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Author Topic: Bertrand Russel Why I'm Not A Christian  (Read 2094 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 08, 2011, 04:16:05 AM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQJ3sqkdCRE&feature=player_embedded#

Interesting, thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 04:21:33 AM »

From what I remember of the work (not the interview)... it was one of the weaker defenses of unbelief/disbelief that I've read. Which suprised me... though I did like his line "Not enough evidence God, not enough evidence".
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2011, 04:29:25 AM »

Bertrand Russell was for a while a brilliant mathematician. And like many mathematicians, he also thought he was a "philosopher".

His arguments "against Christianity" are about as insightful as any others he had in lifetime outside of mathematics.

I guess if you are a genius and spend the time and energy working with a colleague attempting to ground your own field within a degree rigorous certainty over the course of thousands of pages, to only have a single thinker pwn you in a couple, you might be a bit cantankerous too.
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2011, 05:01:16 AM »

He criticizes dogma with dogma, so his arguments are self defeating. Whenever I have doubts about the Christian Faith, I pick up Russell's book and in a few pages my faith is quickly restored. Wink


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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2011, 05:45:09 AM »

Bertrand Russell was for a while a brilliant mathematician. And like many mathematicians, he also thought he was a "philosopher".

His arguments "against Christianity" are about as insightful as any others he had in lifetime outside of mathematics.
Actually this is incorrect; Russel absolutely was a philosopher:

Quote from: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Bertrand Arthur William Russell (b.1872 – d.1970) was a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy.

His philosophy was of the logical empiricist/logical positivist/ Humean variety (he was a prominent member of the so-called Vienna School of Logical Positivism which flourished in the early 20th century until its demise), but a philosopher he was, and I would say he was a pretty good one for his time despite disagreeing with very many of his opinions, philosophical, social, moral, and otherwise. Today Logical Positivism is essentially dead (killed by Godel's Theorem and the set-theoretical paradoxes Russell himself discovered while developing his own system, after which Russell's ten year project with Alfred North Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, which sought to reduce symbolic logic to pure mathematics and set Logical Positivism on the firmest foundationalist grounds, was simply discarded unpublished in the trash-heap of history's wrong starts by Russell and Whitehead themselves) -has been supplanted by the successors of Popper's Falsificationism, Kuhn's Paradigmatic Revolutions, and varieties of Postmodern denials of reason (e.g. Feyerebend, et all) to name but three important trajectories. Russell's History of Philosophy, which I own and have read, was actually cited as contributing to the decision to award him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. Whatever my disagreements with many of his conclusions, the man was if nothing else a philosopher, and in my book an amazing writer and thinker, though in my view he was wrong about God and Christianity (albeit not necessarily wrong in his critique of some of the rationalist proofs of these which he critiqued -cf. his debate with the brilliant Catholic philosopher Frederick Copleston, whose multivolume A History of Philosophy I regard as much better than Russell's simply because it is so much longer and detailed).

As a man, Paul Johnson described Russel as pretty deplorable, even despicable, in his personal life (Paul Johnson, Intellectuals, chapter 8: "Bertrand Russell: A Case of Logical Fiddlesticks"). But please don't disparage him for not being a philosopher.

I'm all for critiquing his critique of Christianity -I do so myself- but I think we should give the man his due where his due is deserved.
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2011, 11:46:08 AM »

With all due respect to the man, Why I Am Not a Christian is pretty juvenile.
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2011, 12:32:24 PM »

Bertrand Russell was for a while a brilliant mathematician. And like many mathematicians, he also thought he was a "philosopher".

His arguments "against Christianity" are about as insightful as any others he had in lifetime outside of mathematics.
Actually this is incorrect; Russel absolutely was a philosopher:

Quote from: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Bertrand Arthur William Russell (b.1872 – d.1970) was a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy.

