Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

      Russell was probably the most overrated philosopher of the 20th century. He could never think any subject through, and so constantly changed his position on virtually every major philosophical issue. However flighty and shallow, he was certainly one of the most influential philosophers of the century. (That in itself says something about 20th century bourgeois philosophy, doesn't it!)

      In Russell's first philosophical period he was a Hegelian idealist. But in his second period, and probably under the influence of Leibniz (who he had studied and wrote a book on) he developed a theory known as "logical atomism". He also argued, in the skeptical empiricist tradition, that the only things we can be aware of are "sense data" (and not any reality that may lie behind such "sense data"). Later, he abandoned these views, along with the many ethical theories he championed at various times, and more or less admitted that he didn't really know what to make of the world. This, of course, is not in keeping with philosophical tradition which requires you to fake it even when you are perplexed.

Said Lord Russell to Lady Cecilia,
I certainly wish I could feel ya,
    Your data excite me
    It would surely delight me
To sense your unsensed sensibilia.

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