[FOM] The influence of Leibniz on Russell (Alasdair Urquhart)

Alasdair Urquhart urquhart at cs.toronto.edu
Mon May 7 09:43:55 EDT 2007

Colin McLarty rightly notes that Russell's book on Leibniz
doesn't show much knowledge of Leibniz's
logical work.  In his excellent study of Russell's early
intellectual evolution, "Russell's Idealist Apprenticeship",
Nicholas Griffin sums up the book in this way:

	He began reading Leibniz when he was still very
	largely a neo-Hegelian; he completed his book
	when he already had the outlines (and much of the detail)
	of the philosophy with which he proposed to replace
	neo-Hegelianism (p. 343).

After reading Couturat's "La Logique de Leibniz" and
"Opuscules et fragments inedits de Leibniz", he changed his mind on a
significant point.  In his book on Leibniz's logic, Couturat
argued strongly that Leibniz's Principle of Sufficient Reason
simply says that all true propositions are analytic.
In his review of 1903, Russell explicitly abandons his view
in "The Philosophy of Leibniz" that true existential propositions
are synthetic.  He also discusses this point in the preface to
the second edition of his book.

In "My Philosophical Development", Russell wrote: "I first realized
the importance of the question of relations when I was working
on Leibniz", and goes on to say that Leibniz's philosophy
(as well as those of Spinoza, Hegel and Bradley) are based on
the idea that all propositions are of Subject-Predicate form.

Alasdair Urquhart

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