The Theory of Method in Bertrand Russell’s Philosophy


 

The Theory of Method in Bertrand Russell’s Philosophy

نظرية الاعتقاد في فلسفة برتراند راسل

Dr.Ouahiba Damouche/University of Boumerdes, Algeria

د.وهيبة دعموش/جامعة بومرداس، الجزائر

مقال   منشور    مجلة جيل العلوم الانسانية والاجتماعية العدد 73   الصفحة 121.

 

 

ملخص:

 كتب هذا المقال أولا من أجل توضيح الأساس الميتافيزيقي للمعرفة. وثانيا من أجل توضيح التعقيدات الناتجة من الجمع بين التحليل، المنطقي، الفيزيانى والنفسي. وعلى سبيل المثال فقد أخلط رسل بين التحليل والتبرير عند محاولة تحليله للاستقراء. زيادة على أن استخدامه للرمزية طلبا للوضوح والدقة كانت محاولات مستمرة لتأسيس علاقة بين بناءات القضايا كوحدات مفهومية والخبرة من خلال أسماء الأعلام. وفي استخدامه للمنطق لمعالجة المزيد من القضايا الابستمولوجية  نتائج غير مرتقبة توصل إليها.  هذا التحليل ينتهي ببناء موضوعات فيزيائية كوحدات افتراضية للفيزياء من اجل جعل ما هو محلل نفسيا سؤال أساسي لإبستميلوجية راسل.

الكلمات المفتاحية: المنهج، التحليل، الاستقراء، الاستنتاج، البناء.

 

Abstract :

       This, article is written, first: to clarify the metaphysical foundation of the method of knowledge. Second is to elucidate its main complexities, which is an outcome of combining the logical, physical and psychological analysis. For instance, when Russell tries to analyze induction, he confuses analysis with justification. Moreover, his uses of symbolism for the sake of clarity and precision are uninterrupted attempts to establish a relation between the constructions of propositions as conceptual unities, and the experience through the symbols of proper names. In Russell’s use of logic to treat further epistemological problems, some unexpected conclusions are drawn. This analysis ends in constructing the physical objects as hypothetical unities for physics. It also extends to make what is psychologically analyzed a fundamental matter for Russell’s epistemology.

Key Words: Analysis, construction, deduction, induction, method.

 

Introduction:

          It is often said that the matter of analysis in Russell’s philosophy has always been contained complexities. One implication of Morris Weitz treatment of Russell’ analysis is that the method of analysis is the most important part of his philosophy. Russell found this work as a thorough study, which contains only’ a few misunderstandings in it’[1]. Weitz holds that Russell’s analysis is kind of definition. It has been exemplified in four disciplines;(1) ontology, (2) abstract cosmology, (3) mathematical logic, and (4) semantics, or the examination of ordinary and scientific discourse.[2]He claims that Russell means by analysis two kinds of definitions, real and contextual nominal definitions. According to Weitz, it is not in the sense of ordinary nominal definitions that Russell means by analysis but, rather, in the contextual sense, the best example, is Russell’s analysis of definite descriptions.[3]

       Because Weitz had completed his work in 1943, Russell’s later works; History of Western Philosophy (1945), Human Knowledge (1948), and My Philosophical Development (1959) were not included in his thesis. Yet, these books have important implications for the broader domain of analysis. This unavailability makes his work less effective and less thorough. Weitz claims that analysis is kind of definition rests upon the questionable assumption that definition is equivalent to substitution. Moreover, by focusing on the method of analysis, Weitz overlooks the deeper problem of epistemology.

        In the other direction, Elizabeth Eames’s work ‘ The Method of Analysis in the Theory of Knowledge’ 1963 appears extremely useful because it sheds light on the difficult problem as regards epistemology.  She attempts to evaluate the different criticisms, which have been made of Russell ‘s method of analysis. [4]Her position towards Russell’s method is summarized in the following passage “as far as the method of analysis is concerned, no other contemporary thinker has many logical and scientific resources as Russell and can convert, with such sureness, mathematically precise techniques to the analysis of experience and belief…Russell’s analysis is likely to contribute to the ongoing of both scientific and philosophical inquiry’.[5]

        Though Elizabeth and Weitz might be tempted to analyze Russell’s method of analysis as consistent views about the techniques and the objectives of the method, a closer examination suggests that the method in fact inconsistent with regards to its objectives. And although Elizabeth agrees with much that Weitz says, she fully disagrees with his final conclusion that Russell confuses between analysis and constructionism. Then my feelings on the issue are mixed. I do not support Weitz’s position that analysis is only a kind of definition, but also, I don’t find Elizabeth’s argument about the consistency and convenience of the logico-analysis and method of construction to be equally persuasive.

