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The Problems of Philosophy

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  12,238 ratings  ·  514 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.
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 ...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. ...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
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
Stephen M
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy

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Modern times are rough
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
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.
Sep 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turns out that philosophy has many problems
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 ...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
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 ...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.
Clearest book of philosophy I’ve read to date. Russell writes really well.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel, philosophy
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.
Rashid Saif
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would be lying if I said that this book was an easy read, but as far as philosophy books go, this book was an easy read. Most books that claim to 'introduce' philosophy often oversimplify and trivialise concepts in order to gain readability. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but for those who wish to study philosophy it can be very frustrating. The harsh reality is that a great deal of philosophy, like science, cannot be oversimplified; you have to have a certain degree of ...more
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
Nart Abaza
How reliable are our senses and minds in perceiving and understanding the world?
How true is what we think is true? and how can we, if at all possible, avoid being handicapped by a form of Solipsism?
ِAlthough these are very fundamental questions, this book goes to depths superfluous to most people and to most paths, and should be avoided until one has some confident interaction with philosophy in general, and perhaps learns well about the different views of conciousness because that would
Huda AbuKhoti
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An attempt to introduce philosophical principles in less than 120 pages. The result felt like islands of thought stranded in a vast (unmappable) sea.

"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 and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because,
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I believe in using words, not fists. I believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street. I believe in honesty. I believe in a good time. I believe in good food. I believe in sex."

Truly wonderful quote,now if only he believed in providing answers....
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
“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.” 100 likes
“Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it?” 77 likes
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