[FOM] The influence of Leibniz on Russell

Gang Liu gl6866 at gmail.com
Sat May 5 03:07:11 EDT 2007

It is really interesting to see this topic. I want to provide two
sources that might be overlooked by B. Russell. when he wrote his PM
in that time Russell might be too young to under Leibniz.

1. Ian Hacking's The Emergence of Probability 1975, 2006
2. !an Hacking's Taming the Chance,

The latter was translated by me into Chinese.

By the way Prof Alasdair Urquhart's work of 1999 in Symbolic Logic is
excellent, proving Kripke's 1959 work is still the best one.

LIU Gang

On 5/4/07, Alasdair Urquhart <urquhart at cs.toronto.edu> wrote:
> Russell certainly was well acquainted with Leibniz's
> work on logic.  He reviewed Couturat's "La Logique
> de Leibniz" in Mind 1903, as well as Couturat's
> edited collection of unpublished manuscripts
> "Opuscule et fragment inedits de Leibniz"
> (Mind 1904).
> In his letters to Couturat, Russell sometimes
> presents his own projects in logic as carrying
> out the schemes that Leibniz had only sketched.
> For example, in a letter of 1 October 1900,
> Russell writes to Couturat (in French -- my
> translation):
> "I am in agreement with you in throwing both
> Aristotle's syllogistic and Mill's theory
> of induction on the scrapheap.  What is needed
> now is to build in their place a modern
> and scientific logic, mathematical and deductive
> in form.  This will be our task, or the task
> of the 20th century.  Perhaps Leibnitz, that
> genius and universal precursor, will provide us
> with some suggestions."
> Again, Russell boasted to Couturat in a letter
> of 23 March 1902 (my translation again):
> "Did I tell you that in my lecture course at
> Cambridge I deduced all of pure mathematics,
> including geometry, from 8 undefined ideas
> and 20 unproved propositions?  I give purely
> logical definitions of number, numbers and
> various types of space.  I believe this work
> would have pleased Leibniz; it comes closer
> to his ideas than any other work I know."
> There are many other references to Leibniz in Russell's
> correspondence with Couturat, which is now available
> in an edition by Anne-Francoise Schmid, and is very
> well worth reading (see my review BSL Volume 11,
> pp. 442-444).  The correspondence shows clearly that
> Leibniz was an inspirational figure for Russell.
> Alasdair Urquhart
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