His philosophy was of the logical empiricist/logical positivist/ Humean variety (he was a prominent member of the so-called Vienna School of Logical Positivism which flourished in the early 20th century until its demise), but a philosopher he was, and I would say he was a pretty good one for his time despite disagreeing with very many of his opinions, philosophical, social, moral, and otherwise. Today Logical Positivism is essentially dead (killed by Godel's Theorem and the set-theoretical paradoxes Russell himself discovered while developing his own system, after which Russell's ten year project with Alfred North Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, which sought to reduce symbolic logic to pure mathematics and set Logical Positivism on the firmest foundationalist grounds, was simply discarded unpublished in the trash-heap of history's wrong starts by Russell and Whitehead themselves) -has been supplanted by the successors of Popper's Falsificationism, Kuhn's Paradigmatic Revolutions, and varieties of Postmodern denials of reason (e.g. Feyerebend, et all) to name but three important trajectories. Russell's History of Philosophy, which I own and have read, was actually cited as contributing to the decision to award him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. Whatever my disagreements with many of his conclusions, the man was if nothing else a philosopher, and in my book an amazing writer and thinker, though in my view he was wrong about God and Christianity (albeit not necessarily wrong in his critique of some of the rationalist proofs of these which he critiqued -cf. his debate with the brilliant Catholic philosopher Frederick Copleston, whose multivolume A History of Philosophy I regard as much better than Russell's simply because it is so much longer and detailed).

As a man, Paul Johnson described Russel as pretty deplorable, even despicable, in his personal life (Paul Johnson, Intellectuals, chapter 8: "Bertrand Russell: A Case of Logical Fiddlesticks"). But please don't disparage him for not being a philosopher.

I'm all for critiquing his critique of Christianity -I do so myself- but I think we should give the man his due where his due is deserved.

Umm I don't care what others called him or what his wikipedia article says. He is thoroughly a mathematician and in within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of "thought". A cardiologist would have the general skill set to work in that area.

And his "History" is a great read for any serious student of Western thought, if not just for the lulz.

Whatever you do, please don't clip words together to defend that fact he was a "philosopher".

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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2011, 12:37:51 PM »

After reading through some of Russel's Why I am not a Christian, the only adjective that I can come up with to describe his work is "asinine". Honestly, I didn't find it any more impressive than Dawkin's vapid and shallow approach. Some of his silliness relates to the fact that he a. doesn't understand causality, and b. thinks that because some Christians did some bad stuff, Christiany must be false.
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2011, 12:52:31 PM »

With all due respect to the man, Why I Am Not a Christian is pretty juvenile.

Why is respect due to him?

He couldn't prove 2 + 2 = 4
Was a philanderer.
Mocked his betters.
Berated his colleagues.
Wrote "philosophical" texts which were laughable and thus relegated himself to a general lecturer on the topic.

Even when one his so-called students, Wittgenstein, started actually doing some interesting work, he turned on him.

Bertrand Russell was a gifted mathematician born entirely too late. Just smoke from the failed project of logical positivism.

Trust me, the level of thought in Why is pretty much what Russell can bring to bear to most subjects outside his remarkable work within set theory.

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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2011, 03:53:42 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Yeah, these guys are blah blah woof woof..

meh.

I took a class when I was at university which was a seminar discussing religion and science, we read these sensationalist muckrakers Dawkins and Russell and some other cool things like Nietzsche etc and also some good religious literature like Yogananda and even some Patristic writings..

The best part was the in-class discussions and also we had to make a movie, y'all might really enjoy the one I made, it is based on the Tewahedo Liturgy to expound a sincerely Christian and patristic refute to the claims of science against God
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5404061303020962502#

Anyways, these guys Russell and Dawkins were yawningly boring!! No substance, no good arguments, not even well written or good style.  It was needlessly hostile and antagonistic and rabble rousing, and they did not really go into anything more than a bunch of drawn out, unsubstantiated gripe and criticism of their own straw-man fallacies.

