The Problems of Philosophy
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The Problems of Philosophy

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  5,705 ratings  ·  218 reviews
One of his great works, and a must-read for any student of philosophy, The Problems of Philosophy was written in 1912 as an introduction to Russell's thought. As an empiricist, Russell starts at the beginning with this question: Is there any knowledge in the world that is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it? This, according to Russell, is where the work of phi...more
Paperback, 161 pages
Published September 1st 1988 by Prometheus Books (first published 1912)
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Manny
Plato, in the Symposium, was perhaps the first person to consider the question of the "unliked review". If a review never receives any votes, can it truly be said to exist? This problem has tormented many of the world's greatest philosophers. Bishop Berkeley's famous answer is that God reads and likes every review, hence they all exist. Even at the time, this was not universally considered satisfactory; Rousseau's reply, le compte de Dieu est privé, is widely quoted as the standard objection.

Th...more
Stephen M


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Are you tired of having to sit at your computer and type. every. single. word. all. day. long?

Modern times are roug...more
Jean
The Problems of Philosophy was written in 1912 as an early attempt by its author to create a brief and accessible guide to the problems of philosophy. Bertrand Russell is considered to be one of the founders of analytic philosophy, and is also widely held to be one of the 20th century's premier logicians. He is generally thought to be one of the most important philosophers of the past two hundred years. Extremely prolific and influential, he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1950. No...more
Elliot
Ah, how exhilerating! To a most amateur novice in philosophy, Bertrand Russell's brief discussion of epistemology serves as a remarkably inspiring text: he both summarizes what I have found so invigorating about skeptical analysis of the universe and encourages me to pursue my understanding of the world further: Go! Question! Think! Understand!

Throughout my reading, I was torn between racing through the text, drawn from one sentence to the next as if pulled by some powerful philosophical magnet,...more
Brandon
One of the first classic works of philosophy I read as a whole, as opposed to merely excerpts in my first-year textbook. It is very dated now, being 100 years old, but it is interesting both as a historical document and as an introduction to some of the concerns of twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy, and in some cases, philosophy throughout history.

Russell's prose is simple and easy to understand, but quite often the conclusions he reaches which he believes to be obvious or intuitive ha...more
Amelia
Turns out that philosophy has many problems
Tim
The title’s a misnomer – the book is almost exclusively about epistemology, or theory of knowledge. This reflects the narrowing of philosophy’s scope in the English-speaking world 100 years ago, eventually making itself more or less a subdiscipline of linguistics (a self-imposed constriction which has only fairly recently been loosened). But Russell treats his subject with characteristic lucidity; the clarity and precision of his logic and phrasing have a certain austere beauty, if that’s the ri...more
Tyler
This is an incredibly good book for somebody just getting started to learn about epistemology. I don't think Russell delves too much into anything else like metaphysics, certainly not logic, art, or ethics. His focus is on epistemology. If knowledge is possible, if a priori knowledge is possible, comparing the rationalist and empiricists, etc.

What I love most about this book is that it reaches a conclusion. Many philosophers prefer to just show the examples of other philosophers ideas but Russel...more
Pink
The synopsis for this book says -

This accessibly clear little book is a stimulating guide to those problems of philosophy which often mistakenly make the subject seem too lofty & abstruse for laypersons.

So it includes passages like -

When a case of acquaintance is one with which I can be acquainted (as I am acquainted with my acquaintance with the sense-datum representing the sun), it is plain that the person acquainted is myself. Thus, when I am acquainted with my seeing the sun, the whole...more
Charbel
The concepts in this book are not unfamiliar to me. I have come across them before, yet I am nowhere near fully understanding them.

I wished Russel would have used more fascinating examples, but unfortunately he was very uniform (it got a bit boring) in his explanations.

I also have to admit that there were parts where I couldn't follow what he was trying to convey.

