Analysis of the Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

Steven Spielberg

Appearance and Reality
Russell questions the absoluteness of knowledge and the discernment of the problem in Philosophy.

What is the distinction between appearance and reality? Things which are known by perception are labeled as sense data. The collection of all physical objects is called matter.

Russell quotes the Philosopher Berkeley who said objects do not exist outside the senses. This I think is a deception. Objects exist independently of the senses and come into purview if we are cognizing or perceiving them.

Russell describes the problem of appearance as being philosophical. Is the reality of seeing a thing real? What happens to appearance when we approach its microscopic or macroscopic composition? For example: the size and heat of the sun increases as we go closer to it.

The Existence of Matter
The author introduces Descartes who used to systematically doubt and through his doubting came to the conclusion-I think therefore I exist. Philosophically he asks the question of objects exist outside our senses. I would like to affirmatively: they do.

The Nature of Matter
Physical Science has reduced all objects to motions. For example: light has waves and particles called wavicles.

Idealism
The first advocate of idealism was Berkeley. According to him everything exists in the mind. Here I think there’s a misinterpretation of Berkeley’s thinking. We have to cognize or perceive and that we do with our senses.

The word Know is used in the sense of two things. First of all it means the absence of error. The second aspect of it is knowledge gained by the senses. This is called by knowing through acquaintance. For knowledge by acquaintance we come to knowing of things by our senses. For example when I see a table, I perceive that it is a table.

Russell is not clear by what he means by knowledge through description.

There is an acquaintance with universals that is ideas like whiteness, brotherhood and justice and so on. Nouns and verbs according to Russell use descriptive content.

On Induction
What is induction? Inductive knowledge proceeds from the general to the particular. A syllogism is an induction. For example: All Men are Mortal; Socrates is a man: therefore Socrates is mortal.

There are three laws of thought. The Law of identity: what is: the law of contradiction: nothing can be and not be: the law of the excluded middle: everything must be and not be.

One of the historic controversies is between the empiricists and the rationalists. Empiricists maintain that knowledge comes from experience. Is knowledge a priori or a posteriori that is existing before the known or after the known?

Russell assumes that all mathematical knowledge is a priori. I would like to say that cognizing the verifiability of mathematical truths is a posteriori.

The World of Universals
Do Universals, ideas like justice, truth, brotherhood exist in form or as ideas or are they to put in practice. Plato was wrong to assume that they exist in an ideal form.

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