemplary in his devotions to the Goddess
Artemis; but he dissents from all his countrymen, and determines for
himself, in refusing to bestow the smallest mark of honour or worship
upon Aphrodite, because he considers her to be a very bad Goddess.[8] In
this refusal he persists with inflexible principle (even after having
received, from an anxious attendant, warning of the certain ruin which
it will bring upon him), until the insulted Aphrodite involves him,
along with the unhappy Phaedra and Theseus himself, in one common abyss
of misery. In like manner Mr Mill's declaration stands in marked
contrast with the more cautious proceeding of men like Herodotus. That
historian, alike pious and prudent, is quite aware that all the Gods are
envious and mischief-making, and expressly declares them to be so.[9]
Yet, far from refusing to worship them on that account, he is assiduous
in prayer and sacrifice--perhaps, indeed, all the more assiduous in
consequence of what he believes about their attributes;[10] being
persuaded (like the attendant who warned Hippolytus) that his only
chance of mollifying their ungentle dispositions in regard to himself
is, by honorific tribute in words and offerings.

When, however, after appreciating as we are bound to do Mr Mill's
declaration of subjective sentiment, we pass to its logical bearing on
the controversy between him and Mr Mansel, we are obliged to confess
that in this point of view it has little objective relevancy. The
problem was, how to reconcile the actual evil and suffering in the
universe (which is recited as a fact by Mr Mansel, though in terms
conveying a most inadequate idea of its real magnitude) with the
goodness of God. Mr Mill repudiates the explanatory hypothesis tendered
by Mr Mansel, as a solution, but without suggesting any better
hypothesis of his own. For ourselves, we are far from endorsing Mr
Mansel's solution as satisfactory; yet we can hardly be surprised if he
considers it less unsatisfactory than no solution at all. And when we
reflect how frequently and familiarly predicates applicable to man are
applied to the Supreme Being, when they cannot possibly be understood
about Him in the same sense--we see no ground for treating the
proceeding as disingenuous, which Mr Mill is disposed to do. Indeed, it
cannot easily be avoided: and Mr Mill himself furnishes us with some
examples in the present volume. At page 491, he says:--

'It would be difficult to find a stronger argument in favour
of Theism, than that the eye must have been made by one who
sees, and the ear by one who hears.'

In the words here employed, _seeing_ and _hearing_ are predicted of God.

Now when we predicate of men, that they _see_ or _hear_, we affirm facts
of extreme complexity, especially in the case of _seeing_; facts partly
physical, partly mental, involving multifarious movements and agencies
of nerves, muscles, and other parts of the organism, together with
direct sensational impressions, and mental reconstruction of the past,
inseparably associated therewith; all which, so far as they are known,
are perspicuously enumerated in the work of Professor Bain[11] on the
'Senses and the Intellect,' Again, Mr Mill speaks (in p. 102 and
elsewhere) of 'the veracity of God.' When we say of our neighbour that
he is a veracious man, we ascribe to him a habit of speaking the truth;
that is, of employing his physical apparatus of speech, and his mental
power of recalling and recombining words lodged in the memory, for the
purpose of asserting no other propositions except such as declare facts
which he knows, or beliefs which he really entertains. But how either
_seeing_, or _hearing_, or _veracity_, in these senses, can be
predicated of God, we are at a loss to understand. And if they are to
be predicated of God in a different sense, this admits the same license
as Mr Mansel contends for in respect to Goodness, when he feels that
undeniable facts preclude him from predicating that epithet univocally
respecting God and respecting man.[12]

On the whole, it seems to us, that though Mr Mill will consent to
worship only a God of perfect goodness, he has thrown no new light on
the grave problem--frankly stated though imperfectly solved, by Mr
Mansel--how such a conception of God is to be reconciled with the extent
of evil and suffering actually pervading human life and animal life
throughout the earth. We are compelled to say, respecting Mr Mill's
treatment of this subject--what we should not say respecting his
treatment of any other--that he has left an old perplexing problem not
less perplexing than he found it.

Reverting, not unwillingly, from theology to philosophy, we now pass on
to Mr Mill's ninth chapter (p. 128 seq.), of the Interpretation of
Consciousness. There is assuredly no lesson more requiring to be taught
than the proper mode of conducting such interpretation; for the number
of different modes in which Consciousness has been interpreted is
astonishing. Mr Mill begins by citing from Sir W. Hamilton's lectures a
passage of some length, upon which he bestows considerable praise,
regarding it as--

'One of the proofs that, whatever may be the positive value
of his (Sir W. Hamilton's) achievements in metaphysics, he
had a greater capacity for the subject than many
metaphysicians of high reputation; and particularly than
his two distinguished predecessors in the same school of
thought--"Reid and Stewart."'--p. 131.

This is one of the greatest compliments to Sir W. Hamilton that the book
contains, and as such we are glad to cite it.

On the subject of Consciousness, Mr Mill has cited from Sir W. Hamilton
other good observations besides the one last alluded to; but,
unfortunately, these are often neutralized by opposite or inconsistent
opinions also cited from other parts of his works. The number of such
inconsistencies produced is indeed one remarkable feature in Sir W.
Hamilton's philosophical character. He seems to follow out energetically
(as Plato in his various dialogues) the vein of thought pervading his
mind at each particular moment, without troubling himself to look back
upon his own prior speculations. Even compared with the best views of
Sir W. Hamilton, however, Mr Mill's mode of handling the subject of
Consciousness exhibits signal improvement. To some of his observations
we shall call particular attention.

All philosophers agree that what Consciousness testifies is to be
believed; but they differ much on the question--To what points
Consciousness does testify? and even on the still deeper question--How
shall we proceed to ascertain what _are_ these attested points? What is
the proper method of studying or interrogating Consciousness? Upon this
Mr Mill remarks (pp. 145--147):--

'Here emerges the distinction between two different methods
of studying the problems of metaphysics; forming the radical
difference between the two great schools into which
metaphysicians are divided. One of these I shall call for
distinction, the _introspective_ method; the other, the
_psychological_. M. Cousin observes that Locke went wrong
from the beginning, by placing before himself, as the
question to be first resolved, the origin of our ideas.
This (he says) was commencing at the wrong end. The proper
course would have been to begin by determining what the
ideas now are; to ascertain what it is that Consciousness
now tells us; postponing till afterwards the attempt to
frame a theory concerning the origin of any of the mental

'I accept the question as M. Cousin states it; and I contend
that no attempt to determine what are the direct revelations
of Consciousness can be successful, or entitled to any
regard, unless preceded by what M. Cousin says ought only to
follow it--an inquiry into the origin of our acquired ideas.
For we have it not in our power to ascertain, by any direct
process, what Consciousness told us at the time when its
revelations were in their pristine purity. It only offers
itself to our inspection, as it exists now, when those
original revelations are overlaid and buried under a
mountainous heap of acquired notions and perceptions.

