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being, in practice at least, if not in scientific accuracy, usually distributed among other departments of Philosophy. The following Lectures cannot be considered as embracing the whole province of Metaphysics in either of the above senses. Among the Phänomena of Mind, the Cognitive Faculties are discussed fully and satisfactorily; those of Feeling are treated with less detail; those of Conation receive scarcely any special consideration ; while the questions of Ontology, or . Metaphysics proper, are touched upon only incidentally. The omission of any special discussion of this last branch may perhaps be justified by its abstruse character, and unsuitableness for a course of elementary instruction ; but it is especially to be regretted, both on account of the general neglect of this branch of study by the entire school of Scottish philosophers, and also on account of the eminent qualifications which the Author possessed for supplying this acknowledged deficiency. A treatise on Ontology from the pen of Sir William Hamilton, embodying the final results of the Philosophy of the Conditioned, would have been a boon to the philosophical world such as probably no writer now living is capable of conferring.
The circumstances under which these Lectures were written must also be taken into account in estimating their character, both as a specimen of the Author's powers, and as a contribution to philosophical literature.
Sir William Hamilton was elected to the Chair of Logic and Metaphysics in July, 1836. In the interval between his appointment and the commencement of the College Session (November of the same year), the Author was assiduously occupied in making preparation for discharging the duties of his office. The principal part of those duties consisted, according to the practice of the University, in the delivery of a Course of Lectures on the subjects assigned to the chair. On his appointment to the Professorship, Sir William Hamilton experienced considerable difficulty in deciding on the character of the
course of Lectures on Philosophy, which, while doing justice to the subject, would at the same time meet the wants of his auditors, who were ordinarily composed of comparatively young students, in the second year of their university curriculum. The Author of the articles on Cousin's Philosophy, on Perception, and on Logic, had already given ample proof of those speculative accomplishments, and that profound philosophical learning, which, in Britain at least, were conjoined in an equal degree by no other man of his time. But those very qualities which placed him in the front rank of speculative thinkers, joined to his love of precision and system, and his lofty ideal of philosophical composition, served but to make him the more keenly alive to the requirements of his subject, and to the difficulties that lay in the way of combining elementary instruction in Philosophy with the adequate discussion of its topics. Hence, although even at this period his methodized stores of learning were ample and pertinent, the opening of the College Session found him still reading and reflecting, and unsatisfied with even the small portion of matter which he had been able to commit to writing. His first Course of Lectures (Metaphysical) thus fell to be written during the cựrrency of the Session (1836–7). The Author was in the habit of delivering three Lectures each week; and each Lecture was usually written on the day, or, more properly, on the evening and night, preceding its delivery. The Course of Metaphysics, as it is now given to the world, is the result of this nightly toil, unremittingly sustained for a period of five months. These Lectures were thus designed solely for a temporary purpose the use of the Author's own classes; they were, moreover, always regarded by the Author himself as defective as a complete Course of Metaphysics; and they never were revised by him with any view to publication, and this chiefly for the reason that he intended to make use of various portions of them which had not been incorporated in
1 Edinburgh Review, 1829.
2 lbid., 1830.
3 Bid., 1833.
his other writings, in the promised Supplementary Dissertations to Reid's Works,-a design which his failing health did not permit him to complete.
The Lectures on Logic were not composed until the following Session (1837–8). This Course was also, in great part, written during the currency of the Session,
These circumstances will account for the repetition, in some places, of portions of the Author's previously published writings, and for the numerous and extensive quotations from other writers, which are interspersed throughout the present Course. Most of these have been ascertained by references furnished by the Author himself, either in the manuscript of the present Lectures, or in his Common Place Book. These quotations, while they detract in some degree from the originality of the work, can, however, hardly be considered as lessening its value. Many of the authors quoted are but little known in this country; and the extracts from their writings will, to the majority of readers, have all the novelty of original remarks. They also exhibit, in a remarkable degree, the Author's singular power of appreciating and making use of every available hint scattered through those obscurer regions of thought, through which his extensive reading conducted him. No part of Sir William IIamilton's writings more completely verifies the remark of his American critic, Mr. Tyler: “ There seems to be not even a random thought of any value, which has been dropped along any, even obscure, path of mental activity, in any age or country, that his diligence has not recovered, his sagacity appreciated, and his judgment husbanded in the stores of his knowledge.” Very frequently, indeed, the thought which the Author selects and makes his own, acquires its value and significance in the very process of selection ; and the contribution is more enriched than the adopter; for what, in another, is but a passing reflection, seen in a faint light, isolated and fruitless, often rises, in the hands of Sir William Hamilton, to the rank of a great, permanent, and luminous principle, receives its appropriate place in the order of truths to which it belongs, and proves, in many instances, a centre of radiation over a wide expanse of the field of human knowledge.
1 Princeton Review, October, 1855. This article bas since been republished with the Author's name, in his Essay on the Progress
of Philosophy in the Past and in the Future. Philadelphia, 1558.
The present volume may also appear to some disadvantage on account of the length of time which has elapsed between its composition and its publication. Other writings, particularly the Dissertations appended to Reid's Works, and part of the new matter in the Discussions, though earlier in point of publication, contain later and more mature phases of the Author's thought, on some of the questions discussed in the following pages. Much that would have been new to English readers twenty years ago, has, subsequently, in a great measure by the instrumentality of the Author himself, become well known; and the familiar expositions designed for the oral instruction of beginners in philosophy, have been eclipsed by those profounder reflections which have been published for the deliberate study of the philosophical world at large.
But, when all these deductions have been made, the work before us will still remain a noble monument of the Author's philosophical genius and learning. In many respects, indeed, it is qualified to become more popular than any of his other publications. The very necessity which the Author was under, of adapting his observations, in some degree, to the needs and attainments of his hearers, has also fitted them for the instruction and gratification of a wide circle of general readers, who would have less relish for the severer style in which some of his later thoughts are conveyed. The present Lectures, if in depth and exactness of thought they are, for the most part, not equal to the Dissertations on Reid, or to some portions of the Discussions, possess attractions of their own, which will probably recommend them to a more numerous class of admirers; while they retain, in no small degree, the ample learning and philosophical acumen which are identified with the Author's previous reputation.
1 The foot-notes to Reid were, for the most part, written nearly contemporaneously with the present Lectures.
Apart, however, from considerations of their intrinsic value, these Lectures possess a high academical and historical interest. 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 class-room; 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, intensity, 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 teachings 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.
The Editors, in offering these Lectures to the public, are, therefore, encouraged to express their belief, that they will not be found unworthy of the illustrious name which they bear. In the discharge of their own duties as annotators, the Editors have thought it due to the fame of the Author, to leave his opinions to be judged entirely by their own merits, without the accompaniment of criticisms, concurrent or dis