William Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

Scottish Metaphysician and Philosopher

Author Quotes

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.

To view attention as a special state of intelligence, and to distinguish it from consciousness, is utterly inept.

I use the term understanding not for the noetic faculty, intellect proper, or place of principles, but for the dianoetic or discursive faculty in its widest signification, for the faculty of relations or comparisons; and thus in the meaning in which “Verstand” is now employed by the Germans.

Paradoxically, as the mind becomes simpler, it can perceive greater complexity.

I would employ the word noetic to express all those cognitions which originate in the mind itself.

Philosophical doubt is not an end, but a mean.

Identity is a relation between our cognitions of a thing, not between things themselves.

Philosophy has been defined:—the science of things divine and human, and the causes in which they are contained;—the science of effects by their causes;—the science of sufficient reasons;—the science of things possible, inasmuch as they are possible;—the science of things evidently deduced from their first principles;—the science of truths sensible and abstract;—the application of reason to its legitimate objects;—the science of the relations of all knowledge to the necessary ends of human reason;—the science of the original form of the ego, or mental self;—the science of science;—the science of the absolute;—the science of the absolute indifference of the ideal and real.

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.

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Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet
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Scottish Metaphysician and Philosopher