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Russell's Logical Atomism$
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David Bostock

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199651443

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199651443.001.0001

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(p.201) 12 Propositions
Russell's Logical Atomism

David Bostock

Oxford University Press

Russell began with a realist theory of propositions: they exist quite independently of anyone’s thought, and their ingredients are ‘in the world’. But when he saw how quantification over all propositions leads to paradox, he embraced the opposite theory that there are no such things as propositions. There are judgments, but in a judgment the judger is multiply related to the various ingredients of the fact that makes his judgment either true or false. This theory is proposed in 1910 and 1912, and was to have been further elaborated in a book that he was working on in 1913, but which he discontinued because of criticisms from the young Wittgenstein. In 1919 he proposed a new theory, according to which a proposition is an arrangement of symbols – either words or images – in a mind. So its ingredients are now mental items, and not what those items stand for.

Keywords:   propositions, facts, thought, judgments, the ‘multiple relation’ theory, Wittgenstein, images

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