Our knowledge of the external world as a field for scientific method in philosophy by Bertrand Russell

Our knowledge of the external world as a field for scientific method in philosophy by Bertrand Russell (1915)

Bertrand Russell

The following lectures are an attempt to show, by means of examples, the nature, capacity, and limitations of the logical-analytic method in philosophy.

This method, of which the first complete example is to be found in the writings of Frege, has gradually, in the course of actual research, increasingly forced itself upon me as something perfectly definite, capable of embodiment in maxims, and adequate, in all branches of philosophy, to yield whatever objective scientific knowledge it is possible to obtain.

Most of the methods hitherto practiced have professed to lead to more ambitious results than any that logical analysis can claim to reach, but unfortunately, these results have always been such as many competent philosophers considered inadmissible. Regarded merely as hypotheses and as aids to the imagination, the great systems of the past serve a very useful purpose and are abundantly worthy of study. But something different is required if philosophy is to become a science and to aim at results independent of the tastes and temperament of the philosopher who advocates them. In what follows, I have endeavored to show, however imperfectly, the way by which I believe t^hat this desideratum is to be found.


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