      Russell obviously claims to analyze the problems of method, sense data, and the justification of induction into unanalyzable simpler parts. He presents these problems as specific questions then divides them into simpler parts. What is our justification of the belief in the permanence and existence of material objects? Do we have any reason for regarding our sense data as indications of the existence of physical objects? Russell’s target is to avoid ambiguity and reduce mistakes. As a result, he arranges knowledge in distinct stages of credibility. In these stages of the analysis can adhere to the principle of Occam’s razor method, which requires the minimum hypotheses.[6]

1- Analysis

In due course Russell starts his analysis by asking; what can I know of the world? Which seems a starting point to analysis is the self, he declares:” you always have to start any kind of argument from something which appears to you to be true.”[7] Thus, skepticism that may appear at the start of analysis  may also appears in the course of analysis  lead  to it. Thus, Russell considers analysis as the indispensable and constant method. He asserts: “ By analysis we reduce them [data] to propositions.”[8]

 At closer look of this method, one begins to question why he uses this question as the starting point for his analysis. Especially considering’ ’something or a belief to appear to be true’.[9] But also, as Russell says:” gradually more detail becomes visible and edges become sharper.”[10]

 Hence, his Analysis begins with skepticism and then through breaking down into its several parts it leads gradually towards clarity. This process splits into two forms: deconstruction and construction.[11] Moreover, he is concerned with the relation between these two forms of analysis.  This process contains the critical analysis of the scientific knowledge which emphasizes the internal connections and the conceptual unities by clarifying the logical, psychological and physical qualities of meaning and assumptions through deconstructing the constituents of propositions. Russell goes further when he considers The process of [analysis] at first it is only a vague darkness, but as it approaches articulations appear and one discovers that it is a man or a woman, or a horse or a cow or what not. » [12] In the example of the images of noticing the object approaching through the fog, and a traveler approaching a mountain through a haze, Russell focuses first on what appears true as a whole, second he emphasizes the internal connections. That is, the true appeared whole becomes distinct conceptual unities. He determines these unities and once again rearranges them and back to its start form united in a unity that appears to be the same as the first whole. Distinguishing of the different unities of the whole, rearranging these unities and uncover the logical, physical and psychological quality of these distinct unities are all the steps in analysis.

 Yet, the task of analysis, as Russell claims, does not involve raising skeptical doubts regarding the “common knowledge” to be analyzed, and attempting to justify that “common knowledge’’ against such doubts; rather it is to find simple, precise and non-redundant “premises” that will justify the “common knowledge” in question.

      While Russell advocates scientific knowledge, in its broad outlines, denying Skepticism as being logically impeccable and psychologically impossible, some hidden implications of skepticism remained as he declares in the following passage: “For my part I accept these beliefs[ not experienced] as valid, apart from errors of detail. By this acceptance I commit myself to the view that there are valid processes of inference from… events of which I am aware without inference to events of which have no awareness. To discover what these processes are is a matter of analysis of scientific and common-sense procedures, in so far as such procedure is generally accepted as scientifically valid.”[13]

In another words, Russell’s objectives are to find a rational justification for both science and common-sense beliefs. He might seem skeptic, but not in the sense that denies our ability to acquire knowledge. However, what might be seem as “skepticism logically impeccable” is to be read not as a skeptical attitude, but a necessary, even useful stage in inquiry and investigation. At the preface of Human Knowledge Russell declares: “ It is inevitable that everything said in the earlier stages of our inquiry should be unsatisfactory from the point of view that we hope to arrive at the end… It follows that what is said at first is liable to require emendation later. The prophet announced that if two tests of the Koran appeared inconsistent, the later text was to be taken as authoritative, and I wish the reader to apply a similar principle in interpreting what is said in this book.”[14]Hence, this quotation recommends that the latter views of Russell for any specific matter in his writings as being the definitive view.

It is true that the purpose of Russell is to find true “premises” from which scientific knowledge can be derived. That is to say, psychologically obvious, logically valid, and physically real. As a result,  two objectives in dealing with the method  were set. First is to construct a metaphysical system, which is a synthetic process, second is to elucidate the main steps of this method, which is an analytical practice.  As a metaphysician he aims at describing the world, by giving an image, which consists of “logical facts.” He also wishes to carry on analysis in order to reach deeper metaphysical levels, he asserts that things or objects that are considered as elements of experience, are only logical complexes constituted of primary unities.

            By substituting ‘an expression’ (a word, or an utterance, or a sentence) for another expression, Russell gives a linguistic form to his analysis. Nevertheless, Russell refuses the linguistic aims. He directs great attention towards words and sentences as they are actually used. Therefore, may we call this analysis in the clear and accurate sense of the word? Hence, to solve any epistemological problem, we have to deconstruct the main words in the sentence in which the problem is expressed, and also deconstruct the way these unities are used.

            He also claims that we may solve epistemological problems not by accusing language and inventing new words such as; sense data, sensibilia, and sensations, but by questioning what do we mean, when we say, “ I see a table”? The answer should be given in the context of “ sense data”, by offering a linguistic form in which the verb “see” appears, and the words that are related to this verb. It is questionable to refer to this as “analysis”, whereas, it is possible, as Russell uses it, in the case of permutative definition as it is moving from the real unities to logical ones.

2-Induction:

Russell tries to analyze the logical structure of induction to suggest a solution to the following questions: Why do we believe in general laws? For instance, why do we believe that the sun will rise tomorrow? What makes predictions and generalizations of induction valid and what makes it more reliable?[15]The problem of induction involves why we prefer a rule describing the past regularities over rules of past irregularities. How do we know that our knowledge may not begin collapsing some day? To simplify, these general questions about induction cover two things: 1) how can we prove an inductive generalization to be true? 2) How can we prove that such a generalization is a reliable basis for making predictions?

