Hamilton, Sir William (Scottish philosopher)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hamilton, Sir William (Scottish philosopher)

Sir William Hamilton, 1788–1856, Scottish philosopher. He was widely interested in law, physiology, and literature and was professor of history and philosophy at the Univ. of Edinburgh. Hamilton helped to reestablish the waning fame of the Scottish school of metaphysics. His "Philosophy of the Unconditioned" (1829), a critique of Cousin's Cours de philosophie published in the Edinburgh Review, publicized his views on the infinite, which he considered unknowable. Under the influence of Kant, he conceived of the world that man knows as finite and conditioned in terms of space, time, and degree. In logic his attempt to "quantify the predicate" was a crude anticipation of later developments in mathematical logic. The British academic outlook was broadened by his emphasis on the German philosophers and on Aristotle. His son, Francis, published his Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic (ed. by H. L. Mansel and John Veitch, 4 vol., 1859–60, repr. 1969).

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