Ideas from 'Problems of Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell [1912], by Theme Structure

[found in 'The Problems of Philosophy' by Russell,Bertrand [OUP 1995,0-19-888018-9]].

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 1. Philosophy
Philosophers must get used to absurdities
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 3. Philosophy Defined
Philosophy verifies that our hierarchy of instinctive beliefs is harmonious and consistent
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 2. Possibility of Metaphysics
Metaphysics cannot give knowledge of the universe as a whole
1. Philosophy / G. Scientific Philosophy / 3. Scientism
Philosophy is similar to science, and has no special source of wisdom
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 1. Laws of Thought
The law of contradiction is not a 'law of thought', but a belief about things
Three Laws of Thought: identity, contradiction, and excluded middle
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 1. Truth
Truth is a property of a belief, but dependent on its external relations, not its internal qualities
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 5. Truth Bearers
Truth and falsehood are properties of beliefs and statements
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 7. Falsehood
A good theory of truth must make falsehood possible
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 1. Correspondence Truth
Truth is when a mental state corresponds to a complex unity of external constituents
Beliefs are true if they have corresponding facts, and false if they don't
Truth as congruence may work for complex beliefs, but not for simple beliefs about existence
3. Truth / D. Coherence Truth / 1. Coherence Truth
The coherence theory says falsehood is failure to cohere, and truth is fitting into a complete system of Truth
3. Truth / D. Coherence Truth / 2. Coherence Truth Critique
Coherence is not the meaning of truth, but an important test for truth
More than one coherent body of beliefs seems possible
If we suspend the law of contradiction, nothing will appear to be incoherent
4. Formal Logic / A. Syllogistic Logic / 2. Syllogistic Logic
The mortality of Socrates is more certain from induction than it is from deduction
5. Theory of Logic / B. Logical Consequence / 5. Modus Ponens
Demonstration always relies on the rule that anything implied by a truth is true
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / b. Names as descriptive
Proper names are really descriptions, and can be replaced by a description in a person's mind
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 2. Descriptions / b. Definite descriptions
The phrase 'a so-and-so' is an 'ambiguous' description'; 'the so-and-so' (singular) is a 'definite' description
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / c. Against mathematical empiricism
Maths is not known by induction, because further instances are not needed to support it
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 2. Reality
Space is neutral between touch and sight, so it cannot really be either of them
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 7. Facts / c. Facts and truths
In a world of mere matter there might be 'facts', but no truths
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 1. Nature of Relations
That Edinburgh is north of London is a non-mental fact, so relations are independent universals
Because we depend on correspondence, we know relations better than we know the items that relate
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 1. Universals
Every complete sentence must contain at least one word (a verb) which stands for a universal
Propositions express relations (prepositions and verbs) as well as properties (nouns and adjectives)
Confused views of reality result from thinking that only nouns and adjectives represent universals
All universals are like the relation "is north of", in having no physical location at all
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 2. Need for Universals
Russell claims that universals are needed to explain a priori knowledge (as their relations)
Every sentence contains at least one word denoting a universal, so we need universals to know truth
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 4. Uninstantiated Universals
Normal existence is in time, so we must say that universals 'subsist'
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 5. Universals as Concepts
If we identify whiteness with a thought, we can never think of it twice; whiteness is the object of a thought
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 2. Resemblance Nominalism
'Resemblance Nominalism' won't work, because the theory treats resemblance itself as a universal
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 4. Concept Nominalism
If we consider whiteness to be merely a mental 'idea', we rob it of its universality
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 1. Possible Worlds / a. Possible worlds
In any possible world we feel that two and two would be four
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Knowledge of truths applies to judgements; knowledge by acquaintance applies to sensations and things
Knowledge cannot be precisely defined, as it merges into 'probable opinion'
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 3. Belief / b. Elements of beliefs
Belief relates a mind to several things other than itself
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 3. Belief / d. Cause of beliefs
We have an 'instinctive' belief in the external world, prior to all reflection
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 3. Error
In order to explain falsehood, a belief must involve several terms, not two