'It seems to M. Cousin, that if we examine with care and
minuteness our present states of Consciousness,
distinguishing and defining every ingredient which we find
to enter into them--every element that we seem to recognize
as real, and cannot "by merely concentrating our attention
upon it analyze into anything simpler--we reach the ultimate
and primary truths, which are the sources of all our
knowledge, and which cannot be denied or doubted without
denying or doubting the evidence of Consciousness
itself--that is, the only evidence that there is for
anything. I maintain this to be a misconception of the
condition imposed on inquirers by the difficulties of
psychological investigation. To begin the inquiry at the
point where M. Cousin takes it up is, in fact, to beg the
question. For he must be aware, if not of the fact, at least
of the belief of his opponents, that the laws of the
mind--the Laws of Association, according to one class of
thinkers, the Categories of the Understanding, according to
another--are capable of creating, out of those data of
Consciousness which are uncontested, purely mental
conceptions, which become so identified in thought with all
our states of Consciousness, that _we seem, and cannot but
seem, to receive them by direct intuition_. For example, the
belief in matter in the opinion of these thinkers is, or at
least may be, thus produced:--

'"The proof that any of the alleged Universal Beliefs, or
Principles of Common Sense, are affirmations of
Consciousness--supposes two things: that the beliefs exist,
and that they cannot possibly have been acquired. The first
is, in most cases, undisputed; but the second is a subject
of inquiry which often taxes the utmost resources of
psychologists. Locke was therefore right in believing that
'the origin of our ideas' is the main stress of the problem
of mental science, and the subject which must be first
considered in forming the theory of the Mind."'

This citation from Mr Mill's book is already almost too long, yet we
could have wished to prolong it still more, from the importance of some
of the succeeding paragraphs. It presents, in clear discrimination and
contrast, two opposite points of view according to which the phenomena
of mind are regarded by different philosophers, and the method of
studying them determined: the _introspective_ method, adopted by M.
Cousin and others--the _psychological_ or analytical method, pursued by
Locke and by many other eminent men since Locke--'the known and approved
method of physical science, adapted to the necessities of
psychology'--(p. 148).

There are passages of Sir W. Hamilton's writings in which he appears to
feel that the _introspective_ method alone is insufficient for the
interpretation of Consciousness, and that the analytical method must be
employed to reinforce it. But on this as on other points he is not
always consistent with himself. For in laying down the principle upon
which the primary truths of Consciousness, the original data of
intelligence, are to be ascertained and distinguished from
generalizations out of experience and custom, he declares that the one
single and certain mark is Necessity--they must be beliefs which we are
under the necessity of believing--of which we cannot get rid by any
mental effort. He decides this, of course, for himself, by the
_introspective_ method alone. He (with M. Cousin and other philosophers
who take the same view) does not apply the analytical method to inquire
whether his necessity of belief may not be a purely acquired necessity
and nowise congenital. It is, indeed, remarkable that these philosophers
do not even seek to apply the introspective method as far as that method
will really go. They are satisfied with introspection of their own
present minds; without collecting results of the like process as applied
to other minds, in different times and places. They declare various
beliefs to be necessary to the human mind universally, merely because
such is the actual fact with their own minds and with those immediately
around them; sometimes even in defiance of proof that there are (or have
been) persons not sharing such beliefs, and occasionally even believing
the contrary; therefore, when even the introspective method really
disallows their affirmative instead of sustaining it. This is, in
truth, an abuse of the introspective method; yet even if that method
were employed in its fullest extent--if the same incapability of
believing otherwise could be shown as common to all mankind--it might
still be only the effect of a strong association. The analytical method
must still be called in to ascertain whether we are forced to suppose
such incapability to be an original fact of consciousness, or whether it
may not have been generated in the mind by circumstances under the
natural working of the laws of association. It is certain that these
laws not only may, but must, give birth to artificial inconceivabilities
in the mind--and that some of these may be equal in strength to such, if
any, as are natural.

'The History of Science' (says Mr Mill, following out the
same train of reasoning which we read in the third Book of
his 'System of Logic') 'teems with inconceivabilities which
have been conquered; and with supposed necessary truths,
which have first ceased to be thought necessary, then to be
thought true, and have finally come to be deemed
impossible.'--p. 150.

After various observations, chiefly exhibiting the rashness of many
censures bestowed by Sir W. Hamilton on Brown, Mr Mill gives us three
valuable chapters (xi., xii., xiii.), wherein he analyzes the belief in
an External World, the Belief in Mind as a separate substance or
Noumenon, and the Primary Qualities of Matter. To each of these topics
he applies what he calls the _psychological_ method, as contrasted with
the simply _introspective_ method of Sir W. Hamilton (the Ego and
Non-Ego affirmed to be given together in the primary deliverance of
Consciousness) and so many other philosophers. He proves that these
beliefs are no way intuitive, but acquired products; and that the known
laws of Association are sufficient to explain how they are acquired;
especially the Law of Inseparable Association, together with that of
_Obliviscence_--a very useful, discriminating phrase, which we first
find employed in this volume--(p. 259 et passim). He defines Matter to
be a _permanent possibility of Sensation_; he maintains that this is
really all which (apart from philosophical theories) mankind in general
mean by it; he shows that mere possibilities of sensation not only may,
but must, according to the known Laws of Association, come to present
'to our artificialized Consciousness' a character of objectivity--(pp.
198, 199). The correlative subject, though present in fact and
indispensable, is eliminated out of conscious notice, according to the
Law of Obliviscence.

These chapters will well repay the most careful perusal. We can only
find room for one passage (pp. 214, 215):--

'Throughout the whole of our sensitive life, except its
first beginnings, we unquestionably refer our sensations to
a _me_ and _not-me_. As soon as I have formed, on the one
hand, the notion of Permanent Possibilities of Sensation,
and on the other, of that continued series of feelings which
I call my life--both these notions are, by an irresistible
association, recalled by every sensation I have. They
represent two things, with both of which the sensation of
the moment, be it what it may, stands in relation; and I
cannot be conscious of the sensation without being conscious
of it as related to these two things. They have accordingly
received relative names, expressive of the double relation
in question. The thread of consciousness which I apprehend
the relation as a part of, is called the _Subject_; the
group of Permanent Possibilities of Sensation to which I
refer it, and which is partially realized and actualized in
it, is called the _Object_ of the sensation. The sensation
itself ought to have a correlative name, or rather ought to
have two such names--one denoting the sensation as opposed
to its Subject, the other denoting it as opposed to its
Object; but it is a remarkable fact that this necessity has
not been felt, and that the need of a correlative name to
every relative one has been considered to be satisfied by
the terms Object and Subject themselves. It is true that
these two are related to one another, but only through the
sensation. We have no conception of either Subject or
Object, either Mind or Matter, except as something to which
we refer our sensations, and whatever other feelings we are
conscious of. _The very existence of them both, so far as
cognizable by us, consists only in the relation they
respectively bear to our states of feeling._ Their relation
to each other is only the relation between those two
relations. The immediate correlatives are, not the pair,
_Object, Subject,_ but the two pairs, Object, _Sensation
objectively considered_--Subject, _Sensation subjectively
considered_. The reason why this is overlooked might easily
be shown, and would furnish a good illustration of that
important part of the Laws of Association, which may be
termed the Laws of Obliviscence.'

