Russell, realism and analytic philosophy

what-were-plato-s-beliefs_2ebecdd3-b206-467b-bb0e-c3a742b09571In the previous post I discussed some of the reasons for Betrand Russell’s rejection of the idealism of his teachers and peers.

This is remarkable because of how unfashionable realism was in the early 20th century. Russell rejected both the popular “scientific materialism” view criticised by Whitehead that all is matter, and of course the idealistic view that reality is ultimately the mental world of ideas.

Going forward, Russell was to adopt a unique type of Platonism. He writes:

Whatever may be an object of thought,…, or can be counted as one, I call a term. …I shall use it as synonymous with the words unit, individual, and entity. … Every term has being, that is, is in some sense. A man, a moment, a number, a class, a relation, a chimera, or anything else that can be mentioned, is sure to be a term….

Principles of Mathmatics, p. 43

So, according to Russell what has being is “terms” which may or may not exist. This is because for Russell words simply mean objects (or terms). So it follows that a sentence, which contains terms, is an entity of itself i.e. a unity of those terms, which may be particulars or concepts.

Following that, logical analysis consists of the deconstruction of complex unities into increasingly simpler components of concepts and particulars. This is the birth of analytic philosophy in the early 20th century.

 

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3 responses to this post.

  1. […] « Russell, realism and analytic philosophy […]

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  2. […] Willard Van Orman Quine (1908 – 2000) was an American philosopher best known for his work on the logic of language and his criticism of the analytic/synthetic distinction. He is commonly considered one of the most important thinkers in the school of analytic philosophy. […]

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  3. […] Chomsky (1928 -) is an American philosopher who would go on to be a major thinker in the school of analytic philosophy. Many have gone so far as to call Chomsky the father of modern linguistic theory. He was also […]

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