I expected more.  Though I was equally let down with the modern scientific Christian apologists like Francis Collins, who is in fact a BRILLIANT scientist and a sincere Christian, but a lousy theologian and not very insightful when it comes to making connections between science and theology. The combination was disastrous, I spent a lot of time in those discussions doing damage control and elucidating both an honest and more accurate picture of Christianity and also science, because I am well versed in both traditions. 

I honestly wish a really good argument based not on fallacies and misunderstandings, but on concrete, detailed science combined with substantial theology would come out, which would really get us Christians on our toes.  These guys could never discredit our faith, and in fact they are an extreme minority of even scientists, but they can make good arguments which get us to really learn about of the depth of detail of our Faith.  What if Galileo had never been bold enough to challenge the Ptolemaic model against the Church? Whereas these guys, they are like the class clown in the fourth grade, you really should not feed them attention, it only makes it worse Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2011, 04:06:24 PM »

Quote
These guys could never discredit our faith, and in fact they are an extreme minority of even scientists

Out of curiosity, what do you mean here? A huge chunk of scientists are atheists (~45%) or agnostics (~15%), and the rate of disbelief is even higher among the so-called "elite" scientists. Do you simply mean that the extreme majority of scientists aren't writing controversial books about their disbelief?
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2011, 04:14:15 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Quote
These guys could never discredit our faith, and in fact they are an extreme minority of even scientists

Out of curiosity, what do you mean here? A huge chunk of scientists are atheists (~45%) or agnostics (~15%), and the rate of disbelief is even higher among the so-called "elite" scientists. Do you simply mean that the extreme majority of scientists aren't writing controversial books about their disbelief?
By extreme I was referring to these extremists like Dawkins and Russell, who by no means represent a majority of science.  Even the numbers you quoted me correlate to numbers I once read casually in an article in Nature where in response to surveys, upwards of 60% of active, research scientists were either Church going Christians or at least people of varying degrees of faith.  Further, even amongst atheist scientists, most of them are sensible people who respect the beliefs of others without having to be hostile about anything.  Most scientists are not spending their entire lives trying to disprove God with all their scientific study, more likely they are busy studying reproductive morphology of toads in the Florida Everglades or trying to make sense of all these wonderfully new details, multispectral images of the Sun Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2011, 04:29:33 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Quote
These guys could never discredit our faith, and in fact they are an extreme minority of even scientists

Out of curiosity, what do you mean here? A huge chunk of scientists are atheists (~45%) or agnostics (~15%), and the rate of disbelief is even higher among the so-called "elite" scientists. Do you simply mean that the extreme majority of scientists aren't writing controversial books about their disbelief?
By extreme I was referring to these extremists like Dawkins and Russell, who by no means represent a majority of science.  Even the numbers you quoted me correlate to numbers I once read casually in an article in Nature where in response to surveys, upwards of 60% of active, research scientists were either Church going Christians or at least people of varying degrees of faith.  Further, even amongst atheist scientists, most of them are sensible people who respect the beliefs of others without having to be hostile about anything.  Most scientists are not spending their entire lives trying to disprove God with all their scientific study, more likely they are busy studying reproductive morphology of toads in the Florida Everglades or trying to make sense of all these wonderfully new details, multispectral images of the Sun Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie

Where I work, we DO Science! lulz. And I can say we have the whole spectrum of wackos from 7 day creation scientists to Darwin fish bumper magnet folks, all with science PhDs. The creation scientists are by far the most fun to spin up.
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2011, 05:11:25 PM »

It probably should have been entitled Why I'm not a Protestant.
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2011, 05:19:36 PM »

Could this be a thread where Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants finally agree?

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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2011, 09:21:16 PM »

Umm I don't care what others called him or what his wikipedia article says. He is thoroughly a mathematician and in within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of "thought". A cardiologist would have the general skill set to work in that area.

