Bertrand Russell’s Understanding of Philosophy of ScienceJune 26, 2021
Russell says he is as unsure of his results as he is of his own way of philosophizing. An essential component of his method of analysis is science itself. In this respect, Russell thinks that the answers that science finds are temporary (not absolute), that science has made little progress, that it cannot reach an all-embracing organic understanding.
In a way, science and philosophy are alike in their methods and ways of progress. Both have a purpose in understanding reality. Therefore, the sole purpose of science is not to make predictions. Russell’s book Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scientific Method in Philosophy, published in 1914 and expressing his views on the method of science, had an impact on the logical positivists and the later developing philosophy of science tradition.
According to Russell, we can only know about the abstract structure of the physical world. We cannot know about its inner character. Perhaps the only exception to this is our brain, the functioning of which we can directly touch. We assume that there is a copunctuality between the perceptual and the nonperceptual. The perceptual ones in question are also a part of the external world, but we have direct knowledge of their intrinsic character. In this respect, we can go beyond mere structural knowledge at this point. These views of Russell were later called structural realism and became a part of contemporary philosophy of science discussions.
Russell also wrote popular science books, including The ABC of Atoms (1923) and The ABC of Relativity (1925).
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook