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Preface to the Third Edition[*] - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume IX - An Examination of William Hamilton’s Philosophy 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume IX - An Examination of William Hamilton’s Philosophy and of The Principal Philosophical Questions Discussed in his Writings, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by Alan Ryan (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979).
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Preface to the Third Edition[*]
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 Inquirer.[‡]
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, taken from a different point of view from mine, and expressed with far greater asperity than I should myself think justifiable; legitimated, no doubt, to the writer’s mind by “a certain vein of disingenuousness”[**] which he finds in Sir W. Hamilton, but which I have not found, and shall not believe until I see it proved.
I must have been quite incapable of profiting by criticism, if I had learnt nothing from assailants so numerous, all of more or less, and some of very considerable, ability. They have detected not a few inadvertences of expression, as well as some of thought: and partly by their help, partly without it, I have discovered others. They have not shaken any statement or opinion of real moment; but I am sincerely indebted to them, both for the errors they have corrected, and for compelling me to strengthen my defences. The point in which it was to be expected that they would oftenest prevail, was in showing me to have erroneously interpreted Sir W. Hamilton. The difficulty to any thinker is so great, in these high regions of speculation, of placing himself completely at the point of view of a different philosophy, and even of thoroughly understanding its language, that it would be very presumptuous in me to imagine that I had always overcome that difficulty; and that too with the warning before me, of the absolute failure of able and accomplished minds on the other side in philosophy, to accomplish this in regard to the modes of thinking with which I am most familiar. I have been surprised, therefore, to find in how few instances, and those how little important, the defenders of Sir W. Hamilton have been able to show that I have misunderstood or incorrectly stated his opinions or arguments. I cannot doubt that more such mistakes remain to be pointed out: and I regret that the greater part of the volume has not yet, in its relation to Sir W. Hamilton, had the benefit of a sufficiently minute scrutiny. Had the unsparing criticism of Mr. Mansel on the first few chapters been continued to the remainder, he would doubtless have pointed out real mistakes; he might perhaps have thrown light on some of the topics from his own thoughts; and I should at least have had to thank him for additional confidence in the statements and opinions which had passed unharmed through the ordeal of his attacks.
Where criticism or reconsideration has convinced me that anything in the book was erroneous, or that any improvement was required in the mode of stating and setting forth the truth, I have made the requisite alterations. When the case seemed to require that I should call the reader’s attention to the change, I have done so; but I have not made this an invariable rule. Mere answers to objectors I have generally relegated to notes. With so many volumes to deal with, I could not take express notice of every criticism which they contained. When any of my critics finds that he, or some of his objections, are not individually referred to, let him be assured that it is from no disrespect, but either because I consider them to have been answered by the reply made to some one else, or because their best confutation is to remand the objector to the work itself, or because the edge of the objection has been turned by some, perhaps quite unapparent, correction of the text. A slight modification in a sentence, or even in a phrase, which a person acquainted with the former editions might read without observing it, and of which, even if he observed it, he would most likely not perceive the purpose, has sometimes effaced many pages of hostile criticism.
* * * * *
aOf the assailants to whom I replied, two only have published a rejoinder; Dean Mansel, in the Contemporary Review for September 1867, and Dr. M‘Cosh, in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review for April 1868[*] Neither of them appears to me to have added much of value to what he had previously advanced; and so far as concerns Dean Mansel, his regretted death has put a final termination to the controversy between us. I am not, however, thereby exempted from taking notice, however briefly, of such points in his rejoinder as appear to require it. Dr. M‘Cosh seems to think it a great triumph of his assaults upon me, that many of them were not noticed in my replies to critics. It is a little unreasonable in Dr. M‘Cosh to suppose that in a work, the subject of which is the philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, I was bound to fight a pitched battle with Dr. M‘Cosh on the whole line. His book was an attack directed against the whole of my philosophical opinions. I answered such parts of it as had reference to the present work, when they seemed to require an answer, and not to have received it sufficiently in what I had already written. And I have done the same, in the present edition, with his rejoinder.
Besides several unpublished criticisms which I owe to the kindness of correspondents, and which have helped me to correct or otherwise improve some of the details of the work; two more attacks have been made upon it subsequently to the third edition. Professor Veitch, in the Appendices to his interesting Memoir of Sir W. Hamilton, has commented sharply on what I have said respecting Sir W. Hamilton’s mode of understanding the Relativity of human knowledge, and respecting his failure to apprehend correctly the general character of Hume and Leibnitz as philosophers, as well as some particular passages of Aristotle.[†] On the first subject, that of Relativity, I find so much difficulty in reducing Professor Veitch’s statement to distinct propositions, and, so far as I understand his meaning, it differs so little, and that little not to its advantage, from what I have already commented on in answering Mr. Mansel, that I do not think it necessary to burthen this volume with an express reply to him. With regard to Hume and Leibnitz I am content that they who have a competent knowledge of those philosophers should form their own opinion. As regards Sir W. Hamilton’s interpretation of Aristotle, Professor Veitch has convicted me of a mistake in treating a citation made by his editors as if it had been made by himself, and of an overstatement of one of Sir W. Hamilton’s opinions which I only noticed incidentally.[‡] These errors I have corrected, in their places,[§] and it will be found that they do not affect anything of importance in the criticism there made upon Sir W. Hamilton.
