The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.
§ 6. Mansel
The theological results of the philosophy of the conditioned were worked out thoroughly and with effective logic by Henry Longueville Mansel, an Oxford professor who was dean of St. Paul’s for the three years preceding his death in 1871. Mansel was a scholar of less miscellaneous learning than Hamilton, and his thinking was less original; but his thought was not obscured by his learning. In the notes and appendixes to his edition of Aldrich’s Artis Logicæ Rudimenta (1849), and in his Prolegomena Logica (1851), he defined and defended a formal view of the science similar to Hamilton’s. His Metaphysics (1860), originally contributed to The Encyclopaedia Britannica, is the best connected exposition of the philosophy that may be called Hamiltonian; and, in his Philosophy of the Conditioned (1866), the doctrine was defended against the criticisms of Mill. He was also the author of a brilliant brochure, in the form of an Aristophanic comedy, entitled Phrontisterion (republished in Letters, Lectures and Reviews, 1873), in which academic reformers and German philosophers are satirised. But his wider fame came from his Bampton lectures, The Limits of Religious Thought (1858). This work is a Christian apologetic founded on the doctrine of agnosticism (to use the modern term) which he shared with Hamilton. Since knowledge of God, in His absolute existence, is self-contradictory, since “absolute morality” is equally beyond human knowledge and since our moral conceptions can only be “relative and phenomenal,” he seeks to disallow any criticisms of theological doctrine which are based upon human conceptions of good and evil. The indignation with which this doctrine was repudiated by John Stuart Mill formed one of the most striking, but not one of the most important, features of his criticism of the philosophy of Hamilton.