Hamilton, William, Sir
HAMILTON, WILLIAM, SIR
Scottish philosopher; b. Glasgow, March 8, 1788; d. Edinburgh, May 6, 1856. He was educated at the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Oxford, and called to the Scottish bar in 1813. In 1821 he became professor of civil history at Edinburgh and in 1836 was appointed to the chair of logic and metaphysics. In 1844 he suffered a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed, but his mind was unaffected and he was able to continue his work until he died. Hamilton contributed three important articles on his philosophy to the Edinburgh Review; these he republished in Discussions on Philosophy and Literature, Education and University Reform (London-Edinburgh 1852). About 1836 he began his edition of Thomas Reid's Works, which he published in 1846 without finishing the "dissertations" he planned to include in it. After his death the four volumes of his Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic (Edinburgh-Boston 1859–60) were published by two of his disciples, H. L. Mansel (1820–71) and J. Veitch (1829–94). Hamilton was a man of extensive learning but not an original thinker, being too eclectic to be equal to the task of constructing the synthesis for which he was working. The great influence he had during his lifetime was short-lived. It never survived J. S. Mill's Examination of Sir W. Hamilton's Philosophy (London 1865).
See Also: scottish school of common sense.
Bibliography: v. mathieu, Enciclopedia filosofica (Venice-Rome 1957) 2:971–973. s. v. rasmussen, The Philosophy of Sir William Hamilton (Copenhagen 1925). j. veitch, Hamilton (Edinburgh 1882). w. h. s. monck, Sir William Hamilton (New York 1881).
[e. a. sillem]