Russell’s Mind

Bertrand Russell

“Many years ago I visited Bertrand Russell in his rooms at Trinity College and he showed me a manuscript of his in which there was not a single correction for many pages. With the help of his pen, he had instructed the paper. This is very different indeed from what I do. My own manuscripts are full of corrections – so full that it is easy to see that I am working by something like trial and error; by more or less random fluctuations from which I select what appears to me fitting. We may pose the question whether Russell did not do something similar, though only in his mind, and perhaps not even consciously, and at any rate very rapidly…

“We may indeed conjecture that Bertrand Russell produced almost as many trial formulations as I do, but that his mind worked more quickly than mine in trying them out and rejecting the non-fitting verbal candidates.”

— Karl Popper, “Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind”, Dialectica, vol. 32, no. 3-4, 1978, p. 347.

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