The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
Published in 1912, The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell is one of his most popular books. It renders philosophical issues and questions in a way in which they become relevant and accessible to the man or woman on the street, provoking them to devote time and effort into thinking about these aspects of life. Here, the great philosopher and humanist thinker Bertrand Russell examines the importance of empirical (that which can be verified by observation or experience rather than deduced from logic or reasoning) thinkers like David Hume and George Berkeley the Anglo-Irish philosopher and scientist. Both these men were proponents of empiricism and idealist philosophies. The book also holds great relevance for us in today's world. Our education systems today focus largely on making us ready for employment. There are very few courses which delve into the inner workings of our minds and help us to engage with the fundamental aspects of our lives. In The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell presents readers with some of the issues that philosophers have grappled with throughout the ages. He then presents these through his own viewpoints and breaks them down to their core principles. Most Western and Eastern philosophical questions have been centered around the issues of personal and public experiences, identity, the consciousness of self and the awareness of others, time and space relationships and finally the question of knowledge itself. In The Problems of Philosophy, Russell describes in detail one of his most famous theories of knowledge, the distinction between “knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description.” He argues that anything which is known through means of a direct causal experience is fundamentally different (and perhaps superior) to knowledge gained through secondhand descriptions and through the reports of other people. In today's Age of Information, knowledge by description is often mistaken for “true knowledge” and many of us proceed on the premise that such knowledge is indeed the truth. Russell was a philosopher who believed in the dynamism and evolution of thought. He frequently revised his positions on fundamental issues throughout his life, moving from liberalism to socialism. He was also a famous pacifist and prominent anti-war, anti-imperialism activist. Imprisoned for his views on the evils of World War II, he was also an outspoken critic of Hitler and Stalin. He strongly condemned the actions of the United States in the Vietnam War and lent his voice to support nuclear disarmament. The Problems of Philosophy examines the questions that lie deep in the hearts and minds of all human beings and provides a compassionate yet objective attempt at finding the answers to some of them.