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The Philosophy of Logical Atomism (1918-19)


By Bertrand Russell

“The following articles are the lectures of a course of eight lectures delivered in London in the first months of 1918, and are very largely concerned with explaining certain ideas which I learnt from my friend and former pupil Ludwig Wittgenstein. I have had no opportunity of knowing his views since August, 1914, and I do not even know whether he is alive or dead. He has therefore no responsibility for what is said in these lectures beyond that of having originally supplied many of the theories contained in them.” – BR1

The lectures were first published in The Monist, vols. 28, 29 (Oct 1918, Jan, Apr, Jul 1919), pp. 495-527, 33-63, 190-222, 345-80 respectively. About them, Russell wrote, in a March 23 1919 letter to his publisher Stanley Unwin: “They are verbatim reports, taken at the time by a short-hand writer, of lectures which I delivered in Jan. to March of last year. They were sent to America before I went to prison, and though I believe I kept a duplicate, I have not seen them since.”

The lectures were given in a hired room in Dr. William’s library in Gordon Square, London on Tuesday nights from January 22 to March 12, 1918.2

Lecture 1: “Facts and Propositions,” The Monist 28 (Oct 1918), 495-509

Lecture 2: “Particulars, Predicates and Relations,” ibid., 509-27

Lecture 3: “Atomic and Molecular Propositions,” ibid. 29 (Jan 1919), 32-47

Lecture 4: “Propositions and Facts with More Than One Verb,” ibid., 47-63

Lecture 5: “General Propositions and Existence,” ibid. 29 (Apr 1919), 190-206

Lecture 6: “Descriptions and Incomplete Symbols,” ibid., 206-22

Lecture 7: “The Theory of Types and Symbolism: Classes,” ibid. 29 (Jul 1919), 345-64

Lecture 8: “Excursus in Metaphysics: What There Is,” ibid., 364-80

*  Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, The Monist 28, 29 (Oct 1918, Jan, Apr, Jul 1919), 495-527, 33-63, 190-222, 345-80

1  Introduction to Lecture 1: “Facts and Propositions,” The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, in The Monist 28 (Oct 1918), 495-509

2  source: The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, vol. 8, 157-9