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Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays

Bertrand Russell

Book Overview: 

This anthology collects a number of fascinating strands of Bertrand Russell's thought. "Mathematics and the Metaphysicians" details the impact of the 1900 World Congress of Philosophers on Russell's development and the hope that new methods in mathematics could be applied to the solution of ancient philosophical problems. Many of the subsequent essays show the evolution of this hope as Russell worked on the foundations of mathematics and applied the new methods to the reconstruction of physical objects on the basis of sense-data, and the redefinition of matter and cause.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .cent and more difficult than in the physical sciences: it is natural to consider that human nature is either good or bad, and to suppose that the difference between good and bad, so all-important in practice, must be important in theory also. It is only during the last century that an ethically neutral psychology has grown up; and here too, ethical neutrality has been essential to scientific success.

In philosophy, hitherto, ethical neutrality has been seldom sought and hardly ever achieved. Men have remembered their wishes, and have judged philosophies in relation to their wishes. Driven from the particular sciences, the belief that the notions of good and evil must afford a key to the understanding of the world has sought a refuge in philosophy. But even from this last refuge, if philosophy is not to remain a set of pleasing dreams, this belief must be driven forth. It is a commonplace that [31]happiness is not best achieved by those who seek it directly; and . . . Read More