Philosophy: Bertrand Russell vs William James Essay

Philosophy: Bertrand Russell vs William James Essay

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Bertrand Russell discussed certain problems he found with philosophy. Russell was concerned about how much did we really know. There is the stuff we know with our mind when we have a particular idea, and stuff we know through actually experiencing it which would justify it. But how do we know if it is real, or even there, for that matter? Russell says, “For if we cannot be sure of the independent existence of object, we cannot be sure of the independent existence of other people’s bodies, and therefore still less of other peoples minds, since we have no grounds for believing in their minds except such as are derived from observing their bodies” (Russell, 47). How can Farmer Brown be sure that the dairyman just didn’t have an idea that the cow was there. Farmer Brown wants more than just an idea in order to feel safe that his prize cow is still there. Another problem Russell would have with the cow in the field is the nature of the matter. Russell says we have knowledge of truth and knowledge of things. Knowledge of truth is propositional knowledge or what we’re most certain in through direct experience. Russell says, “But we cannot hope to be acquainted directly with the quality in the physical objects which makes it blue or red. Science tells us this quality is a certain sort of wave motion, and this sounds familiar, because we think of wave motions in the space we see” (Russell, 52). What he is saying that the dairy man has had direct experience with the cow, he know...

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