PHIL 1010 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Bertrand Russell, Norm (Social)

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21 Sep 2016
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The Value of Philosophy – Bertrand Russell (Article)
The value of philosophy being anything better than innocent but useless trifling and
controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible comes from a wrong
conception of the ends of life.
The practical man recognizes only material needs, it is the goal of philosophy to break away
from such recognition to stand alone. We must not be indifferent to the goods of the mind.
Philosophy is aimed at knowledge and most gives unity and system to the body of sciences.
Once the knowledge has been achieved, it belongs to a given category (ie psychology or ‘study
of the mind’). The scraps of ‘no definite answer’ is called philosophy.
Philosophy begins where science ends.
Questions must remain insoluble to the human intellect because the answers attained by
philosophy aren’t demonstrably true. By confining ourselves to definitely ascertainable
knowledge, it makes us unaware of the importance of questioning.
In order to have a certain answer to a fundamental question like one that involves religion, an
opinion on the methods and limitations must be formal.
A man with no tincture of philosophy is imprisoned by common sense, and that does not raise
any questions. We want the exact opposite because uncertainty will expand our minds and
increase our knowledge.
Russell uses the analogy of escaping prison to describe the importance of philosophy. An
instinctive man will shut out the outer world – the private world is small and we remain like a
garish in a fortress. The outer/philosophical world is more peaceful and we need to escape the
Philosophic contemplation – the ability to deeply understand and think about a topic beyond
the extent of the social ‘norm’. Being able to understand things in a way which is sophisticated,
yet complex.
Stop placing man at the center of everything because it leads to thinking “how does this affect
me?” Take an unbiased stance by considering the not-self which is essentially everything that is
not “yourself”.
According to Russell, the view that truth is manmade, is false. This also leads to union with the
not-self and is missing the side of Self. If we stay stuck in this pit of knowledge, we aren’t leaving
our domestic circle.
Enlargement of the not-self distorts the object at hand and impairs Self and not-self union. Must
get out of the person point of view.
Being impartial to philosophic contemplation will enlarge the objects of our thoughts. Also
engage with true freedom outside our own built up walls of the universe.
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Study philosophy for the questions it brings to the table. They enlarge our conception and
intellectual imagination and breaks us out of dogmatism (set in stone beliefs).
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