This chapter, on the Primary Qualities of Matter, controverts the
opinion of Sir W. Hamilton, that extension, as consisting of
co-existent _partes extra partes_, is immediately and necessarily
apprehended by our consciousness. It cites, as well as confirms, the
copious proof given by Professor Bain (in his work on the Senses and the
Intellect) that our conception of extension is derived from our muscular
sensibility: that our sensation of _muscular motion impeded_ constitutes
that of filled space: that our conception of extension, as an aggregate
of co-existent parts, arises from the sense of sight, which comprehends
a great number of parts in a succession so rapid as to be confounded
with simultaneity--and which not only becomes the symbol of muscular and
tactile succession, but even acquires such ascendancy as to supersede
both of them in our consciousness. Confirmation is here given to this
important doctrine, not merely by observations from Mr Mill himself, but
also from the very curious narrative, discovered and produced by Sir W.
Hamilton, out of a work of the German philosopher, Platner. Platner
instituted a careful examination of a man born blind, and ascertained
that this man did not conceive extension as an aggregate of simultaneous
parts, but as a series of sensations experienced or to be experienced in
succession--(pp. 232, 233). The case reported from Platner both
corroborates the theory of Professor Bain, and receives its proper
interpretation from that theory; while it is altogether adverse to the
doctrine of Sir W. Hamilton--as is also another case, which he cites
from Maine de Biran:--

'It gives a very favourable idea of Sir W. Hamilton's
sincerity and devotion to truth (remarks Mr Mill, p. 247),
that he should have drawn from obscurity, and made generally
known, two cases so unfavourable to his own opinions.'

We think this remark perfectly just; and we would point out besides, in
appreciating Sir W. Hamilton's merits, that his appetite for facts was
useful to philosophy, as well as his appetite for speculation. But the
person whose usefulness to philosophy we prefer to bring into the
foreground, is Platner himself. He spent three weeks in patient
examination of this blind man, and the tenor of his report proves that
his sagacity in interpreting facts was equal to his patience in
collecting them. The rarity of all such careful and premeditated
observation of the facts of mind, appears to us one main reason why
(what Mr Mill calls) the _psychological_ theory finds so little
acceptance; and why those who maintain that what now seems a mental
integer was once a multiplicity of separate mental fragments, can
describe the antecedent steps of the change only as a _latens
processus_, which the reader never fully understands, and often will not
admit. Every man's mind is gradually built up from infancy to maturity;
the process is always going on before our eyes, yet the stages of
it--especially the earliest stages, the most pregnant with
instruction--are never studied and put on record by observers trained in
inductive logic, knowing beforehand what they ought to look for as the
_sine qua non_ for proving or disproving any proposed theory. Such cases
as that cited by Platner--cases of one marked congenital defect of
sense, enabling us to apply the Method of Difference--are always within
reach; but few Platners are found to scrutinize and record them.
Historians of science describe to us the laborious and multiplied
observations, and the elaborate precaution for ensuring accuracy of
observation, which recent chemical and physical inquirers have found
indispensable for the establishment of their results. We cannot,
therefore, be surprised that mental philosophers, dealing with facts
even more obscure, and careless about enlarging, varying,
authenticating their records of particular facts, should have had
little success in establishing any results at all.

But if even those, who adopt the psychological theory, have been remiss
in the observation of particular mental facts,--those who deny the
theory have been far more than remiss; they have been blind to obvious
facts contradicting the principles which they lay down. Mr Mill, in
chap, xiv., deals with this denial, common to Mr Mansel with Sir W.
Hamilton. That philosophers so eminent as both of them should declare
confidently--'what I cannot but think must be _a priori_, or original to
thought; it cannot be engendered by experience upon custom' (p.
264)--appears to us as extraordinary as it does to Mr Mill. Though no
one ever surpassed Sir W. Hamilton in large acquaintance with the actual
diversities of human belief, and human incapacities of believing--yet he
never seems to have thought of bringing this acquaintance into account,
when he assured the students in his lecture-room, that custom,
experience, indissoluble association, were altogether insufficient to
engender a felt necessity of believing. Such forgetfulness of well-known
mental facts cannot be reproached to the advocates of the psychological

In chap. xv. Mr Mill examines Sir W. Hamilton's doctrine on unconscious
mental modifications. He points out the confused manner in which Sir W.
Hamilton has conceived _mental latency_, as well as the inconclusive
character of the reasoning whereby he refutes the following doctrine of
Dugald Stewart--That in the most rapid trains of association, each
separate item must have been successively present to consciousness,
though for a time too short to leave any memory. Sir W. Hamilton thinks
that the separate items may pass, and often do pass, unconsciously;
which opinion Mr Mill also, though not approving his reasons, is
inclined to adopt.

'I am myself inclined (p. 285) to admit unconscious mental
modifications, in the only sense in which I can attach any
very distinct meaning to them--namely, unconscious
modifications of the nerves. It may well be believed that
the apparently suppressed links in a chain of association,
those which Sir W. Hamilton considers as latent, really are
so: that they are not even momentarily felt, the chain of
causation being continued only physically--by one organic
state of the nerves succeeding another so rapidly, that the
state of mental consciousness appropriate to each is not

Mr Mill gives various illustrations in support of this doctrine. He at
the same time calls attention to a valuable lecture of Sir W.
Hamilton's, the thirty-second lecture on Metaphysics; especially to the
instructive citation from Cardaillac contained therein, noting the
important fact, which descriptions of the Law of Association often keep
out of sight--that the suggestive agency of Association is carried on,
not by single antecedents raising up single consequents, but by a mass
of antecedents raising up simultaneously a mass of consequents, among
which attention is very unequally distributed.

We shall say little upon Mr Mill's remarks on Sir W. Hamilton's Theory
of Causation--(chap. xvi.). This theory appears to Mr Mill absurd; while
the theory of Mr Mill (continued from Hume, Brown, and James Mill) on
the same subject, appears to Sir W. Hamilton insufficient and
unsatisfactory--'professing to explain the phenomenon of causality, but,
previously to explanation, evacuating the phenomenon of all that
desiderates explanation'--(p. 295). For ourselves we embrace the theory
of Mr Mill:[13] yet we are aware that the remark just cited from Sir W.
Hamilton represents the dissatisfaction entertained towards it by many
objectors. The unscientific and antiscientific yearnings, prevalent
among mankind, lead them to put questions which no sound theory of
Causation will answer; and they are ready to visit and trust any oracle
which professes to deliver a confident affirmative solution of such
questions. Among all the terms employed by metaphysicians, none is used
in a greater variety of meanings than the term Cause.

In Mr Mill's next chapter (xvi.) he comments on Sir W. Hamilton's
doctrine of Concepts or General Notions. There are portions of this
chapter with which we agree less than with most other parts of the
volume; especially with his marked hostility to the term _Concept_, and
the reasons given for it, which reasons appear to us not very consistent
with what he has himself said in the 'System of Logic,' Book IV. chap.
ii. Sec. 1--3. The term _Concept_ has no necessary connection with the
theory called Conceptualism. It is equally available to designate the
idea called up by a general name, as understood either by Mr Bailey or
by James Mill. We think it useful as an equivalent to the German word
_Begriff_, which sense Sir W. Hamilton has in view when he introduces
it, though he does not always adhere to his profession. And when Mr Mill
says (p. 331)--

'I consider it nothing less than a misfortune, that the
words Concept, General Notion, or any other phrase to
express the supposed mental modification corresponding to a
general name, should ever have been invented.'

we dissent from his opinion. To talk of 'the Concept of an individual,'
however, as Mr Mansel does (pp. 338, 339), is improper and inconsistent
with the purpose for which the name is given.

