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The Problems of Philosophy Paperback – February 4, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
"Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect."
This book definitely has sparked in me an interest in philosophy. If you are even remotely interested in the subject, I recommend you buying it too.
Yet, philosophy does not deserve this reputation. It is not just some hobby for stodgy elders, or those with nothing better to do. Rather, it is quite the opposite; it is an endlessly intriguing subject, one which causes you to consider things you may have never thought of before. Survive the test, and the reaffirmation that results will be worth it.
Philosophy contains no easy answers. It poses a myriad of questions which can force one to doubt, and even reexamine, one's beliefs -- even those which previously seemed so resolute. This may at first be difficult or discombobulating, but persistance is rewarded with an even stronger foundation than before.
I will not attempt to summarize this book, as people before me have already explained it sufficiently. However, I will say that this book was a great influence, and a wonderful introduction to the world of philosophy. For such an abstruse and "deep" matter, one would think that most would be intimidated; however, Russell handles it splendidly. He writes in a lucid, unpretentious manner, and spares the reader any unnecessary confusion.
Even to this day, my friends tease me about "philosophy of a table." It is impossible for me to adequately describe this book, but let me say that it is brilliant and refreshing. For me, philosophy is not meant to give an individual a headache. It is simply for those who wish to gain a better understanding of themselves and their surroundings. And this book, exceptional in its quality, is an excellent choice to get you started on that interminable journey towards the ever so elusive Truth.
With that caveat, which comes in the last chapter of The Problems of Philosophy, Russell defines in part what philosophy is and what it can accomplish. The definition casts a rather dim light over the field of philosophy, calling into questions its value as a discipline worthy of our attention. But Russell goes on to say that philosophy's value won't be found in its ability to provide answers ("since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true"). Instead, philosophy is valuable "for the sake of the questions themselves."
"These questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation," notes Russell. He says our minds are "rendered great" when we contemplate "the greatness of the universe." This enables our minds to form a "union with the universe which constitutes its highest good."
In the pages that precede this final chapter on the value of philosophy, Russell highlights the questions he considers to be most "positive" and "constructive." In his view, philosophy's most important questions relate to epistemology, or the theory of knowledge. As a result, most of this book deals with questions like these:
What is the difference between appearance and reality?
What is a belief? What is the relationship between beliefs and facts?
What, if anything, can we know for certain?
What is the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning?
What is intuitive knowledge?
What is truth?Read more ›
I doubt that Russell would write this same book today, but I also doubt that he would fundamentally alter the positions he takes, if he were writing today. There is something neat, eloquent, and elegant about his epistemological premises that make this work (well beyond its 17th printing and more than eighty years old) such a venerable treasure trove. Could his positions be better articulated? Yes, but not by much. Would he delve more deeply into logic? Almost certainly. And he does, in other books written during his lifetime.
This book is really for the novice. My only complaint is that the novice will probably remain lost if his readings did not encompass more logic and criticism of rational and empirical epistemology. What makes Russell a true "modern" in contemporary philosophy is his bridge to resolving both the rationalist and empiricist schools of thought. One not knowing these dichotomies might find Russell's resolution difficult to follow. Elsewhere in the book, Russell identifies "three" rules of thought, when these rules are no longer considered all that are extent. Generally, there are seven, sometimes nine, taught in most symbolic logic courses, and this discrepancy may needlessly cause confusion. So while the book is written for the novice, it bears re-reading after covering other contemporary writers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is brain food, a vicious attack to common sense because philosophy bring us discomfort through methodical doubt (thanks Descartes). Read morePublished 18 days ago by Roberto Rigolin Ferreira Lopes
I was somewhat worried about reading philosophy as an audiobook, but the clarity of Russell's written style make it work out just fine. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Ryan Mease
Great book. I'm a philosophy novice and this work by Russell was very understandable and enjoyable.Published 3 months ago by tgamazon
Clear, lucid and timeless writing by one of the giants of 20th century philosophy. Highly recommended.Published 4 months ago by Robert Zuch
seller is good but bertrand's failure begins with his denial of God and spends the entire book chasing his tail.Published 4 months ago by Stephanie Jones