Explaining their logical and psychological structure shows what possibilities have to be taken in trying to clarify the problem. It contains a reduction of the principle of induction to a logical one. I prove that Russell’s justification is extremely difficult to be accepted because there can be no construction capable of satisfying the conditions.

An answer to the questions should have an explanation of why this principle is used. When does induction have a justification? Their answers tell why we should draw conclusions that conform to the principle. So, then a complete answer should also be consisted in an exact definition of the principle, which underlies scientific practice. Nevertheless, Russell neglects some aspects when he tries inductively to rationalize this principle.

Russell formulates induction in logical symbolic form; from something, which is true of a certain number of members of a class, we conclude that the same thing will be true of unknown members of that class also. It is the process by which we proceed from particular to general. The problem, which Russell claims to consider, centers on whether such an extension is possible, and if so, how is it affected?[16] The task of science is to find out these uniformities. So, do we have any proof to suppose that events happening in the past will happen in the same way in the future?[17] In all these questions the validity of inductive arguments is asked for in the logical form of the relation between the premises and the induced proposition. At the same time, there is a difference between the problem of justifying induction where the inference involves generalizations and the problem where the inference is extended only to a limited number of facts. In fact, the problem is that induction covers an unlimited number of facts, which are unverifiable while we can experience only a limited number of facts.

In the same logical context, to solve the problem, Russell involves “Occam’s razor’’ « Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity »[18] in the justification of the principle since the excessive entities weaken the evidence to support the inductive method. So then, this justification that offers the ground upon which inferences in conformity with Occam’s razor are drawn, are those upon which common sense inductive inferences are based. Thus, it explains why we should draw inferences in conformity with Occam’s razor, as it shows what the reasons are for preferring this principle. There is a disparity between knowledge and hypothesis. Indeed, it is this disparity that makes inductive transition necessary.

All inferences rely on causality.[19] Concerning the principle of induction, both the thing inferred and the thing inferred from, are sense –data. He says there is no logical foundation for believing in it for the future.[20] If the inferences of the future are true, the induction must be a logical a priori law, unable to be asserted or refuted by experience; such general knowledge is to be found on logic, which turns to be a difficult task for Russell. The Unjustified principle should be reduced to other unjustified principles. But Russell, in trying to justify induction, is trying to reduce the unjustified principle to few postulates.

 It is a difficult question how this principle ought to be reformulated. For that reason, Russell directs his analysis of induction to reformulate it. The result he gets is that the thing, which is not observed directly, cannot be inferred logically. He claims that which you do not perceive is not there so you cannot perceive it empirically,[21] because an empirical proof would consist in perceiving, and by hypothesis you do not perceive it. But, from 1914 until 1927 Russell devoted little attention to induction, offering no satisfactory solution, and in the Outline of Philosophy 1927, he argues quite clearly his inability to provide a solution to the problem: “The question is: what logical justification is there for our induction?”[22]The number of independent qualities is finite, is, according to Russell, the stronger assumption, which is needed to justify induction. Russell endorses this view by the quantum theory when the number of electrons may also be finite, the principle of limitation of variety may well also be true. Since physics uses induction, it leads to results, which confirm it.[23]

In the scientific outlook 1931, Russell states; “There may be valid grounds for believing in induction.”[24]Moreover, Russell argues that the relation between the premise and conclusion is probable. The more number of occurrences in which these two related events appear, the more the probability will be closer to certainty.[25] With regards to arithmetic or mathematical probability, In what meaning can a proposition be more probable than another proposition used to justify induction? In fact, Russell denies the common meaning of the word ‘probable’ to illustrate that the inductive principle is ‘probably’ true, as expressing a high degree of credibility.[26]And even though, all precise and measurable probabilities as being finite frequencies give knowledge do not give any thing new. On the contrary, induction gives something new and the only doubt presented by Russell is whether what it gives is knowledge.[27]

Russell’s analysis of the problem of induction evolved to the points where he could not refute it with the use of experience, which cripples the distinction between knowledge and non-knowledge. Besides, Russell divides induction into two kinds: particular induction and general induction, the first will argue from our knowledge of the past mortality of human beings that probably Mr. so-and-so will die, whereas the second will argue that probably all men are mortal[28]. Thus, he asserts that induction needs the support of some-extra logical general principle not based upon experience.[29]

The justification of induction is very rarely explicitly formulated and is often hidden in the ambiguous forms of language. So, Russell’s task is not to eliminate the problem of induction, but to clarify the necessary aspects of it. As an illustration, he states: “Induction, ever since Hume has played so large a part in discussions of scientific method that it is important to be clear as to what (if I am not mistaken) the above arguments have established.”[30]Obviously, the problem is related to logic. That is to say, given a certain number of propositions a, b, c etc., construct a truth function in the form of an equivalence, which is true for certain given combinations, and for them only, of the truth –values of those propositions.

The principle of induction is closely related to the principle of verifiability; In other words, verifiability makes observations and empirical generalizations possible. In addition to that, and in the hope that observation, induction, and general laws be put at a high level of probability the possibility of the justification of induction must be based on five postulates.[31]To demonstrate, this is not searching for why we believe in natural laws (which is a psychological question), but what we believe when we believe in them. So, the justification and validation of the belief in induction is no more belonging to logic, but rather to what we could name meta-logic.

