Considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of all time, the History of Western Philosophy is a dazzlingly unique exploration of the ideologies of significant philosophers throughout the ages—from Plato and Aristotle through to Spinoza, Kant and the twentieth century. Written by a man who changed the history of philosophy himself, this is an account that has never been rivaled since its first publication over sixty years ago.
Since its first publication in 1945, Lord Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy is still unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace, and its wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century.
Among the philosophers considered are: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists, Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, the Sceptics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, Plotinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the Great, John the Scot, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson, James, Dewey, and lastly the philosophers with whom Lord Russell himself is most closely associated—Cantor, Frege, and Whitehead, coauthor with Russell of the monumental Principia Mathematica.
With zest and rigor, Bertrand Russell applies twentieth-century thinking to age-old philosophy, from the works of Plato and Aristotle to those of René Descartes and John Locke. In The Problems of Philosophy, he reviews the Western canon’s most influential ideas and thought experiments, offering a comprehensive and enlightening text for curious and seasoned philosophy readers alike. Infused with Russell’s own observations and critiques, this study offers reviews of topics such as idealism, knowledge, and the natures of truth, reality, and existence. Including the author’s prominent thinking on knowledge by acquaintance versus knowledge by description, The Problems of Philosophy is a critical look at the major philosophical accomplishments spanning from classical Greece to the twentieth century.
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The essay on "Mysticism and Logic" appeared in the Hibbert Journal for July, 1914. "The Place of Science in a Liberal Education" appeared in two numbers of The New Statesman, May 24 and 31, 1913. "The Free Man's Worship" and "The Study of Mathematics" were included in a former collection (now out of print), Philosophical Essays, also published by Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co. Both were written in 1902; the first appeared originally in the Independent Review for 1903, the second in the New Quarterly, November, 1907. In theoretical Ethics, the position advocated in "The Free Man's Worship" is not quite identical with that which I hold now: I feel less convinced than I did then of the objectivity of good and evil. But the general attitude towards life which is suggested in that essay still seems to me, in the main, the one which must be adopted in times of stress and difficulty by those who have no dogmatic religious beliefs, if inward defeat is to be avoided.
The essay on "Mathematics and the Metaphysicians" was written in 1901, and appeared in an American magazine, The International Monthly, under the title "Recent Work in the Philosophy of Mathematics." Some points in this essay require modification in view of later work. These are indicated in footnotes. Its tone is partly explained by the fact that the editor begged me to make the article "as romantic as possible."
All the above essays are entirely popular, but those that follow are somewhat more technical. "On Scientific Method in Philosophy" was the Herbert Spencer lecture at Oxford in 1914, and was published by the Clarendon Press, which has kindly allowed me to include it in this collection. "The Ultimate Constituents of Matter" was an address to the Manchester Philosophical Society, early in 1915, and was published in the Monist in July of that year. The essay on "The Relation of Sense-data to Physics" was written in January, 1914, and first appeared in No. 4 of that year's volume of Scientia, an International Review of Scientific Synthesis, edited by M. Eugenio Rignano, published monthly by Messrs. Williams and Norgate, London, Nicola Zanichelli, Bologna, and Félix Alcan, Paris. The essay "On the Notion of Cause" was the presidential address to the Aristotelian Society in November, 1912, and was published in their Proceedings for 1912-13. "Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description" was also a paper read before the Aristotelian Society, and published in their Proceedings for 1910-11.
Are there facts that exist independently of our minds?
Are there vague objects?
Russell on Metaphysics brings together for the first time a comprehensive selection of Russell's writing on metaphysics in one volume. Russell's major and lasting contribution to metaphysics has been hugely influential and his insights have led to the establishment of analytic philosophy as a dominant stream in philosophy. Stephen Mumford chronicles the metaphysical nature of these insights through accessible introductions to the texts, setting them in context and understanding their continued importance. Russell on Metaphysics is both a valuable introduction to Bertrand Russell as a metaphysician, and an introduction to analytic philosophy and its history.