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Bertrand Russell’s View on Philosophy


Philosophy is one of the most controversial areas of knowledge because its applicability to real-life from the perspective of practicality is dubious. Meanwhile, present-day researchers prefer more concrete information in contrast to theoretical concepts, and this fact explains the declining popularity of the field. However, it is still important since philosophical thought is connected to other areas examined by scholars. Some of them claim that citizens “under the influence of science or practical affairs” erroneously interpret these teachings (Kessler 15). Therefore, this paper aims to provide the opposing views on philosophical thinking and its significance for other sciences and trace the incorporation of this idea into scholarly texts.

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The Definition and View of Philosophy by Russell

One of the researchers comprehensively addressing the gap in understanding the subject is Bertrand Russell. His ideas are explicitly demonstrated in the chapter “Our Value of Philosophy” and allow readers to thoroughly examine the issue from the point of view of philosophy’s usefulness. According to this scholar, the perception of this field as excessively theoretical is erroneous since it applies to other spheres of life (Kessler 15). Its common neglect by other researchers tends to lead to the incapability of different disciplines to accurately describe the world and assess the emerging phenomena. Therefore, the concerns of this author regarding the decreasing attention of other specialists to this field are conditional upon the slowing progress of humanity and the inaccuracy of studies. Even though it is difficult to reveal its influence on, for example, the creation of devices based on computing systems, which are quite tangible, philosophical convictions are no less significant for the development of humanity as a whole.

The definition of philosophy presented by Russell improves the understanding of this term by connecting the practical and theoretical matters related to scientific research. According to him, it is an instrument of posing questions rather than finding answers, and this process allows us to “enlarge our conception of what is possible” for further actions under other disciplines (Kessler 17). In this way, it reflects the growing interest of people in spirituality and wisdom, which are synonymous with progress in many ways.

Difference Between Philosophy and Other Fields

The principal difference between philosophy and other fields is in their roles in the progress of humanity. From this perspective, the thinkers’ activity leads to the emergence of practical inventions. As was written by Russel, the former is “a critical examination of the grounds of our convictions, prejudices, and beliefs,” which allows people to expand their knowledge and enhance the development of other areas (Kessler 15). Subsequently, the outcomes of the philosophical examination are converted into tangible results represented by the achievements of various branches of science. Hence, the majority of inventions stem from thinking and thereby confirm the significance of philosophy in the evolution of other fields.

It is truly impossible to imagine the process of the emergence of an idea and its implementation when it is viewed separately, either as theory or practice, without connecting these parts. For instance, to invent a windmill, one should gain the notion of it through a series of observations and other methods seemingly not related to reality. As follows from this example, the two extremes, thinking and inventing, are equally important for making discoveries. Their interaction is difficult to trace because the development of philosophical considerations is a hidden process, which does not imply open demonstration compared to practice (Kessler 16). In this way, they can be perceived as a unified instrument triggering the emergence of separate sciences.

Value of Philosophy as per Russell

The value inherent in philosophy as a field is connected to its role in underpinning the attempts of people to study the objective world with its ongoing changes. Moreover, it highlights the necessity to understand the origin of all material goods, which is the thought. This outcome is confirmed by Russell, who states that “food for the body” is no less important than “food for the mind” while the latter is frequently neglected (Kessler 15). From this point of view, philosophical examination helps address the uncertainty of the results of specific discoveries, which are perceived as dangerous and avoided when they could be beneficial for everyone.

Subsequently, this field is essential for eliminating the prejudice and fear of people regarding the emerging phenomena and thereby promoting progress. This impact of observations and other methods implemented by philosophers can be seen in the works of specialists incorporating philosophy. They obtain the freedom from the limitations mentioned above, become able to make an unbiased judgment regarding the studied subjects, and their characteristics become excluded from the process (Kessler 16). Moreover, the possibility of a positive outcome of their activity increases in the case of reorientation from material issues to spirituality (Kessler 15). Thus, the value of philosophical observations is reflected by their influence on the results of researchers’ efforts to understand societal issues and find solutions for problems.

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“The Apology” and the Concept of Philosophy

The reading under consideration, “The Apology,” written by Plato, is the description of the trial of Socrates for the deviation of his thought from commonly accepted societal norms. It not only comprehensively presents the defense of this person against accusations but also fits into the concept of philosophy, which is discussed by Russell in the corresponding article. First, the claim that the narrator is wiser only because he accepts his ignorance correlates with the idea of unbiased cognition required for the development in this aspect (Kessler 69). Socrates thereby proves the particular meaning of eliminating the narrowness of the mind in terms of philosophical inquiry.

Second, he links the actual wisdom of humanity to the exposure to new experiences resulting from the initial motivation, which stems from observations of phenomena (Kessler 71). This circumstance adds to the difference in perceptions of the citizens and the thinker and, therefore, explains the varying outcomes of their activity. Third, the reaction of people to his ideas, which are deemed to be evil and deriving from mere curiosity, corresponds to the impact of fear on cognition described above (Kessler 70). In this way, it can be concluded that, regardless of the time, place, and other conditions, the principles and actions in this field are multi-purpose.


In conclusion, the views of Bertrand Russell on philosophy are characterized by the meaning of this area for other sciences. From his perspective, it serves as their source and establishes an unbiased and objective procedure of reality cognition. Hence, the value of its methodology is the provision of the theory underpinning practical experiments contributing to eliminating prejudice and developing ethics. However, this perception is not only useful for scholars but also universal since it fits into the narratives such as “The Apology” in terms of human fears, wisdom, and reaction to unexpected factors.


Kessler, Gary E. Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. 9th ed., Wadsworth Publishing, 2015.

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