Russell on Matter and Our Knowledge of the External World

The Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly 124 (2004)
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Bertrand Russell’s philosophy around 1914 is often interpreted as phenomenalism, the view that sensations are not caused by but rather constitute ordinary objects. Indeed, prima facie, his 1914 Our Knowledge of the External World reduces objects to sense-data. However, Russell did not think his view was phenomenalist, and he said that he never gave up either the causal theory of perception or a realist understanding of objects. In this paper I offer an explanation of why Russell might have undertaken the constructionist project of his 1914 work while not considering the resulting position that objects can be constructed out of sense-data to be phenomenalist.

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Irem Kurtsal
Allegheny College


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