To philosophy enthusiasts this would probably be a good book, but to me it's just another read.
Leola
An attempt to introduce philosophical principles in less than 120 pages. The result felt like concepts stranded in a vast sea. Also, Mr Russell may have benefitted from Strunk's advice to 'write with nouns and verbs'. The last paragraph was redeeming:

"Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions ... but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination...more
Yann
J'avais reçu ce livre à 18 ans, sans jamais avoir eu le courage de le lire, et il a fallu attendre des lustres avant que je sois en état de m'y intéresser. Dans cet ouvrage, Bertrand Russel, un philosophe anglais écrit à la veille du premier conflit mondial au sujet de connaissance, reprenant un thème ouvert depuis le Théétète de Platon. Comme presque tous les philosophe anglais, il met un point d'honneur à exposer ses idées avec clarté, afin de les mettre à la portée du plus grand nombre, sans...more
Chris
Foundational and essential. I am re-reading this to reacquaint myself with Russell's refutation of Berkekely's idealism, his restating of the most foundational epistemological doubt of external phenomena (via Descartes), and his distinction between knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description. A short book, necessitating very, very slow going, and for me, highlighting and the realization that I will be reading this again.
The final two chapters ('The Limits of Philosophical Knowledge'...more
Matt Evans
I actually read this twice, almost three times. I came to this by way of an article I'd read somewhere in the last three months, which article made a distinction between 'knowledge by acquaintance' and 'knowledge by description.' Russell addresses this matter in Chapter V. So, that's what I'd read first, online (you can find the whole book online, albeit riddled with typos, which make for rather slow going at times). Once I'd read that chapter, I had to read the book.

According to many Goodreads...more
Moad

"The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation of consent of his deliberate reason."

Yet most people consider philosophy as meaningless without taking the effort to study it. Russell is sure an excellent writer, he does entertain you through with thought-provoking questions regarding our knowledge, a...more
Mark
This is Russell reviewing his philosophical foundations. The Problems of Philosophy is a good, short overview of basic philosophical questions. For example, the relationship between reality and appearance. Russell introduces the reader to metaphysics, epistemology, and logic.

For readers who have no experience reading philosophy, this is a good introduction to basic philosophical scepticism.
The book is short, this edition is pg. 161, and so any difficulty in reading it can be endured. For begin...more
Ahmad
در این مختصر بحث خود را منحصر به آن قسمت از مسائل فلسفه ساخته ام که درباره آنها میتوان اظهار نظر مثبت کرد زیرا در یک چنین کتابی جای بحث و انتقاد منفی نیست. از این جهت بحث معرفت از بحث وجود و مابعدالطبیعه به معنی اخص بیشتر آمده است و بعضی مطالب که فیلسوفان دیگر به تفصیل از آن سخن گفته اند به اختصار برگزار شده و حتی حذف گردیده است. در نوشتن کتاب از آثار منتشر نشده «جرج ادوارد مور» و «جان مینارد کینز» استفاده کرده ام از اولی درباره رابطه میان داده های حس و اعیان واقعیه و از دومی در باب احتمال و است...more
Hadrian
A mis titled book - rather, Some Problems of Philosophy of the late 19th and early 20th century, Many of Which Have Been Addressed.

Discusses epistemology, absolutes, a priori and a posteriori knowledge, truth and falsehood. It does these very well. A quite reasonable introduction on basic problems.

But it's still very interesting, and Russell is one of the most readable of the philosophers. Dare I say it, his style actually flows well.
Zac
Jan 26, 2008 Zac rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone above high school reading level
Recommended to Zac by: Brian Magee (a philosopher whom I don't know, but I read one of
What an exciting book. Russell is not only a great philosopher, but also a great writer, and this short book is a perfect example. I recommend this book to all, especially those with any interest what so ever in the limits of our knowledge and the nature of reality. If one doesn't think they have any interest in philosophy, after reading this book, I'm sure they will.
Todd
The evidence is strong, that there is no doubt, that this is that, and that is this, and this, is a BOORRING read! Thus therefore necessarily concluding the derivative that this book has firmly been judged, and the probability high, that this book is REALLY boring. The end was good though.
Simon
This book is great. It is better than all reviews of any book.
Danns
This book was a great primer to get me back into philosophy. Although I will say it is not a book one should start with if she or he would want to learn more about philosophy. As such, it does provide a great bridge from the pioneers of Western Philosophy to the more modern advocates.

The book itself is not a very easy read and one can easily get lost and have to re-read some paragraphs a few times to begin to grasp what Ruessell is saying. While most content is a pretty clear read, the topics a...more
Mike
The strengths of this book are that it is short and very well-written. Of all philosophical writers, Russell might be the best stylist. As much fun as Nietzsche or Plato can be at times—and I've heard Plato called the most brilliant classical Greek prose stylist, although I'm not fully qualified to judge—they are not as simple, clear, and well-organized as Russell.