        Russell argues that Induction is a derived rule, which is supported by past experience. Induction is preferable to make predictions since it shows uniformities that exist in nature. He claims that induction’s validity is self- evident to the intuition and common sense minds. It is a problem of finding adequate reasons for choosing this method instead of other methods; however, such reasons may not be true. Russell’s position towards induction is to validate or just explain it. His attempts seem unable to be performed. Russell says; “Nevertheless, it remains important as a means of increasing the probability of generalizations in suitable cases, which, though extremely fallible, suffices to rule out a number of fallacious kinds of induction which logicians can invent but which no sane person would accept.’’[32]

       To understand this difficulty, we must first consider how Russell’s arguments do not try to establish induction as a method of scientific knowledge, but instead he tries to justify behaving in accord with induction. His attempts to justify induction have two objectives: that of proving predictions from an inductive generalization to be true, second to provide for scientific knowledge successful predictions capable to restore the body of scientific knowledge. He cannot prove a general proposition to be true prior to the verifiability principle. Is the inability of guaranteeing the truth of predictions prior to verifiability a loss to science? Does it mean that all predictions are at random? If so, we are left in complete incertitude as to the future course of knowledge.

Whether or not, is possible in logic to find a justification for induction as an operation on which reasoning, both in science and common sense, has to rely, the answer depends on what Russell means by a justification of induction. In fact, Russell’s justifying of induction is flawed, since such a justification is not forthcoming, and is, in a certain sense, an extremely difficult to justify. Truly, he cannot prove logically with certainty or even with probability that the sun will rise tomorrow. Worthwhile for Russell to take a skeptical attitude towards this principle, which, would be of course an analytical and constructive task. Consequently, his constructions, which we have described, didn’t achieve his purpose of solving the inductive problem.

3- Symbolism in Analysis

The use of symbolism characterizes Russell’s logic and it is important in Russell’s theory of method. He tries to give us a rigorous language that may enable us to avoid some difficulties that are hidden in the natural language.[33] The logical language is constituted, in general, from variables and constants, and when we ask questions about the nature of these constants we find that these connections have the characteristics of letters in natural language. The symbolic language includes particularly formulated symbols to facilitate analysis. But, even though the use of this symbolism has shown its efficacy in logic. The relevance of Russell’s use of it as a method to justify scientific knowledge has-been and is still ambiguous and unclear.

Is it necessary for symbolism to be a constituent of a new method? Russell develops symbolic language as a material against metaphysics and towards clarity. Russell is not planning to replace ordinary language with an artificial one since ordinary language has important advantages in our daily communications. Indeed he substitutes linguistic expressions, with specific symbols.[34] He doesn’t use the symbols to uncover the content of scientific knowledge; rather he uses it as an attachment to the natural language and as a means of precision. Thus, it is necessary for ordinary language expressions to come before the symbols.

The advantage for symbolic language Russell mentions in Principia Mathematica suggests some uses for symbolism in the analysis of the problems of knowledge. Russell’s first argument is that lack of exactness of natural language, because of its grammatical structure, is adapted to multi meaning usages. Accordingly, exactness, consistency, and terseness are acquired by the use of symbolism. In logic, there are terms to be defined and that are different from those in natural language. In order to be clearly defined, Russell must construct new symbols. [35]This process of reasoning based on symbolism can be applied to the problems of knowledge problems. Such a process can be justified by the misinterpretations of the philosophy of knowledge’s use of notions from natural language. For instance, objects, facts, percepts, sense data, events, and things, as problems are subject to analytical debates.

Second; symbolism helps restricting imagination by presenting true relations and connections between ideas. It is a scrutinizing of imagination that natural language cannot do. The terseness of symbolic language enables a proposition to be represented as one whole. The advantage of using symbolism frees analysis from unbound human imagination. When a complex argument is presented in natural language, it is difficult to see the structure of the argument because of its verbosity. Nevertheless, in symbolic language, a complex argument can be presented in small symbols, which help perceive the structure of the argument.[36] This ability to formulate the argument into shorter structure and clear form pushes Russell to try to explain some arguments in logical symbols; however, it is uncommon and only few readers have the ability to read symbols easily.

          The third advantage for the use of symbolism concerns the structure of propositions. The enumeration of all the ideas and processes employed in mathematical reasoning demands both terseness and formality by representing the proposition with maximum formality as its main characteristic.[37] Furthermore, with the help of symbolism, deductive reasoning can be extended to problems of knowledge, which are usually supposed amenable to mathematical treatment. The detailed type of reasoning which is required for the analysis of the steps is also appropriate to the investigation of the general truths concerning the problems of knowledge.

Since the words of the natural language are insufficient for analysis. The grammatical structure of the natural language is also insufficient to the demonstrations needed for restoring certainty in scientific knowledge. In symbolic language, logical grammar is made to demonstrate the propositions with curtailment and lucidity.  If we try to use a natural language’s syntax, then the curtailment and lucidity would decrease. These considerations, when applied to the problems of knowledge, decrease lucidity as well.

