I am reading Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy" and in the chapter on Pythagoras the author commented that the influence of mathematics on philosophy is unmistakable and unfortunate. As a neophyte I am not formally studied in philosophy and was curious why Russell would characterize the impact of mathematics on philosophy as unfortunate.

Perhaps someone schooled in philosophy could shed some light. Would it be incorrect to assume that mathematics and logic would be considered intrinsic to philosophical thought?   

Tags: Bertrand, Russell, mathematics

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You don't need math to get a bad conclusion from a flawed setup. 

I suspect that he came to realize as time went by that the really sticky issues in philosophy had to do with ethics and human rights, subject areas not very susceptible to being described and analyzed in a rigorously deterministic way. I think he eventually came to agree with G.E. Moore that ethical disputes are really about attitudes not facts. Factual matters can be set up and operated on using logic. Attitudes fall into areas where logic doesn't work so well, like psychology, personal preferences, folkways, etc. 

I am inclined to agree with this explanation. Hopefully I will come to understand more by what he meant as I progress through his book.   

Exactly my point. If you are going to use math for Philosophy, use it correctly. Psychology very often relies on scientific methods, logical contructs, statistical data to reach conclusions. Is the defendant sane or not? Attitudes, personal preference, folkways are probably the actual underlying factors for such a determination, however we like to present data and analysis to make such decisions seem rational. Trained as an engineer, I used to get a good laugh when I read some of the dissertations that applied scientific methods to softer subjects. They seemed to be so deterministic.



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