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Russell on Knowledge of Universals by Acquaintance

  • M. Giaquinto (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

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.

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marcus.giaquinto@ucl.ac.uk
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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

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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

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Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
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