- Series: Great Books in Philosophy
- Paperback: 161 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books (September 1, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0879754974
- ISBN-13: 978-0879754976
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 165 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,786,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Problems of Philosophy (Great Books in Philosophy)
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"Concise...perfectly clear to the general reader." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
One of his great works, and a must-read for any student of philosophy, The Problems of Philosophy was written in 1912 as an introduction to Russell's thought.
As an empiricist, Russell starts at the beginning with this question: Is there any knowledge in the world that is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it? This, according to Russell, is where the work of philosophy begins. He covers topics such as reality, the nature of matter, inductive reasoning, truth, and the limits of philosophical knowledge.
As one of the greatest minds in Western philosophy, Russell's thoughts are profoundly informative and provocative and suitable for anyone wishing to expand his mind. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Good tangential critique of other philosophies.
Pragmatic enough to cut corners and not be so concerned with the problem of fully defining every concept even if he definitions are decent enough.
What im trying to say is good philosophical book without being so hermetical that can't be understood.
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)!
This is the second book I have read by Russell, aside from his essays on religion...
Russell writes in plain English, and he does not try to sound fancy, like some continental philosophers. This is important to me, because one should approach complicated issues and simplify them, without reducing them to the absurd.
I also like that Russell's arguments are tempered. He doesn't try to cover too much or come up with grand conclusions.
If you are evidence-based, and if you think philosophy should be conducted in a manner similar to science, then analytic philosophy is definitely for you. Moreover, Russell is someone whom you will grow to appreciate.
With that being said, I can't comment too much about whether or not a layman or a laywoman, who has had no formal education in philosophy, will consider his works accessible. Unless you have studied Modern Philosophy, you might not understand how particular thoughts have developed and the historical and social context of Russell's work.
Most importantly, however, Russell does explain what the issue is, what his stance is, and how he supports his stance. Even if you do not necessarily agree with his conclusions, most of which are reasonable, you should be able to understand his thoughts.
The following argument is still presented as an example of deductive reasoning. It is known as Aristotle’s syllogism and is included in many introductory texts on logic.
Premise 1: All men are mortal
Premise 2: Socrates is a man
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal
There is an unsound argument. An argument must have both: true premises and valid logic to be sound. The problem was pointed out by Bertrand Russell early in the book What follows is my interpretation of the Russell’s analysis.
This is technically a valid argument in that the truth of the premises is included in the truth of conclusion. That is, the conclusion is necessarily true if the premises are true.
However, the argument is unsound because the first premise is not true, and it cannot be proven to be true. The first premise is really an empirical generalization and should not be used as a premise in a deductive argument as shown by the use of ‘All’ which is a universal quantifier.
When the premises are known a priori, deduction is the correct mode of argument. When the premises are based on empirical knowledge, induction is the correct mode of argument. An example of a priori knowledge is 2 + 2 = 4. This proposition does not need to be tested with observations to conclude that it is always true. Empirical knowledge is that which is gained through observation and testing. The statement “all men are mortal” is really a generalization made about all men based on observations.
For example, I have observed many men or people and all of them have turned out to be mortal. In fact, I also have good reason to believe that every single human being who was born has died, I know of no examples to the contrary. If Socrates is a man, then I can infer that he is probably mortal. This is actually a stronger argument because I do not have to defend the proposition that “all men are mortal”. I have not observed all men or people. I do not know what the longevity of a person might be in the future. It does not logically follow that just because every person has died that every person born in the future will die. I cannot defend “all men are mortal” as a priori knowledge nor can I defend it based on empirical grounds due to my limited number of observations. However, I can defend the conclusion that Socrates is probably mortal based on the inference that I can make based on my observations. In fact, the probability that Socrates is mortal is actually higher than the probability that “all men are mortal”. Any empirical generalization is less certain than the actual individual observations because each of the individual observations can be verified, the generalizations cannot be verified. Put another way, we can say that the probability that Socrates is mortal is actually higher than the probability that “all men are mortal” because it is obvious that if “all men are mortal”, so is Socrates but if Socrates is mortal it does not follow that “all men are mortal.”
Premise 1: All observed people have been found to be mortal
Premise 2: Socrates is a person
Conclusion: Socrates is probably mortal