Russell uses symbols, which are brief, curt, and formal. The process of reasoning in problems of knowledge necessitates clarification and the use of the artificial language may be useful in this respect. Complete formality is not necessary in the analysis of the problems of knowledge. On the other hand, problems of knowledge seek abstract symbols, coherent demonstrations, and concise argumentations than can be found in natural language. The aim of a symbolic language is to preclude the misleading inferences that start from natural language to the natural world, because inferences should rely on the logical rules of a symbolic language, which prevents contradictions and gives a reasonable structure to the world we live in. Accuracy, consistency, clarity, and the logical construction of the argument validate the use of symbolic language.[38] Is the constructed language and its assumptions are applicable to the problems of knowledge, as Russell claims?

Traditional logic and natural language’s grammar underlies metaphysical doctrines such as substance. Thus Russell describes traditional logic as being poor, unfertile, and founding metaphysics.[39] The distinction between complex and simple propositions effected Russell’s treatment of the problems of knowledge. But while Russell is criticizing traditional logic as being responsible for founding pertinacity of metaphysics, he is constructing a new metaphysics held in the relation between the proposition and the fact. The metaphysical implication exists in the correspondence relation between atomic proposition and the fact. We know the component of the proposition through acquaintance. Therefore, the term in the proposition would be a proper name. Proper names, atomic propositions, and complex propositions endure in Russell’s treatment of problems of scientific and common sense knowledge.[40] It is thus Russell’s specific method for the treatment of the most persistent problems of knowledge and it carries also metaphysical implications. The analysis of propositions and facts reflects the correspondence of language with reality and the independence of physical world from ourselves. Therefore, the determination of atomic and complex propositions is an important process in Russell’s analysis of problems of knowledge.

The problem of the natural language statements analysis lies in the meaning of the terms and proposition. Russell trying to correspond the proposition with the facts considering terms as incomplete symbols[41], which seem to be names, but in fact are symbols, which are significant except in the context of proposition. That is proper names are symbols that can be analyzed as terms directly denoting external objects, and this process is included in his theory of descriptions.

4-Construction.

Russell sees that logical constructions are the principal answers for the problem of inference to material objects, the validity of inductive method, and the sense data as premises of scientific knowledge. These logical constructions are what Russell also claims as a ‘new technique’ for dealing with the problems of knowledge.[42]

          The analysis of the problems themselves are claimed to illustrate the efficacy of Russell’s method of construction. For the previous reasons, Russell recommends the new method of logical constructions. He intends to obtain for philosophy a method equivalent to that of science.[43] In this part, I shall examine the characteristics of this method and determine the limits to which it is supposed to be capable of achieving new and valid conclusions. Then, decide if Russell’s conclusions are adequately drawn from this method.

Therefore, this method should be subject to examinations. I shall try to evaluate Russell’s method by such examinations. The significance of this method is to achieve rational construction for human knowledge, and thus it has four objectives: an economy (Occam’s razor), organization, discovery, and progress in terms of quality and quantity. Deduction and induction are the main methods in his approach. In terms of these methods, my core questions are: What role does a mathematical logic play in Russell’s reconstruction of a new method? Or how does mathematics and logic contribute to the solution of the problem of method as the main problem in knowledge?

Russell’s method is to substitute logical constructions for inferred or postulated entities.[44] He is sometimes manipulated by the need to demonstrate the conceptual unities of physics and sometimes by demonstrating their existence. His claims for the unities of physics are feasible if they are first logically established. So that, Russell’s new method of construction in physics is more concerned with how mathematical notions and symbols are applied in physics, than the justification of the knowledge of physical world. Furthermore, The constructional approach which he applied to the problems of object and sense-data, and time and space was applied also to the problem of induction; he doesn’t try to demonstrate the existence of unities, but he tries to suggest a class of unities that could replace the uncertain unities. This alteration depends on further alterations in Russell’s perceiving of the principle of logical construction.

If this constructional approach fulfills the needs for discovery, economy, and the proof to establish the truth of propositions and progress, it may be called a method; further demands for it are related to its efficacy. The search for a technique, which gives certain conclusions and successive advances in science, is a persistent objective for Russell, regardless of whether these results were achieved. To what extent does Russell’s contribution achieve this aim? The distinguishing characteristic of the method of construction puts symbolic logic in a start point position, in like manner,  this modern logic turns to be at an end point position. To put it another way, Russell aims at accuracy and analysis to simples and unanalyzable unities, but it turns out that he is using logic in a different meaning than it is usually used; overlooking this feature may not only give a confusing view of his method, but it gives a confusing view about his analysis to the problems of knowledge.

For the purpose of constructing conceptual, psychological, and physical unities, the concept of correspondence between these unities and facts must is emphasized. With this intention, the expressions of natural language, doesn’t fit the above purpose. In first place, Russell maintains that there are propositions which correspond to facts, the correspondence is between the constituents of the facts and of the constituents of propositions which expressed them, and it is the presence of this corresponding relation that establish the truth of propositions.

In the first period of his philosophy, he did not represent this view of correspondence as part of logic. However, Russell examined certain problems of knowledge applying the constructive method. In fact, there are certain common points between the logical doctrines of the three periods. In the second period, his use of sentence is equivalent to that of proposition, while the earlier use of proposition is equivalent to fact. In the third period of Inquiry and Human Knowledge his emphasis is on linguistic analysis, this shift relies on further shifts in other problems of knowledge.

