fact that experimental work is done in connection with them does not make them nonphilosophical. Least of all should we decree in a high-handed manner that philosophical problems do not exist, or that they are insoluble (though perhaps dissoluble).

My own attitude towards such problems remained the same for a long time. I never thought it possible that any of those which bothered me had not been solved long ago; even less that any of them could be new. I had no doubt that people like the great Wilhelm Ostwald, editor of the journal Das monistische Jahrhundert (i.e. The Century of Monism). would know all the answers. My difficulties, I thought, were entirely due to my limited understanding.


6.

MY FIRST PHILOSOPHICAL FAILURE: THE PROBLEM OF ESSENTIALISM

I remember the first discussion of the first philosophical issue to become decisive for my intellectual development. The issue arose from my rejection of the attitude of attributing importance to words and their meaning (or their “true meaning”).

I must have been about fifteen. My father had suggested that I should read some of the volumes of Strindberg's autobiography. I do not remember which of its passages prompted me, in a conversation with my father, to criticize what I felt was an obscurantist attitude of Strindberg's: his attempt to extract something important from the “true” meanings of certain words. But I remember that when I tried to press my objections I was disturbed, indeed shocked, to find that my father did not see my point. The issue seemed obvious to me, and the more so the longer our discussion continued. When we broke it off late at night I realized that I had failed to make much impact. There was a real gulf between us on an issue of importance. I remember

-13-

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