Professor Veitch* considers it unfair that I should press against Sir W. Hamilton anything contained in his Lectures,[*] these having been hastily written under pressure from time, and not being the most matured expression of some of his opinions. But though thus written, it is admitted that they continued to be delivered by Sir W. Hamilton as long as he performed the duties of Professor; which would not have been the case if he had no longer considered them as a fair representation of his philosophy. A complete representation I never pretended that they were; a correct representation I am bound to think them; for it cannot be believed that he would have gone on delivering to his pupils matter which he judged to be inconsistent with the subsequent developments of his philosophy.
The other thinker who has taken the field against my psychological opinions is Dr. Ward, who, in the Dublin Review for October 1871,[†] has made an able attack on the views I have expressed in this and other writings on the subject of what is called Necessary Truth. Some of Dr. Ward’s observations are more particularly directed against a portion of my System of Logic,[‡] and the fittest place for their discussion is in connexion with that treatise. But the greater part of his article principally regards the chapter of the present work which relates to Inseparable Association, and a reply to it will be found in a note which I have added at the end of that chapter.a[§]
AN EXAMINATION OF SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON’S PHILOSOPHY
[[*] ]This preface, in expanded form (see cvi-cviii below), also appears in the 4th ed. There is no preface in the 1st or 2nd ed.
[[†] ]Henry Longueville Mansel, The Philosophy of the Conditioned (London and New York: Strahan, 1866); reprinted from Contemporary Review, I (Jan., Feb., 1866), 31-49, 185-219.
[[‡] ][Lucy March Phillipps,] The Battle of the Two Philosophies (London: Longmans, Green, 1866).
[[§] ]James McCosh, An Examination of Mr. J. S. Mill’s Philosophy (London: Macmillan, 1866).
[[¶] ]Henry Calderwood, “The Sensational Philosophy—Mr. J. S. Mill and Dr. McCosh,” British and Foreign Evangelical Review, XV (April, 1866), 396-412.
[[*] ]Henry Boynton Smith, “Mill’s Examination of Hamilton’s Philosophy,” American Presbyterian and Theological Review, IV (Jan., 1866), 126-62.
[[†] ]Hugh Francis O’Hanlon, A Criticism of John Stuart Mill’s Pure Idealism (Oxford and London: Parker, 1866).
[[‡] ]William Henry Smith, “J. S. Mill on Our Belief in the External World,” Blackwood’s Magazine, XCIX (Jan., 1866), 20-45.
[[§] ]John Pentland Mahaffy, intro. and trans., Kuno Fischer, A Commentary on Kant’s Critick of Pure Reason (London: Longmans, Green, 1866).
[[¶] ]Edinburgh: Nimmo, 1866.
[[∥] ]Robert Ephrem Guy, “Calderwood and Mill upon Hamilton,” Dublin Review, n.s. V (Oct., 1865), 474-504; John Cunningham, “Mill’s Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy,” Edinburgh Review, CXXIV (July, 1866), 120-50.
[[**] ]David Masson, Recent British Philosophy (London and Cambridge: Macmillan, 1865).
[[††] ]Alexander Campbell Fraser, “Mr. Mill’s Examination of Sir W. Hamilton’s Philosophy,” North British Review, XLIII (Sept., 1865), 1-58.
[[*] ]“Mill versus Hamilton,” Fortnightly Review, I (15 July, 1865), 531-50.
[[†] ]Anon., “Mill on Hamilton,” North American Review, CIII (July, 1866), 250-60.
[[‡] ]George Grote, “John Stuart Mill on the Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton,” Westminster Review, n.s. XXIX (Jan., 1866), 1-39.
[[§] ]M. P. W. Bolton, Inquisitio Philosophica (London: Chapman and Hall, 1866).
[[¶] ]In Chap. vi, pp. 180-97; the assault is on Mansel’s The Philosophy of the Conditioned.
[[∥] ]James Hutchison Stirling, Sir William Hamilton (London: Longmans, Green, 1865).
[[**] ]Stirling, p. vii.
[a-a]cviii + 72
[[*] ]Mansel, “Supplementary Remarks on Mr. Mill’s Criticism of Sir William Hamilton,” Contemporary Review, VI (Sept., 1867), 18-31; McCosh, “Mill’s Reply to his Critics,” British and Foreign Evangelical Review, XVII (April, 1868), 332-62.
[[†] ]John Veitch, Memoir of Sir William Hamilton (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1869), App., Note C, pp. 429-48.
[[‡] ]Ibid., p. 447.
[[§] ]See below, pp. 503k-k and 503n.
[* ]Memoir, pp. 212-13.
[[*] ]Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, ed. Henry Longueville Mansel and John Veitch, 4 vols. (Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1859-60).
[[†] ]William George Ward, “Mr. Mill’s Denial of Necessary Truth,” Dublin Review, n.s. XVII (Oct., 1871), 285-318.
[[‡] ]See Collected Works, Vols. VII and VIII (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), Vol. VIII, pp. 575-7 (a response to Ward’s article added in the 8th ed., 1872, to Bk. II, Chap. v, §5).
[[§] ]See the note to Chap. xiv, pp. 267-71 below.