ONT Re: Russell's Theory Of Knowledge
RTOK. Note 2
| We come now to the last problem which has to be treated
| in this chapter, namely: What is the logical structure of
| the fact which consists in a given subject understanding a
| given proposition? The structure of an understanding varies
| according to the proposition understood. At present, we are
| only concerned with the understanding of atomic propositions;
| the understanding of molecular propositions will be dealt with
| in Part 3.
| Let us again take the proposition "A and B are similar".
| It is plain, to begin with, that the 'complex'
| "A and B being similar", even if it exists,
| does not enter in, for if it did, we could
| not understand false propositions, because
| in their case there is no such complex.
| It is plain, also, from what has been said, that we cannot understand
| the proposition unless we are acquainted with A and B and similarity
| and the form "something and something have some relation". Apart
| from these four objects, there does not appear, so far as we can
| see, to be any object with which we need be acquainted in order
| to understand the proposition.
| It seems to follow that these four objects, and these only, must be
| united with the subject in one complex when the subject understands
| the proposition. It cannot be any complex composed of them that
| enters in, since they need not form any complex, and if they do,
| we need not be acquainted with it. But they themselves must
| all enter in, since if they did not, it would be at least
| theoretically possible to understand the proposition
| without being acquainted with them.
| In this argument, I appeal to the principle that,
| when we understand, those objects with which we
| must be acquainted when we understand, and those
| only, are object-constituents (i.e. constituents
| other than understanding itself and the subject)
| of the understanding-complex.
| Russell, TOK, pp. 116-117.
| Bertrand Russell, 'Theory of Knowledge: The 1913 Manuscript',
| edited by Elizabeth Ramsden Eames in collaboration with Kenneth Blackwell,
| Routledge, London, UK, 1992. First published, George Allen & Unwin, 1984.