William Hamilton

M. Gail Hamner

in American Pragmatism

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195155471
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834266 | DOI:

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series

 William Hamilton

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Demonstrates the resonance between Charles Sanders Peirce (the American pragmatist) and William Hamilton (a Scottish professor of logic and metaphysics), which can be outlined in three ways: first, both men present a philosophy that balances Kant's idealism with T.H. Reid's naturalism (Peirce calls this task a ‘critical common‐sensism’); second, they both discuss questions of faith in a manner that implies a transcendent or cosmological perspective; and third, they exhibit a focused interest in logic. However, the pragmatist always evinces slightly different priorities: while Hamilton remains a committed nominalist throughout his writings, Peirce attempts to reconcile Kant and British empiricism as part of his larger argument against nominalism; while Hamilton maintains a Calvinist trinitarianism, Peirce's musings on questions of faith direct him closer to Spinoza's panentheism; and finally, while Hamilton's logic remains an important but separate line of philosophical inquiry, Peirce develops a logic of relations that conjoins his interest in logic to his semiotic and phenomenology, and thus becomes a pervasive part of his philosophy. After giving a brief exposition of the main points of his philosophy, the discussion of Hamilton examines how relativity, conditionality, and free will inform his statements about causality, consciousness, belief, and action. Of greatest interest is how the concept of consciousness relates to the concept of belief, such that the former acts as the guarantor of the latter.

Keywords: actions; belief; Calvinism; causality; conditionality; consciousness; cosmology; empiricism; faith; free will; William Hamilton; idealism; Kant; logic; metaphysics; naturalism; nominalism; panentheism; Charles Sanders Peirce; phenomenology; philosophy; pragmatism; psychology; purposiveness; T.H. Reid; relativity; Scotland; semiotic; Spinoza; transcendentalism; trinitarianism; U.K; U.S.A

Chapter.  6869 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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