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Bernard Bosanquet

Bertrand Russell

The Problems of Philosophy

What is the nature of knowledge and how do we come to know things? Such epistemological questions form the main subjects of Bertrand Russell's book, The Problems of Philosophy

The book begins by looking at why most of us believe in the existence of a physical world apart from the sense data we recieved. This is contrasted with the philosophy of idealism, which claims that everything is a mental construct. Russell goes on to look at the validity of induction, and then examines the different types of knowledge - there is knowledge by description and knowledge by acquaintance, knowledge of general principles, a priori knowledge and intuitive knowledge. Plato thought that there were universal Forms, of which the things that we see are merely shadows. Russell discusses the nature of such universal objects, and goes on to look at truth and falsehood and how personal opinion fits in with these. The book concludes with chapters on the limits of philosophical knowledge and the value of philosophy.

It's a small book, with less that 100 pages, which I would say was one of it's main benefits, as it deals with a sustantial part of philosophy without getting bogged down in long arguments. Hence I would say it was ideal as an introduction to philosophy. info
Paperback 104 pages  
ISBN: 142093371X
Salesrank: 11514063
Published: 2009
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Paperback 116 pages  
ISBN: 1603861939
Salesrank: 3785892
Weight:0.49 lbs
Published: 2009 Merchant Books
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Paperback 128 pages  
ISBN: 0192854232
Salesrank: 215186
Weight:0.22 lbs
Published: 2001 Oxford Paperbacks
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Product Description
First written in 1912, this work of Bertrand Russell was an attempt by the author to create a guide that succinctly and comprehensibly outlined the difficulties he saw in the body of philosophical thought up to his time. In trying to do so, he concentrated on knowledge instead of metaphysics, hoping to spark discussion that was both productive and beneficial. This work also explains Russell's famous distinction between 'knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description', which he first posited in 1910. Finally, "The Problems of Philosophy" draws upon the important theories of famous philosophers from Plato to Hegel in order to create a foundation for philosophical inquiry, not only for scholars but for the general public as well. While Russell does not necessarily solve the problems he sets forth, his work is still quite relevant in its scope and object for philosophers today.