B. Russell's An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth PDF

By B. Russell

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If we only knew present occur­ rences which are in fact related to past occurrences, we should never know of this relationship. Clearly we do sometimes, in some sense, know the past, not by inference from the present, but in the same direct way in which we know the present. For if this were not the case, nothing in the present could lead us to suppose that there was a past, or even to understand the supposition. Let us revert to the proposition: "if x precedes y, y does not precede x". istic convention.

49 AN INQUIRY INTO ME A N I N G A N D TRUTH We must therefore say eirher that my present experience is indistinguishable from my knowing it while it is present, or that, as a rule, we do not know our present experiences. On the whole, I prefer to use the word "know" in a sense which implies that the knowing is different from what is known, and to accept the consequence that , as a rule, we do not know our present experi­ ences. We are to say, then, that it is one thi ng to see a puddle, and another to know that I see a puddle.

The pro­ position "x precedes y" can be asserted on the basis of expe­ rien� We are saying that, if this experience occurs, no experience · will ·occur such as would lead to y precedes x". It is obvious that, however we re-state the matter, there must always be a negation somewhere in our statement; and I think it is also fairly obvious that negation brings us into the realm of language. " When we say )' does not precede x , it might seem that we _ ' ' * To decide this question, we need a discussion of we shall come later.

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An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth by B. Russell


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