Whatever you do, please don't clip words together to defend that fact he was a "philosopher".
Horsefeathers. The "analytic tradition" to which you refer is a branch of philosophy known as analytic philosophy, which is considered to have been founded by G. Frege, G. E. Moore, and Russell. One who is credited as a co-founder a philosophical school is reasonably thought of as a philosopher in the eyes of most of the human race, including the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy I cited, even if he was arguably wrong about many things (which is indeed arguable of Russell in that the Logical Positivism he advocated is effectively dead in philosophy, and even if his arguments in Why I Am Not a Christian are primarily contra positions unique to the medieval Scholastic tradition and Reformed Protestantism. Rather than say he wasn't a philosopher I would maintain that he wasn't competent as a theologian, and that this weakness was telling in his presumed critique of Christianity). You are asserting a lot and demonstrating nothing. Can you document from a respectable source your inflammatory claim that Russell was not a philosopher? BTW, that was not wikipedia I cited. Any Encyclopedia of Philosophy you care to consult will list Russell as a philosopher. That's my documentation. Where is your documentation? Or is it on your own authority you state your claim?

This is no different in my book from those who claim from the other side -to cite one glaring example- that e.g. William Lane Craig "isn't a philosopher" or "isn't a biblical scholar," ad nauseum though he received a PhD in philosophy of religion under John Hick, and a second PhD in theology under Wolfhart Pannenberg at the University of Munich, and has published widely in peer-reviewed academic journals.

If someone wants to say they disagree with Craig or Russell, or consider certain opinions they hold to be rubbish, not compelling, etc., that's just fine, but to say they are not philosophers is to me as immature as it is inaccurate, and unbecoming of a Christian spiritually exhorted by the faith to avoid false witness against persons. Just internet flame rhetoric to supposedly undo the credibility of individuals in their fields merely on the basis that the usually amateur poster has a conceptual axe or two to grind.

And no, a cardiologist would not have the skill set to publish in the area of analytic philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/analytic/
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2011, 09:31:34 PM »

Umm I don't care what others called him or what his wikipedia article says. He is thoroughly a mathematician and in within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of "thought". A cardiologist would have the general skill set to work in that area.

Whatever you do, please don't clip words together to defend that fact he was a "philosopher".
Horsefeathers. The "analytic tradition" to which you refer is a branch of philosophy known as analytic philosophy, which is considered to have been founded by G. Frege, G. E. Moore, and Russell. One who is credited as a co-founder a philosophical school is reasonably thought of as a philosopher, even if he was arguably wrong about many things (which is indeed arguable in that the Logical Positivism he advocated is effectively dead in philosophy). You are asserting a lot and demonstrating nothing. Can you document from a respectable source your inflammatory claim that Russell was not a philosopher? BTW, that was not wikipedia I cited. Where is your documentation? Or is it on your own authority you state your claim?

This is no different in my book from those who claim from the other side that William Lane Craig "isn't a philosopher" or "isn't a biblical scholar," though he received a PhD in philosophy of religion under John Hick, and a second PhD in theology under Wolfhart Pannenberg, and has published widely in peer-reviewed academic journals.

If someone wants to say they disagree with Craig or Russell, or consider certain opinions they hold, that's fine, but to say they are not philosophers is to me as childish and rude as it is inaccurate. Just internet flame rhetoric to supposedly undo the credibility of individuals in their fields merely on the basis that the usually amateur poster has a conceptual axe or two to grind.

And no, a cardiologist would not have the skill set to publish in the area of analytic philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/analytic/

Yes on my authority, of course. What would I care about what some document says about someone's career and profession I know more about than some silly excerpt.

Please show me where outside of his general lectures on philosophy and his History he made a serious dent in thought outside of mathematics. The lulz from his Why alone place him way outside serious consideration as a thinker outside of mathematics.

And I don't need a genealogy of the "analytic tradition". Thanks, dude, but I've suffered through a lot of source material.

And "Analytical" philosophy is just bad computer science (read cognitive science) for the most part nowadays.

Yes that is inflammatory.





