The Problems of Philosophy

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1912

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(1872 - 1970) ~ British Mathematician with a Socialist, Pacifist, Freethinker's Ideology : Russell's external career has been checkered. The descendant of one of the great families of the Whig aristocracy, he has always delighted in standing up for his radical convictions with willful stubbornness. In 1916, he was deprived of his lectureship at Trinity College, Cambridge, after his pacifist activities had brought him into conflict with the government... (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "It is impossible to imagine a more dramatic and horrifying combination of scientific triumph with political and moral failure than has been shown to the world in the destruction of Hiroshima." (From : "The Bomb and Civilization," by Bertrand Russell, ....)
• "...if atomic bombs are used on both sides, it is to be expected that all large cities will be completely wiped out..." (From : "The Bomb and Civilization," by Bertrand Russell, ....)
• "Either war or civilization must end..." (From : "The Bomb and Civilization," by Bertrand Russell, ....)

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OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS LONDON OXFORD NEW YORK [verso] First published in the Home University Library, 1912 First issued as an Oxford University Press paperback, 1959 This reprint, 1971-2 PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA [Public domain (in the USA at least) HTML version completed February 1996. All copyrights for HTML enhancements are renounced. This is a freely reproducible text in the USA. In accordance with the differing copyright laws, in Great Britain (and others using the same copyright treaties) I understand it will become public domain 50 years after the author's death, that is, in 2020. (This may or may not be correct. They may have extended this another 20 years. Ask your lawyer before downloading into non-USA countries, or just hold off until A.D. 2040.) Companies mentioned above have nothing to do with this electronic edition. There may be errors not theirs. Please read at your own p...

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CONTENTS I APPEARANCE AND REALITY II THE EXISTENCE OR MATTER III THE NATURE OF MATTER IV IDEALISM V KNOWLEDGE BY ACQUAINTANCE AND KNOWLEDGE BY DESCRIPTION VI ON INDUCTION VII ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GENERAL PRINCIPLES VIII HOW A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE IS POSSIBLE IX THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS X ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS XI ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE XII TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD XIII KNOWLEDGE, ERROR, AND PROBABLE OPINION XIV THE LIMITS OF PHILOSOPHICAL KNOWLEDGE XV THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE INDEX...

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NOTE TO SEVENTEENTH IMPRESSION WITH reference to certain statements on pages 44, 75, 131, and 132, it should be remarked that this book was written in the early part of 1912 when China was still an Empire, and the name of the then late Prime Minister did begin with the letter B. 1943...

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PREFACE IN the following pages I have confined myself in the main to those problems of philosophy in regard to which I thought it possible to say something positive and constructive, since merely negative criticism seemed out of place. For this reason, theory of knowledge occupies a larger space than metaphysics in the present volume, and some topics much discussed by philosophers are treated very briefly, if at all. I have derived valuable assistance from unpublished writings of G. E. Moore and J. M. Keynes: from the former, as regards the relations of sense-data to physical objects, and from the latter as regards probability and induction. I have also profited greatly by the criticisms and suggestions of Professor Gilbert Murray. 1912...

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CHAPTER I APPEARANCE AND REALITY IS there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it? This question, which at first sight might not seem difficult, is really one of the most difficult that can be asked. When we have realized the obstacles in the way of a straightforward and confident answer, we shall be well launched on the study of philosophy -- for philosophy is merely the attempt to answer such ultimate questions, not carelessly and dogmatically, as we do in ordinary life and even in the sciences, but critically after exploring all that makes such questions puzzling, and after realizing all the vagueness and confusion that underlie our ordinary ideas. In daily life, we assume as certain many things which, on a closer scrutiny, are found to be so full of apparent contradictions that only a great amount of thought enables us to know what it is that we really may believe. In th...