We are more fully in harmony with Mr Mill in his two next chapters
(xviii. et seq.) on Judgment and Reasoning; which are among the best
chapters in this volume. He there combats and overthrows the theory of
Reasoning laid down by Sir W. Hamilton; but we doubt the propriety of
his calling this 'the Conceptualist theory' (pp. 367, 368); since it has
nothing to do with Conceptualism, in the special sense of antithesis to
Realism and Nominalism,--but is, in fact, the theory of the Syllogism as
given in the Analytics of Aristotle, and generally admitted since. Not
merely Conceptualists, but (to use Mr Mill's own language, p. 366)
'nearly all the writers on logic, taught a theory of the science too
small and narrow to contain their own facts.' Such, indeed, was the
theory constantly taught until the publication of Mr Mill's 'System of
Logic;' the first two books of which corrected it, by arguments which
are reinforced and amplified in these two chapters on Judgment and
Reasoning, as well as in the two chapters next following--chaps, xx. and
xxi.--('Is Logic the Science of the Forms of Thought--On the
Fundamental Laws of Thought.') The contrast which is there presented, in
many different ways, between the limited theory of logic taught by Sir
W. Hamilton and Mr Mansel, and the enlarged theory of Mr Mill, is
instructive in a high degree. We consider Mr Mill as the real preserver
of all that is valuable in Formal Logic, from the unfortunate
consequences of an erroneous estimate, brought upon it through the
exaggerated pretensions of logicians. When Sir W. Hamilton contrasts it
pointedly with physical science (of which he talks with a sort of
supercilious condescension, in one of the worst passages of his
writings, p. 401)--when all its apparent fruits were produced in the
shape of ingenious but barren verbal technicalities--what hope could be
entertained that Formal Logic could hold its ground in the estimation of
the recent generation of scientific men? Mr Mill has divested it of that
assumed demonstrative authority which Bacon called 'regere res per
syllogismum;' but he has at the same time given to it a firm root amidst
the generalities of objective science. He has shown that in the great
problem of Evidence or Proof, the Laws of Formal Logic, though bearing
only on one part of the entire procedure, yet bear upon one essential
part, proper to be studied separately: and that the maintenance of
consistency between our affirmations (which is the only special province
of Formal Logic), has great importance and value as a part of the
process necessary for ascertaining and vindicating their truth, or
exposing their character when false or uncertified--but no importance or
value except as a part of that larger exigency.

While Mr Mill was amending the Syllogistic theory so as to ensure for
Formal Logic its legitimate place among the essentials of scientific
procedure, Sir W. Hamilton was at the same time enlarging it on its
technical side, in two modes which are highly esteemed both by himself
and by others: 1. The recognition of two kinds of Syllogisms; one in
Extension, the other in Comprehension: 2. The doctrine of the
Quantification of the Predicate.--Both these novelties are here
criticised by Mr Mill in chapter xxii., which we recommend the reader to
peruse conjointly with Lectures 15 and 16 of Sir W. Hamilton on Logic.

Now whereas the main objection, by which the study of the syllogistic
logic has been weighed down and discredited in modern times, is this,
that it encumbers the memory with formal distinctions, having no useful
application to the real process and purposes of reasoning--the procedure
of Sir W. Hamilton might almost lead us to imagine that he himself was
trying to aggravate that objection to the uttermost. He introduces a
variety of new canons (classifying Syllogisms as Extensive and
Intensive, by a distinction founded on the double quantity of notions,
in Extension and in Comprehension) which he intimates that all former
logicians have neglected--while it plainly appears, even on his own
showing, that the difference between syllogisms, in respect to these two
sorts of quantity, is of no practical value; and that 'we can always
change a categorical syllogism of the one quantity into a categorical
syllogism of the other, by reversing the order of the two premises, and
by reversing the meaning of the copula' (Lect. xvi. p. 296); nay, that
every syllogism is already a syllogism in both quantities (Mill, p.
431). Against these useless ceremonial reforms of Sir W. Hamilton, we
may set the truly philosophical explanation here given by Mr Mill of the
meaning of propositions.

'All judgments' (he says--p. 423), 'except where both the
terms are proper names, are really judgments in
Comprehension; though it is customary, and the natural
tendency of the mind, to express most of them in terms of
Extension. In other words, we never really predicate
anything but attributes; though, in the usage of language,
we commonly predicate them by means of words which are names
of concrete objects--because' (p. 426)--'we have no other
convenient and compact mode of speaking. Most attributes,
and nearly all large bundles of attributes, have no names of
their own. We can only name them by a circumlocution. We are
accustomed to speak of attributes, not by names given to
themselves, but by means of the names which they give to the
objects they are attributes of.' 'All our ordinary
judgments' (p. 428) 'are in Comprehension only; Extension
not being thought of. But we may, if we please, make the
Extension of our general terms an express object of thought.
When I judge that all oxen ruminate, I have nothing in my
thoughts but the attributes and their co-existence. But when
by reflection I perceive what the proposition implies, I
remark that other things may ruminate besides oxen, and that
the unknown multitude of things which ruminate form a mass,
with which the unknown multitude of things having the
attributes of oxen is either identical or is wholly
comprised in it. Which of these two is the truth I may not
know, and if I did, took no notice of it when I assented to
the proposition, all oxen ruminate; but I perceive, on
consideration, that one or other of them must be true.
Though I had not this in my mind when I affirmed that all
oxen ruminate, I can have it now; I can make the concrete
objects denoted by each of the two names an object of
thought, as a collective though indefinite aggregate; in
other words, I can make the Extension of the names (or
notions) an object of direct consciousness. When I do this,
I perceive that this operation introduces no new fact, but
is only a different mode of contemplating the very fact
which I had previously expressed by the words, all oxen
ruminate. The fact is the same, but the mode of
contemplating it is different. There is thus in all
Propositions a judgment concerning attributes (called by Sir
W. Hamilton a Judgment in Comprehension) which we make as a
matter of course; and a possible judgment in or concerning
Extension, which we _may_ make, and which will be true if
the former is true.'

From the lucid explanation here cited (and from a following paragraph
too long to describe p. 433), we see that there is no real distinction
between Judgments in Comprehension and Judgments in Extension; that the
_appearance_ of distinction between them arises from the customary mode
of enunciation, which custom is here accounted for; that the addition to
the theory of the Syllogism, for which Sir W. Hamilton takes credit, is
alike troublesome and unprofitable.

The like may also be said about his other innovation, the Quantification
of the Predicate. Still more extensive are the changes (as stated by
himself) which this innovation would introduce in the canons of
Syllogism. Indeed, when we read his language (Appendix to 'Lectures on
Logic,' pp. 291--297) censuring generally the prior logicians from
Aristotle downwards, and contending that 'more than half the value of
logic had been lost' by their manner of handling it--we may appreciate
the magnitude of the reform which he believed himself to be introducing.
The larger the reform, the more it behoved him to be sure of the ground
on which he was proceeding. But on this point we remark a serious
deficiency. After laying down, with appropriate emphasis, the valuable
logical postulate, _to state explicitly what is thought implicitly_, on
which, Sir W. Hamilton says,

'Logic ever insists, but which logicians have never fairly
obeyed--it follows that logically we ought to take into
account the quantity, _always understood in thought_, but
usually, and for manifest reasons, elided in expression, not
only of the _subject_, but also of the _predicate_, of a
judgment.'--('Discussions on Philos.,' p. 614.)

