Russell adopted idealist views under the influence of his teachers at Cambridge—James Ward, G. F. Stout, and, especially, McTaggart. He held views of this sort from early in 1894 until late in 1898. He later gave the following summary of his position towards the end of this period:
I was at this time a full-fledged Hegelian, and I aimed at constructing a complete dialectic of the sciences. . . . I accepted the Hegelian view that none of the sciences is quite true, since all depend upon some abstraction, and every abstraction leads, sooner or later, to contradiction. Wherever Kant and Hegel were in conflict, I sided with Hegel. (MPD, p. 42)
The purpose of this chapter is to give a general account of Russell's Idealism, and of the influence upon him of Kant, of Hegel, and of Bradley. It is important for our purposes to see how Russell interpreted these philosophers. My discussion will deal chiefly with issues which arise in Russell's Foundations of Geometry. 1 This book has two main philosophical conclusions, to which the two sections of this chapter will roughly correspond. The first has to do with the status of geometry: that certain features of space, and therefore certain geometrical axioms, 2 are known a priori, whereas others can only be known by experience. Here it is the influence of Kant on Russell that is most apparent, if only because Kant's idealist successors were not in general concerned with geometry (as Russell himself remarks: FG, p. 62). The second main philosophical conclusion of FG is that there are irremediable contradictions in the notion of space, and thus in any geometry.