LOOKING through Bertrand Russell's minor writings in McMaster University's Russell Archives I came across this sentence: 'Fanaticism is primarily an intellectual defect...one to which philosophy supplies an intellectual antidote'. This fascinated me the more, as I had just written an ...
There was a time when ecological problems were of no interest to philosophy. Now, these issues have raised philosophical problems in several areas. In moral philosophy, one question is what moral obligations, if any, we have to future generations, and another is how far we have moral obligations relating to the treatment and the preservation of plants, animals and atmospheres. In political philosophy, the issue is the range of such concepts as rights and justice, and whether or not they are (...) limited to human relationships. As to the metaphysical question, we have to ask whether there is something about human beings which entitles us to consider them as being supernatural and whether we can think of Nature as an entity of which each human being constitutes a part. (shrink)
This paper is both a slice of history, a warning and a congratulation. The history is about how the Russell papers found their way to a steel-town in Canada and how it came about that they have gradually been published. The warning is that it is extremely difficult to conduct such an enterprise on a co-operative basis, which may help to explain why so many enterprises of this kind have issued in failure. The congratulations are for those who have edited (...) volumes of very different kinds, as a result of Russell's versatility, in a manner which throws new light on his intellectual history. All of this had to be described in a very schematic way. But it will, I hope, lead readers to the volumes themselves. Only there will they find the answer to the exercise I set towards the end of the article. (shrink)
Here the author explains the different ways in which explanation is made. He start saying how we explain things that we don't understand in everyday life, were sometimes simple relates or ideas are enough (to explain complex things to a kid, for example), and for us, when we don't understand something, we organise our thinking in order to find a explanation which has to be intelligible, adequate and correct. In science, they are not always like that, and they start trying (...) to explain the unfamiliar things of the familiar, trying always to develop a theory of the most general kind, which will enable him to explain and predict. They are not looking for adequate, but for correct explanation, which in their case takes the form of a hipotesis. In history they behave just like in everyday life explanations, with little place for generalisations (just middle range), in intelligibility, adequacy, and correctness, because they can not venture in general theory. In conclusion, there is little to say about historical explanation which doesn't fit into everyday life explanation. (shrink)
In what it will be convenient to call “the Scandinavian school”; of jurisprudence, Hagerstrom is clearly the master. But his leadership is of a somewhat special kind. For all that he wrote a large book on Roman law, Hägerström was trained as, and continued to be, a philosopher, not a jurisprudentialist or a sociologist. His essays on law and morals are ancillary to his main purpose: to destroy transcendental metaphysics. The epigraphhe chose to head his contribution to Die Philosophic der (...) Gegenwart in Selbstdarstellungen was uncompromising: “Praeterea censeo metaphysicam esse delendam.” If, in his published work, he to so considerable a degree concentrated his attention on ethics and jurisprudence, that is because he took them to be a particularly rich source of metaphysical mystery-mongering. Through a study of men's moral and legal ideas, Hägerström thought he could bring out the sources, the defects—and even, in a way, the strength—of metaphysical thinking. (shrink)
Professor Karl Popper has had a great deal to endure: “expositions” of his ideas which were mere travesties, “refutations” which he had already answered, by anticipation, or which entirely missed the point at issue. One can easily understand why, when he came to publish an English translation of his Logik der Forschung, he decided to keep to the original text; it should at last be clear exactly what he had—and had not—said in 1934. Yet his thinking had by no means (...) stood still since that time; quite naturally, too, he wished to emphasize as much. (shrink)
In a recent broadcast talk it was said that philosophers commonly base arguments and theories on garbled versions of science. Professor Passmore's article in the April number of Philosophy seems to go some way to justifying this complaint. The article discusses the objectivity of history by a series of comparisons with science under various heads representing criteria of objectivity.
“There's one thing certain,” said a historian of my acquaintance when he heard the title of this paper, “that's a problem which would never perturb a working-historian.” He was wrong: a working-historian first drew it to my attention; and in one form or another it raises its head whenever historians discuss the nature of their own inquiries. Yet in a way he was right. His mind had turned to the controversies of epistemologists, controversies about “the possibility of knowledge”; historians, he (...) rightly felt, do not trouble their-heads about such matters. (shrink)