On 05 Dec 2013, at 13:28, Roger Clough wrote:
Bertrand Russell's gross misunderstanding of Plato's theory of
knowledge and perception
Plato believed that truth is a conceptual form of knowledge, which
is a priori and so not obtained through the senses. Truth obtained
through the senses, Plato believed, was changeable.
Yes. And among the Platonists, you have the one called
"Mathematicians", which should be called today the "mathematicalists",
like Xeusippes, and which believed that the fundamental reality was
the eternal Mathematical principles. A bit like Tegmark, Wheeler,
perhaps Schmiduber, and ... comp, for the ontology, but not for the
epistemologies, which are bigger than any conceivable mathematical
But, presumably because he was an empiricist, Russell essentially
treats Plato as an empiricist gone wrong. Russell thus grossly
Plato, apparently not undestrstanding that, as Leibniz and Kant have
stated, there is a difference between necessary or a priori knowledge
(which does not change) and the changeable, contingent truths of
Because of Russell's apparent confusion between these two forms
of knowledge, and denial of a priori knowledge, Russell wastes
many words apparently trying to show that the changeable knowledge
obtained through the senses can somehow be necessarily true,
giving "snow is white" as an example. Anyone who grew up
as I did, in what was then sooty smokey Pittsburgh, knows that
snow can sometimes be dark gray. Similarly, Russell incorrectly bases
his repudiation of a priori knowledge by using the changeable
nature of contingent knowledge as an example.
I have not checked Russell's treatment of Kant, but
because of this ignorance, Russell also apparently
treats Kant as an empiricist gpone bad.
It was due to his philosophy of mathematics and logic, but it has been
refuted. So we can move on a little bit.
That type of mistake is well explained by the fact that if the
arithmetical reality is "eternal", actually even "atemporal", viewed
from outside (as can be done by some simple god or non recursively
enumerable sets) it re-appears, when viewed from inside, like
developing many *relative* contingent relations in between many
There is no change, but you have to climb on the shoulder of some god
or goddess to appreciate the eternal panorama.
Hereby, things appear and disappear. For example, I found back my
books on the Neoplatonist Muslims. And on Averoes. They survived the
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