[lit-ideas] Re: Russell's philosophical development

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 12 Sep 2015 18:12:15 -0400

In a message dated 9/12/2015 5:14:45 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
rpaul@xxxxxxxx provides a link for the subject-line:

Wikipedia has a synopsis and this reminds me of my aunt, "I never read a
book before they make a film out of it"*-- but how many films have Russell
as a character? He comes out as pretty odious in "Tom and Viv", for one.


"is a book written by Bertrand Russell summing up his philosophical beliefs
and how they changed during his life."

It's good he uses 'development', rather than progress! "Development"
Russell possibly took from K. C. and Martha Kneale. They were lecturing at
Oxford on the "Growth of Logic" -- for Oxford undergraduates. When Clarendon
told them they were happy to publish it as a book (the main history of logic
anglophone students seem to rely on -- forget Bochenski!) the Kneales turned
the 'growth' into 'development'.

"In this book Russell gives an account of his philosophical development."

And that's why it is entitled "My philosophical development". Wikipedia
entries, for some reason, are anonymous. In "Principles of Mathematics,
Russell gives an account of the principles of mathematics. In general, for any
book, the author gives an account of its title (including "Lolita"?).

The Wikipedia entry goes on:

"He tells of his Hegelian period and includes hitherto unpublished notes
for a Hegelian philosophy of science."

His Hegelian period was Oxonian in part, since everybody was Hegelian at
some time, it seems -- "simultaneously", to use a Hegelian principle --:
Bosanquet, Bradley, and I guess a few at Cambridge, where Russell got the
Hegelian disease.

"He deals next with the two-fold revolution involved with his abandonment
of idealism and adoption of a mathematical logic founded upon that of

Peano was, to echo Geary, "possibly a genius". He invented the idea of
formalising things, and provide axioms for them. Frege followed Peano
(metaphorically -- not to Italy, that is).

"After two chapters on Principia Mathematica, he passes to the problems of
perception as dealt with in Our Knowledge of the External World."

Principia Mathematica, because Whitehead was Russell's senior is considered
as author by Whitehead and Russell, rather than Russell and Whitehead, but
this is possibly implicatural, in that

i. Russell and Whitehead wrote "Principia Mathematica".

is still true. And by simplification of conjunction:

ii. Russell wrote "Principia Mathematica".

I think he was trying to irritate Moore, who had written a "Principia
Ethica", unless he wasn't.

The Wikipedia continues:

"There is a chapter on ‘The Impact of Wittgenstein’ in which he examines
what he now thinks must be accepted and what rejected in that philosopher’s

By himself. It would be otiose to expect that Witters NEEDS to reject
anything he put forward. If that were the case, Witters would have been the
author of a correlative, "My philosophical development", and he wisely ain't!

Wikipedia concludes:

"He notes the changes from earlier theories required by the adoption of
William James’s view that sensation is not essentially relational and is not
per se a form of knowledge."

It took some time for Russell to digest this. That is because for an
Oxbridge philosopher James is 'vernacular'. James was VERY HARVARD, and to have

his brilliant theses expounded and swallowed by Oxbridge types may take
time. Thus, Grice would rather quote Prichard and Reid and Locke and what not
but not James -- except of course when he said:

iii. Yes!

as an answer to Albritton's question:

iv. Would you be willing to give the bi-annual Philosophical William James
Lectures at Harvard?

Wikipedia goes on:

"In an explanatory chapter, he endeavours to remove misconceptions of and
objections to his theories as to the relation of perception to scientific
knowledge. The book concludes with a reprint of some articles on modern
Oxford philosophy."

Because he was from Cambridge. It would be VERY BORING for a Cambridge
philosopher to end his essay on "modern Cambridge philosophy". The practice is
Oxonian in nature. The John Locke Lectures at Oxford for example HAVE to be
delivered by SOMONE who is not CURRENTLY Oxonian. They are supposed to
illustrate Oxonians, and only a 'visitor' can do that. The genial thing is
that Grice managed to give the John Locke Lectures (even if there is possibly
no philosopher more Oxonian than Grice) because AT THE TIME, he had
'officially retired' from Oxford.

The essays, Oxonian, that caught Russell's attention included P. F.
Strawson's "On referring" -- but Russell, because he was a lord, had the moxie
(or is it cheek) to entitle his response in "Mind" as "Mr. Strawson on
referring". I always found the "mr." otiose: what's wrong with Strawson on
referring, or Sir Peter if you mustn't?



* A variant of Revd. Sidney Smith, "I never read a book before reviewing;
it prejudices a man so" -- but my aunt, she says, is not a man ("really") --
"although 'homo sapiens', I expect.").
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