The New Student's Reference Work/Hamilton, Sir William

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Hamilton, Sir William, a metaphysician, the most acute logician and most learned philosopher of the Scottish school, was born in 1788 at Glasgow, where his father and grandfather in succession held the chairs of anatomy and botany. Having studied with distinction at Glasgow, in 1809 he entered Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained first-class honors. In 1813 he was admitted to the Scottish bar, but never acquired a practice in his profession, his taste lying much more toward the study of philosophy, in which he had already made extensive researches. In 1829 the publication in the Edinburgh Review of his celebrated critique of Cousin's system of philosophy gave him a first place among the philosophical writers of the time. This was followed in 1830 by his criticism of the philosophic writings of Dr. Thomas Brown, the colleague of Dugald Stewart. In 1836 he was appointed to the chair of logic and metaphysics in Edinburgh University. Here he gathered about him a number of ardent students, and re-established the fame of the Scottish school of metaphysicians, which had begun to wane. In 1846 he published an annotated edition of the works of Thomas Reid and, in 1854, the first volume of a similar edition of the works of Dugald Stewart. He died suddenly at Edinburgh on May 6, 1856.