The Problems of Philosophy

The Problems of Philosophy

Bertrand Russell

PREFACE

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IN the following pages I have confined myself in the main to those problems of

philosophy in regard to which I thought it possible to say something positive and constructive since merely negative criticism seemed out of place. For this reason, the theory

of knowledge occupies a larger space than metaphysics in the present volume, and some

topics much discussed by philosophers are treated very briefly, if at all.

I have derived valuable assistance from unpublished writings of G. E. Moore and J. M.

Keynes: from the former, as regards the relations of sense-data to physical objects, and

from the latter as regards probability and induction. I have also profited greatly by the

criticisms and suggestions of Professor Gilbert Murray.

1912

4

NOTE TO SEVENTEENTH IMPRESSION

WITH reference to certain statements on pages 44, 75, 131, and 132, it should be remarked that this book was written in the early part of 1912 when China was still an Empire, and the name of the then late Prime Minister did begin with the letter B.

1943

5

CHAPTER I

APPEARANCE AND REALITY

Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could

doubt it? This question, which at first sight might not seem difficult, is really one of the

most difficult that can be asked. When we have realized the obstacles in the way of a

straightforward and confident answer, we shall be well launched on the study of

philosophy — for philosophy is merely the attempt to answer such ultimate questions, not

carelessly and dogmatically, as we do in ordinary life and even in the sciences, but

critically after exploring all that makes such questions puzzling, and after realizing all the

vagueness and confusion that underlie our ordinary ideas.

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