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The Problems of Philosophy

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  13,368 ratings  ·  607 reviews
A lively and still one of the best introductions to philosophy, this book pays off both a closer reading for students and specialists, and a casual reading for the general public. Bertrand Russell's masterpiece, in that it brings in a wider audience to the greatest pursuit of all...the life of the mind. ...more
Kindle Edition, 151 pages
Published January 26th 2018 by Jovian Press (first published January 1912)
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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.

Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I studied Philosophy years ago before moving on to Physics. Recently, my dad (now retired) announced that he might head back to uni to study philosophy to keep his brain ticking over, and I decided to reread my copy of this before loaning it to him as a nice intro, or at least relatively nice - It’s essentially a philosopher’s job to try to be the fussiest and most pedantic person on the planet as far as humanly possible. Still, you can hardly ask for a better guide through the territory than Be ...more
Bionic Jean
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bionic Jean by: Chris
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
Manuel Antão
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Cleverish: "The Problems of Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell

Brilliant, but in the sense of clever. I never have a sense of depth when reading Russell. Life's deeper questions were actually not questions at all, so let us get on with our lives. No wonder that D. H. Lawrence and Wittgenstein accused Russell of living a life of merely superficiality. There was an Edwardian air about Russell to the end of his long life, that if only the wor
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell
The Problems of Philosophy is a 1912 book by Bertrand Russell, in which Russell attempts to create a brief and accessible guide to the problems of philosophy. Focusing on problems he believes will provoke positive and constructive discussion, Russell concentrates on knowledge rather than metaphysics: If it is uncertain that external objects exist, how can we then have knowledge of them but by probability. There is no reason to doubt the existence of ex
Roy Lotz
Bertrand Russell is such a gentleman. He writes in lucid, clear prose filled with insight and occasional brilliance. He manages to compress enormous, complex debates into just a few paragraphs, and belies an encyclopedic knowledge of Western philosophy. The book is a gem, and sparkles with subtlety and charm.

But gentlemen can be dry. His prose marches forward but never leaps and dances, his mind is a logical machine impervious to emotion, his philosophy is not a philosophy of life and art, but o
Stephen M
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy

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Modern times are roug
Sep 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turns out that philosophy has many problems
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent introductory to the layperson (me) on some basics of philosophy; the final section is a beautifully written piece on why philosophy is important and how it enriches humanity.
Kevin Shepherd
Letting Schrodinger's Cat out of the proverbial bag...

"If the cat appears at one moment in one part of the room, and at another in another part, it is natural to suppose that it has moved from the one to the other, passing over a series of intermediate positions. But if it is merely a set of sense-data, it cannot have ever been in any place where I did not see it; thus we shall have to suppose that it did not exist at all while I was not looking, but suddenly sprang into being in a new place."

May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great work of philosophical inquiry by Russell; the book explains the basic problems of philosophy in a very interesting manner. The books talks on the famous problem - 'existence of matter'. This seminal work of Russell discusses the real purpose of philosophy; the purpose that ought to be rather than what it is supposed to be. ...more
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very decent introduction to the major problems of philosophy, mainly occupied with theory of knowledge. The relative shortness of the book (100 pages or so) does not signal anything about the accessibility or ease with which the material is grasped. This was my second read and I learned much more than on my first read. Also, it helps to pause at the end of each chapter and try to picture the progress you've made since the first sentence - Russell is building an argument throughout the book and ...more
Julian Worker
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should have read this book before reading some of the philosophy books I've recently read. It was hard to fathom how Bishop Berkeley came up with his views on idealism, until I read about similar ideas in Buddhism (cittamatra) in another book I'm reading. This is a fascinating subject and I will be reading more. Bertrand explains concepts well, but I still wonder whether a good editor would make the book easier to read, as some of the sentences are long and complicated. ...more
Trevor Price
This book is intended to be an epistemology primer, but I think it fails pretty hard at that. It reminds me of a Big Bang episode when Sheldon attempts to teach Penny physics:

"Now, Introduction to physics. What is physics? Physics comes from the ancient Greek word physika. Physika means the science of natural things. And it is a warm summer evening in ancient Greece that our story begins..."

In writing this book, Russell seemed very conscientious of an audience unseasoned in philosophy, so he oft
Alain Dib
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
The problems of philosophy was an interesting book. I was advised to read it but couldn’t quite get it right. The book itself isn’t bad per se it’s more that the writer is also a mathematician so he rely very much on this kind of logic but, I’m not very passionate about math or physics which was a bit annoying at times.
Some concepts where very useful I especially liked the first chapters where in short it’s about how the perspective change everything and chapters later I loved the principle of i
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
My usual definition for a philosopher is somebody who writes on a simple everyday concept in such a way that the simple is considered complexly in such way that a person knows more and more about less and less until eventually they know everything about nothing. By that definition, Russell fails because he writes clearly and the reader will actually understand what he is getting at.

Not only will the reader understand, he’ll be able to explain it to others. For example, one of the most important
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps i judged it too harshly the first time around, though even after the second read, i found his section on Kant to be unsatisfactory. I do think that this time Russell's basic and uncomplicated common-sense view resonated with me more, coinciding perfectly with my new infantile disillusionment with the great metaphysical tradition of the West. Anybody looking to get away from the mind-numbing cacophony of metaphysical questions, can find repose in this primer to philosophy. H
Jan 31, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 fac
Jacob Aitken
Not an easy read, but fun at times. How do we know what is real? There is a disjunct between appearance and reality. In other words, the “real” is not always the obvious. Russell’s main sparring partner is Bishop Berkeley, and so Russell treats us to a fine display of Idealism (with following refutations). Berkeley says that if things exist independently of us, they cannot be the immediate objects of sensation. Idealists, therefore, place the existence of objects within the mind (or rather, say ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, philosophy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M Jahangir kz
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again a very insightful book, Bertrand Russel is all together on a different level.

This book deals mainly with the dilemmas of philosophy, revolving around topics such as Truth and falsehood, ways of acquiring knowledge such as knowledge by Acquaintance, knowledge by Description, Empirical knowledge, Rationale knowledge, intuitive knowledge, problem of philosophy, and lastly the value of Philosophy.

Russel says that all the knowledge of things we have, if we look at it from mere surface it m
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rand Muayed
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
“Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the u ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Anil Swarup
"Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from tyranny of custom". This is the essence of what Bertrand Russell has to say about philosophy in the book that explores the "value"of philosophy. The distinction that the author draws between science and philosophy is also an interesting one : "those questions which are already capable of definite answers are pl ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, philosophy
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.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, nobel
Russell's writing is clear and accessible, but Bertrand Russell's Personal Opinions on Metaphysics would have been a more accurate title. I wish he addressed other branches of philosophy as well. ...more
Clearest book of philosophy I’ve read to date. Russell writes really well.
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Commencing with the 'seemingly' simply illustration of a chair, and posing a question as to the very existence of that object, Bertrand Russell opens to the reader the amazing, complex and contradicting world of Philosophy. Weaving an intricate pattern of thoughts, highlighting paradoxical postulates and rudimentary concepts, this prolific, erudite and intellectual genius, strives to make the subject of Philosophy not only attractive but also indispensable.

Laying out the assertions of rationalis
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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

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