The Grand Logician — Bertrand Russell Speaks
The following concerns the tendency of an otherwise useful word’s meaning to be semantically hijacked when neglected, in this case, a word often used by believers as a catch-all justification for their claims, and a form of ‘evidence’ often subject to misconstrual as unerring in it’s accuracy, unaware of the many ways it may mislead us if we are without care in assessing what it tells us.
In the revolt against idealism, the ambiguities of the word “experience” have been perceived, with the result that realists have more and more avoided the word. It is to be feared, however, that if the word is avoided the confusions of thought with which it has been associated may persist.
Russell and I would probably get along splendidly seeing that his views of science, despite the failure of the Unity of Science program, very much match my own in some important respects. Then again, the Logical Positivists, though ultimately unsuccessful, did provide some very important ground rules for modern science, and that’s something to bear in mind.
It seems to me that science has a much greater likelihood of being true in the main than any philosophy hitherto advanced (I do not, of course, except my own). In science there are many matters about which people are agreed; in philosophy there are none. Therefore, although each proposition in a science may be false, and it is practically certain that there are some that are false, yet we shall be wise to build our philosophy upon science, because the risk of error in philosophy is pretty sure to be greater than in science. If we could hope for certainty in philosophy, the matter would be otherwise, but so far as I can see such a hope would be chimerical.
This last deals with a common theme (trope?) on this blog, the eternal struggle waged by those who wish reality to support their presuppositions, rather than to base their suppositions on reality, very much putting ‘Descartes before de horse…’
We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think — in fact they do so.
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell (1872-05-18 – 1970-02-02) was a British mathematician, philosopher and logician.