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Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scientific Method in Philosophy

Bertrand Russell

Book Overview: 

Bertrand Russell gave the Lowell Lectures in March and April of 1914; these lectures produced 'Our Knowledge of the External World'. Russell attempts to analyze the relationship of the crude data of our senses to the notions of physics such as space, time, and matter. Russell takes his analysis to illustrate the method of logical analysis used to such wonderful effect by thinkers in the late nineteenth-century to the notions of continuity, infinity, and the infinitesimal. These analyses effected a new epoch of clarity in the philosophy of mathematics; Russell hopes that a similar new age of clarity can be effected in the rest of philosophy through logical analysis; here, he undertakes the first stages of this analysis in the philosophy of physics.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .says, “consists in ascribing the nature of general truths to all propositions which are true in every instance that we happen to know of.”[8] As regards its fallibility, he asserts that “the precariousness of the method of simple enumeration is in an inverse ratio to the largeness of the generalisation. The process is delusive and insufficient, exactly in proportion as the subject-matter of the observation is special and limited in extent. As the sphere widens, this unscientific method becomes less and less liable to mislead; and the most universal class of truths, the law of causation for instance, and the principles of number and of geometry, are duly and satisfactorily proved by that method alone, nor are they susceptible of any other proof.”[9]

In the above statement, there are two obvious lacunæ: (1) How is the method of simple enumeration itself justified? (2) What logical principle, if any, covers the same ground as this metho. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Chapter 1 "Current Tendencies": Mr. Russell begins with the famous opening lines, "Philosophy, since the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer results, than any other branch of learning. Ever since Thales said that all is water, philosophers have been ready with glib assertions

Students of philosophy will find this book intriguing as well as a dry read. The ideas portrayed by Russell and thought provoking although his writing isn't as lucid and comprehendible as his other books. Albeit, it's a decent read for whoever is interested in philosophy and with epistemology.

Book on logic, mathematics, mathematical logic, scientific philosophy, how to acquire a scientific mind, methodological skepticism, Zeno's paradoxes, the end of race course, infinite instances exist in finite time, infinite points exists in finite space and in a line, Achilles and tortoise, bow and

When I was reading of the very last part of this book, I had tried so hard not to watch the football match of Man United. I didn't go to watch that although Man Utd is my favourite team among others because this book took all of my attractiveness :3

Such a wondrous book !
It presents very interesting lectures of the one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century,Bertrand Russell.In these lectures,Russell pointed out the defects of the classical logic and then with the aid of modern logic,he went out constructing a working hypothesis

Bertrand Russell had one of the clearest, as well as the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. The clarity certainly shows here, because I was reading a wretchedly OCRd version on my Kindle, and though every eighth word was mangled I was still able to follow and make sense of what's really a pre

Our Knowledge of the External World, Bertrand Russell

Our Knowledge of the External World, originally published: 1914.
Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, & achieved fewer results, than other branches of learning. In Our Knowledge of the External World, Russell illustrates in

A parade of the achievements of logical positivism, this book is extremely helpful to the non-specialist. One, it explains the nature of 20th century logic - prior logic, throughout history, merely served to make the logician more narrow-minded than truly logical: now we know that logic entails rela

Highly recommended.

Brilliant is the standard for Russell.

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