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CHAPTER II THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER IN this chapter we have to ask ourselves whether, in any sense at all, there is such a thing as matter. Is there a table which has a certain intrinsic nature, and continues to exist when I am not looking, or is the table merely a product of my imagination, a dream-table in a very prolonged dream? This question is of the greatest importance. For if we cannot be sure of the independent existence of objects, we cannot be sure of the independent existence of other people's bodies, and therefore still less of other people's minds, since we have no grounds for believing in their minds except such as are derived from observing their bodies. Thus if we cannot be sure of the independent existence of objects, we shall be left alone in a desert -- it may be that the whole outer world is nothing but a dream, and that we alone exist. This is an uncomfortable possibility; but although it cannot be strictly proved t...

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CHAPTER III THE NATURE OF MATTER IN the preceding chapter we agreed, though without being able to find demonstrative reasons, that it is rational to believe that our sense-data -- for example, those which we regard as associated with my table -- are really signs of the existence of something independent of us and our perceptions. That is to say, over and above the sensations of color, hardness, noise, and so on, which make up the appearance of the table to me, I assume that there is something else, of which these things are appearances. The color ceases to exist if I shut my eyes, the sensation of hardness ceases to exist if I remove my arm from contact with the table, the sound ceases to exist if I cease to rap the table with my knuckles. But I do not believe that when all these things cease the table ceases. On the contrary, I believe that it is because the table exists continuously that all these sense-data will reappear when I open...

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CHAPTER IV IDEALISM THE word 'idealism' is used by different philosophers in somewhat different senses. We shall understand by it the doctrine that whatever exists, or at any rate whatever can be known to exist, must be in some sense mental. This doctrine, which is very widely held among philosophers, has several forms, and is advocated on several different grounds. The doctrine is so widely held, and so interesting in itself, that even the briefest survey of philosophy must give some account of it. Those who are unaccustomed to philosophical speculation may be inclined to dismiss such a doctrine as obviously absurd. There is no doubt that common sense regards tables and chairs and the sun and moon and material objects generally as something radically different from minds and the contents of minds, and as having an existence which might continue if minds ceased. We think of matter as having existed long before there were a...

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CHAPTER V KNOWLEDGE BY ACQUAINTANCE AND KNOWLEDGE BY DESCRIPTION IN the preceding chapter we saw that there are two sorts of knowledge: knowledge of things, and knowledge of truths. In this chapter we shall be concerned exclusively with knowledge of things, of which in turn we shall have to distinguish two kinds. Knowledge of things, when it is of the kind we call knowledge by acquaintance, is essentially simpler than any knowledge of truths, and logically independent of knowledge of truths, though it would be rash to assume that human beings ever, in fact, have acquaintance with things without at the same time knowing some truth about them. Knowledge of things by description, on the contrary, always involves, as we shall find in the course of the present chapter, some knowledge of truths as its source and ground. But first of all we must make dear what we mean by 'acquaintance' and what we mean by 'description'.

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CHAPTER VI ON INDUCTION IN almost all our previous discussions we have been concerned in the attempt to get clear as to our data in the way of knowledge of existence. What things are there in the universe whose existence is known to us owing to our being acquainted with them? So far, our answer has been that we are acquainted with our sense-data, and, probably, with ourselves. These we know to exist. And past sense-data which are remembered are known to have existed in the past. This knowledge supplies our data. But if we are to be able to draw inferences from these data -- if we are to know of the existence of matter, of other people, of the past before our individual memory begins, or of the future, we must know general principles of some kind by means of which such inferences can be drawn. It must be known to us that the existence of some one sort of thing, A, is a sign of the existence of some other sort of thing, B, e...

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CHAPTER VII ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GENERAL PRINCIPLES WE saw in the preceding chapter that the principle of Induction, while necessary to the validity of all arguments based on experience, is itself not capable of being proved by experience, and yet is unhesitatingly believed by every one, at least in all its concrete applications. In these characteristics the principle of induction does not stand alone. There are a number of other principles which cannot be proved or disproved by experience, but are used in arguments which start from what is experienced. Some of these principles have even greater evidence than the principle of induction, and the knowledge of them has the same degree of certainty as the knowledge of the existence of sense-data. They constitute the means of drawing inferences from what is given in sensation; and if what we infer is to be true, it is just as necessary that our principles of inference should be...

