Cf: Inquiry Into Inquiry • Flash Back
| The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
| But in ourselves …
| Julius Caesar • 1.2.141–142
Signs have a power to inform, to lead our thoughts and thus our actions
in accord with reality, to make reality our friend. And signs have
a power to misinform, to corrupt our thoughts and thus our actions
and lead us to despair of all our ends.
For now I'll just post a clean copy of a text for later discussion.
Excerpt from Bertrand Russell • “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism” (1918)
4. Propositions and Facts with More than One Verb: Beliefs, Etc.
4.3. How shall we describe the logical form of a belief?
I want to try to get an account of the way that a belief is made up.
That is not an easy question at all. You cannot make what I should
call a map-in-space of a belief. You can make a map of an atomic fact
but not of a belief, for the simple reason that space-relations always
are of the atomic sort or complications of the atomic sort. I will try
to illustrate what I mean.
The point is in connexion with there being two verbs in the judgment
and with the fact that both verbs have got to occur as verbs, because
if a thing is a verb it cannot occur otherwise than as a verb.
Suppose I take ‘A believes that B loves C’. ‘Othello believes that
Desdemona loves Cassio’. There you have a false belief. You have this
odd state of affairs that the verb ‘loves’ occurs in that proposition and
seems to occur as relating Desdemona to Cassio whereas in fact it does not
do so, but yet it does occur as a verb, it does occur in the sort of way
that a verb should do.
I mean that when A believes that B loves C, you have to have a verb
in the place where ‘loves’ occurs. You cannot put a substantive in
its place. Therefore it is clear that the subordinate verb (i.e. the
verb other than believing) is functioning as a verb, and seems to be
relating two terms, but as a matter of fact does not when a judgment
happens to be false. That is what constitutes the puzzle about the
nature of belief.
You will notice that whenever one gets to really close quarters
with the theory of error one has the puzzle of how to deal with
error without assuming the existence of the non-existent.
I mean that every theory of error sooner or later wrecks itself
by assuming the existence of the non-existent. As when I say
‘Desdemona loves Cassio’, it seems as if you have a non-existent
love between Desdemona and Cassio, but that is just as wrong as
a non-existent unicorn. So you have to explain the whole theory
of judgment in some other way.
I come now to this question of a map. Suppose you try such a map as this:
[Figure 1.] Othello Believes Desdemona Loves Cassio
This question of making a map is not so strange as you might suppose because
it is part of the whole theory of symbolism. It is important to realize where
and how a symbolism of that sort would be wrong: Where and how it is wrong is
that in the symbol you have this relationship relating these two things and in
the fact it doesn’t really relate them. You cannot get in space any occurrence
which is logically of the same form as belief.
When I say ‘logically of the same form’ I mean that one can be obtained
from the other by replacing the constituents of the one by the new terms.
If I say ‘Desdemona loves Cassio’ that is of the same form as ‘A is to the
right of B’. Those are of the same form, and I say that nothing that occurs
in space is of the same form as belief.
I have got on here to a new sort of thing, a new beast for our zoo, not another
member of our former species but a new species. The discovery of this fact is
due to Mr. Wittgenstein.
(Russell, POLA, 89–91).
Bertrand Russell, “The Philosophy of Logical Atomism”, pp. 35–155
in The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, edited with an introduction by
David Pears, Open Court, La Salle, IL, 1985. First published 1918.
Notes on Russell’s “Philosophy of Logical Atomism” • Note 25