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Rereading Russell

Rereading Russell: Essays on Bertrand Russell’s Metaphysics and Epistemology

Volume: 12
Copyright Date: 1989
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 332
  • Book Info
    Rereading Russell
    Book Description:

    Rereading Russell was first published in 1989. Though Betrand Russell is best known for his formative role in the creation of symbolic logic (the Principia Mathematica) and analytic philosophy, he was also among the founders of twentieth-century philosophy of science; he used his method of logical analysis to devise a metaphysics and epistemology that could accommodate revolutionary changes in physics and psychology. Yet these areas -- especially in his later work -- have been neglected and undervalued. The essays in Rereading Russell help to remedy that neglect, by calling attention to the whole sweep of his metaphysics and epistemology, from the turn of the century on, and by reevaluating his doctrines in the light of his entire philosophical corpus. The sixteen contributors treat Russell not merely as a historical figure but also as a source of new ideas. Ranging over his work from the 1901 Principles of Mathematics to the 1959 summation, My Philosophical Development, they emphasize the unity and integrity of his metaphysical and epistemological writings. Their essays devote special attention to the later philosophy -- the doctrines developed in (and after) his 1927 book, The Analysis of Matter. The subjects covered fall into five groups: philosophy of mathematics and ontology; philosophy of language; epistemology; nondemonstrative inference; and the philosophy of science and metaphysics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-0001-4
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Note on References
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-23)
    C. Wade Savage and C. Anthony Anderson

    Bertrand Russell is generally acknowledged to be one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, and many regard him as the most important. He is the chief architect ofPrincipia Mathematica(1910–13), the three-volume masterpiece that established symbolic, or mathematical, logic; and he is one of the founders—if not the principal founder—of analytic philosophy, which applies the methods of logical analysis to philosophical projects and problems. And yet a large part of his metaphysics and epistemology, especially what we here call the “later philosophy,” has been neglected and undervalued.

    One aim of this volume is...

  7. Russell’s Reasons for Ramification
    (pp. 24-40)
    Warren Goldfarb

    Russell introduced a form of ramification in his 1906 paper “On ‘Insolubilia’ and Their Solution by Symbolic Logic.”¹ There it is applied to propositions. Extended and somewhat modified, ramification is the central component of the theory of types as it is presented in “Mathematical Logic as Based on the Theory of Types” in 1908 and inPrincipia Mathematica.² That is, Russell did not separate the theory of orders, which embodies the ramification of prepositional functions, from the theory of types. A disentanglement of these two notions was first urged by Ramsey in 1925, when he formulated a simple theory of...

  8. Russell’s Theory of Logical Types and the Atomistic Hierarchy of Sentences
    (pp. 41-62)
    Nino B. Cocchiarella

    Russell’s philosophical views underwent a number of changes throughout his life, and it is not always well appreciated that views he held at one time came later to be rejected; nor, similarly, that views he rejected at one time came later to be accepted. It is not well known, for example, that the theory of logical types Russell described in his later or post-PM philosophy is not the same as the theory originally described in PM in 1910–13; nor that some of the more important applications that Russell made of the theory at the earlier time cannot be validated...

  9. Russell’s Paradox, Russellian Relations, and the Problems of Predication and Impredicativity
    (pp. 63-87)
    Herbert Hochberg

    Russell’s paradox and the resultant distinction of logical types have been central topics of philosophical discussion for almost a century. In this essay I claim that a more fundamental distinction, that which distinguishes properties and relations as monadic, dyadic, etc., provides a basis for blocking Russell’s paradox as applied to properties, not sets, without distinctions of type (or equivalent distinctions). The distinction also points to fundamental features of predication that bear on the nature of relations, the extension of relations, the problem of the analysis of relational order, and questions about symmetrical relations (identity) and purported monadic relational properties (self-identity)....

  10. The Significance of “On Denoting”
    (pp. 88-107)
    Peter Hylton

    No one doubts that “On Denoting” marks a significant change in Russell’s philosophical views.¹ My main aim in this essay is to see exactly what the significance of the article is in the development of Russell’s philosophy, and thus of twentieth-century analytic philosophy more generally. My interest is thus in the consequences of the view set forth in OD, not in Russell’s reasons for coming to hold that view. The two issues, however, cannot be completely separated, partly because the general issue of the significance of OD is confused by some of Russell’s statements of his reasons for adopting the...

  11. Russelling Causal Theories of Reference
    (pp. 108-118)
    Richard Fumerton

    Russell’s theory of definite descriptions¹ has long been viewed as a classic example of how careful philosophical analysis can dissolve puzzles within a relatively clean ontology. Despite many attacks and the development of alternative views, Russell’s analysis of definite descriptions has survived as the accepted theory because it provides the most straightforward philosophical account of the following data: (1) that meaningful assertions can be made using definite descriptions that fail to denote; (2) that there is something I believe when I believe that theFisGeven when there is noF; (3) that certain intensional and modal statements...

  12. Russell on Indexicals and Scientific Knowledge
    (pp. 119-137)
    Janet Farrell Smith

    One major theme of Russell’s treatment of indexicals in PLA¹ and HK is their indispensability to human knowledge. In IMT, apparently influenced by Carnap, Russell provides an analysis that claims to eliminate what he calls “egocentric particulars” (“I,” “this,” “here,” “now”), and he concludes that they are “not needed in any part of the description of the world, whether physical or psychological” (IMT, 108).² In HK Russell still wishes to replace indexicals by objective space-time coordinate descriptions. But he explicitly argues that this program can proceed only up to a certain point and that indexicals are not completely eliminable. They...

