Skip to content

Atomism, Logical

Herbert Hochberg

Pages 73 - 81

The early years. Logical atomism has been taken to be both a conception of philosophical analysis and a metaphysical account. Both aspects are present in B. Russell’s writings from the early 20th century that can be said to have culminated in the Lectures on Logical Atomism and On Propositions of 1918-19. Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics of 1903 and “On Denoting” of 1905, along with G. Moore’s 1903 paper The Refutation of Idealism, have long been recognised as key works in the early stages of the revival of realism that was a significant aspect of logical atomism. Two of Moore’s earlier papers, “The Nature of Judgment” (1899) and “Identity” (1900), as well as his dissertation works of 1897 and 1898 from which they are derived, have also been seen to be relevant to the emergence of logical atomism in recent years. One core aspect involved is the attempt to specify the ‘logical atoms’ that philosophical or ‘logical’ analysis purportedly uncovers in seeking the ultimate constituents of the world of our experience and in our conscious awareness of such experience. Logical atomists sometimes assumed that, as opposed to metaphysical speculation or hypothetical postulation, they employed ‘logical analysis’ of what is given in experience and thought. The tool of symbolic logic was taken as a key aid in the procedure of analysis. This latter idea led to the claim that a special symbolic framework was required – a linguistic schema along the lines of Russell and Whitehead’s epochal Principia Mathematica – as indispensable to the development of viable philosophical analyses.

1Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin

1 Armstrong, D. M., (1997), A World of States of Affairs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2 Bergmann, G., (1957-8), “The Revolt Against Logical Atomism”, Philosophical Quarterly, Part I, 7 (29): 323-29; Part II, 8 (30), 1-13.

3 Bergmann, G., (1992), New Foundations of Ontology, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

4 Carnap, R., (1928), Der logische Aufbau der Welt, Leipzig: Felix Meiner Verlag; 1967. The Logical Structure of the World. Pseudoproblems in Philosophy (trans. R. A. George), University of California Press.

5 Carnap, R., (1937), Logical Syntax of Language, London: Kegan Paul.

6 Carnap, R., (1947), Meaning and Necessity, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

7 Cochiarella, N., (1975), “Logical Atomism, Nominalism, and Modal Logic”, Synthese, 31 (1): 23-62

8 Cochiarella, N., (1987), Logical Studies in Early Analytic Philosophy, Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

9 Hochberg, H., (1978), Thought, Fact and Reference: The Origins and Ontology of Logical Atomism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

10 Hochberg, H., (2000), “Propositions, Truth and Belief: The Wittgenstein–Russell Debate”, Theoria 66: 3–40.

11 Hochberg, H., (2001), Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein, New York: Hansel-Hohenhausen.

12 Hochberg, H., (2002), “From Logic to Ontology: Some Problems of Predication, Negation, and Possibility”, in D. Jacquette, ed., A Companion to Philosophical Logic, Oxford: Blackwell, 281-292.

13 Klement, K., (2013), “Russell’s Logical Atomism”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online. Lewis, D., 1991, Parts of Classes, Cambridge: Blackwell.

14 MacBride, F., (2013), “Truthmakers”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online.

15 Moore, G. E., (1899), “The Nature of Judgment”, Mind, 8 (30): 176-193.

16 Moore, G. E., (1900), “Necessity”, Mind, 9 (35): 289-304.

17 Moore, G. E., (1900)/1, “Identity”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1: 103-27.

18 Moore, G. E., (1903), “The Refutation of Idealism”, Mind 12: 433-53

19 Moore, G. E., (1953), Some Main Problems of Philosophy, (1910/11), George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London.

20 Proops, I., (2013), “Wittgenstein’s Logical Atomism”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on line.

21 Russell, B., (1903), The Principles of Mathematics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

22 Russell, B., (1905), “On Denoting”, Mind XIV, (4): 479-493.

23 Russell, B., (1906/7), “On the Nature of Truth”, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 7: 28-49.

24 Russell, B., (1911), “Le Réalisme analytique” Bulletin de la Société francaise de philosophie, 11. March, 282-291

25 Russell, B., (1919), Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

26 Russell, B., (1952), Our Knowledge of the External World, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

27 Russell, B., (1954), The Problems of Philosophy, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

28 Russell, B., (1967), The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell 1872-1914, vol. 1, New York: Little, Brown & Co.

29 Russell, B., (1984), Theory of Knowledge: The 1913 Manuscript, London: George Allen & Unwin.

30 Whitehead, A. N. and Russell, B., (1950), Principia Mathematica, vol. I, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

31 Wittgenstein, L., (1963), Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, (trans. D. Pears & B. McGuinness), London: Allen & Unwin.


Export Citation