Here Sir W. Hamilton assumes that the quantity of the predicate is
always understood in thought; and the same assumption is often repeated,
in the Appendix to his 'Lectures on Logic,' p. 291 and elsewhere, as if
it was alike obvious and incontestable. Now it is precisely on this
point that issue is here taken with Sir W. Hamilton. Mr Mill denies
altogether (p. 437) that the quantity of the predicate is always
understood or present in thought, and appeals to every reader's
consciousness for an answer:--

'Does he, when he judges that all oxen ruminate, advert even
in the minutest degree to the question, whether there is
anything else that ruminates? Is this consideration at all
in his thoughts, any more than any other consideration
foreign to the immediate subject? One person may know that
there are other ruminating animals, another may think that
there are none, a third may be without any opinion on the
subject; but if they all know what is meant by ruminating,
they all, when they judge that every ox ruminates, mean
precisely the same thing. The mental process they go
through, _as far as that one judgment is concerned_, is
precisely identical; though some of them may go on farther,
and _add other judgments_ to it.'

The last sentence cited from Mr Mill indicates the vice of Sir W.
Hamilton's proceeding in quantifying the predicate, and explains why it
was that logicians before him declined to do so. Sir W. Hamilton, in
this proceeding, insists on stating explicitly, not merely all that is
thought implicitly, but a great deal more;[14] adding to it something
else, which _may_, indeed, be thought conjointly, but which more
frequently _is not_ thought at all. He requires us to pack two distinct
judgments into one and the same proposition: he interpolates the meaning
of the Propositio Conversa _simpliciter_ into the form of the Propositio
Convertenda (when an universal Affirmative), and then claims it as a
great advantage, that the proposition thus interpolated admits of being
converted _simpliciter_, and not merely _per accidens_. Mr Mill is,
nevertheless, of opinion (pp. 439-443) that though 'the quantified
syllogism is not a true expression of what is in thought, yet writing
the predicate with a quantification may be sometimes a real help to the
Art of Logic.' We see little advantage in providing a new complicated
form, for the purpose of expressing in one proposition what naturally
throws itself into two, and may easily be expressed in two. If a man is
prepared to give us information on one Quaesitum, why should he be
constrained to use a mode of speech which forces on his attention at the
same time a second and distinct Quaesitum--so that he must either give
us information about the two at once, or confess himself ignorant
respecting the second?

The two next chapters of Mr Mill, noticing some other minor
peculiarities (all of them unfortunate, and one, p. 447, really
unaccountable) of Sir W. Hamilton's Formal Logic; and some Fallacious
Modes of Thought countenanced by Sir W. Hamilton (chs. xxiii.,
xxiv.--pp. 446, 478), we are compelled to pass over. We must find space,
however, for a few words on the Freedom of the Will (ch. xxv.), which
(in Mr Mill's language, pp. 488--549), 'was so fundamental with Sir W.
Hamilton, that it may be regarded as the central idea of his system--the
determining cause of most of his philosophical opinions.' Prior to Sir
W. Hamilton, we find some writers who maintain the doctrine of
Free-will, others who maintain that of Necessity: each supporting their
respective conclusions by reasons which they deem sufficient. Sir W.
Hamilton declares that both the one doctrine and the other are
inconceivable and incomprehensible; yet that, by the law of Excluded
Middle, one or other of them must be true: and he decides in favour of
Free-will, of which he believes himself to be distinctly conscious;
moreover, Free-will is essential (he thinks) to moral responsibility, of
which also he feels himself conscious. He confesses himself, however,
unable to explain the possibility of Free-will; but he maintains that
the same may be said about Necessity also. 'The champions of both the
two opposite doctrines are at once resistless in attack, and impotent in
defence'--(Hamilton's 'Footnotes on Reid,' p. 602.) Mr Mansel also
asserts, even more confidently than Sir W. Hamilton, that we are
directly conscious of Free-will--(p. 503).

Sir W. Hamilton has himself given some of the best arguments against the
doctrine of Free-will, in refutation of Reid: arguments, some of which
are here cited by Mr Mill with praise which they well deserve--(pp. 497,
498). But Mr Mill's own reasoning on the same side is of a still higher
order, enlarging the grounds previously urged in the last book of his
'System of Logic,' He protests against the term _Necessity_; and
discards the idea of Necessity, if it be understood to imply anything
more than invariability of antecedence and consequence. If it mean
_that_, experience proves thus much about antecedents in the world of
mind, as in the world of matter: if it mean more, experience does not
prove more, either in the world of matter or in the world of mind: nor
have we any grounds for affirming it in either--(p. 501.) If it were
true, therefore, that consciousness attested Free-will, we should find
the testimony of consciousness opposed to a full proof from experience
and induction. But does consciousness really attest what is called
Free-will? Mr Mill analyzes the case, and declares in the negative.

'To be conscious of Free-will, must mean to be conscious,
before I have decided, that I am able to decide either way;
exception may be taken _in limine_ to the use of the word
_consciousness_ in such an application. Consciousness tells
me what I do or feel. But what I am _able_ to do, is not a
subject of consciousness. Consciousness is not prophetic; we
are conscious of what is, not of what will or can be. We
never know that we are able to do a thing, except from
having done it, or something similar to it. Having acted, we
know, as far as that experience reaches, how we are able to
act; _and this knowledge, when it has become familiar, is
often confounded with, and called by, the name of
consciousness._ But it does not derive any increase of
authority from being misnamed: its truth is not supreme
over, but depends upon, experience. If our so-called
consciousness is not borne out by experience, it is a
delusion. It has no title to credence, but as an
interpretation of experience; and if it is a false
interpretation, it must give way.'--pp. 503, 504

After this salutary and much-needed warning against the confusion
between consciousness as an infallible authority, and belief upon
experience, of which we are conscious as a belief--Mr Mill proceeds to
sift the alleged self-evident connection between Free-will and
Accountability. He shows, not merely that there is no connection, but
that there is a positive repugnance, between the two. By Free-will is
meant that a volition is not determined by motives, but is a spontaneous
mental fact, neither having a cause, nor admitting of being predicted.
Now, the very reason for giving notice that we intend to punish certain
acts, and for inflicting punishment if the acts be committed, is, that
we trust in the efficacy of the threat and the punishment as deterring
motives. If the volition of agents be not influenced by motives, the
whole machinery of law becomes unavailing, and punishment a purposeless
infliction of pain. In fact, it is on that very ground that the madman
is exempted from punishment; his volition being presumed to be not
capable of being acted upon by the deterring motive of legal sanction.
The _free_ agent, thus understood, is one who can neither feel himself
accountable, nor be rendered accountable, to or by others. It is only
the _necessary_ agent (the person whose volitions are determined by
motives, and, in case of conflict, by the strongest desire or the
strongest apprehension) that can be held really accountable, or can
feel himself to be so.

'The true doctrine of the Causation of human actions (says
Mr Mill, p. 516) maintains, in opposition both to pure and
to modified Fatalism, that not only our conduct, but our
character, is in part amenable to our will: that we can, by
employing the proper means, improve our character: and that
if our character is such that, while it remains what it is,
it necessitates us to do wrong--it will be just to apply
motives which will necessitate us to strive for its
improvement. We shall not indeed do so unless we desire our
improvement, and desire it more than we dislike the means
which must he employed for the purpose.'

