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SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON'S
THE PRINCIPAL PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS
DISCUSSED IN HIS WRITINGS"
JOHN STUART MILL
In former writings I have perhaps seemed to go in search of objectors, whom I might have disregarded, but who enabled me to bring out my opinions into greater clearness and relief. My present condition is far different ; for a host of writers, whose mode of philosophic thought was either directly or indirectly implicated in the criticisms made by this volume on Sir W. Hamilton, have taken up arms against it, and fought as pro aris et focis. Among these are included, not solely friends or followers of Sir W. Hamilton, who were under some obligation to say whatever could fairly be said in his defence, but many who stand almost as widely apart from him as I do, though mostly on the reverse side. To leave these attacks unanswered, would be to desert the principles which as a speculative thinker I have maintained all my life, and which the progress of my thoughts has constantly strengthened. The criticisms which have come under my notice (omitting the daily and weekly journals) are the following; there may be others :
Mr. Mansel : “ The Philosophy of the Conditioned; comprising some remarks on Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, and on Mr. J. S. Mill's Examination of that Philosophy." (First published in Nos. 1 and 2 of the Contemporary Review.)
“The Battle of the Two Philosophies ; by an In
Dr. M'Cosh: “An Examination of Mr. J. S. Mill's Philosophy, being a Defence of Fundamental Truth."
Dr. Calderwood: “The Sensational Philosophy-Mr. J. S. Mill and Dr. M.Cosh ;” in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review for April 1866.
Dr. Henry B. Smith: “Mill v. Hamilton,” in the American Presbyterian and Theological Review for January 1866.
Mr. H. F. O'Hanlon : “A Criticism of John Stuart Mill's Pure Idealism; and an Attempt to show that, if logically carried out, it is Pure Nihilism."
Review of this work in Blackwood's Magazine for January 1866.
(The two last mentioned are confined to the doctrine of Permanent Possibilities of Sensation.)
Mr. J. P. Mahaffy, in the Introduction to his translation of Professor Kuno Fischer's account of Kant's Kritik. (Confined to the doctrine of Permanent Possibilities, and the subject of Necessary Truths.)
Mr. Patrick Proctor Alexander: "An Examination of Mr. John Stuart Mill's Doctrine of Causation in Relation to Moral Freedom ;” forming the greater part of a volume entitled “Mill and Carlyle.”
Reviews of this work in the Dublin Review for October 1865 (with the signature R. E. G.), and in the Edinburgh Review for July 1866.
And, earlier than all these, the able and interesting volume of my friend Professor Masson, entitled “ Recent British Philosophy: a Review, with Criticisms; including some Comments on Mr. Mill's Answer to Sir William Hamilton.”
All these, in regard to such of the main questions as they severally discuss, are unqualifiedly hostile : though
some of the writers are, in a personal point of view, most courteous, and even over-complimentary; and the last eminently friendly as well as flattering.
The following are only partially adverse :
Review of the present work in the North British Review for September 1865, attributed to Professor Fraser, and bearing the strongest internal marks of that origin. This able thinker, though he considers me to have often misunderstood Sir W. Hamilton, is, on the substantive philosophic doctrines principally concerned, a most valuable ally ; to whom I might almost have left the defence of our common opinions.
Mr. Herbert Spencer : “Mill v. Hamilton—The Test of Truth;” in the Fortnightly Review for July 15, 1865.
Review of the present work in the North American Review for July 1866.
The only important criticism, in all essentials favourable, to which I am able to refer, is that in the Westminster Review for January 1866, by an illustrious historian and philosopher, who, of all men now living, is the one by whom I should most wish that any writing of mine, on a subject in speculative philosophy, should be approved. There have also been published since the first edition of the present work, two remarkable books, which, if they do not give me direct support, effect a powerful diversion in my favour. One is Mr. Bolton's · Inquisitio Philosophica ; an Examination of the Principles of Kant and Hamilton;" which, along with much other valuable matter, contains a vigorous assault upon my most conspicuous assailant, Mr. Mansel. The other is Mr. Stirling's “ Sir William Hamilton, being the Philosophy of Perception; an Analysis : " an able and most severe criticism on Sir W. Hamilton's inconsistencies, and on his general character as a philosopher,