Bertrand Russel in the Intro to Obj. Epistemolgy

Piksmeat's picture
Submitted by Piksmeat on Tue, 2006-10-24 12:32

For the life of me I can't understand what Ayn Rand meant when she wrote this on pp50-51:

As an illustration, observe what Bertrand Russel was able to perpetuate becasue people thought they "Kinda knew" the meaning of the concept of "number"...

I can't imagine what she is talking about here. But worse -- she offers me no way of determining what she is referring to and no way to determine whether her 'criticism' (if we can call it that) of Russell is well founded. In addition, how can this be an 'illustration' of anything since there isn't enough detail to tell what is being referred to?

Anyone here able to help me out?


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Piksmeat - Read Principia

Aaron's picture

Piksmeat - Read Principia Mathematica, and not just the English prose portion. Try to gauge how many pages it takes to prove 1=1, let alone 1+1=2.

I've had a discussion recently concerning axiomatic set theory (Russell's, ZF/ZFC or others), Godel's incompleteness theorem, etc., with the challenge on me to show how such abstract mathematics really map back to concretes, and offer some practical application that non-set-theory formulations do not. I know they influenced (such as via Church+Turing) computer science, but AFAIK are not essential even there to the conclusions or applications. I've not done too well on finding real practical applications first enabled by axiomatic set theory, I'm curious if others know of any. I'm starting to agree with the joke:

"A engineer thinks of his equations as an approximation to reality.
A physicist thinks reality is an approximation to his equations.
A mathematician simply doesn’t care."

Piksmeat

Lanza Morio's picture

Well Piksmeat, you've been here a few days now and I haven't a clue what you're talking about either. You didn't even spell Bertrand Russell's name correctly in the thread title. You're not trying very hard.

I don't know about his number theory...

Marcus's picture

...but Russell (a well-known agnostic) was an inconsistent relativist.

For that reason he actually (in my opinion) lost a debate with Father FC Copleston on whether or not God exists. What a tragedy that was when he could have easily won the debate.

The transcript of the BBC debate from 1948 was published in his collected essays called, "Why I am not a Christian."

Read the transcript here:
http://www.bringyou.to/apologe...

A clue

Laure Chipman's picture

I don't know what her objection to Bertrand Russell was; the only reference I can find is in Journals of Ayn Rand, where she says, "Many instances of "the stolen concept" are, in fact, instances of "petitio principii," such as [Bertrand] Russell's attempt to derive the concept "unit" from [the concept] "group," which, throughout the whole reasoning, presupposes knowledge of the concept "unit."  But such instances are merely fraudulent attempts to prove something; the most important part of "the stolen concept" is its application to the fraudulent attempts to disprove something, particularly to disprove basic axioms.  This is the worst of the fallacies in modern philosophy."

Guess

Jeff Perren's picture

Since she never (to my knowledge) amplified the statement, we can only guess.

I believe she was referring to the contents of Principia Mathematica and the modern views of logic it helped spawn. (See Quine's texts or Mar and Kalish as examples.)

"Steven Johnston,"

Chris Cathcart's picture

are you Gary Merrill?

To quote:


At some points she goes so far as to provide *vague* references. For example, on pp. 50-51 she offers us:

As an illustration, observe what Bertrand Russell was able
to perpetrate because people thought they "kinda knew" the
meaning of the concept of "number" ...

Now I'm hardly a Russell expert, but at one time I had read quite a bit of Russell, and I did once serve on the dissertation board of a Ph.D. candidate whose dissertaion was entitled "Russell's Theory of Number". I can't *imagine* what she is talking about here. But worse -- she offers me no way of determining what she is referring to and no way to determine whether her "criticism" (if we can call it that) of Russell is well founded. In addition, how can this be an *illustration* of anything since there isn't enough detail to tell what is being referred to? (To be sure, Russell may have perpetrated any number of things -- ban the bomb, for example -- but what these may have had to do with the concept of number is rather up in the air.)

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