It thus appears that of the two propositions, 1, volitions are
necessary, or depend on causes; 2, volitions are free, or do not depend
on causes--neither the one nor the other is inconceivable or
incomprehensible, as Sir W. Hamilton supposed them to be. That the first
is true, and the second false, we learn by experience, and by that
alone; just as we learn the like in regard to the phenomena of the
material world. Indeed, the fact that human volitions are both
predictable and modifiable, quite as much as all those physical
phenomena that depend upon a complication of causes--which is only a
corollary from what has just been said--is so universally recognized and
acted upon by all men, that there would probably be little difference of
opinion about this question, if the antithesis were not obscured and
mystified by the familiar, but equivocal, phrases of Free-will and

Passing over chapter xxvii., in which Mr Mill refutes Sir W. Hamilton's
opinion that the study of mathematics is worthless, or nearly so, as an
intellectual discipline--we shall now call attention to the concluding
remarks which sum up the results of the volume. After saying that he
'differs from almost everything in Sir W. Hamilton's philosophy, on
which he particularly valued himself, or which is specially his own,'
Mr Mill describes Sir W. Hamilton's general merits as follows:--

'They chiefly consist in his clear and distinct mode of
bringing before the reader many of the fundamental questions
of metaphysics: some good specimens of psychological
analysis on a small scale: and the many detached logical and
psychological truths which he has separately seized, and
which are scattered through his writings, mostly applied to
resolve some special difficulty, and again lost sight of. I
can hardly point to anything he has done towards helping the
more thorough understanding of the greater mental phenomena,
unless it be his theory of Attention (including
Abstraction), which seems to me the most perfect we have;
but the subject, though a highly important, is comparatively
a simple one.'--p. 547.

Agreeing in this general view of Sir W. Hamilton's merits, we should be
disposed to describe them in language stronger and more emphatic as to
degree, than that which has just been cited. But what is stated in the
pages immediately following (pp. 550, 551)--That Sir W. Hamilton's
doctrines appear to be usually taken up under the stimulus of some
special dispute, and often afterwards forgotten; That he did not think
out subjects until they were thoroughly mastered, or until consistency
was attained between the different views which the author took from
different points of observation; That accordingly, his philosophy seems
made up of scraps from several conflicting metaphysical systems--All
this is literally and amply borne out by the many inconsistencies and
contradictions which Mr Mill has brought to view in the preceding
chapters. It would appear that the controversial disposition was
powerful with Sir W. Hamilton, and that a present impulse of that sort
(as has been said respecting Bayle, Burke, and others) not only served
to provoke new intellectual combinations in his mind, but also
exercised a Lethaean influence in causing obliviscence of the old. But we
can hardly follow Mr Mill in ascribing the defect to 'excessive
absorption of time and energy by the study of old writers' (p. 551). If
this study did no other good, it at least kept the memory in exercise.
Now, what surprises us most in Sir W. Hamilton's inconsistencies, is the
amount of self-forgetfulness which they imply.

While the laborious erudition of Sir W. Hamilton cannot be fairly
regarded as having produced any of his intellectual defects, it
undoubtedly stamped upon him his special title of excellence as a
philosopher. This is fully recognized by Mr Mill; though he treats it as
belonging not so much to a philosopher as to an historian of philosophy.
He concludes (pp. 552--554):--

'It is much to be regretted that Sir W. Hamilton did not
write the history of philosophy, instead of choosing, as
the direct object of his intellectual exertions, philosophy
itself. He possessed a knowledge of the materials such as no
one, probably for many generations, will take the trouble of
acquiring again. Independently of the great interest and
value attaching to a knowledge of the historical development
of speculation, there is much in the old writers on
philosophy, even those of the middle ages, really worth
preserving for its scientific value. But this should be
extracted, and rendered into the phraseology of modern
thought, by persons as familiar with that as with the
ancient, and possessing a command of its language: a
combination never yet so perfectly realized as in Sir W.
Hamilton. This, which no one but himself could have done, he
has left undone, and has given us, instead, a contribution
to mental philosophy, which has been more than equalled by
many not superior to him in powers, and wholly destitute of
erudition. Of all persons in modern times entitled to the
name of philosophers, the two, probably, whose reading on
the subject was the scantiest, in proportion to their
intellectual capacity, were Archbishop Whately and Dr Brown.
Accordingly they are the only two of whom Sir W. Hamilton,
though acknowledging their abilities, speaks with some
tinge of superciliousness. It cannot be denied that both Dr
Brown and Whately would have thought and written better than
they did, if they had been better read in the writings of
previous thinkers; but I am not afraid that posterity will
contradict me when I say, that either of them has done far
greater service to the world in the origination and
diffusion of important thought, than Sir W. Hamilton with
all his learning; because, though indolent readers, they
were both of them active and fertile thinkers.

'It is not that Sir W. Hamilton's erudition is not
frequently of real use to him on particular questions of
philosophy. It does him one valuable service: it enables him
to know all the various opinions which can be held on the
questions he discusses, and to conceive and express them
clearly, leaving none of them out. This it does, though even
this not always; but it does little else, even of what might
be expected from erudition when enlightened by philosophy.
He knew, with extraordinary accuracy, the [Greek: hoti] of
each philosopher's opinions, but gave himself little trouble
about the [Greek: dihoti]. With one exception, I find no
remark bearing upon that point in any part of his writings.
I imagine he would have been much at a loss if he had been
required to draw up a philosophical estimate of the mind of
any great thinker. He never seems to look at any opinion of
a philosopher in connection with the same philosopher's
other opinions. Accordingly he is weak as to the mutual
relations of philosophical doctrines. One of the most
striking examples of this inability is in the case of
Leibnitz,' &c.

Here we find in a few sentences the conclusion which Mr Mill conceives
to be established by his book. We shall state how far we are able to
concur with it. He has brought the matter to a direct issue, by weighing
Sir W. Hamilton in the balance against two other actual cotemporaries;
instead of comparing him with some unrealized ideal found only in the
fancy of critics and reviewers.

Comparing Sir W. Hamilton with Dr Brown, we cordially subscribe to the
opinion of Mr Mill. We think that Dr Brown has 'done far greater
service to the world than Sir W. Hamilton, in the origination and
diffusion of important thought.' To speak only of two chief subjects in
the field of important thought--Causality and the Freedom of the
Will--we not only adopt the conclusions of Dr Brown, but we admire both
his acuteness and his originality in vindicating and illustrating the
first of the two, while we dissent entirely from the views of Sir W.
Hamilton. This alone would be sufficient to make us approve the
superiority assigned by Mr Mill to Dr Brown. We discover no compensating
item to be placed to the credit of Sir W. Hamilton: for the great
doctrine of the Relativity of Knowledge, which is our chief point of
philosophical brotherhood with him, was maintained by Brown also.

