Our knowledge of the external world - PDF by Bertrand Russell

Our knowledge of the external world

Our knowledge of the external world
Bertrand Russell


 as a field for scientific method in philosophy

From Introduction:

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 practised 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 endeavoured to show, however imperfectly, the way by which I believe that this desideratum is to be found.

The central problem by which I have sought to illustrate the method is the problem of the relation between the crude data of sense and the space, time, and matter of mathematical physics. I have been made aware of the importance of this problem by my friend and collaborator Dr Whitehead, who is due almost all the differences between the views advocated here and those suggested in The Problems of Philosophy} I owe to him the definition of points, the suggestion for the treatment of instants and "things," and the whole conception of the world of physics as a construction rather than an inference. 

What is said on these topics here is, in fact, a rough preliminary account of the more precise results which he is giving in the fourth volume of our Principia Mathematical It will be seen that if his way of dealing with these topics is capable of being successfully carried through, a wholly new light is thrown on the time-honoured controversies of realists and idealists, and a method is obtained of solving all that is soluble in their problem.


Current Tendencies.
Logic as the Essence of Philosophy
On our Knowledge of the External World
The World of Physics and the World of Sense
The Theory of Continuity
The Problem of Infinity Considered Historically
The Positive Theory of Infinity. 
 On the Notion of Cause, with Applications to
the Free-will Problem 
the book details :
  • Author: Bertrand Russell
  • Publication date: 1914
  • Company: Chicago, Open Court Pub. Co.

  • Download 4.7 MB
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