Bertrand Russell's Dialogue with His Contemporaries

Bertrand Russell's Dialogue with His Contemporaries

Bertrand Russell's Dialogue with His Contemporaries

Bertrand Russell's Dialogue with His Contemporaries

Synopsis

Professor Eames explores the development of Russell's own philosophy in interaction with ten of his contemporaries: Bradley, Joachim, Moore, Frege, Meinong, Whitehead, Wittgenstein, Schiller, James, and Dewey.

Her examination of these interactions affords a new historical perspective on 20th century analytic philosophy as well as a deeper understanding of Russell's philosophy and its influence.

Excerpt

This book is the result of research interests that I have pursued over many years. My doctoral dissertation was a study of the epistemological issues raised in the published exchanges between John Dewey and Bertrand Russell. in tracing the history of their interactions, I was impressed with its resemblance to an extended personal conversation or argument on philosophical themes. This forty-year sequence of comments, criticisms, responses, and amended criticisms resembles an ongoing Platonic dialogue. Since then, I found such interaction between philosophers a useful framework for interpreting their philosophies and have come to use the term dialogue in this extended sense to mean published or unpublished work and correspondence, short or long, in which philosophers exchange and reciprocally criticize their ideas. I thus use dialogue to include interchanges which may extend over many years and include intervening periods of silence, and have come to see such dialogues as constituting the growth of a philosopher's thought. It seems to me that philosophers of the past, who are not present in current exchanges in journals or in person, tend to be seen only in terms of their major works, and thus both an important dimension of the growth and development of their ideas and an illuminating perspective on their mature work are missed. It is also true that puzzling remarks and what appear to be digressions in the arguments of some authors make sense when one realizes that the author is responding to a contemporary critic without specific acknowledgment of the exchange that has taken place between them.

As I came to explore in more detail the work of Bertrand Russell in terms of the development of his ideas, I arrived at conclusions concerning some themes in his work at variance with the prevailing interpretation. When my "The Consistency of Russell's Realism" elicited Russell's approval ("You interpret my philosophy better than most"), I was encouraged to continue the work of interpreting his philosophy. in 1964 I had the opportunity of visiting . . .

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