Russell’s world is constituted of unlimited unities, including physical, logical, psychological unities, and relations.[45]Hence, the term becomes a formal unity, which denotes a physical or a psychological object or a particular universal. In these circumstances, Russell mixed, on the linguistic level, syntax with semantics; verbs and tenses for past, present and future events, and proper nouns for particulars.  So then, A sentence analysis becomes an investigation of the meaning of its words which are considered as symbols referring to real unities in the outer world.

Russell’s logic has more metaphysical implications than it seems at first glance in regard to the relation of the propositions to facts. In addition to that, Russell’s metaphysical implications in his logical method yield a conceptual vision of the world based on the logical formality. Those implications are the basis for any belief in any knowledge. This analysis ends in constructing the unities that correspond to physical, and psychological objects, or if this correspondence cannot be achievable, it ends in constructing the physical objects as hypothetical entities for physics.[46]

4.1: In Physics.

Our analysis of Russell’s method of construction is based on his own definition, his justification, and his claims. First, for the reason of clarity and elucidation, he mixes logic with mathematics by rendering logic mathematical and mathematics logical. Second, by deconstructing this method into terms, relations, and propositions. In addition to that, he asserts that physics is the most developed science after mathematics, and with relativity, the use of mathematical inference becomes possible through the use of a series of accepted premises to reach mathematical and abstract conclusions in physics. Yet, Russell suggests three kinds of questions: first, what is physics logical construction as a deductive system? Second, what are the existing methods to define physical entities? Third, what are the existing methods for inferring propositions from other propositions?[47]

Russell uses his method of construction, both to analyze the physical objects of physics and physical objects of common sense. Obviously, Russell’s reconciliation means reducing psychology to physics, and not vise versa. Therefore, and for the sake of this reconciliation, a thing can be interpreted as continuous perceptual unities: ‘all aspects of ‘‘thing” are real, whereas the thing is merely a logical construction.” [48]

In the same context, of construction, Russell proceeds:” It is possible to make then, Percepts appear, in the proof of the validity of physics, as physical and conceptual unities. That is, laws which enable us to predict the future events. Nevertheless, a problem, which has two sides, may occur: the first when we compare the world of physics with the world of percepts. The second, when we compare the world of percepts to the physical world.

For Russell to avoid any kind of conflicts between the two realms, physics should be interpreted in a way, which leads it to idealism, and perception in a way that leads it to materialism. In this way, Russell’s correspondence theory becomes controversial, even though uniting physical and psychological unities may become theoretically possible

4.2: In Psychology.

Does Russell’s reliance on psychology justify our knowledge? Russell tries to clarify the relation between knowledge and psychology in order to find some kind of reconciliation.. The two main questions in knowledge are: what do we know? And how do we know? The first question is answered by science and the second is answered by psychology.[49] And, since psychology claim is concerned with the manner knowledge is required, reconstructed psychology sought to be the tool for that aim. And, in such a case, the start of construction begins with premises supposed to be psychologically evident; but logically it is in a sense primitive since it is not the result of any logical deduction.[50]

Russell divides data in psychology into two types: first, private data as perception, memory, pains, dreams, desire, and emotions; second, public data that are shared by observers in simultaneous place and time.[51] But the distinction between both data is a difficult matter, Russell confesses. The private data can be a subject matter for psychology; at the same time correlation between ideas is a psychological process too.

Russell’s central claim is that no one’s private data correspond to another person’s private data.[52] When the constructions are formed, out of private and public data, Russell explains how the disparity between these two inharmonious worlds is obvious. So then, Knowledge is twofold: knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description. As a result, justifying our knowledge is not only logical, but also a psychological process since evidence is one of the major claims for human knowledge.

 Russell’s view is that private data must be a subject matter of psychology, and since psychology studies psychological operations throughout ourselves, we acquire inferences. The data, which our inferences are based on, are of a psychological property. The mental events for the person are the raw material for our knowledge in psychology; but seeking every time for the cause of the acceptation of a belief leads us to infinite numbers of reasons. This can be solved by the clarity of the first cause. Furthermore, the connection between beliefs and ideas is psychological.

According to Russell, knowledge is inferred through different psychological operations, such as the association of ideas, unconscious inferences, memory, and habit. It is in giving such a logical construction for the psychologically inferred knowledge that he is given a philosophical foundation for our knowledge. This would render such knowledge logical constructions, not just a matter for psychological analysis.

In other words, Russell treatment of the previous problems has two aims: one is to look for the most indubitable and non-inferential basis of our empirical knowledge, and to demonstrate how the rest is built on that basis, and the second is to seek for what elements come first in our knowledge. The former knowledge is of logical nature, the latter is purely psychological. But, if Russell prefers to stress the psychological unity of constructed knowledge without regard to the ‘logical certainty’ then the problem appears to be rather psychological than logical. And this what may appear in the second period of his philosophy.

  1. Results and Discussions:

Russell uses of reduction exposed him to many difficulties and criticisms; so then, much of ambiguity left open to further analysis. While some are developed in a manner, which makes some of them easier to examine, some others become more complicated. Furthermore, what is strange in Russell’s method is that he made basis and steps for his method, and he couldn’t restrict himself to the formulations. In addition to that, instead of fulfilling his analytical objectives he turns into exercising analysis as an end in itself not as a means. This is why he couldn’t resolve most of the problems under examination.

