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Russell (The Routledge Philosophers) Paperback – September 22, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'[A] terrific book, and I know of no better introduction to Russell’s philosophy as a whole. Given Russell’s immensely prolific output and the extremely wide range of philosophical interests he pursued, to have provided a coherent summary such as this is a tremendous accomplishment. This book will be an essential read for both scholars and students of Russell’s philosophy for years to come.' - Kevin C. Klement, Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy

About the Author

Gregory Landini is Professor of philosophy at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Wittgenstein’s Apprenticeship With Russell (2007), and Russell's Hidden Substitutional Theory (1998).

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Product Details

  • Series: The Routledge Philosophers
  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (September 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415396271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415396271
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,862,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Landini's book is a much needed addition to the philosophical literature on Bertrand Russell. He is, arguably, the most important Russell scholar in the world today and has worked intensively (and brilliantly) to correct several misunderstandings about Russell's work while at the same time putting forward his own interpretation of Russell's technical work and its connections to his broader philosophical projects. Landini's interpretation, while revisionistic, is rigorously grounded in Russell's works; it actually does justice to the philosopher's immense brilliance and sophistication, something which, sadly, cannot be said of all accounts of Russell's work [cf. Monk]. Landini claims that Russell's Logical Atomism was a research program, of a structuralist sort, which aimed to replace all metaphysical necessities for logical necessities in whichever domain it was applied, be that mathematics, knowledge, the physical world or the analysis of mental phenomena. Graham Stevens, another excellent Russell scholar, takes Landini to task for these views; however Landini's view does fit exceedingly well with both Russell's remarks on the maxim of scientific philosophy i.e. his version of Occam's razor and what he actually attempts to do in most of his philosophical works. Landini also claims that the research program of Logical Atomism isn't a program of reductive empiricism, but a program whose aim is eliminativistic, that is: it doesn't identify the entities of folk or scientific ontology with logical constructions but rather replaces them with those constructions. The entities (plus higher-order logic), it is argued, out of which the folk or scientific ontology are replaced by can and do change throughout Russell's various proposals but the methodology remains.Read more ›
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The Routledge Philosophers editions I've read have generally been quite excellent (Beiser's Hegel, Guyer's Kant, Jolley's Leibniz), but this one misses the mark as a substantive introduction. I would not touch it unless you have a very solid grounding in logic and mathematics. Though he rightly focuses primarily on Russell's immense contributions to logic and the founding of analytic philosophy, Landini uses complex logical syntax without much explanation, which is fine if you're familiar with it, but will be incomprehensible to anyone approaching the logic-analytic tradition for the first time. Further, Landini just doesn't seem to write in a user-friendly manner. I have seen far more approachable explanations of Cantor and the Continuum Hypothesis than the one Landini gives in chapter 2.

Landini declares his account of Russell's logical atomism to be "revisionary," linking it much more closely to Russell's work in mathematical logic. It is certainly far from Russell as I studied him. I don't know whether Landini is right, but be aware that his interpretation is idiosyncratic, and I still wasn't able to understand how it solved the seeming lack of reference that Wittgenstein (and others) pointed out. A later chapter on the Principia revision seems quite speculative and unnecessarily hostile toward Wittgenstein. It could have been trimmed from this long book. Russell *is* hugely important and I fear this book will not win him too many converts.

A.C. Grayling's brief, well-written survey Russell: A Very Short Introduction is vastly more accessible and orthodox.
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It's high time to reappraise Bertrand Russell. It's important to get his philosophy aright. It's important to understand his relationship with Wittgenstein--and to get Wittgenstein's origins aright. And it's crucial to examine Bertrand Russell's influence on all of philosophy, not just Anglo-American philosophy. There may be much to dislike about Russell--e.g., his inability to present his opponents' positions uniformly fairly--but his eminence cannot just be wished away. Gregory Landini's book does a masterful job at presenting Russell's ideas fairly and without undue technical verbiage. I think it accurately relocates and re-situates Russell's influence on and relationship with Wittgenstein. I only wish I had read this much earlier in my life.
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