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An Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy,

and of the Principal Philosophical Questions discussed in his
Writings. By John STUART MILL. Boston: William V.

Spencer. Two Vols. 1865.
The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. By JOHN

STUART MILL. Boston: William V. Spencer. 1865.
Dissertations and Discussions: Political, Philosophical and

Historical. By John Stuart Mill. Three Vols. Bos

ton: William V. Spencer. 1864. A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive. By John

STUART Mill. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1865. Westminster Review. April. Article: The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. July. Article: Later Speculations of Auguste Comte. By Jouy STUART Mill. New York: Leonard Scott & Co. 1865.


The name of Mr. Mill, as a speeulative and practical thinker upon government, society, metaphysics and morals, has gradually risen in prominence during the last twenty-five years, until he has become the foremost name in recent British philosophy. Born in 1806, he has now attained a ripe maturity, and his. opinions may be considered as settled upon every subject concerning which he has published his views; while his position in England has been so popularly conceded, that his recent election to Parliament was easily carried under peculiar circumstances, by the weight of his personal character. He is now a recognized leader of the English Liberals ; and perhaps the foremost thinker in Europe who has been largely indebted to the Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte.

The position from which he writes may be better understood if we turn to his personal history. His father was James Mill, a Scotchman, the author of the History of British India and the Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, and the friend of Bentham and the Liberal school of thinkers whose

nucleus is the Westminster Review. John Stuart Mill was educated at home under these influences. In 1823, he took a clerkship in the India House of the East India Company, from which he rose through the intermediate grades of promotion until, in 1856, he was appointed the Examiner of Indian Correspondence, the post which his father had held before him. In these years he was a frequent contributor to the leading Reviews, editing the London and Westminster Review from 1835 to 1810, and even up to the present year its most regular and able contributor. The three volumes of his Dissertations and Discussions, are made up from these essays, first collected aud published in London in two volumes in 1859; and so general was the demand for them in our own country that the republication, in 1864, has met with a large sale and given a new impulse to the circulation of all his works. His earliest work was the editing of Bentham's Rationale of Judicial Evidence, in 1827, to which he added notes and supplementary chapters. Up to 1835, he was a frequent contributor to the daily press on the side of advanced liberalism. The work, which first made him extensively known in England and here, was his System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, published in 1843. Next came his Principles of Political Economy in 1848, and later his Essay on Liberty, his Considerations on Representative Government, his Utilitarianism ; and now this present year the latest and most able of all his writings, his Examination of the Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton and the Essays on Comte. These volumes embrace a large range of discussion and include nearly every social problem. They are fearlessly yet temperately written, and carry weight because of the prevalent good sense which even in the highest reaches of speculation never deserts the author.

Mr. Mill is a psychological as distinguished from a retrospective thinker. He belongs to the school of Hobbes and Locke and Hume and Hartley and Thomas Brown and James Mill, "to those who hold that the belief in an external world is not intuitive but an acquired product,” to those who claim that even the elements of consciousness can be resolved into the results of sensations and inseparable association. In morals, he is an utilitarian, denying an original moral sense, and claiming the greatest happiness principle as the sufficient cause and motive for human conduct. In theology, so far as it is related to moral and speculative philosophy, his position is negative; he writes like an outsider; and his influence in this respect, as we shall attempt to show later on, is pernicious. He has taken up a single line of thought from the first, and never advancing beyond it, has pushed it with unrivaled keenness and logical force in every direction ; and as he himself says of others we can say of him, that he is generally right in what he affirms, wrong in what he denies.

He is very largely indebted, and he acknowledges it gratefully, to his father's Analysis of the Mind, though he is too acute a thinker not to avoid the baldness of the exclusive association theory. His co-thinkers, from whom

, he differs however on many points, are Alexander Bain and Herbert Spencer and George Henry Lewes. In recent days, this school has been putting forth unusual strength; and positively, it has done great good in drawing attention to the physical sciences, and in introducing a stricter method in the study of metaphysics. This method is the inductive. It owes its origin to Bacon, but was especially applied by Comte, in his Positive Philosophy, to the arrangement and classification of the sciences. But not entirely inductive; it is inductive until sufficient facts have been ascertained to establish general principles, and then deductive in the proof and vindication of them. The necessity of this method is strong upon this class of thinkers, because, denying that there are original dicta of consciousness from which our knowledge begins, and believing that our knowledge of mind and morals can be reduced to the simplicity and regular sequence of facts in physical science, everything depends upon the system by which truth is gained. It is a continual experi

