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it manifests its existence. But if it can be known immediately only as it is known in itself, then must it be “actually in existence and actually in immediate relation to our faculties of knowledge." It follows, of course, that there can be no immediate knowledge of the past, the idea of which itself excludes the possibility of actual existence. Such is immediate knowledge in relation to the object known. How is it with respect to the cognitive act ? “ Every act, and consequently every act of knowledge exists only as it now exists; and as it exists only in the now, it can be cognizant only of a now existent object." The author then applies these remarks to the memory; and here we quote at length for the sake of the valuable truths which the quotation will set forth.
"Memory is an act,—an act of knowledge; it can, therefore, be cognizant only of a now-existent object. But the object known in memory is, ex hypothesi, past; consequently, we are reduced to the dilemma, either of refusing a past object to be known in memory at all, or of admitting it to be only mediately known, in and through a present object. That the latter alternative is the true, it will require a very few explanatory words to convince you. What are the contents of an act of memory? An act of memory is merely a present state of mind, which we are conscious of, not as absolute, but as relative to, and representing, another state of mind, and accompanied with the belief that the state of mind, as now represented, has actually been. I remember an event I saw,-the landing of George IV at Leith. This remembrance is only a consciousness of certain imaginations, involving the conviction that these imaginations now represent ideally what I formerly really experienced. All that is immediately known in the act of memory is the present mental modification; that is, the representation and concomitant belief. Beyond this mental modification, we know nothing: and this mental modification is not only known to consciousness, but only exists in and by consciousness of any past object, real or ideal, the mind knows and can know nothing, for ex hypothesi, no such object now exists ; or if it be said to know such an object, it can only be said to know it mediately, as represented in the present mental modification. Properly speaking, however, we know only the actual and present, and all real knowledge is an immediate knowledge. What is said to be mediately known, is, in truth, not known to be, but only believed to be; for its existence is only an inference resting on the belief, that the mental modification truly represents what is in itself beyond the sphere of knowledge. What is immediately known must be; for what is immediately known is supposed to be known as eristing. The denial of the existence, and of the existence within the sphere of consciousness, involves, therefore, a denial of the immediate knowledge of an object. We may, accordingly, doubt the reality of any object of mediate knowledge, without denying the reality of the immediate knowledge on which the mediate knowledge rests. In memory, for instance, we cannot deny the existence of the present representation and belief, for their existence is the consciousness of their existence itself. To doubt their existence, therefore, is for us to doubt the existence of our consciousness. But as this doubt itself exists only through consciousness, it would, consequently, annihilate itself. But, though in memory we must admit the reality of the representation and belief, as facts of consciousness, we may doubt, we may deny, that the representation and belief are true. We may assert that they represent what never was, and that all beyond their pres. ent mental existence is a delusion. This, however, could not be the case if our knowledge of the past were immediate. So far, therefore, is memory from being an immediate knowledge of the past, that it is at best only a mediate knowledge of the past; wbile, in philosophical propriety, it is not a knowledge of the past at all, but a knowledge of the present and a belief of the past. But in whatever terms we may choose to designate the contents of memory, it is manifest that these contents are all within the sphere of consciousness.” pp. 152, 153.
Hamilton next considers Reid's position, that in perception we are conscious of the act of perception, but not of the thing perceived; and following the same strain of remark as just mentioned, comes to the conclusion that the consciousness of the act necessitates the consciousness of the object. But we cannot follow the discussion further.
We sum up the whole case. Dr. Reid, in separating the acts of cognition from the objects of cognition, and assigning our knowledge of the former to consciousness, and of the latter to other faculties, such as perception, memory, and imagination, has, in the first place, disjoined in philosophy what is one and inseparable in nature. For, in being conscious of an act, we are necessarily conscious of the object known in the act. Still, since we can separate in thought what is inseparable in reality, there could be no objection to such separation, provided the necessities of philosophical inquiry required it. But, in the second place, not only is there no necessity for thus sundering the unity of our cognitions, but the procedure works great harm to the interests of a true philosophy. Questions as to the certainty of our knowledge could only arise from philosophical inquiry, and it was philosophy that, in answering these questions, brought out and marked the distinction between “I know,” and “I know that I know.” It did this to point out distinctly the certainty of our knowledge, and for this purpose fixed upon the word the most expressive of certainty-consciousness. When we say we are conscious of knowing, we mean we are sure of it. Now Reid, in signalizing the certainty of our acts of cognition, viewed merely as modifications of mind, by appropriating to them alone the faculty of consciousness, has thrown some doubt on the reality of the objects of knowledge. On the contrary, the doctrine of Hamilton gives assurance of the certainty of all our immediate knowledge, and that in accordance with the facts in the case.
