William Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

Scottish Metaphysician and Philosopher

Author Quotes

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.

Ethics is the science of the laws which govern our actions as moral agents.

Nirvana is an experience of the Unconditioned which defies any description. Any description of Nirvana is not a description of Nirvana, and that is the most that can be said about Nirvana. There are no reference points in Nirvana on which to base a description.

This may enable us to understand how seductive is the influence of example.

Hardly is there a similarity detected between two or three facts, than men hasten to extend it to all others.

Now the science conversant about all such inferences of unknown being from its known manifestations, is called ontology, or metaphysics proper.

This word is employed by English writers in a very loose and improper sense. It is with them usually convertible into hypothesis, and hypothesis is commonly used as another term for conjecture. The terms theory and theoretical are properly used in opposition to the terms practice and practical. In this sense they were exclusively employed by the ancients; and in this sense they are almost exclusively employed by the continental philosophers.

I do not hesitate to maintain, that what we are conscious of is constructed out of what we are not conscious of,-that our whole knowledge, in fact, is made up of the unknown and the incognisable.

On earth there is nothing great but man; in man there is nothing great but mind.

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Scottish Metaphysician and Philosopher