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THE TWO CHAMPIONS.
reserved to the science of mind; an advance which, if they are to be, as many think, the lords of all, they must make; and which, if they do not speedily effect, their present career must be most materially changed.
But it is not only because Mr. Mill's teaching is practical and Sir W. Hamilton's is abstract; not only because the one is helpful and the other obstructive to the course of modern thought; there is that difference in the mode in which they have taught us, which, there is too much reason to fear, will in the present day inevitably decide the popularity or the unpopularity of any writer. Sir William Hamilton always declared he neither would nor could teach any who would not think for themselves. And most thoroughly has he kept his word. Whoever becomes his scholar is put into an intellectual gymnasium, and forced to face every problem, define every term, and analyse every fact for himself. Still, in his works, fragmentary as most of them are, the now silent master seems to say to us all, as he was wont to say in his lecture-room, “ Think, and I will help you to learn ; refuse to think, and I have taken very good care you shall learn nothing here. How could such a teacher be popular in an age so eager to learn, so abhorrent of the labour of thought as the present? Now, Mr. Mill's writings not only instruct us, they. think for us.
His readers float down towards his goal on the stream of his lucid style, admiring the skill of his reasoning, instructed by the information
he gives, rejoicing in the new and fertile fields of thought which every fresh turn brings into their view, and interested in watching the process of mind laid open to them; but never once compelled to take to the oars or to think for themselves. How can a teacher so agreeable, as well as talented, but be popular?
But, however natural the triumph, we need not say it was slightly premature. Even for the sake of the victor and his victory, it is impossible to allow the same man to be at once the accuser, the judge, and the jury, in a cause he has so energetically made his own; and, therefore, we must not take Mr. Mill's statement, that Sir W. Hamilton has been weighed in the balance and is found wanting, altogether for granted, even whilst we acknowledge that his authority on such a point is now probably the highest we can have. The questions at stake are far too important, too complicated, and have been too long contested, to be now decided by the fall of a single champion. And already more thoughtful reviewers have appeared on the field, showing how much has still to be said before it is quite certain that Sir W. Hamilton has fallen.
There are two questions which Mr. Mill has directly raised in his attack on Sir W. Hamilton's philosophy, both of great, though by no means equal importance : one is, what is the real worth of Sir W. Hamilton as
THE QUESTIONS DEBATED.
a thinker, and an educator of thought ?—the other is, what is the truth of the transcendental system of philosophy, of which he is at present our chief exponent ?
His argument runs thus : though Sir W. Hamilton's fundamental doctrines were not especially his own, but were held by him in common with many philosphers who had preceded him; yet, “his form of the opinion, and his arguments for it, are those which specially require to be considered, both because he came the latest, and wrote with a full knowledge of the flaws which had been detected in his predecessors; and because he was one of the ablest, the most clear-sighted, and the most candid."* He must therefore be acknowledged to be the champion of the à priori school, and to refute his teaching is to refute that system in its most complete and perfect form. Not however resting wholly on this, Mr. Mill has a second argument. He will take away the foundation of the à priori system of pyschology, by proving that it is unnecessary for the explanation of the facts on which it professes to be based : he will show us that experience, without this à priori element, is sufficient to explain them, and therefore that that element is inadmissible. In general it cannot be fairly demanded of those who would destroy a false system of philosophy, that they should prove themselves able to give us another in its place; but
* Introductory remarks, chap. i.
in the present case, Mr. Mill undertakes to refute the one philosophy by building up the other: if his theory will stand, his argument is unanswerable ; but if it will not, the à priori philosophy remains unrefuted and untouched. There is a special interest attaching to this part of his argument, inasmuch as it is here that Mr. Mill for the first time enters on the field, where he had been so long expected, of pure metaphysics. Hitherto he has been employed, to our great benefit, in the easier departments of what we may call applied philosophy ; but here he fairly engages in the more arduous work of a metaphysician, not only clearing away for us the false opinions and pulling down the idols of his predecessors, but offering us another theory in their stead, as the true solution of our metaphysical difficulties, and the solid foundation on which we may confidently raise our superstructure of mental science.
This being Mr. Mill's line of battle, we have first of all to consider how far it is true, that Sir W. Hamilton's overthrow involves the overthrow of transcendental philosophy. Indeed there is much reason to question whether his overthrow has been effected. One great ground of censure is, that Sir W. Hamilton has done so little, and left that little so incomplete ; but Mr. Mill wholly ignores that which formed the greater part of his work—the living teaching he gave to living men-whereby he has raised up for our age and nation that which we most needed, a school of men who can and do think; a work which Plato
IS SIR W. HAMILTON CONQUERED?
considered the only work worthy to be called philosophical. It is perfectly true that what Mr. Mill has done with ease in two short chapters_tracing out the growth of the mind from the first stage of sentiency as yet unconscious of personality, to its present busy life and marvellous complexity of emotion, knowledge, ideas, and forms of thought-Sir W. Hamilton's whole life and great industry wholly failed to accomplish. But then it is clear that he entertained a wholly different idea of what a true philosophy must be ; and it cannot be that his demanding an accuracy, and a completeness of investigation such as no man, or generation of men could ever live to complete, makes his labours useless. If we are to have any complete science of mind, any true philosophy, it must be constructed painfully and patiently, and it cannot be completed yet: if there were as yet any metaphysical system, which professed to explain every fundamental difficulty, and to harmonise the main facts of psychology, we might safely assume that system must inevitably be false; for all those facts are not as yet known. So also when Mr. Mill charges Sir W. Hamilton with, indeed proves against him continual inconsistencies and discrepancies, it would not be difficult to show, both from history and reason, that all sound philosophy, whilst thus incomplete, must be liable to the objection of inconsistency. The Greek philosophers before Socrates were mostly quite consistent, each with his own scheme; and their systems have long perished. Plato was abundantly inconsistent with