Modern Physical Fatalism and the Doctrine of Evolution; Including an Examination of H. Spencer's First Principles

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This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text, images, or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1882. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... CHAPTER IV. THE RELATIVITY OF KNOWLEDGE ACCORDING TO SIR W. HAMILTON AND MR MILL. The Relativity of Knowledge, I have shewn in the last chapter, has a different meaning in each of the three philosophers, whose seeming verbal agreement, and high reputation, are at first sight a strong presumption in favour of its truth. Sir W. Hamilton, Mr Spencer, Mr Mill, all directly affirm it in the most emphatic terms. The last of them pronounces it to be true, fundamental, and full of important consequences. Sir W. Hamilton, whose immense reading in metaphysics is well known, claims for it the general assent of all great thinkers of former days, and speaks of a few German theorizers, such as Schelling and Hegel, as the only exceptions. Mr Spencer adopts from him both the historical statement, and the exposition of the doctrine, and places it at the foundation of his own laboriously constructed scheme of philosophy. But when we look more closely, we find that Mr Mill reduces Sir W. Hamilton's seventeen authorities to two only, though he would gladly have learned that there had been so wide an acceptance of what he calls "a philosophical truth destructive of a great mass of misleading speculation;" and of these two, Newton, the more weighty, may be shewn, by the context of the quotation, to be as far as the others from affirming the real doctrine in debate. Also Mr Mill proceeds to prove, through six or seven chapters, that the Natural Realism of Sir W. Hamilton, and his doctrine of Belief, as distinct from knowledge, amount to a practical surrender and reversal of the doctrine of Relativity, which in words he so strongly affirms. In like manner he corrects his first impressions of Mr Spencer's view, and concludes that it is really no less inconsistent than the Scot...