Russell confuses analysis with justification. Truly, he intends to justify induction, but instead of justifying it, he continues explaining and defining after giving historical examples. This turns into an exercising analysis as an objective in itself. Therefore, he suggests a change of emphasis, making induction no longer a premise. Therefore, he directs his attention towards clarification by questioning how induction is useful and why it is not a premise.[53]

The use of symbolism in logical analysis may fulfill the needs of Russell’s task to validate   inductive inference. Obviously, Russell’s logical analysis leads to his construction of language levels to avoid contradictions discovered throughout his analysis.

To construct physical unities, instants must be constructed. The element from which instants are to be constructed is that of percepts. The time relations of simultaneity and succession becomes hypothetical unities; Russell tries to reject the traditional notion of absolute time, by constructing it in a relative order. Therefore, subjective (psychological) and objective (physical) time must both be constructed and united. And as the constructions of those unities are incomplete extending to further elements is needed; elements from various private worlds. This structural plan is a suggestion of new possibilities in the construction of theoretical physics.

 In short, Russell justifies his uses of method by reducing it to its logical form in order to fulfill the claim of constructing a bridge between the world of science and the world of common sense.[54]

And although Russell presents an important explanation about psychological and logical problems, he does not make explicit what is the relation between these problems. I argue that, on the contrary, the psychological constructions suggest that Russell possibly believes that these constructions give the scientific knowledge the certainty and non-inferred quality with which they must be endowed in order to be served as the solid basis of the remaining epistemological constructions.

Russell’s method is a mathematical and logical method with metaphysical foundations. Moreover, Russell’s metaphysical foundations (the five postulates), which his method had established, turn out to be a circular reasoning for his method. In fact, Russell’s justification for analytical, logical, constructive, or inductive method is a philosophical view mixed with far-reaching claims that overcome the use of these two methods: induction and deduction.

Yet, the analysis of the nature of scientific knowledge doesn’t mean that Russell’s method is intended only to be required for this analysis.

  1. Conclusion:

As a conclusion for the theory of method in Russell’s philosophy, his method in terms of construction is based on new metaphysics. His method of analysis functions through the focus on the constituents and their relations to the propositions.[55] These propositions emerge from a situation in which clarity and accuracy have replaced the broad and indefinite certainty of early knowledge. Russell’s logical method is a combination of logical and mathematical formulations that can be used in his analysis for problems of knowledge. His method is logical, mathematical, and philosophical.[56]

     To justify induction is to provide some grounds or reasons as inductive grounds to rationalize this process of justification, since these inductive grounds are to be different from the experiential ones. For the demands of the justification of induction may perhaps be extremely difficult to satisfy.

     The need for clarity and consistency in logic, which necessitates the construction of symbols, is Russell’s most convincing reason for using symbolism in the analytical method. Inadequacy of the natural language’s grammar for the analysis of the structure of propositions and formal thinking of logic is Russell’s own reason for the use of symbolism as part of his method. Russell’s objective is an uninterrupted attempt to establish a relation between the constructed unities with experience through proper names.

The method of construction uncovers unknown facts, and demonstrates inference, through constructing the truth of propositions that may appear not clear enough. With the extended meaning and use of logic, he examines facts, constructing unities, and their relation. Thus, the problem of the existence of physical objects becomes a logical problem;[57] the components of those unities, become a denotation of the physical objects.

The laws of physics are constructed by arranging the particulars which appear as appearances of a thing through various simultaneous perspectives. Russell treats in detail many constructions in physics such as space, matter, points, instants, space-time, interval, and quantity.

Russell’s constructional approach is an endeavor to cover not only physics but also psychology. The problem of how to associate the world of physics with the world of psychology develops into a central problem for Russell’s philosophy. By focusing on logic and psychology and the overlapping of both in the process of knowledge, Russell does not make a clear distinction between these two fields. According to Russell, if knowledge is analyzed logically, then seeking for why we know, is a psychological problem, we must go back to psychology to get the answer.

In short, Russell’s attempts to use mathematical logic have opened new technical and logical possibilities for further analysis. His use of hypothesis and definitions are still useful in analysis. Though the controversy, which emerged out of far-reaching claims, diminishes the value of his contributions to the problem of method.

Thus, the three objectives set in this article are: First is to clarify the metaphysical foundation, which is the five postulates, second is to elucidate the main complexities of this method, which is an outcome of combining the logical, physical and psychological analysis. Third was seeking to open a new gate to further analysis and suggestions to restore a philosophy of science rather than a science of philosophy.

Bibliography list:

1 -Bertrand Russell (1927), Principles of Mathematics, George Allen & Unwin, London:  UK.

2–Bertrand Russell, (1904) Meinogue’s Theory of Complexes and Assumptions: Mind 13.

3-Bertrand Russell & Alfred Whitehead (1927), Principia Mathematica, Cambridge University Press Cambridge: UK.

4 -Bertrand Russell (1997), Problems of Philosophy, Oxford University Press, New York:  UK.

5 -Bertrand Russell( 2009), Our Knowledge of the External World, Routledge classics, London & New York:

6 -Bertrand Russell, Mysticism & Logic (1918), New York & London.

