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The Philosophy of the Conditioned   By: (1820-1871)

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CONDITIONED

Reprinted, with Additions, from "The Contemporary Review."

Comprising some Remarks on Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy and on Mr. J.S. Mill's Examination of that Philosophy

BY H.L. MANSEL, B.D.

WAYNFLETE PROFESSOR OF MORAL AND METAPHYSICAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

ALEXANDER STRAHAN, PUBLISHER LONDON AND NEW YORK 1866

MUIR AND PATERSON, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.

PREFACE

The circumstance that the following remarks were originally published as an anonymous article in a Review, will best explain the style in which they are written. Absence from England prevented me from becoming acquainted with Mr. Mill's Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy till some time after its publication; and when I was requested to undertake the task of reviewing it, I was still ignorant of its contents. On proceeding to fulfil my engagement, I soon discovered, not only that the character of the book was very different from what the author's reputation had led me to expect, but also that my task would be one, not merely of criticism, but, in some degree, of self defence. The remarks on myself, coming from a writer of Mr. Mill's ability and reputation, were such as I could not pass over without notice; while, at the same time, I felt that my principal duty in this instance was the defence of one who was no longer living to defend himself. Under these circumstances, the best course appeared to be, to devote the greater portion of my article to an exposition and vindication of Sir W. Hamilton's teaching; and, in the additional remarks which it was necessary to make on the more personal part of the controversy, to speak of myself in the third person, as I should have spoken of any other writer. The form thus adopted has been retained in the present republication, though the article now appears with the name of its author.

My original intention of writing a review of the entire book was necessarily abandoned as soon as I became acquainted with its contents. To have done justice to the whole subject, or to Mr. Mill's treatment of it, would have required a volume nearly as large as his own. I therefore determined to confine myself to the Philosophy of the Conditioned , both as the most original and important portion of Sir W. Hamilton's teaching, and as that which occupies the first place in Mr. Mill's Examination .

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CONDITIONED.

The reader of Plato's Republic will readily recall to mind that wonderful passage at the end of the sixth book, in which the philosopher, under the image of geometrical lines, exhibits the various relations of the intelligible to the sensible world; especially his lofty aspirations with regard to "that second segment of the intelligible world, which reason of itself grasps by the power of dialectic, employing hypotheses, not as principles, but as veritable hypotheses, that is to say, as steps and starting points, in order that it may ascend as far as the unconditioned ([Greek: mechri tou anypothetou]), to the first principle of the universe, and having grasped this, may then lay hold of the principles next adjacent to it, and so go down to the end, using no sensible aids whatever, but employing abstract forms throughout, and terminating in forms."

This quotation is important for our present purpose in two ways. In the first place, it may serve, at the outset of our remarks, to propitiate those plain spoken English critics who look upon new terms in philosophy with the same suspicion with which Jack Cade regarded "a noun and a verb, and such abominable words as no Christian ear can endure to hear," by showing that the head and front of our offending, "the Unconditioned," is no modern invention of Teutonic barbarism, but sanctioned even by the Attic elegance of a Plato... Continue reading book >>




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