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CHAPTER VIII HOW A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE IS POSSIBLE IMMANUEL KANT is generally regarded as the greatest of the modern philosophers. Though he lived through the Seven Years War and the French Revolution, he never interrupted his teaching of philosophy at Konigsberg in East Prussia. His most distinctive contribution was the invention of what he called the 'critical' philosophy, which, assuming as a datum that there is knowledge of various kinds, inquired how such knowledge comes to be possible, and deduced, from the answer to this inquiry, many metaphysical results as to the nature of the world. Whether these results were valid may well be doubted. But Kant undoubtedly deserves credit for two things: first, for having perceived that we have a priori knowledge which is not purely 'analytic', i.e. such that the opposite would be self-contradictory; and secondly, for having made evident the philosophical importance of the theory of kn...

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CHAPTER IX THE WORLD OF UNIVERSALS AT the end of the preceding chapter we saw that such entities as relations appear to have a being which is in some way different from that of physical objects, and also different from that of minds and from that of sense-data. In the present chapter we have to consider what is the nature of this kind of being, and also what objects there are that have this kind of being. We will begin with the latter question. The problem with which we are now concerned is a very old one, since it was brought into philosophy by Plato. Plato's 'theory of ideas' is an attempt to solve this very problem, and in my opinion it is one of the most successful attempts hitherto made. The theory to be advocated in what follows is largely Plato's, with merely such modifications as time has shown to be necessary. The way the problem arose for Plato was more or less as follows. Let us consider, sa...

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CHAPTER X ON OUR KNOWLEDGE OF UNIVERSALS IN regard to one man's knowledge at a given time, universals, like particulars, may be divided into those known by acquaintance, those known only by description, and those not known either by acquaintance or by description. Let us consider first the knowledge of universals by acquaintance. It is obvious, to begin with, that we are acquainted with such universals as white, red, black, sweet, sour, loud, hard, etc., i.e. with qualities which are exemplified in sense-data. When we see a white patch, we are acquainted, in the first instance, with the particular patch; but by seeing many white patches, we easily learn to abstract the whiteness which they all have in common, and in learning to do this we are learning to be acquainted with whiteness. A similar process will make us acquainted with any other universal of the same sort. Universals of this sort may be called 'sensible qualit...

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CHAPTER XI ON INTUITIVE KNOWLEDGE THERE is a common impression that everything that we believe ought to be capable of proof, or at least of being shown to be highly probable. It is felt by many that a belief for which no reason can be given is an unreasonable belief. In the main, this view is just. Almost all our common beliefs are either inferred, or capable of being inferred, from other beliefs which may be regarded as giving the reason for them. As a rule, the reason has been forgotten, or has even never been consciously present to our minds. Few of us ever ask ourselves, for example, what reason there is to suppose the food we are just going to eat will not turn out to be poison. Yet we feel, when challenged, that a perfectly good reason could be found, even if we are not ready with it at the moment. And in this belief we are usually justified. But let us imagine some insistent Socrates, who, whatever reason we give hi...

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CHAPTER XII TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD OUR knowledge of truths, unlike our knowledge of things, has an opposite, namely error. So far as things are concerned, we may know them or not know them, but there is no positive state of mind which can be described as erroneous knowledge of things, so long, at any rate, as we confine ourselves to knowledge by acquaintance. Whatever we are acquainted with must be something; we may draw wrong inferences from our acquaintance, but the acquaintance itself cannot be deceptive. Thus there is no dualism as regards acquaintance. But as regards knowledge of truths, there is a dualism. We may believe what is false as well as what is true. We know that on very many subjects different people hold different and incompatible opinions: hence some beliefs must be erroneous. Since erroneous beliefs are often held just as strongly as true beliefs, it becomes a difficult question how they are to be distinguished from tru...