It is in this positive work that the chief value of this school consists. They simplify and reduce to principles the facts of mental science. Thus their method is constantly making advances into the realm of metaphysical entity, and reducing assumptions to principles grounded on fact. This is the only means of advance in these studies; and this method, used with more vigor by the intuitionists who have been inclined by the easy assumption of original principles to forbear strict analysis, will tend to narrow the realm of ignorance which Sir William Hamilton makes us painfully conscious of in the human mind.


The work of the associationists therefore is largely systemization. This strikes one specially in Comte and Spencer, and Mr. Mill is even more the teacher of method than the others, since he was among the first to lay it down. Mr. Mill well states the work of all these thinkers, himself included, in laying down the basis of the Positive Philosophy of Comte.


“We have no knowledge of anything but Phenomena ; and our knowledge of phenomena is relative, not absolute. We know not the essence, nor the real mode of production, of any fact, but only its relations to other facts in the way of succession or of similitude. These relations are constant; that is, always the same in the same circumstances. The constant resemblances which link phenomena together, and the constant sequences which unite them as antecedent and consequent, are termed their laws. The laws of phenomena are all we know respecting them. Their essential nature, and their ultimate causes, either efficient or final, are unknown and unscrutable to us.”l

This is not indeed original with Comte. "The conviction that knowledge of the successions and co-existences of phenomena is the sole knowledge accessible to us” has been held by all accurate thinkers. Mr. Mill says that " among the direct successors of Hume, the writer who has best stated and defended Comte's fundamental philosophy is Dr. Thomas Brown ”; but this honor so generously given to another must now be claimed for Mr. Mill himself, whose recent exposition of the Positive Philosophy is unquestionably the ablest and the kindest statement it has ever had. This qualification must be always conceded to him, that he states accurately the position of another, whether he be friend or foe. Even when dealing his hardest blows at Sir William Hamilton, he always tries to be fair ; and yet there is a mental obliquity, a want of imaginative perception or insight, which often causes him to just miss, and only that, the highest levels of speculation. What a mental philosopher needs quite as much as logical acuteness, is the power to adequately understand opposite modes of thinking. This Hamilton has far more than Mill. Bating this, and remembering that his central doctrine is the invariable uniformity of law, and that he never goes

· The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. pp. 7, 8.

beyond phenomena to noumena, save when his very reason and common sense compel him to in order to escape from the difficulties of his theory, his writings upon philosophy and morals have very high value as practically reducing to science and system things known. The excellence which he claims for Bentham, the method which he applied to the investigation of the truth of things established, is his in a deeper sense. His speculations upon morals seem to us of less value than anything else he has written, since they are vitiated by his theory. But to these in their order.

His claims as a metaphysician are but recently known through his criticism of Hamilton; and yet that work contains nothing which was not fully set forth in his System of Logic, twenty years before, so far as his own opinions go. To examine this work critically we have neither time nor space, but some general account of it is

necessary. Its purpose is : “To embody and systematize the best ideas which have been promulged on its subject by speculative writers, or conformed to by accurate thinkers in their scientific inquiries. Its originality consists in this : it is an attempt to cement together the detached fragments of a subject, never yet treated as a whole ; to harmonize the true portions of discordant theories, by supplying the links of thought necessary to connect them, and by disentangling them from the errors with which they are always more or less interwoven.” Of the technical rules of logic, it says almost nothing ; but dating from a familiar knowledge of these rules, it begins with a recasting of the old opinions upon names and propositions, and thence goes on to "generalize the modes of investigating truth and estimating evidence, by which so many important and recondite laws of nature have, in the various sciences, been aggregated to the stock of human knowledge.” The concluding book, though his opinions are cropping out continually throughout the treatise, on the same topics, is the one which chiefly relates to our special purpose. It is a contribution, says Mr. Mill, "towards the solution of a question, which the decay of old opinions, and the agitation that disturbs European society to its inmost depths, render as important in the present day to the practical interests of human life, as it must at all times be to the completeness of our speculative knowledge : that is, whether

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