What is Logical Atomism, Logical Atomism?

What is Logical Atomism, Logical Atomism?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Logical atomism or logical atomism, as an approach that combines empiricism and logicism, is at the heart of Russell’s understanding of philosophy. Russell presents this approach in his 1918 lecture entitled “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism”. In this lecture, Russell talks about an ideal and isomorphic language with the world, which reflects (represents) the world like a mirror.

In this respect, our knowledge consists of basic atomic propositions and compound propositions formed by the combination of truth functions of these propositions.

According to Russell, every meaningful proposition must consist of terms that have a direct correspondence (reference) in sense experience. Relying on a distinction in his understanding of knowledge, Russell says that we must either know the references of terms by familiarity or be able to derive them logically from the terms we know. Logical atomism in this form is an extreme empiricist philosophical position.

Russell’s ideal language does not include auxiliary terms such as “all”, “some”, “is”. Russell’s world consists of a multiplicity of independent facts. Our knowledge of this world depends on our direct encounter with the phenomena of the world through sense experience.

Later in his life, Russell expressed his distrust of some aspects of logical atomism. In particular, he questioned the isomorphism of the language in question. Although he did not give up on the idea that the analysis method should be followed in order to reach atomic facts, he expressed his doubts as to whether the atomic facts in question could be reached in the end.


It is the name given to his system by the English logician Bertrand Russell. Whitehead and Wittgenstein’s understanding of logic is also called by this name. All three argued that there is only one ideal language, and that the logical grammar of this language also reflects the structure of reality. This grammar and the language it determines will eliminate all paradoxes. According to this understanding, language misleads human thought by setting up various traps. The ideal language is a logic language that is free from these traps. Russell expresses the logical establishments that this ideal grammatical language will create with the phrase “atom”.

These organizations will replace existing trapper concepts with clearly comprehensible logical concepts. In one of his works, he says, “For example, some people marry the sisters of their deceased wives, I can write the sentence in a form that can be understood after years of study”. However, such an expression cannot be realized in an ideal language.

Russell, Our Know!edge of the External World (1914) and Wittgenstein, in Philosophy of Logical Atomism (1918), reduce knowledge to atomic propositions. M. Rosenthal and P. Yudin say in their famous dictionaries about the logician atomists who absolutize the singular as F. Bradley, the absolute thinker who absolutizes the whole:

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