• Thanushree Anil


An important development in analytic philosophy was logical atomism.

What is the analytical philosophy?

Analytic philosophy, also called linguistic philosophy, a loosely related set of approaches to philosophical problems, dominant in Anglo-American philosophy from the early 20th century, that emphasizes the study of language and the logical analysis of concepts.


In the earliest centuries, philosophers thought of reforming the language or analysing the language to bring alterations or improvements to solve philosophical problems.

There are a gazillion problems that we face every day why are philosophical problems even regarded?

We all use language to communicate, people put in efforts for developing their communication skills, communication comes from our thoughts, thoughts from the words, words from the language.

Think of this, we don’t have a word for how much we love the smell earth after the rains, or we don’t have a term called love, how would we express our thoughts precisely?

Hundreds of philosophy exist to lead mankind from leading an ignorant life and to understand the universe and its alignment with us.

Now our hero of the article, Bertrand Russell has even written a book titled, ‘The problems of philosophy’.

Bertrand Russell tags his philosophy as logical atomism.

Straightaway your mind questions a sentence with atoms and philosophy in the same sentence. Isn't philosophy something when a famous person says a bunch of words that we don’t use in daily vocabulary?

Apart from that adding physics to it?

If pineapple on pizzas can exist then definitely science alongside with philosophy can exist.

The branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time, and space is known as metaphysics.

According to logical atomism, all truths are ultimately dependent upon a layer of atomic facts, which consist either of a simple particular exhibiting a quality, or multiple simple particulars standing in a relation.

Russell says that his reason for calling his doctrine logical atomism is because:

the atoms that I wish to arrive at as the sort of the last residue in analysis are logical atoms and not physical atoms. Some of them will be what I call “particulars”—such things as little patches of colour or sounds, momentary things—and some of them will be predicates or relations and so on. The point is that the atom I wish to arrive at is the atom of logical analysis, not the atom of physical analysis.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell

Basics of Logical Atomism

Unless we are in the movie ‘Inception’ we don’t have mind control over what happens to us or to be precise the reality that we face every day. Russel tells us that they are particulars, qualities, and relations, and he is evidently relying on the fact that, when we look at reality from a logical point of view, it seems to reduce to particular things possessing certain qualities and standing in certain relations to one another.

In simpler words, everything is related to one another, particulars as in a person have qualities and reactions that he/she possesses. All reality and no fiction.

Russell’s choice of the words logical atomism to describe this viewpoint was, in fact, particularly apt. By the word logical Russell meant to sustain the position, described above, that through analysis—particularly with the aid of symbolic logic—the underlying logical structure of language can be revealed and that this disclosure, in turn, would show the fundamental structure of that which language is used to describe. By the word atomism, Russell meant to emphasize the particulate nature of the results that his analyses and those of Wittgenstein seemed to yield.

Ludwig Wittgenstein had studied with Russell before World War I. Wittgenstein’s own version of logical atomism, presented in his difficult work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922), he was tremendously influential in the subsequent development of analytic philosophy.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Excerpts of Bertrand Russel sayings have been taken from the book: The Philosophy of Logical Atomism

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