7 -Bertrand Russell (2002), Analysis of Mind, Routledge , London & New York.

8 -Bertrand Russell (2010), the Philosophy of Logical Atomism, Routledge Classics: London & New York.

9-Bertrand Russell (1992), Theory of Knowledge, Routledge, London & New York.

10 -Bertrand Russell (1954), Analysis of Matter, Dover Publications INC, New York.

11–Bertrand Russell( 2009), An Outline of Philosophy, Routledge Classics, London & New York.

12 -Bertrand Russell, Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, (London & New York: Routledge, 1995).

13 -Bertrand Russell (1944), Reply to Criticisms’ in the Philosophy of Bertrand Russell Ed, Paul Arthur schlip, the library of living philosophers; North Western University Press, Evanston and Chicago. V.5

14 -Bertrand Russell (2010), History of Western Philosophy, Routledge Classics, London & New York.

15 -Bertrand Russell ( 2000), Human Knowledge its scope and limits, Routledge ;London: UK.

16 -Bertrand Russell(1903-1959), Limitation of Scientific Method, in Basic Writing of Bertrand Russell,  Ed by Robert E. Green and Lester E. Denonn. Routledge, London.

17 -Bertrand Russell(1971), Logic & Knowledge, Putnam’s sons; New York.

18-Bertrand Russell(1993), My Philosophical Development, Routledge, London.

19 -Morris Weitz(1943), The Method of Analysis in the Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, Unpublished Dissertation, Ann Arbor, Michigan; USA.

20 -Elizabeth Ramsden Eames(1969), Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge, George Allen & Unwin, London.

[1] -Bertrand Russell, Reply to Criticisms’ in the Philosophy of Bertrand Russell Ed, Paul Arthur schlip (the library of living philosophers; V.5) North Western University Press, Evanston and Chicago, 1944) p 684.

[2] -Morris Weitz, the method of analysis in the philosophy of Bertrand Russell, (unpublished dissertation, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1943) p 224.

[3] -Ibid, p 242.

[4] -Elizabeth Ramsden Eames, Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge, (London: George Allen & Unwin 1969), p210.

[5] -Ibid, p 222.

[6]-Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, (London & New York: Routledge Classics, 2010), pp. 112-122.

[7] -Bertrand Russell, the Philosophy of Logical Atomism, p 03.

[8] -Bertrand Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, (London & New York: Routledge classics, 2009), p169.

[9]-Bertrand Russell, My Philosophical Development, (London: Routledge, 1993), p 99.

[10] -Russell, Human Knowledge,(London: Routledge, 2000), p 5.

[11] -Bertrand Russell, Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, (London & New York: Routledge, 1995), p .327.

[12] -Russell, My Philosophical Development, p 99.

[13] -Ibid, p 9.

[14] -Ibid., p 6.

[15]-Bertrand Russell, Problems of Philosophy, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p 1997.

[16] -Ibid., p 60.

[17]-Ibid., pp 62-65.

[18] -Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, p 85.

[19] -Ibid., p 27.

[20]-Russell, Problems of Philosophy, p 69.

[21]-Ibid., p 68.

[22] Russell, An Outline of Philosophy, (London & New York: Routledge Classics, 2009), pp. 295-6.

[23] -Ibid., p. 301.

[24] -Bertrand Russell, Limitation of Scientific Method, in Basic Writing of Bertrand Russell, 1903-1959 Ed by Robert E. Green and Lester E. Denonn. (London: Routledge, 1992), p 623.

[25] -Bertrand Russell, Human Knowledge its scope and limits, Part v chapter III ‘’ finite- frequency theory ‘’ pp. 368.

[26] -Russell, Human Knowledge, p 418.

[27] -Ibid., p 378.

[28] -Ibid., p 419.

[29] -Ibid., p 430.

[30] -Ibid., p 413.

[31]-Ibid., pp 506-515.

[32] -Ibid., p 451.

[33]-Bertrand Russell, Logic & Knowledge, (New York: Putnam’s sons 1971), p 198.

[34] -Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1927), p 02.

[35]-Ibid., p 02.

[36]-Ibid., p 02.

[37]-Ibid., p 03

[38]-Ibid., p 03.

[39]-Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, (London & New York: Routledge Classics, 2010), pp 188, 190,192.

[40]-Russell, Philosophy of Logical Atomism, p 29

[41]-Russell,  Logic & Knowledge, p 45-46.

[42] -Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, p 123.

[43] -Russell, Our Knowledge of the External world, p 1.

[44] -Bertrand Russell, Mysticism & Logic, (New York & London,1918), p 155.

[45]-Bertrand Russell, principles of mathematics, (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1927), p 5-8.

[46]-Ibid., p 75.

[47] -Bertrand Russell, Analysis of Matter, (New York: Dover Publications INC, 1954), p 133.

[48]- Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, p 72.

[49]- Russell, Human Knowledge, p 66.

[50] -Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, pp. 55.

[51] -Russell, Human Knowledge, p 60

[52]-Ibid., p 60-64.

[53] -Ibid., p 451.

[54]-Ibid., p 78.

[55] -Bertrand Russell, Theory of Knowledge, (London & New York: Routledge, 1992), p 120.

[56] -Russell, Our knowledge of the external world, Preface p XV

[57]-Russell, Our Knowledge of the External World, p 51.


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