The Problems of Philosophy


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Unfortunately, this dust was sometimes suffocating and made me forget about the larger point being made. The final third gets a little better, though, and the final chapter, in which Russell makes the case for studying philosophy, is almost worth a star on its own. But perhaps the most damning thing I could say about this book is that I can't imagine anything written in it that couldn't be found elsewhere in a much more readable, lucid form.

Feb 05, Hadrian rated it liked it Shelves: essays , british , philosophy , nonfiction. Discusses epistemology, absolutes, a priori and a posteriori knowledge, truth and falsehood. It does these very well. A quite reasonable introduction on basic problems. But it's still very interesting, and Russell is one of the most readable of the philosophers. Dare I say it, his style actually flows well.

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Jan 18, Gary Beauregard Bottomley rated it liked it. My usual definition for a philosopher is somebody who writes on a simple everyday concept in such a way that the simple is considered complexly in such way that a person knows more and more about less and less until eventually they know everything about nothing.

By that definition, Russell fails because he writes clearly and the reader will actually understand what he is getting at. For example, one of the most important My usual definition for a philosopher is somebody who writes on a simple everyday concept in such a way that the simple is considered complexly in such way that a person knows more and more about less and less until eventually they know everything about nothing.

Everything within logic rational analytical thought must fall under those rules of thought. Experiences are the atoms that make up his world view, and he believes there is a knowable reality because the truth is out there and discoverable. There is nothing wrong with thinking that, but it is a bias and it does shade how he explains philosophy mostly epistemology in this short book over all. If one were to only have time to read one book on philosophy, this is the one I would recommend. Hopefully, the reader will take his criticisms of Kant and Hegel, but end up reading them themselves to see why they are still relevant today.

So it includes passages like - When a case of acquaintance is one with which I can be acquainted as I am acquainted with my acquaintance with the sense-datum representing the sun , it is plain that the person acquainted is myself. Thus, when I am acquainted with my seeing the sun, the whole fact with which I am acquainted is 'Self-acquainted-with-sense-datum'. Hmmm, I don't think I wish to be acquainted with the so-and-so that wrote this. View 2 comments. And his formulation and theoretical contributions have their own value, as do his observations and critiques.

Unfortunately he rarely shows his considerable wit in this relatively early work. The result is a very clear, concise, precise, but also carefully worked-out and thorough theory of knowledge. His distinction of knowledge by acquaintance vs. In the second last chapter he explains why his scope is so limited, substantially paralleling A.

Then in the last chapter he takes a bold leap and makes a number of statements about the purpose and value of philosophy and how life should be lived.


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Having avoided ethics and largely avoided metaphysics while working through theory of knowledge with his constricted logical precision, he now abandons rational argument in favor of rhetoric and dives headlong into the fearful abyss. It would have been nice if Russell had tried to treat this material by the same methods he used previously, or else had tried to explain what alternate approach was reasonable and why.

Apparently even Bertrand Russell had some hair to let down, but it does seem like an odd coda to a rigorously logical and self-limited piece of early 20th c. Apr 16, Jacob Aitken rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy , intellectual-strongholds , analytic-philosophy.

Not an easy read, but fun at times. How do we know what is real? There is a disjunct between appearance and reality. Berkeley says that if things exist independently of us, they cannot be the immediate objects of sensation. Idealists, therefore, place the existence of objects within the mind or rather, say Not an easy read, but fun at times.

Idealists, therefore, place the existence of objects within the mind or rather, say such existence is mental. What is known in the senses is not the immediate object of the senses. For Berkeley an idea is what is immediately known sense-data. This raises a problem. Berkeley did not distinguish between the thought of something and the act of thinking that thought. The latter is certainly mental, but we are not justified in saying the former is. It is immediate and direct Russell A universal is that which is shared by many particulars. Proper names stand for particulars, while other substantives stand for universals.

The Problem of Induction When two things have been found to be associated together, and no instance is known of one occurring without the other, does the occurrence of one give me any ground for expecting the other? Experience only tells us about past futures. It cannot tell us what to expect of future futures.

The Problems of Philosophy

Further, this work has a number of semi-legendary chapters along with a fine bibliography. If I look at it under a microscope, I will see something different. Which, then, is the real table? It is inferred from what we see Russell This is correct. But why stop there? Why not reduce the electrical forces even further?

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In other words, Logos is the substrate of the energy. Objects within space and time can be reduced to forces, and these forces must be outside space and time. The Existence of Matter If an object is merely sense-data, then it will cease to exist once it is no longer perceived. But this is silly. If I throw a blanket over a table, does the table cease to exist? If so, then is the blanket floating in mid-air!? Jul 19, Brandon rated it it was ok.

By Bertrand Russell

One of the first classic works of philosophy I read as a whole, as opposed to merely excerpts in my first-year textbook. It is very dated now, being years old, but it is interesting both as a historical document and as an introduction to some of the concerns of twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy, and in some cases, philosophy throughout history. Russell's prose is simple and easy to understand, but quite often the conclusions he reaches which he believes to be obvious or intuitive ha One of the first classic works of philosophy I read as a whole, as opposed to merely excerpts in my first-year textbook.

Russell's prose is simple and easy to understand, but quite often the conclusions he reaches which he believes to be obvious or intuitive hardly seem such to the reader, especially his argument for a Platonist account of Universals. At times too his concerns seem dated; we feel that philosophy has moved on, leaving Russell and his sense-data in its wake.


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Though this, paradoxically, is not exactly true. Philosophers are still trapped in some of the same paradigms as was Russell--they're just not aware of it, and they think they've moved on.


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Ultimately, it is worth more as a historical document, as an insight into the beginnings of analytic philosophy as it was first shaking off the spectre of British Hegelianism, than as a piece of philosophy itself. For along with Moore, Russell paved the way for a new school of philosophy, one that gave rise to the likes of Wittgenstein, Quine, and Brandom. To read it now, though, is to find mostly disappointment.

One wishes to jump forward in time, to the youthful brashness and vigour of A. Ayer's Language, Truth, and Logic. But I suppose we needed this rather more dull book to get there. Russell writes really well.

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