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As can easily be seen, the impact of these three schools of contemporary philosophy — the linguistic, the logical analytical, and the logical empiricist — has been largely negative, critical, and destructive, especially with regard to theological beliefs, metaphysical systems, and value judgment. Thus the particular growing edges of contemporary philosophy have contributed their full share to the shaking of the foundations of Western Civilization. But, during the last few decades they have presented less of a united front than before. The differences which have appeared have come largely from a rethinking of the status and role of value, and these differences have found expression in a large number of philosophers both in England and the United States. One of the most articulate and influential of the men who have been identified with the whole critical movement is Bertrand Russell. While he has characteristically never accepted the label of any school of thought, it is with this movement of criticism and analysis that he is most closely associated. His thought and his life, as he himself has said, is "reminiscent of that of the aristocratic rebels of the early nineteenth century." [excerpt]

Additional Resources

An excerpt from Russell's book, Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays, has been removed due to copyright restriction. A complete earlier edition of his book is available here.


This is a part of Section XXII: Philosophical Meaning. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.