Russell in Transition 1914–1918: From Theory of Knowledge to “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism”

  • Russell WahlEmail author
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


Readers of Russell’s 1918 lectures, “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism” will not only notice some continuity with The Problems of Philosophy and Theory of Knowledge, but also some radical differences. Russell had used the term “logical atomism” as early as 1911, but he did not then adopt the position that we now usually think of as logical atomism. In fact, his atomism in these lectures, and even in his 1924 paper, is less of a full-blown atomism than what is found in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. In this paper, I look in particular at his position on logic, universals, facts, and judgment (with special attention to what he calls “the new beast in the zoo”) as they change from his thoughts in 1913 to “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism.” Many of these changes stem from his discussions with Wittgenstein and his reading of the Notes on Logic. Several of them can be seen as incorporated in his lectures in Massachusetts as early as the spring of 1914. Comparisons are made between Russell’s view, Wittgenstein’s, and that of Ramsey in his 1925 “Facts and Propositions.”


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Idaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA

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