Comparative Analysis of Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein's Description of Skepticism
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Bertrand Russel and Ludwig Wittgenstein's personal and professional relationship is well known, with Russel having famously sponsored Wittgenstein's submission of Tractatus Logic-Philosophicus for PhD credit at Cambridge University. Both philosophers were important early contributors to the theory of logical atomism, and although they would both go on to reject many of the ideas central to logical atomism, their work nevertheless represented an important break from philosophical Idealism and set the stage for the developments of the twentieth century (Hylton 105, 116). However, despite the general agreement between Russel's The Philosophy of Logical Atomism and Wittgenstein's Tractatus, the philosophers disagree on the question of skepticism. For Russel, skepticism is an irrefutable position, whereas Wittgenstein characteristically describes skepticism as being "palpably senseless" (Wittgenstein 187). Fully understanding Wittgenstein's meaning requires an analysis of the role of skepticism in both Russel and Wittgenstein's work, but ultimately one can say with relative confidence that Wittgenstein is largely successful in dissolving the problem of skepticism, in that he is able to demonstrate how the notion of skepticism falls within a category of thought exercise that Wittgenstein sees as outside the useful parameters of philosophy because it does not actually contain any kind of sense or meaning.
Examining Wittgenstein's description of skepticism as a kind of