WHAT DID RUSSELL LEARN FROM LEIBNIZ?

Nicholas Griffin

Abstract


Russell’s rejection in 1898 of the doctrine of internal relations — the view that all relations are grounded in the intrinsic properties of the terms related — was a decisive part of his break with Hegelianism and opened the way for his turn to analytic philosophy. Before rejecting it, Russell had given the doctrine little thought, though it played an essential role in the most intractable of the problems facing his attempt to construct a Hegelian dialectic of the sciences. I argue that it was Russell’s early reading of Leibniz, in preparation for his lectures on Leibniz given at Cambridge in 1899, that most probably alerted him to the role the doctrine was playing in his own philosophy. Leibniz defended a similar doctrine and extricated it from difficulties like those faced by Russell by means of devices that were not open to Russell. Russell would have come across these views of Leibniz in writings by Leibniz that he read in the summer of 1898, just before he rejected the doctrine of internal relations.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4148/jhap.v2i1.1709


Nicholas Griffin
McMaster University
Canada