  13. Sense-Data in Russell’s Theories of Knowledge
    (pp. 138-168)
    C. Wade Savage

    Traditionally, sense-data are the ultimate data in a standard foundationalist account of empirical knowledge: the completely certain, immediate, precise data of experience from which all other empirical truths are inferred. During the first phase of his work in epistemology, Bertrand Russell subscribed to some version of this account. But, as he describes his evolution inMy Philosophical Development(MPD), by 1921 his views on sense-data had undergone “a very important change” (p. 134); indeed, the “last substantial change” in “my philosophy” (p. 13). Previously he had “thought that sensation is a fundamentally relational occurrence in which a subject is ‘aware’...

  14. Russell’s 1913 Theory of Knowledge Manuscript
    (pp. 169-182)
    David Pears

    Russell’sTheory of Knowledge¹ represents an important stage in the development of his philosophy, and it also throws a lot of light on Wittgenstein’sTractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I published an article about this in 1977,² but I want to add to it now, and especially to the account that I gave then of the place of the manuscript in Russell’s oeuvre.

    First, a few words are needed about the history of the manuscript. Russell wrote it in the spring of 1913. Wittgenstein read it, met Russell, and severely criticized it in May of that year. Russell then published the first six...

  15. The Concept of Structure in The Analysis of Matter
    (pp. 183-199)
    William Demopoulos and Michael Friedman

    The Analysis of Matter(1927) is perhaps best known for marking Russell’s rejection of phenomenalism (in both its classical and methodological forms) and his development of a variety of Lockean Representationalism—Russell’s causal theory of perception. This occupies part 2 of the work. Part 1, which is certainly less well known, contains many observations on twentieth-century physics. Unfortunately, Russell’s discussion of relativity and the foundations of physical geometry is carried out in apparent ignorance of Reichenbach’s and Carnap’s investigations of the same period. The issue of conventionalism in its then contemporary form is simply not discussed. The only writers of...

  16. On Induction and Russell’s Postulates
    (pp. 200-219)
    R. M. Sainsbury

    Russell’s later epistemology, dominated by hisHuman Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits(1948),¹ has received relatively little attention. Yet it contains plenty to interest a contemporary audience. There is a version of foundationalism that subtly avoids many difficulties standardly held to beset such a position. There is a naturalistic approach to various aspects of knowledge, a naturalism which both regards evolutionary facts as relevant to problems about induction, and also singles out the purely descriptive task of locating knowledge as a phenomenon within the natural order, a task that turns its back on traditional skeptical problems. There is a discussion...

  17. Concepts of Projectability and the Problems of Induction
    (pp. 220-233)
    John Earman

    Projectability is most often discussed in connection with the distinction between “genuine” and “Goodmanized” predicates. But questions about projectability arise for the most mundane of hypotheses and predicates where not the slightest hint of Goodmanian trickery is present. And there are a number of different concepts of projectability, each corresponding to a different problem of induction. Some of these problems are not only solvable but have actually been solved, solved in the sense that interesting sets of sufficient and/or necessary conditions for projectability have been found. In some cases the conditions are so mild that a coherent inductive skepticism is...

  18. Giving up Judgment Empiricism: The Bayesian Epistemology of Bertrand Russell and Grover Maxwell
    (pp. 234-248)
    James Hawthorne

    Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limitswas first published in 1948.¹ The view on inductive inference that Russell develops there has received relatively little careful study and, I believe, has been largely misunderstood. Grover Maxwell was one of the few philosophers who understood and carried forward the program of Russell’s later work. Maxwell consideredHuman Knowledgeto be one of Russell’s most significant works for its treatment of perception, the event ontology, the theory of space-time, the philosophy of mind, and especially for its solution of the mind-body problem. Furthermore, Maxwell wholly agreed with Russell’s rejection there of judgment empiricism...

  19. Russell on Order in Time
    (pp. 249-263)
    C. Anthony Anderson

    After a brief flirtation with instants of time as primitive entities, Russell proceeded to construct instants out of classes of events. His most vigorous and rigorous analysis of the construction appears in a little-discussed paper “On Order in Time” (Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, vol. 32 [1936], pp. 216–28; hereafter: OT). Small wonder that the paper is little discussed. It utilizes the intricate logical notation ofPrincipia Mathematicathroughout, and if you attempt to work through the details, you will discover that Russell’s powers of deduction had not waned. (He was sixty-three.) That such a mind thought the...

  20. Cause in the Later Russell
    (pp. 264-280)
    Elizabeth R. Eames

    Throughout his career, Russell sought to bring common sense, science, and perception into one consistent logical scheme.¹ His methodological project was to do this completely by means of logical constructions. If this could be achieved, he would be able, on the one hand, to show how the familiar objects, relations, and persons of common sense were logically constructible from some kind of purified data of perception. On the other hand, he would be able to analyze the concepts and entities of science so as to reveal them as logical constructions from the same purified data.² Although Russell did not succeed...

  21. Portrait of a Philosopher of Science
    (pp. 281-294)
    Kenneth Blackwell

    Since the present volume directs critical attention to Bertrand Russell’s work and also honors the memory of Grover Maxwell, whose published writings on Russell’s philosophy of science are a vigorous defense of some rarely shared views on perception and empiricism, I will quote a paragraph from the only letter from Maxwell to Russell in the Russell Archives. This letter will serve to illustrate the ties between these two philosophers of science. Maxwell’s letter begins with a little-known quotation from a letter in volume 1 of Russell’sAutobiography(1967), so I will provide the context of that quotation. Russell is writing...

  22. References
    (pp. 297-302)
  23. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 305-308)
  24. Author Index
    (pp. 311-312)
  25. Subject Index
    (pp. 313-320)