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THE

PERCEPTIONALIST

OR

MENTAL SCIENCE

A University Tert-Book

BY

EDWARD J. HAMILTON, D.D.

PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE STATE UNIVERSITY, SEATTLE

WASHINGTON
AUTHOR OF "THE HUMAN MIND,” “THE MODALIST," "A NEW ANALYSIS

IN FUNDAMENTAL MORALS," ETC.

NEW YORK

HINDS AND NOBLE, PUBLISHERS

4-5-6-12-13-14 COOPER INSTITUTE

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PRE FACE.

1886.

This volume is a response to advice and encouragement given the author by several eminent professors, and also the execution of a purpose partially entertained at the time of the publication of his former book, " The Human Mind.” The discussions in that treatise, in order to justify peculiarities of doctrine, are frequently extended and minute.

It was proposed, in case the work met with favor, to reproduce its chapters in a simpler form. The author need hardly say that the reception accorded “ The Human Mind” has surpassed his highest expectations.

“ Mental Science," therefore, is now offered as an educational manual, and as a compend for the reading of those who would inform themselves respecting the doctrines of an earnest philosophy without entering upon non-essential details. The majority of the discussions have been not merely abridged, but simplified ; a considerable number have been entirely rewritten. Some chapters, too, which are devoted to logical questions, and which may prove serviceable in connection with some future effort, have been omitted. It has, however, been the aim to present a true theory of every normal activity of the intellect.

In order to assist the eye in that work of review which is a condition of all thorough scholarship, teachers will perceive that italics have been employed more freely than would otherwise be desirable. They will also notice that ten out of the fifty chapters into which the treatise is divided have been printed in small type. The dissertations thus marked are not deemed absolutely indispensable to a course in psychology. They are, however, as interesting as any others in the book, and they have no peculiar difficulty.

The general system of doctrine in the service of which both "The Human Mind” and “Mental Science” have been composed, might be styled PERCEPTIONALISM. For some such term may properly designate a form of philosophy which maintains, from an analytical and theoretical point of view, that mankind are not deluded in claiming that they perceive fact and truth, and that what they call their perceptions are true perceptions of those very things which they say that they perceive.

Some old writers have described this radical doctrine which Perceptionalism supports as that of “ the reliability of those faculties which God has given us." This is a fair definition ; but it should be understood that the reference to our Maker in it is not presented in proof of the doctrine, but simply to indicate that trustworthiness is claimed only for well-known and actually existing faculties, and not for any faculties the conception of which is peculiar to some philosophic school.

The word " perception” is sometimes limited in its application: we now use it in its most unrestricted meaning. For we have perceptions of simple fact and perceptions of necessary relations; presentational perceptions and inferential perceptions; the perceptions of sense and of consciousness, and perceptions concomitant of these; the perceptions of the intuitive, and those of the discursive, reason: we perceive what is true actualistically and what is true hypothetically ; we perceive the possible and the necessary, and the contingent and the probable.

Our doctrine is that all these perceptions, when made by a sound mind and under proper conditions, are trustworthy; and our philosophy finds justification for this doctrine in the critical investigation of every mode of human cognition or conviction.

Perceptionalism does not assert that the mind of man is infallible. On the contrary, recognizing the frequent recurrence of error, it seeks to understand the sources and laws of mistaken belief as well as those of correct belief. But it emphasizes the truth that man is capable of knowledge, or wellgrounded certainty, about many things; and that where this is not attainable, he may often wisely form a judgment of probability.

We allow that the dogmatic statement of this truth, even though accompanied by arguments showing its excellence and reasonableness, could scarcely be entitled a system of philosophy. If, however, the reliability of our faculties became evident as the last result of an exhaustive analysis of the phenomena of the intellect, then, in the system thus evolved, we say that there would be a philosophy worthy of the name.

We trust that the discussions now again, in simpler form, presented to the public, may once more be welcomed as an attempt in the right direction.

For some time past our country has been invaded by two systems of speculation, which, like an army with two wings extended in martial array, have threatened to subdue America either to a materialistic or to an idealistic agnosticism. But the educated thought of this land cannot be permanently affected by theories which resolve our commonest and most assured convictions into doubt and unbelief. It is our confident expectation that some such system as that which we have named Perceptionalism will be the philosophy of the future in these United States.

E. J. H. HAMILTON COLLEGE, Clinton, N. Y.,

May 23, 1885.

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