This classic work, first published in 1912, has never been supplanted as an approachable introduction to the theory of philosophical enquiry. It gives Russell's views on such subjects as the distinction between appearance and reality, the existence and nature of matter, idealism, knowledge by acquaintance and by description, induction, truth and falsehood, the distinction between knowledge, error and probable opinion, and the limits and value of philosophical knowledge.
Discusses epistemology, absolutes, a priori and a posteriori knowledge, truth and falsehood. It does these very well. A quite reasonable introduction on basic problems.
But it's still very interesting, and Russell is one of the most readable of the philosophers. Dare I say it, his style actually flows well.
Maybe it's just that it was a dry writing style, or maybe it's that it doesn't seem to be a good starting point for someone who wants to learn about philosophy. But it took many weeks to get through what is actually a short book.
It does have some good
In college I took a logic class, and despised it. Too much emphasis on the fallacy of "I have a cat, it is grey, therefore all cats are grey" thing. You'll see that in here too, although in a cat-free setting.
Lots of people think this guy is almost Godlike, but it's hard for me to agree yet. In time, I'll probably read another Russell text, but not anytime soon.
"Dear fellow, I think I find a flaw in your reasoning." I suppose an ugly truth about human nature would not count as a truth at all for Russell.
Wittgenstein thought highly of Kierkegaard, and Spengler suited his Austrian end-of-empire view after World War I. I do like Russell's view of Marxism: a religion with a chosen people, a holy book and a prophet, which likewise he could not believe.
Enough of Philosophy! Now I'll put my Soothsayer hat on. I'm going to make a prediction. There will be wars in the future. There will be corruption. There will be a market crash. There will be crimes of passion. There will be moments of selfless bravery. X Factor will always be rubbish. I am not a Supreme Being, but the predictions above are startlingly accurate. If we can agree that humans are predictable and will cause these events to happen then isn't this just a psychological exercise designed to seek out those who think they are mavericks? This is just a question of specifics-how predictable are humans? I've already predicted a bunch of stuff, it's the detail of where/when where I fall down. But I've still made predictions based on human nature and Simon Cowell. Is that so hard?
It reminds me of that joke:
"Would you sleep with me for £10 million?"
"Would you sleep with me for a fiver."
"Hell no, what kind of person do you think I am?!"
"I've already ascertained the kind of person that you are, now I'm just trying to determine the degree."
We should all be reading books like this to stave off the dumbening of society.