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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2011, 09:37:33 PM »

Umm I don't care what others called him or what his wikipedia article says. He is thoroughly a mathematician and in within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of "thought". A cardiologist would have the general skill set to work in that area.

Whatever you do, please don't clip words together to defend that fact he was a "philosopher".
Horsefeathers. The "analytic tradition" to which you refer is a branch of philosophy known as analytic philosophy, which is considered to have been founded by G. Frege, G. E. Moore, and Russell. One who is credited as a co-founder a philosophical school is reasonably thought of as a philosopher, even if he was arguably wrong about many things (which is indeed arguable in that the Logical Positivism he advocated is effectively dead in philosophy). You are asserting a lot and demonstrating nothing. Can you document from a respectable source your inflammatory claim that Russell was not a philosopher? BTW, that was not wikipedia I cited. Where is your documentation? Or is it on your own authority you state your claim?

This is no different in my book from those who claim from the other side that William Lane Craig "isn't a philosopher" or "isn't a biblical scholar," though he received a PhD in philosophy of religion under John Hick, and a second PhD in theology under Wolfhart Pannenberg, and has published widely in peer-reviewed academic journals.

If someone wants to say they disagree with Craig or Russell, or consider certain opinions they hold, that's fine, but to say they are not philosophers is to me as childish and rude as it is inaccurate. Just internet flame rhetoric to supposedly undo the credibility of individuals in their fields merely on the basis that the usually amateur poster has a conceptual axe or two to grind.

And no, a cardiologist would not have the skill set to publish in the area of analytic philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/analytic/

Yes on my authority, of course. What would I care about what some document says about someone's career and profession I know more about than some silly excerpt.

Please show me where outside of his general lectures on philosophy and his History he made a serious dent in thought outside of mathematics. The lulz from his Why alone place him way outside serious consideration as a thinker outside of mathematics.

And I don't need a genealogy of the "analytic tradition". Thanks, dude, but I've suffered through a lot of source material.

And "Analytical" philosophy is just bad computer science (read cognitive science) for the most part nowadays.

Yes that is inflammatory.

And don't include anything Wittgenstein allowed him to add his name to.
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2011, 10:17:42 PM »

Umm I don't care what others called him or what his wikipedia article says. He is thoroughly a mathematician and in within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of "thought". A cardiologist would have the general skill set to work in that area.

Whatever you do, please don't clip words together to defend that fact he was a "philosopher".
Horsefeathers. The "analytic tradition" to which you refer is a branch of philosophy known as analytic philosophy, which is considered to have been founded by G. Frege, G. E. Moore, and Russell. One who is credited as a co-founder a philosophical school is reasonably thought of as a philosopher, even if he was arguably wrong about many things (which is indeed arguable in that the Logical Positivism he advocated is effectively dead in philosophy). You are asserting a lot and demonstrating nothing. Can you document from a respectable source your inflammatory claim that Russell was not a philosopher? BTW, that was not wikipedia I cited. Where is your documentation? Or is it on your own authority you state your claim?

This is no different in my book from those who claim from the other side that William Lane Craig "isn't a philosopher" or "isn't a biblical scholar," though he received a PhD in philosophy of religion under John Hick, and a second PhD in theology under Wolfhart Pannenberg, and has published widely in peer-reviewed academic journals.

If someone wants to say they disagree with Craig or Russell, or consider certain opinions they hold, that's fine, but to say they are not philosophers is to me as childish and rude as it is inaccurate. Just internet flame rhetoric to supposedly undo the credibility of individuals in their fields merely on the basis that the usually amateur poster has a conceptual axe or two to grind.

And no, a cardiologist would not have the skill set to publish in the area of analytic philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/analytic/

Yes on my authority, of course.
Is there any single academically respectable source on the planet you can cite that says Russell wasn't a philosopher?

Even one will do.

Quote from: Orthonorm
Please show me where outside of his general lectures on philosophy and his History he made a serious dent in thought outside of mathematics.
You maintain Russell wasn't a philosopher with no documentation, despite all the academic world saying otherwise.