But in regard to Dr Whately, our judgment is altogether different. We
cannot consent to admit him as a superior, or even as an equal, to Sir
W. Hamilton, 'in the origination and diffusion of important thought.' He
did much service by reviving an inclination and respect for Logic, and
by clearing up a part of the technical obscurity which surrounded it:
but we look upon him as an acute and liberal-minded English theologian,
enlarging usefully, though timidly, the intellectual prison in which
many orthodox minds are confined--rather than as a fit aspirant to the
cosmopolitan honours of philosophy. 'An active and fertile thinker,' Mr
Mill calls Whately; and such he undoubtedly was. But such also we
consider Sir W. Hamilton to have been in a degree, at least equal. If
the sentence which we have quoted above be intended to deny the
predicate, 'active and fertile thinker,' of Sir W. Hamilton, we cannot
acquiesce in it. His intellect appears to us thoroughly active and
fertile, even when we dissent from his reasonings--nay, even in the
midst of his inconsistencies, when a new growth of opinions is
unexpectedly pushed up on ground which we supposed to be already
pre-occupied by another both older and different. And we find this same
judgment implied in the discriminating remarks upon his philosophical
procedure made by Mr Mill himself--(pp. 271, 272). For example,
respecting Causality and the Freedom of the Will, we detect no want of
activity and fertility, though marked evidence of other
defects--especially the unconditional surrender of a powerful mind to
certain privileged inspirations, worshipped as 'necessities of thought.'

While thus declaring how far we concur in the parallel here drawn of Sir
W. Hamilton with Brown and Whately, we must at the same time add that
the comparison is taken under circumstances unduly favourable to these
two last. There has been no exposure of _their_ errors and
inconsistencies, equal in penetration and completeness to the crushing
volume which Mr Mill has devoted to Sir W. Hamilton. To make the odds
fair, he ought to furnish a similar systematic examination to Brown and
Whately; enabling us to read their works (as we now do those of Sir W.
Hamilton) with the advantage of his unrivalled microscope, which detects
the minutest breach or incoherence in the tissue of reasoning--and of
his large command of philosophical premisses, which brings into full
notice what the author had overlooked. Thus alone could the competition
between the three be rendered perfectly fair.

We regret, as Mr Mill does, that Sir W. Hamilton did not undertake the
composition of a history of philosophy. Nevertheless we must confess
that we should hardly feel such regret, if we could see evidence to
warrant Mr Mill's judgment (p. 554) that Sir W. Hamilton was
'indifferent to the [Greek: dihoti] of a man's opinions, and that he was
incompetent to draw up an estimate of the opinions of any great
thinker,' &c. Such incompetence, if proved to be frequent and
considerable, would deprive an author of all chance of success in
writing a history of philosophy. But the study of Sir William Hamilton's
works does not prove it to us, though Mr Mill has convicted him of an
erroneous estimate of Leibnitz. We say _frequent_ and _considerable_,
because no historian of philosophy is exempt from the defect more or
less; or rather (to pass out of the self-confidence of the Absolute into
the modesty of the Relative) we seldom find any historian whose estimate
of great philosophical thinkers does not often differ from our own.
Hence we are glad when ample original extracts are produced, enabling us
to test the historian, and judge for ourselves--a practice which Sir W.
Hamilton would have required no stimulus to enforce upon him. There
ought, indeed, to be various histories of philosophy, composed from
different points of view; for the ablest historian cannot get clear of
a certain exclusiveness belonging to himself. But, so far as we can
conjecture what Sir W. Hamilton _would_ or _could_ have done, we think
that a history of philosophy composed by him would have surpassed any
work of the kind in our language.

We trust that Sir W. Hamilton's works will long continue to be read,
along with Mr Mill's examination of them; and we should be glad if the
works of other philosophers could be read along with a comment of equal
acuteness and impartiality. Any point of view which could command the
adherence of such a mind as Sir W. Hamilton's, deserves to be fully
considered. Moreover, the living force of philosophy, as directress of
human intelligence, depends upon keeping up in each of her devotees a
full mastery of many divergent and opposite veins of reasoning--a
knowledge, negative and affirmative, of the full case of opponents as
well as of his own.

It is to Philosophy alone that _our_ allegiance is sworn; and while we
concur mostly with Mr Mill's opinions, we number both him and Sir W.
Hamilton as a noble pair of brethren, serving alike in her train.

_Amicus Hamilton; magis amicus Mill; amica ante omnes Philosophia._

[Footnote 1: Mr Mansel and Mr Veitch, the editors of Sir W. Hamilton's
Lectures on Metaphysics, posthumously published, say in their preface
(p. xiii.)--

'For twenty years--from 1836 to 1856--the courses of logic and
metaphysics were the means through which Sir William Hamilton sought to
discipline and imbue with his philosophical opinions the numerous youth
who gathered from Scotland and other countries to his classroom; and
while, by these prelections, the author supplemented, developed, and
moulded the national philosophy, leaving thereon the ineffaceable
impress of his genius and learning, he, at the same time and by the same
means, exercised over the intellects and feelings of his pupils an
influence which, for depth, feeling, and elevation, was certainly never
surpassed by that of any philosophical instructor. Among his pupils
there are not a few who, having lived for a season under the
constraining power of his intellect, and been led to reflect on those
great questions regarding the character, origin, and bounds of human
knowledge, which his teaching stirred and quickened, bear the memory of
their beloved and revered instructor inseparably blended with what is
highest in their present intellectual life, as well as in their
practical aims and aspirations.']

[Footnote 2: We are happy to find such high authorities as Dr Whewell,
Mr Samuel Bailey, and Sir John Herschel concurring in this estimation of
the new logical point of view thus opened by Mr Mill. We will not call
it a _discovery_, since Sir John Herschel thinks the expression
unsuitable.--See the recent sixth edition of the 'System of Logic,' vol.
i. p. 229.]

[Footnote 3: See Sir William. Hamilton's 'Lectures on Logic' (Lect.
xvii. p. 320, 321; also Appendix to those Lectures, p. 361). He here
distinguishes also formal induction from, material induction, which
latter he brings under the grasp of syllogism, by an hypothesis in
substance similar to that of Whately. There is, however, in Lecture xix.
(p. 380), a passage in a very different spirit, which one might almost
imagine to have been written by Mr Mill: 'In regard to simple
syllogisms, it was an original dogma of the Platonic school, and an
early dogma of the Peripatetic, that science, strictly so called, was
only conversant with, and was exclusively contained in, universals; and
the doctrine of Aristotle, which taught that all our general knowledge
is only an induction from an observation of particulars, was too easily
forgotten or perverted by his followers. It thus obtained almost the
force of an acknowledged principle that everything to be known must be
known under some general form or notion. Hence the exaggerated
importance attributed to definition and deduction; it not being
considered that we only take out of a general notion what we had
previously placed therein, and that the amplification of our knowledge
is not to be sought for from above but from below--not from speculation
about abstract generalities, but from the observation of concrete
particulars. Bat however erroneous and irrational, the persuasion had
its day and influence, and it perhaps determined, as one of its effects,
the total neglect of one half, and that not the least important half of
the reasoning process.'

These very just observations are suggested to Sir William Hamilton by a
train of thought which has little natural tendency to suggest them,
viz., by the distinction upon which he so much insists, between the
logic of comprehension and the logic of extension, and by his anxiety to
explain why the former had been exclusively cultivated and the latter

That which Sir William Hamilton calls here truly the doctrine of
Aristotle (enunciated especially at the close of the Analyt. Post.), and
which he states to have been forgotten by Aristotle's followers, was not
always remembered by Aristotle himself.]

