Sense-data and the philosophy of mind: Russell, James, and Mach

Principia 6 (2):203-230 (2002)
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The theory of knowledge in early twentieth-century Anglo American philosophy was oriented toward phenomenally described cognition. There was a healthy respect for the mind-body problem, which meant that phenomena in both the mental and physical domains were taken seriously. Bertrand Russell's developing position on sense-data and momentary particulars drew upon, and ultimately became like, the neutral monism of Ernst Mach and William James. Due to a more recent behaviorist and physicalist inspired "fear of the mental", this development has been down-played in historical work on early analytic philosophy. Such neglect assumes that the "linguistic turn" is a proper and permanent effect of twentieth-century philosophy, an assumption that distorts early analytic historiography, and begs a substantive philosophical question about thought and cognition.

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Gary Hatfield
University of Pennsylvania


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