Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

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Sir William Hamilton.

Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet (8 March 1788 – 6 May 1856) was a Scottish metaphysician.


  • However arid and uninviting the prospect of a History of Medicine may appear at a distance, it will be found gradually to improve, and become full of interest wonder and animation as we proceed. ...The History of Medicine is ...the history of the human species, uncontaminated by those civil discords and fearful atrocities, those crimes and disorders which blot the page of other histories, and stamp man, created in the image of his maker, with the visage of a fiend and the heart of a brute. The History of Medicine, on the contrary, is the history of peace and good will, of endless harmony, and unceasing philanthropy. Instead of recording the desolations of war, and the growth of immorality—the deadly effects of human passions, and the bloody triumphs of senseless ambition—her province is to note the diminution of mortal suffering; and the only triumphs which she records are those obtained over sickness, death, and Sorrow.
    • The History of Medicine, Surgery, and Anatomy, from the Creation of the World, to the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century (1831) Vol. 1
  • The discovery of the art of Printing unbarred afresh the gates of Heaven, and let in that flood of light, of knowledge, and of wisdom, which enabled men to emancipate themselves again from the slavery of superstition—to take their proper place in the ranks of created beings—and in ennobling themselves, in gradually exalting their understandings and amending their hearts, to pay at length the worthiest homage to the goodness of their common Parent, and prove themselves to be—as the Almighty himself originally formed them—inferior only to the Angels.
    • The History of Medicine, Surgery, and Anatomy, from the Creation of the World, to the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century (1831) Vol. 1
  • Analysis and synthesis, though commonly treated as two different methods, are, if properly understood, only the two necessary parts of the same method. Each is the relative and correlative of the other. Analysis, without a subsequent synthesis, is incomplete ; it is a mean cut of from its end. Synthesis, without a previous analysis, is baseless ; for synthesis receives from analysis the elements which it recomposes.
    • Metaphysics, p. 69, ed. 1871, Boston; Partly reported in Austin Allibone ed. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. (1903), p. 34
  • Be sober, and to doubt prepense,
    These are the sinews of good sense.
    • Notes on Reid, from the Fragments of Epicharmus, 255.
  • The primary principle of education is the determination of the pupil to self-activity — the doing nothing for him which he is able to do for himself.
    • As quoted by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 573.
  • Truth like a torch, the more 'tis shook, it shines.
    • Discussions on Philosophy, Title Page, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 818-22.

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