[Footnote 4: The distinction is given by Stier and other logicians. 1.
Infinitum simpliciter. 2. Infinitum secundum quid, sive in certo

[Footnote 5: This doctrine has been affirmed (so far as reason is
concerned, apart from revelation) not merely by Mr Mansel, but also by
Pascal, one of the most religious philosophers of the seventeenth
century, in the 'Pensees':--

'Parlons selon les lumieres naturelles. S'il y a un Dieu, il est
infiniment incomprehensible; puisque, n'ayant ni principes ni bornes, il
n'a nul rapport a nous; nous sommes done incapables de connaitre ni ce
qn'il est, ni s'il est.'--(See Arago, Biographie de Condorcet, p.
lxxxiv., prefixed to his edition of Condorcet's works.)]

[Footnote 6: The indictment under which Socrates was condemned at
Athens, as reported by Xenophon at the commencement of the Memorabilia,
ran thus--'Socrates is guilty of crime, inasmuch as he does not believe
in those Gods in whom the City believes, but introduces other novelties
in regard to the Gods; he is guilty also, inasmuch as he corrupts the

These words express clearly a sentiment entertained not merely by the
Athenian people, but generally by other societies also. They all agree
in antipathy to free, individual, dissenting reason; though that
antipathy manifests itself by acts, more harsh in one place, less harsh
in another. The Hindoo who declares himself a convert to Christianity,
becomes at the same time an outcast ([Greek: _aphrhetor, athhemistos,
anhestios_]) among those whose Gods he has deserted. As a general fact,
the man who dissents from his fellows upon fundamentals of religion,
purchases an undisturbed life only by being content with that
'semi-liberty under silence and concealment,' for which Cicero was
thankful under the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. 'Obsecro--abiiciamus
ista et semi-liberi saltern, simus; quod assequemur _et tacendo et
latendo'_ (Epist. ad Attic, xiii. 31). Contrast with this the memorable
declaration of Socrates, in the Platonic Apology, that silence and
abstinence from cross-examination were intolerable to him; that life
would not be worth having under such conditions.]

[Footnote 7: Aeschyl. Prometh., 996-1006--

pros tauta, rhipthestho men aithaloussa phlox,
leykoptherps de niphadi kai bronthemasin
chthonhiois kykhato phanta kahi tarassheto
gnhampsei gar ouden tondhe m'----
eiseltheto se mhepot, hos ego, Dios
gnhomen phobetheis, thelhynoys genhesomai,
kai liparheso ton mhega stygohymenon
gynaikomhimois hyptihysmasin cherhon,
lyshai me dhesmon tonde toy pantos oheo.

Also v. 1047, et seq. The memorable ode of Goethe, entitled
_Prometheus_, embodies a similar vein of sentiment in the finest

[Footnote 8: Euripid Hippol., 10--

(Aph) oh gar me thaeseos pais, 'Amazonos tokos
monos politon taesde gaes Troizaenias
legei kakistaen daimonon pephukenai
Phoibou d' adelphaen Artemin,--
tima, megiotaen daimonon aegoumenos--

(Hipp.) taen saen dhe Khyprin pholl' hego Chairein lhego--

See also v. 1328--1402.]

[Footnote 9: Herodot. t. 32. O Kroise, epistumenon me to theion pan eohn
phthonerohn te kai taraxodes, epeirotas ahnthropaeion pragmhaton pheri;
also iii. 40]

[Footnote 10: See Eurip. Hipp., 6-96-149. The language of the attendant,
after his affectionate remonstrance to Hippolytus had been disregarded,
supplicating Aphrodite to pardon the recalcitrancy of that virtuous but
obstinate youth, is characteristic and touching (114-120.)]

[Footnote 11: See especially his chapter ii. on the Sensations of Sight,
pp. 222, 241--247, in the second edition of this work.]

[Footnote 12: Descartes says, in his 'Principia Philosophiae,' i 51--'Et
quidem substantia quae nulla plane re indigeat, unica tantum potest
intelligi--nempe Deus. Alias vero omnes, non nisi ope concursus Dei
existere posse perspicimus. Atque ideo nomen substantiae non convenit Deo
et illis _univoce_, ut dici solet in scholis, hoc est, nulla ejus
nominis significatio potest distincte intelligi, quae Deo et creaturis
sit communis.']

[Footnote 13: At the same time, we cannot go along with Mr Mill in the
following affirmation (p. 201):--

'This natural probability is converted into certainty when we take into
consideration that universal law of our experience which is termed the
Law of Causation, and which makes us _unable to conceive the beginning
of anything without_ an antecedent condition, _or cause.'_ Such
'inability to conceive' appears to us not in correspondence with facts.
First, it cannot be properly either affirmed or denied, until agreement
is obtained what the word _cause_ means. If three persons, A, B, and C,
agree in affirming it--A adopting the meaning of Aristotle, B that of
Sir William Hamilton, and C that of Mr Mill--the agreement is purely
verbal; or rather, all three concur in having a mental exigency pressing
for satisfaction, but differ as to the hypothesis which satisfies it.

Next, if we reason upon Mr Mill's theory as to Cause, certainly those
who deny his theory can have no difficulty in conceiving events without
any cause (in that sense): nor have those who adopt this theory any
greater difficulty. These latter _believe_ that there are, throughout,
constant and uniform conditions on which the occurrence of every event
depends; but they can perfectly _conceive_ events as occurring without
any such uniform sequence. In truth, the belief in such causation, as
pervading _all nature_, is an acquired result of scientific training.
The greater part of mankind believe that some events occur in regular,
others in irregular succession. Moreover, a full half of the
metaphysical world espouse the doctrine of free-will, and consider that
all volitions occur without any cause at all.]

[Footnote 14: Among the various authorities (upon this question of
quantifying the predicate) collected by Sir W. Hamilton in the valuable
Appendix to his 'Lectures on Logic,' we find one (p. 311) which takes
the same ground of objection as Mr Mill, in these words:--'The cause why
the quantitative note is not usually joined with the predicate, is, that
there would thus be two _quaesita_ at once; to wit, whether the predicate
were affirmed of the subject, and whether it were denied of everything
beside. For when we say, _all man is all rational_, we judge that _all
man is rational_, and judge likewise _that rational is denied of
everything but man_. But these are, in reality, two different _quaesita_;
and therefore it has become usual to state them, not in one, but in two
several propositions. And this is self-evident, seeing that a
_quaesitum_, in itself, asks only--_Does or does not this inhere in
that?_ and _not_ Does or does not this inhere in that, _and at the same
time inhere in nothing else?_'

The author of this just and sagacious remark--much surpassing what the
other writers quoted in the Appendix say--was a Jew who died at
Perpignan in or near 1370, named Levi Ben Gerson or Gersonides. An
interesting account of this man, eminent as a writer and thinker in his
age, will be found in a biography by Dr Joel, published at Breslau in
1862, 'Levi Ben Gerson als Religions--philosoph.' He distinguished
himself as a writer on theology, philosophy, and astronomy; he was one
of the successors to the free speculative vein of Maimonides, and one of
the continuators of the Arabic Aristotelian philosophy. He both
commented on and combated the doctrines of Averroes. Dr Joel thinks that
he died earlier than 1370.]


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