Logic and Knowledge

By Bertrand Russell; Robert Charles Marsh | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE ten essays in this volume represent work extending through fifty years in the life of one of the great philosophers of our times. All of these essays are representative, and several can be regarded as among the most important of his writings. None the less, only one of these papers has previously been available in a hard-cover edition, authorized by Lord Russell, and available through the normal channels of the book trade. Indeed, most of these papers have previously been available only in libraries with unusually full periodical collections, and this in itself would serve as ample justification for reprinting them in book form.

Two collections of essays with partly overlapping contents are all we have had, up to now, to preserve the shorter writings of Russell's most productive decades of work in logic, mathematics, and the theory of knowledge. Nothing included in Philosophical Essays (1910) or Mysticism and Logic (1918) appears here, and an examination of all three books is necessary for a comprehensive view of Russell's papers of the early years of the century. The period which marked the transition to the neutral monism of An Analysis of Mind (1921)—in other words, Russell's philosophical activity (apart from social philosophy) during and immediately after the 1914–18 war—has previously been difficult to study. The appearance here of three papers from those years, none of them previously available in an authorized edition, should serve to fill this troublesome gap in the chronology of Russell's available works.

It is the editor's belief that what is ultimately desired is a comprehensive edition of Russell's shorter writings arranged on a chronological basis by subject, eliminating only journalistic pieces of limited interest. Such a project is beyond the means of a commercial publisher, in all probability, but it deserves the attention of those interested in preserving in an appropriate form the writings which—for the most part—linked one of our most distinguished contemporaries with his audience.

Selection has been difficult, and I do not expect everyone to agree with my choices. I have reprinted the three papers of Russell which are starred in Church's Bibliography of Symbolic Logic. These are technical but important. To include them I was forced to omit

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