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Bertrand Russell (Bertrand Arthur William Russell) Biography

(1872–1970), (Bertrand Arthur William Russell), The Analysis of Matter, The Analysis of Mind

3rd Earl Russell, British philosopher, born in Trellech, Gwent, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He published prolifically on a wide range of social, philosophical, and cultural issues and was instrumental in leading modern British philosophy in an anti-Idealist direction. This trend is evident in The Analysis of Matter (1921) and The Analysis of Mind (1927), where the principal thesis is that mind and matter are differing constructions of the same ‘neutral’ material. In The Principles of Mathematics (1903), and the three-volume Principia Mathematica (191013; with A. N. White-head), Russell outlined his idea that the language of logic provides the building blocks for any theorems produced in pure mathematics. This assertion might be perceived as part of Russell's larger philosophical quest to pare human knowledge down to its barest and simplest forms of expression, and is explored in An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (1940) and Human Knowledge, Its Scope and Limits (1948). This thrust is similarly evident in his development of Logical Atomism, a theory which proposes that the world consists of atomic facts and that these can be successfully represented by basic propositions. The value of Logical Atomism appears to lie less in its individual success than in prompting fresh philosophical and poetic attempts to construct a language consonant with the world, such as, for instance, the writings of Ezra Pound and Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922). Russell was an active radical in politics and published several pamphlets on pacifism and anti-nuclear statements during and after the two world wars, establishing the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. He published A History of Western Philosophy (1945) and in 1950 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His final years were marked by broadcasts on BBC radio and the publication of his scandalous Autobiography (19679). The Life of Bertrand Russell (1975), by R. W. Clark, describes his relationships with such figures as Ottoline Morrell, Wittgenstein, D. H. Lawrence, and G. E. Moore. See also A. J. Ayer's Russell (1972), and Nicholas Griffin's edition of The Selected Letters of Bertrand Russell (1992).

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