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CHAPTER XIII KNOWLEDGE, ERROR, AND PROBABLE OPINION THE question as to what we mean by truth and falsehood, which we considered in the preceding chapter, is of much less interest than the question as to how we can know what is true and what is false. This question will occupy us in the present chapter. There can be no doubt that some of our beliefs are erroneous; thus we are led to inquire what certainty we can ever have that such and such a belief is not erroneous. In other words, can we ever know anything at all, or do we merely sometimes by good luck believe what is true? Before we can attack this question, we must, however, first decide what we mean by 'knowing', and this question is not so easy as might be supposed. At first sight we might imagine that knowledge could be defined as 'true belief'. When what we believe is true, it might be supposed that we had achieved a knowledge of what we believe. But...

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CHAPTER XIV THE LIMITS OF PHILOSOPHICAL KNOWLEDGE IN all that we have said hitherto concerning philosophy, we have scarcely touched on many matters that occupy a great space in the writings of most philosophers. Most philosophers -- or, at any rate, very many -- profess to be able to prove, by a priori metaphysical reasoning, such things as the fundamental dogmas of religion, the essential rationality of the universe, the illusoriness of matter, the unreality of all evil, and so on. There can be no doubt that the hope of finding reason to believe such theses as these has been the chief inspiration of many lifelong students of philosophy. This hope, I believe, is vain. It would seem that knowledge concerning the universe as a whole is not to be obtained by metaphysics, and that the proposed proofs that, in virtue of the laws of logic such and such things must exist and such and such others cannot, are not capable of surviving a...

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CHAPTER XV THE VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY HAVING now come to the end of our brief and very incomplete review of the problems of philosophy, it will be well to consider, in conclusion, what is the value of philosophy and why it ought to be studied. It is the more necessary to consider this question, in view of the fact that many men, under the influence of science or of practical affairs, are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than innocent but useless trifling, hairsplitting distinctions, and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible. This view of philosophy appears to result, partly from a wrong conception of the ends of life, partly from a wrong conception of the kind of goods which philosophy strives to achieve. Physical science, through the medium of inventions, is useful to innumerable people who are wholly ignorant of it; thus the study of physical science is to be recommended, n...

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BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE The student who wishes to acquire an elementary knowledge of philosophy will find it both easier and more profitable to read some of the works of the great philosophers than to attempt to derive an all-round view from handbooks. The following are specially recommended: PLATO: Republic, especially Books VI and VII. DESCARTES: Meditations. SPINOZA: Ethics. LEIBNIZ: The Monadology. BERKELEY: Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. HUME: Inquiry concerning Human Understanding. KANT: Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic.

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INDEX The interrogations indicate places where a view is discussed, not asserted [To use this index divide the sought page number by the number of pages in the book, 160, and scroll down that fraction. Example: "Phenomenon" is on page 86. 86/160=53%. Scroll down 53% into the file and there you are. (Or just use the search function.)] Absolute idea, 142 Acquaintance, 43 ff., 60, 108, 109, 119, 136 with Self? 50 Act, mental, 41 Analytic, 82 Appearance, 9, 16 A priori, 74-7, 80, 82 ff., 103 ff. mental? 88 Arithmetic, 84 Association, 62 63 65 Being, 100 Belief, 119 ff., instinctive, 24 25 Berkeley, George (Bishop), 12, 13, 15, 16, 36, 38 ff., 73, 95, 97 Bismarck, Prince Otto von, 54-8 Bradley, Francis Herbert, 95 Cantor, Georg, 147 Causality, 63, 69, 83 China, Emperor of, 44,...

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1912 :
The Problems of Philosophy -- Publication.

February 09, 2017 ; 7:37:17 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

January 16, 2020 ; 2:18:09 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
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