The book furnishes a fine introduction to the problems of modern philosophy, especially the issues that were preoccupying Anglo-Ameri...more
I Read
Gosh the life of a philosopher must be complicated; all that intense and intricate thinking about even the simplest of things! :) I don’t doubt many of ‘the big questions’ have been helped to be answered by this subject, but I must admit during reading this book “hair-splitting” (to use one of the author’s perfectly suited descriptions) did come to mind.

If I’m honest, the best bits for me were the first and last chapters! The in-between didn’t interest me so much, but I don’t regret reading it b...more
Mike
A fantastic and lucidly written primer on the major endeavors, or problems, that philosophy not only presents but also attempts to explain. Russell is brilliant at intertwining the language of philosophy with common terminology and poignant examples that are easily understood by all. I would highly recommend reading this book if you have any desire to start studying philosophy or any curiosity at all regarding philosophical aims. It would also make a great apologia, of sorts, for anyone who migh...more
Huda AbuKhoti
This book gives no answers... It asks and intrigues a multiple of questions and doesn't expect you to have answers for them, either.

Beautifully written and easy to read. It mainly discusses the differences between appearance or perspective and reality, and how truth to us humans is either collected by description or acquaintance.

This question I had no answer to after I finished reading the book: If I become acquainted with something over time, and I started giving descriptions and characteristi...more
Craig Williams
The problems of philosophy? It's confusing as shit. There, I summed it up, and didn't even have to publish a book about it.

This book disappointed the hell out of me. I absolutely loved Russell's "Why I Am Not a Christian", but maybe that is because he's talking about a subject I'm more familiar with, in a prose that is much more casual. This book went over my head from chapter one, but then again, I don't read very many philosophy books (and now I know why). The subject matter is just too abstra...more
Paul Gibson
Though written in 1912, this is a great book to introduce the interested lay-reader to the still relevant philosophical issues of realism and idealism. Obviously written as a reaction to philosophical idealism, Russell steps into the entanglements and untangles them. For as complicated and brilliant Kant's ideas, Russell's straightforward approach to them make it demonstrate that Kant was working hard to come up with ideas to support his ideas rather than simply accepting reality and all its inh...more
Daniel
I enjoyed reading Russell because he was very clear in what he was attempting to describe; mainly, problems that philosophy has attempted to solve. Therefore this was a great summary for me of some of the primary problems that arose out of modern philosophy. But it should be noted it is definitely a summary, and primarily a modern summary. I would have liked to see his thoughts on some of the problems with ancient and scholastic philosophy, only because I have seen in my limited reading other ph...more
Angie D
If you are relatively new to philosophy, but not a complete beginner, then I recommend this book. It is not too dimensional that it'll lose you, but gives you information that you can take out of it and use. Howeveerrrr.... There's always a 'but' (you saw that one coming didn't you?) I had three main problems with this book.




1. It was very repetitive.

I felt as if Russell was trying his hardest to convey ideas in as many different ways as possible, but coming up short. He kept explaining the same...more
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All About Books: Group Read (February/March) - The Problems of Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell 92 67 Apr 06, 2014 03:48AM  
Quote 2 22 Dec 02, 2013 02:37PM  
  • Language, Truth and Logic
  • Naming and Necessity
  • From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays
  • On Certainty
  • Principles of Human Knowledge & Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonius
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • Critique of Practical Reason (Texts in the History of Philosophy)
  • Leibniz: Philosophical Essays
  • The World as Will and Representation, Vol 2
  • An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy
  • Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • Early Greek Philosophy
  • Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge
  • Practical Ethics
17854
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, was a Welsh philosopher, historian, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, pacifist, and prominent rationalist. Although he was usually regarded as English, as he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born in Wales, where he also died.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 "in recognition of his var...more
More about Bertrand Russell...
A History of Western Philosophy Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects The Conquest of Happiness Religion and Science In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

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“Some care is needed in using Descartes' argument. "I think, therefore I am" says rather more than is strictly certain. It might seem as though we are quite sure of being the same person to-day as we were yesterday, and this is no doubt true in some sense. But the real Self is as hard to arrive at as the real table, and does not seem to have that absolute, convincing certainty that belongs to particular experiences.” 55 likes
“Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it?” 41 likes
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