Notes of lectures on Metaphysics, 1854-1855, at MS 2650. Lectures on Logic, 1851-1852, at MSS 2704-2705. Notes of lectures on Logic, 1847-1848, at Gen. 49D
Lectures of Professor Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856)
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Administrative / Biographical History
William Hamilton was born in Glasgow on 8 March 1788. He was educated at grammar school in Glasgow from 1797, and in 1800 began studies at the junior Greek and Latin classes at Glasgow University before attending schools at Chiswick and then at Bromley, Kent. He again studied at Glasgow University 1803-6, where he attended classes in logic and moral philosophy. A period at Edinburgh University followed, 1806-7, and there he studied medicine. He also studied at Balliol College, Oxford, 1807-10, and again at Edinburgh 1811-14. Hamilton was called to the Scottish Bar in 1813 and practised as an Advocate in Edinburgh until 1836. In 1820 he stood unsuccessfully for the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University, but was elected Professor of Civil History at the University in 1821. Around this time he had acquired an interest in phrenology, but after anatomical research of his own he became hostile to the science and engaged himself in controversy with phrenologist George Combe. In 1836, Hamilton was elected to the Chair of Logic and Metaphysics at Edinburgh University. He became partially paralysed in 1844 and this ill-health reduced his capacity somewhat. Although he wrote no systematic work, his philosophy can be gathered from Lectures and his Discussions in philosophy and literature, and from his criticism. Hamilton contributed to psychology and logic with his doctrines of the 'quantification of the predicate' and the 'unknowability of the infinite', and his theories of the association of ideas, of unconscious mental modifications, and the inverse relation of perception and sensation. He was the chief representative of the Scottish School of Philosophy. Professor Sir William Hamilton died in Edinburgh on 6 May 1856.
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Notes of Hamilton's lectures taken down by D. Mclaren received from E. M. Lawson, Sutton Coldfield, December 1960, Accession no. E60.31. Lectures taken by James S. Wilson received from Professor Alastair Hannay, Oslo, Norway, March 1985, Accession no. E85.22. Hamilton's lectures on logic purchased April 1990, Accession no. E90.44.
The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) Geddes, Patrick Viri illustres. p.30. Edinburgh: Y. J. Pentland, 1884. (2) Addison, W. Innes The matriculation albums of the University of Glasgow from 1728 to 1858. p.194. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1913. (3) Thorne, J. O. and Collocott, T. C. Chambers biographical dictionary. Revised ed. with supp. Repr. Edinburgh: Chambers, 1982. (4) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.3. Glover-Harriott. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.
Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division
Other Finding Aids
Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.