By A.J. Ayer

"One of the main influential philosophers of this century, founding father of the college of logical positivism, offers his personal view of the key advancements in philosophy during the last eighty years."

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We shall, however, be concerned here only with his philosophy, in a narrower sense of the term. His Approach to Philosophy A s he relates in his autobiography, Russell was led to take an interest in philosophy by his desire to find some good reason for believing in the truth of mathematics. When his brother first introduced him, at the age of eleven, to Euclidean geometry, he objected to being required to take the axioms on trust. He agreed to do so only in deference to his brother, who made it a condition of their going any further, but he did not give up his belief that the propositions of geometry, and indeed those of any other branch of mathematics, needed some ulterior justification.

One reason for this was that his interests extended in many directions outside philosophy. He was a fluent and prolific writer, and of the more than sixty books that he published only about a score are strictly philosophical. In the tradition o f his family, he maintained a life-long interest in politics, and his first published work, which appeared in 1896, was a book on German Social Democracy. Before he became a peer he stood three times unsuccessfully for Parliament, twice in the Labour interest and once in 1907 as a candidate of the National Union of W omen’s Suffrage Societies.

It was for this purpose that he introduced the concept o f a ‘sensibile*, with the explanation that sensibilia were possibly unsensed objects of ‘the same metaphysical and physical status as sense-data’ , and that o f a ‘perspective’ , which was understood in such a way that two particu1 The P roblem o f Philosophy , p. 20. 2 Namely ‘Sense-data and Physics* in Mysticism and Logic . p. 155. See also ‘Logical Atomism* in Logic and Knowledge , p. 326. 34 BERTRAND RUSSELL lars, whether sense-data or sensibilia, were said to belong to the same perspective if and only if they occurred simultaneously in the same private space.

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