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 5. The Cogito
Descartes showed that subjective things are the most certain
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
'Acquaintance' is direct awareness, without inferences or judgements
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / c. Representative realism
There is no reason to think that objects have colours
Russell (1912) said phenomena only resemble reality in abstract structure
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism
'Idealism' says that everything which exists is in some sense mental
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 4. Solipsism
It is not illogical to think that only myself and my mental events exist
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
Some propositions are just self-evident, but some proven propositions are also self-evident
Particular instances are more clearly self-evident than any general principles
As shown by memory, self-evidence comes in degrees
If self-evidence has degrees, we should accept the more self-evident as correct
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 4. A Priori as Necessities
The rationalists were right, because we know logical principles without experience
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 5. A Priori Synthetic
Kant showed that we have a priori knowledge which is not purely analytic
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 9. A Priori from Concepts
All a priori knowledge deals with the relations of universals
We can know some general propositions by universals, when no instance can be given
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
Russell's representationalism says primary qualities only show the structure of reality
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 4. Sense Data / a. Sense-data theory
After 1912, Russell said sense-data are last in analysis, not first in experience
'Sense-data' are what are immediately known in sensation, such as colours or roughnesses
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 1. Empiricism
If Russell rejects innate ideas and direct a priori knowledge, he is left with a tabula rasa
It is natural to begin from experience, and presumably that is the basis of knowledge
We are acquainted with outer and inner sensation, memory, Self, and universals
Knowledge by descriptions enables us to transcend private experience
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
I can know the existence of something with which nobody is acquainted
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 3. Memory
Images are not memory, because they are present, and memories are of the past
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 2. Justification Challenges / b. Gettier problem
True belief is not knowledge when it is deduced from false belief
A true belief is not knowledge if it is reached by bad reasoning
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / c. Empirical foundations
All knowledge (of things and of truths) rests on the foundations of acquaintance
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 5. Dream Scepticism
Dreams can be explained fairly scientifically if we assume a physical world
14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 2. Aim of Science
Science aims to find uniformities to which (within the limits of experience) there are no exceptions
14. Science / C. Induction / 3. Limits of Induction
We can't prove induction from experience without begging the question
Chickens are not very good at induction, and are surprised when their feeder wrings their neck
It doesn't follow that because the future has always resembled the past, that it always will
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / a. Best explanation
If the cat reappears in a new position, presumably it has passed through the intermediate positions
Belief in real objects makes our account of experience simpler and more systematic
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
It is hard not to believe that speaking humans are expressing thoughts, just as we do ourselves
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / d. Other minds by analogy
If we didn't know our own minds by introspection, we couldn't know that other people have minds
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 7. Seeing Resemblance
I learn the universal 'resemblance' by seeing two shades of green, and their contrast with red
16. Persons / B. Concept of the Self / 5. Persistence of Self
In seeing the sun, we are acquainted with our self, but not as a permanent person
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 3. Undetectable Self
In perceiving the sun, I am aware of sun sense-data, and of the perceiver of the data
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 6. Rationality
It is rational to believe in reality, despite the lack of demonstrative reasons for it
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 1. Concepts / a. Concepts
A universal of which we are aware is called a 'concept'
19. Language / A. Language / 1. Language
Russell started philosophy of language, by declaring some plausible sentences to be meaningless
19. Language / B. Meaning / 3. Meaning as Verification
Every understood proposition is composed of constituents with which we are acquainted
19. Language / D. Theories of Reference / 4. Descriptive Reference / b. Reference by description
It is pure chance which descriptions in a person's mind make a name apply to an individual
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 2. Ideal of Pleasure
Judgements of usefulness depend on judgements of value
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 12. Against Laws of Nature
We can't know that our laws are exceptionless, or even that there are any laws