[lit-ideas] "Russellism": "tyrannical and brutal"?

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 19:15:31 EDT

P. A. Stone asks:
>I'm not trying to be combative, but can someone 
>simply put forth what
>Bertrand Russell's "philosophy" was? 


I too would like to know. I agree with Stone that Logicism is more of a 
technical thing in the (foundations of) philosophy of science/mathematics, 
than _philosophy_ per se. 

In Ayer's little book (_Russell_, for Modern Masters (Fontana, originally the 
Gilbert Ryle Lectures given in Canada), Sir Alfred concentrates on Russell's 
_empiricism_ (he has another book, "Moore and Russell: the analytical 
heritage"), but surely that (Empiricism) was not original (to Russell), and is 
more of 
a development out of Mill's and other nineteenth-century philosophers (a 
'revival', after the demise of Empiricism in Oxford amongst the Hegelians). 

As far as his personality is concerned, I'm not sure how faifthful the the 
film _Tom and Viv_ was (not much, I suspect) but, as it narrates the life of T. 
S. Eliot and his English wife, shows a Russell with a quite a few 
'personality' defects, to use McEvoy's phrase.

I append below some findings from the OED, though (since I wanted to contrast 
'Russellianism' with, say 'Griceanism'). 

There's an entry for "Russell" (Russell 3, actually) himself, -- and one for 
"Russellian", which includes a quote by Strawson -- the _Mind_ one. 
(Interesting, Grice has a 1975 paper, "Definite Descriptions in Russell and in 
Vernacular" (cited by G. P. Bealer, formerly of Reed). 

The noun "Russellism" (as opposed to the more natural "RusseliANism"?) is 
used by R. Campbell, in an interesting quote of 1934:

"Russellism and Waughism seem to me to be as tyrannical and brutal..as 
Arnold-of-Rugby-ism." (Broken Record) -- a 

-- and I wonder why he thought so -- since 'brutal' is not the first word 
that comes to mind when I think Arnold (Can't be Schwarzenegger, right? -- 
would criticise my chronism here -- he defends _ana_-chronicity). 



From the OED

I. "Russell" (3)

"The name of Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell (1872-1970), 
mathematician and philosopher, used attrib. and in the possessive in connection 
with a paradox concerning the set of all sets that do not contain themselves 
as members: the condition for it to contain itself is that it should not 
contain itself."

1922 tr. Wittgenstein's Tractatus 57 

Herewith Russell's paradox vanishes. 

1937 Jrnl. Symb. Logic II. 31 

This contradiction corresponds to Russell's paradox. 

1950 W. V. QUINE Methods of Logic (1952) §42. 249 

This difficulty is called Russell's paradox, for its discoverer (1901). 

1963 G. T. KNEEBONE Math. Logic iv. 127 

Russell's antinomy..this is the paradox of the class {x/xx}. 

1967 Encycl. Philos. V. 46/1 

Russell's Paradox,..Russell..came upon a new paradox, that of the set of all 
sets that do not contain themselves as elements. A set r, the â??Russell 
is defined by the following condition: for every x, xr if and only if xx. By 
substitution we obtain: rr if and only if rr. 

1977 BELL & MACHOVER Course in Math. Logic x. 462 

Unfortunately..(1.2) is untenable even when k = 0, because it leads to the 
well-known Russell paradox.

II. Russellian [f. the name Russell (see RUSSELL3) + -IAN.]  
A. adj. Designating the mathematical or philosophical ideas of Bertrand 
Russell; characteristic of or pertaining to Russell (in quot. 1956, spec. of 
Russell's paradox: see RUSSELL3).    
B. n. An adherent of Russell's ideas. Hence Russellism, the system of 
Russell's thought and practice. 
1923 C. D. BROAD Sci. Thought xiii. 534 
Physical objects in the Russellian sense. 
1934 R. CAMPBELL Broken Record 145 
Russellism and Waughism seem to me to be as tyrannical and brutal..as 
1937 Discovery Feb. 61/1 
The Russellian â??calculus of propositionsâ??. 
1950 Mind LIX. 344 
Neither Aristotelian nor Russellian rules give the exact logic of any 
expression of ordinary language. 
1954 R. WELLS in Word X. 235 
Thus Wittgenstein has played a major part in all three branches of the 
Russellian movement. Ibid. 245 
Examples..have been separately discussed by various Russellians and 
1956 G. E. M. ANSCOMBE tr. Wittgenstein's Remarks on Found. of Math. v. 166 
The Russellian contradiction is disquieting, not because it is a 
contradiction, but because the whole growth culminating in it is a cancerous 
1972 Listener 27 Jan. 119/1 His interest is the more Russellian one of 
getting the system to work. 
1977 Language LIII. 74 Perhaps he is taking a Russellian view of definite 


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