Russell's repsychologising of the proposition

Synthese 151 (1):99 - 124 (2006)
Bertrand Russell’s 1903 masterpiece The Principles of Mathematics places great emphasis on the need to separate propositions from psychological items such as thoughts. In 1919 (and until the end of his career) Russell explicitly retracts this view, however, and defines propositions as “psychological occurrences”. These psychological occurrences are held by Russell to be mental images. In this paper, I seek to explain this radical change of heart. I argue that Russell’s re-psychologising of the proposition in 1919 can only be understood against the background of his struggle with the problem of the unity of the proposition in earlier work. Once this is recognized, and the solution to the problem offered by the 1919 theory is appreciated, new light is also shed on Russell’s naturalism. I go on to compare Russell’s psychological “picture theory” with the vehemently anti-psychological picture theory of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and suggest that, once the background of the dispute is brought into clearer focus, Russell’s position can be seen to have many advantages over its more celebrated rival.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,470
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Bertrand Russell (2005). On Denoting. Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.

View all 29 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

64 ( #76,291 of 1,925,566 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

15 ( #51,854 of 1,925,566 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.