Let philosophy, then, start with this :—The mind knows, has knowledge, and knows that it knows. The mind knows, and it is this knowledge, and this knowledge alone, which constitutes the materials of philosophy. It knows that it knows : it is sure of the reality of what it knows. The knowledge of which it is the author, is a real thing. Philosophy, in order to have an existence, must take its materials from the mind, and must rely upon the sole authority of the mind for the reality of that which it takes. Let consciousness stand for the mind viewed as putting forth acts of knowledge, and as authenticating those acts. Consciousness, then, in this sense, furnishes the facts with which philosophy has to do, and authenticates their reality, and it would be self-destruction in philosophy to deny or doubt the testimony of consciousness.
Having illustrated the nature and office of consciousness, our author proceeds to lay down the laws which regulate the legitimacy of its applications.” This is a new field of inquiry, and here, in our opinion, Hamilton has won some of his greatest triumphs. But, though the lectures containing these investigations (the 15th and 16th) are among the most interesting in the volume, we are obliged to waive any further attention to them.
Having shown the laws and authority of consciousness, our author illustrates the whole topic by examining three of the most general facts of consciousness. The first is “the duality of consciousness,” by which is meant the fact that in the simplest act of perception, “I am conscious of myself as the perceiving subject, and of an external reality as the object perceived;" (Lecture 16.) The second general fact is implied in the question, “Are we always consciously active ?” (Lect. 17,) and the third, in the question, “Is the mind ever unconsciously
modified ?" (Lectures 18 and 19,) and with this our author concludes the general discussion of consciousness,-a discussion, we venture to say, the most profound the subject has ever received--and here we are obliged to end our criticism.
It so happened that we did not read the Article on Hamilton in the North British, till just as we had finished our own. We are led by some things in that Article to dwell for a moment upon a distinction which Hamilton makes in knowledge, a distinction, the neglect of which alone gives plausibility to the charge of inconsistency which the critic brings against him.
The distinction which we refer to, is the distinction between immediate and mediate knowledge. An object, in order to be known immediately, must be known, as we have already said, in the phenomena by which its existence is manifested; but in order to be thus known, it must be in actual existence and must stand in immediate relation to the knowing mind. Opposed to objects in actual existence and in immediate relation to the mind, are such objects as are removed in time or space from the sphere of the mind's present activity. Now, it is of the objects of the former class alone that we have immediate knowledge. It is of these objects alone that we are conscious. It is the consciousness of that which is in actual and immediate relation to the mind, which constitutes immediate knowledge, and which alone, perhaps, should be called knowledge. But we may believe in the past; we may infer the absent and remote, though we are unconscious of them. We may know, using the word know in a lower sense, that of which we are not conscious, through that of which we are conscious. Now, Hamilton inclines to hold, or perhaps we should say, does hold, that “ we know only the actual and present, and all real knowledge is an immediate knowledge. What is said to be mediately known is, in truth, not known to be, but only believed to be.” We cannot forbear adding an illustration. “I call up an image of the High Church. Now, it is manifest that I am conscious, or immediately cognizant of all that is known as an act or modification of my mind, and, consequently, of the modification or act which constitutes the mental image of the cathedral. But, as in this operation it is evident that I am conscious, or immediately cognizant of the cathedral, as imaged in my mind; so it is equally manifest that I am not conscious, or immediately cognizant, of the cathedral, as existing. But still, I am said to know it; it is even called the object of my thought. I can, however, only know it mediately-only through the mental image which represents it to consciousness; and it can only be styled the object of thought, inasmuch as a reference to it is necessarily involved in the act of representation.” (See pp. 313-317.) Hence, in his view, we are conscious, not of all that we may be said to know, but of that only of which we have immediate knowledge. The distinction between what we know, and what we believe and infer, is fundamental in Hamilton's philosophy, and, as we think, must be in all true philosophy; and he has carried it through his lectures with rigid accuracy of thought. It is a pity that the English language has no single words to distinguish knowledge in the highest sense from beliefs and inferences, but we have to use the combination of "immediate” and “mediate" "knowledge.” Of course the qualifying words are frequently omitted, but in general, Hamilton uses the words “knowledge,” and “to know,” in their highest sense. It is, also, to be regretted that Hamilton has not taken pains to express more decisively his opinion as to the trustworthiness and value of beliefs and inferences. It does not follow that because we have not immediate knowledge of objects, that the knowledge we do have is not to be trusted to and acted upon. And, it should be remembered, that while the distinction between knowledge, and belief or inference, is all-important in philosophy, it is not of course of equal importance in practice. Hamilton himself, in a letter to Mr. Henry Calderwood, written in 1854, has pointed out this distinction. We quote : "In general, I do not think you have taken sufficiently into account the following circumstances : 1st, that the Infinite which I contemplate is considered only as in thought; the Infinite beyond thought being, it may be, an object of belief, but not of knowledge.