You've already been shown that he is universally credited with having founded a philosophical school.

You've already been shown that his History of Philosophy won him the Nobel Prize for literature.

Here's another serious dent he made outside mathematics for you to summarily dismiss, since you asked for that. http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Russell/denoting/

Quote from: Orthonorm
And I don't need a genealogy of the "analytic tradition". Thanks, dude, but I've suffered through a lot of source material.

And "Analytical" philosophy is just bad computer science (read cognitive science) for the most part nowadays.
So in your view analytic philosophy doesn't even reach the heights of good computer science; as an academic discipline it is just "bad" stuff.

Funny how William Lane Craig advocates that philosophy students who wish to defend theism should specialize in analytic philosophy. Why do you suppose that is, Orthonorm?


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« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2011, 12:17:05 AM »

Umm I don't care what others called him or what his wikipedia article says. He is thoroughly a mathematician and in within the Anglo-American analytic tradition of "thought". A cardiologist would have the general skill set to work in that area.

Whatever you do, please don't clip words together to defend that fact he was a "philosopher".
Horsefeathers. The "analytic tradition" to which you refer is a branch of philosophy known as analytic philosophy, which is considered to have been founded by G. Frege, G. E. Moore, and Russell. One who is credited as a co-founder a philosophical school is reasonably thought of as a philosopher, even if he was arguably wrong about many things (which is indeed arguable in that the Logical Positivism he advocated is effectively dead in philosophy). You are asserting a lot and demonstrating nothing. Can you document from a respectable source your inflammatory claim that Russell was not a philosopher? BTW, that was not wikipedia I cited. Where is your documentation? Or is it on your own authority you state your claim?

This is no different in my book from those who claim from the other side that William Lane Craig "isn't a philosopher" or "isn't a biblical scholar," though he received a PhD in philosophy of religion under John Hick, and a second PhD in theology under Wolfhart Pannenberg, and has published widely in peer-reviewed academic journals.

If someone wants to say they disagree with Craig or Russell, or consider certain opinions they hold, that's fine, but to say they are not philosophers is to me as childish and rude as it is inaccurate. Just internet flame rhetoric to supposedly undo the credibility of individuals in their fields merely on the basis that the usually amateur poster has a conceptual axe or two to grind.

And no, a cardiologist would not have the skill set to publish in the area of analytic philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/analytic/

Yes on my authority, of course.
Is there any single academically respectable source on the planet you can cite that says Russell wasn't a philosopher?

Even one will do.

Quote from: Orthonorm
Please show me where outside of his general lectures on philosophy and his History he made a serious dent in thought outside of mathematics.
You maintain Russell wasn't a philosopher with no documentation, despite all the academic world saying otherwise.

You've already been shown that he is universally credited with having founded a philosophical school.

You've already been shown that his History of Philosophy won him the Nobel Prize for literature.

Here's another serious dent he made outside mathematics for you to summarily dismiss, since you asked for that. http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Russell/denoting/

Quote from: Orthonorm
And I don't need a genealogy of the "analytic tradition". Thanks, dude, but I've suffered through a lot of source material.

And "Analytical" philosophy is just bad computer science (read cognitive science) for the most part nowadays.
So in your view analytic philosophy doesn't even reach the heights of good computer science; as an academic discipline it is just "bad" stuff.

Funny how William Lane Craig advocates that philosophy students who wish to defend theism should specialize in analytic philosophy. Why do you suppose that is, Orthonorm?

Anyone who says "horse feathers" is not to be taken seriously.

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« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2011, 04:04:25 AM »

Anyone who says "horse feathers" is not to be taken seriously.
I was tempted to cite Shakespeare's penchant for neologisms in defense, or to appeal to Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen from whom I "borrowed" the phrase, but it's probably better to simply crawl away in my awful shame...
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« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2011, 06:31:48 AM »

What an ugly video.
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