Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Russell on Knowledge of Universals by Acquaintance

  • M. Giaquinto (a1)

Russell's book The Problems of Philosophy was first published a hundred years ago.1 A remarkable feature of this enduring text is the glint of Platonism it presents on a dark empiricist sea: while our knowledge of physical objects is entirely mediated by direct awareness of sense data, we can also have direct awareness of certain universals, Russell claims.2 This is questionable, even if one has no empiricist inclination. Universals are abstract, hence causally inert. How, then, can we have any knowledge of them, direct or indirect? This paper is about Russell's answer to that question. I will argue that given some modification and elaboration of Russell's views, his claim that some universals are knowable by acquaintance is plausible.

Corresponding author
Hide All
J. Franklin , ‘Aristotelian Realism’ in The Philosophy of Mathematics ed. A. Irvine (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2009), 103

F. Jackson , ‘What Mary Didn't Know’, Journal of Philosophy 83, (1986), 291295

E. Conee , ‘Phenomenal Knowledge’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72, (1994), 136150

D. Rakison and Y. Yermolayeva , ‘Infant categorisation’, WIREs Cognitive Science (2010), 1, 894905

P. Quinn et al.Developmental change in form categorization in early infancy’, British Journal of Developmental Psychology 19 (2001), 207218

P. Quinn et al.Development of categorical representations for above and below spatial relations in 3- to 7-month-old infantsDevelopmental Psychology 32 (1996), 942950

P. Quinn C. ‘Spatial representation by young infants: Categorization of spatial relations or sensitivity to a crossing primitive?Memory & Cognition 32 (2004), 852861

P. Quinn et al.Evidence for representations of perceptually similar natural categories by 3-month-old and 4-month-old infantsPerception 22 (1993) 463475

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 36 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 210 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.