William Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

Scottish Metaphysician and Philosopher

Author Quotes

If we consider the mind merely with a view of observing and generalizing the various phenomena it reveals, that is, of analyzing them into capacities or faculties, we have one mental science, or one department of mental science; and this we may call the phenomenology of mind.

Power is, therefore, a word which we may use both in an active and in a passive signification; and in psychology we may apply it both to the active faculty and to the passive capacity of the mind.

If, therefore, mediate knowledge be in propriety a knowledge, consciousness is not co-extensive with knowledge.

Practice is exercise of an art, or the application of a science in life, which application is itself an art.

In our natural body every part has a necessary sympathy with every other, and all together form, by their harmonious conspiration, a healthy whole.

Sentiment, as here and elsewhere employed by Dr. Reid in the meaning of opinion (sententia), is not to be imitated.

In the philosophy of mind, subjective denotes what is to be referred to the thinking subject, the ego; objective what belongs to the object of thought, the non ego. Philosophy being the essence of knowledge, and the science of knowledge supposing, in its most fundamental and thorough-going analysis, the distinction of the subject and object of knowledge, it is evident that to philosophy the subject of knowledge would be by pre-eminence the subject, and the object of knowledge the object. It was therefore natural that the object and objective, the subject and subjective, should be employed by philosophers as simple terms, compendiously to denote the grand discrimination about which philosophy was constantly employed, and which no others could be found so precisely and promptly to express.

Some associations may revivify it enough to make it flash, after a long oblivion, into consciousness.

In the Platonic sense, ideas were the patterns according to which the Deity fashioned the phenomenal or ectypal world.

The highest reach of human science is the recognition of human ignorance.

A judgment is the mental act by which one thing is affirmed or denied of another.

Knowledges (or cognitions), in common use with Bacon and our English philosophers till after the time of Locke, ought not to be discarded. It is, however, unnoticed by any English lexicographer.

The legal brocard, “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” is a rule not more applicable to other witnesses than to consciousness.

Analysis and synthesis, though commonly treated as two different methods, are, if properly understood, only the two necessary parts of the same method. Each is the relative and correlative of the other.

Logic is the science of the laws of thought, as thought,—that is, of the necessary conditions to which thought, considered in itself, is subject.

The possibility of morality thus depends on the possibility of liberty; for if man be not a free agent, he is not the author of his actions, and has, therefore, no responsibility - no moral personality at all.

As concerns the quantity of what is to be read, there is a single rule,—read much but not many works.

Many people have chosen psychotherapy over enlightenment. Someone asked Anagarike Munindra, a great Buddhist meditation master in India, why it was easier for Asians to attain enlightenment. His reply was that, "Westerners are doing psychotherapy."

The term nature is used sometimes in a wider, sometimes in a narrower extension. When employed in its most extensive meaning, it embraces the two worlds of mind and matter. When employed in its most restricted signification, it is a synonyme for the latter only, and is then used in contradistinction to the former.

By a double blunder in philosophy and Greek, ideologic… has in France become the name peculiarly distinctive of that philosophy of mind which exclusively derives our knowledge from sensation.

Metaphysics, in whatever latitude the term be taken, is a science or complement of sciences exclusively occupied with mind.

The word perception is, in the language of philosophers previous to Reid, used in a very extensive signification. By Descartes, Malebranche, Locke, Leibnitz, and others, it is employed in a sense almost as unexclusive as consciousness, in its widest signification. By Reid this word was limited to our faculty acquisitive of knowledge, and to that branch of this faculty whereby, through the senses, we obtain a knowledge of the external world. But his limitation did not stop here. In the act of external perception he distinguished two elements, to which he gave the names of perception and sensation. He ought perhaps to have called these perception proper and sensation proper, when employed in his special meaning.

Consciousness is thus, on the one hand, the recognition by the mind or “ego” of its acts and affections:—in other words, the self-affirmation that certain modifications are known by me, and that these modifications are mine.

Modes or modifications of mind, in the Cartesian school, mean merely what some recent philosophers express by states of mind.

This [faculty], to which I give the name of the “elaborative faculty,”—the faculty of relations or comparisons,—constitutes what is properly denominated thought.

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Scottish Metaphysician and Philosopher