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By Lee Braver
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Additional resources for A Thing of This World: A History of Continental Anti-Realism
19 Dummett thus deﬁnes realism as the commitment to bivalence independent of our ability to verify or acquire sufﬁcient evidence, and this doctrine connects to R3, that there is one true account of the world. The Book of All True Sentences has already been written and all possible sentences are either in it or not; the most we can hope for is to transcribe it. Our ability to determine the truth or falsity of sentences is wholly irrelevant here; truth is radically non-epistemic (Putnam 1978, 125; see also Moran 2000, 75) or veriﬁcation-transcendent (Dummett 1978, 146).
In other words, the mind’s passivity (R5) assures us of the accurate capturing (R2) of reality (R1). This is why Russell commits himself fully to R5: “I think we can, however imperfectly, mirror the world, like Leibniz’s monads; and I think it is the duty of the philosopher to make himself as undistorting a mirror as he can. . To achieve such impartiality [as a God might have] is impossible for us, but we can travel a certain distance towards it. To show the road to this end is the supreme duty of the philosopher” (Russell 1959a, 213, bracketed comment added).
For a paragon of gnomic obscurity as well as a lack of argumentation, two criticisms often hurled at continental thinkers, one need look no farther than the greatest analytic philosopher, Wittgenstein, of whom Russell wrote (certainly with some personal animus): “He, himself, as usual, is oracular and emits his opinion as if it were a Czar’s ukase, but humbler folk can hardly content themselves with this procedure” (Russell 1959a, 118). Common sense is largely a matter of the ideas one is used to, as frequent handling rubs off the edges of strangeness.