The Analysis of Mind

The Analysis of Mind

The Analysis of Mind

The Analysis of Mind

Synopsis

The Analysis of Mind is one of Russells most important writings. It is here he establishes a new conception of the mind in an attempt to reconcile the opposing ideas of psychology and physics. By exploring the materialist tendencies of psychology in relation to the increasingly anti-materialist movements in physics led by Einstein and others, Russell provides one of the most original and interesting externalist accounts of knowledge. Drawing on the work of psychologists such as William James and John Watson, Russell offers a comprehensive treatment of topics including belief, desire, habit, memory, meaning and causal law.The Analysis of Mind has provided the foundation for much of the dominant theories of mind to later emerge, as well as providing a framework for Russells own later philosophical writings. It continues to be one of the most important works in the philosophy of mind.

Excerpt

Russell wrote The Analysis of Mind during one of the most turbulent periods of his life. He began its composition in 1918 while he was in prison for his opposition to the First World War, and completed it in Peking in 1921, where he had been giving some lectures at the National University (it was during this visit that Russell was so seriously ill that his death was announced in the British press, thereby enabling him to read his own obituary notices). in between he had visited Wittgenstein at the Hague, visited Bolshevik Russia with a Labour Party delegation, and begun his relationship with Dora Black, who accompanied him to China and whom he married on their return. Along with all these activities and emotional involvements, Russell continued to write at an extraordinary rate: while in prison his main achievement was the composition of his Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (published in 1919). Once back rom Russia he wrote Practice and Theory of Bolshevism (published in 1921)-a work of extraordinary prescience and quite unlike the uncritical enthusiasm with which most intellectuals of the time greeted the establishment of the Bolshevik state. and all the time that he was in China he was gathering material for his book The Problem of China (published in 1922).

Like most of Russell's philosophical books from 1914 onwards, The Analysis of Mind is based on a series of lectures. Although in 1919 Trinity College Cambridge offered to reinstate him to the lectureship rom which he had been dismissed in 1916 (because of his anti-war activities), Russell was by then happy to leave Cambridge and he accepted instead a short-term lectureship in London which gave him

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