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Thursday, March 29, 2018

## Bertrand Russell and the philosophy of logic

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Bassano Ltd

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was an influential philosopher best known for his contributions to analytic philosophy. Nicholas Griffin said

"It is difficult to overstate the extent to which Russell's thought dominated twentieth century analytic philosophy: virtually every strand in its development either originated with him or was transformed by being transmitted through him." (The Cambridge Companion to Bertrand Russell, 2003)

Philosopher A.J. Ayer said,

"The popular conception of a philosopher as one who combines universal learning with the direction of human conduct was more nearly satisfied by Bertrand Russell than by any other philosopher of our time." (Bertrand Russell as a Philosopher, 1972)

The rest of this post is some quotes from Russell.

### Reason

"When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only: what are the facts and what is the truth the facts bear out?" (BBC Interview, 1959)

"Reason is a harmonizing, controlling force rather than a creative one." (Our Knowledge of the External World, 1914)

"In astronomy, the law of gravitation is plainly better worth knowing than the position of a particular planet on a particular night, or even on every night throughout the year. There are in the law a splendor and simplicity and sense of mastery which illuminate a mass of otherwise uninteresting details." (On History, 1904)

### Mathematics

"Starting with premises which would be universally admitted to belong to logic and arriving by deduction at results which as obviously belong to mathematics, we find that there is no point at which a sharp line can be drawn, with logic to the left and mathematics to the right." (Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, 1919)

"The fact that all mathematics is symbolic logic is one of the greatest discoveries of our age; and when this fact has been established, the remainder of the principles of mathematics consist in the analysis of symbolic logic itself." (Principles of Mathematics, 1903)

"Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true." (Mathematics and the Metaphysicians, 1917)