- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Subsequent edition (October 2, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019511552X
- ISBN-13: 978-0195115529
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.7 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 176 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Problems of Philosophy Subsequent Edition
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"Treats its subject in a way that will arouse the interest of any one who has any latent ability to become interested in it."--The New York Times
From the Back Cover
Clear and accessible, this little book is an intelligible and stimulating guide to those problems of philosophy which often mistakenly make the subject seem too lofty and abstruse for the lay mind.
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That’s not to say the book is an easy read. Russell doesn’t dumb down any of his ideas in order to pander to an audience of philosophical novices. He does, however, express philosophical concepts in a plain and simple vocabulary that general readers can understand. No knowledge of disciplinary jargon is required; Russell defines all the terms necessary for understanding his argument. His prose can get convoluted at times when the complex subject matter requires it, but there’s nothing that precludes a diligent reader from fully appreciating the text. Throughout the book he uses examples and analogies from everyday life that are easily comprehensible.
As a title, The Problems of Philosophy is a little misleading, or at least too broad. A more fitting title (though less inviting) would have been The Problems of Epistemology because Russell is almost exclusively concerned here with the particular branch of philosophy that deals with the theory of knowledge—how we perceive the reality around us and form beliefs as to what is true or false. This book only touches on metaphysics and doesn’t cover ethics at all. Russell does delve rather deeply into the territory of logic, which is essentially the application of mathematical principles to language or ideas in order to differentiate between truth and falsehood. He begins by questioning the difference between appearance and reality. To what extent can we be certain that the information we gather through our senses reflects the true nature of reality? From there he proceeds to discuss the existence and nature of matter. Subsequent chapters go on to explain how we acquire knowledge from sense data and inductive reasoning, how we form a priori judgements, and why we sometimes harbor erroneous beliefs. Although the book primarily advances Russell’s own ideas on these subjects, he does give due consideration to theories and philosophies that oppose his own, so the reader gets a well rounded perspective on each topic.
I’ve often wondered why Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature even though he is a mathematician, logician, and philosopher. After reading this book, one sees how the elegant quality of his prose serves to enlighten readers and expand their perspective. Russell was a master of language as well as mathematics. His concluding chapter on the value of philosophy is positively inspiring. This excellent book not only provides stimulating insight into the processes of human thought; it also opens your mind to new ways of thinking about reality.
Describes the heuristic from the point of view of the conscious mind as to how it experiences the certain belief in basic remembered facts, such as that that the text 'fact' is on a computer screen in front of my face right now being seen by my own eyes!
Also describes the similar certain belief we have in the logical and mathematical a priori. For example, Bertrand Russell would see the result from elementary number theory that 2 + 2 = 2 * 2 as an a priori theorem.
Best read it for yourself! Still in print (2012)!