I have a specific question in regards to understanding “The Problems of Philosophy” by Russell.

In the third chapter he writes:

But the space of science is neutral as between touch and sight; thus it cannot be either the space of touch or the space of sight

I do not understand this. Does anyone mind rewording, rephrasing it or explaining it?

I understand (I think) the overall point he is making: our experience of space, is not space itself, it is not like matter is in our experience of space, if matter is to be shown as independent of our experiences then it must be somewhere and this somewhere must be public ‘space’.

Just that particular line I don’t understand.

Thank you.

Basically what he means here

But the space of science is neutral as between touch and sight; thus it cannot be either the space of touch or the space of sight

Refers to how there are 2 kinds of "spaces", there's a personal space, an individuals personal view and space, and then there's a "real space" which is the scientific space, different and completely detached from a personal "space".

Now this sounds a bit complicated, but simply said, There is a difference between what someone sees an object is and what it is in reality. Lets take an object for an example: a simple coin. we all know a coin is a circular object but it will look like an oval to a person unless we are directly in front of the coin, this is the persons own "space of sight" but the "real" shape of the coin stays as a circular object, this is it's "Space of science".

Rewording that phrase could be many different things, such as

Space of science is unchanged no matter the observant, it's form does not change based on perception, thus it cannot be defined by the space of touch or the space of sight of an individual.

As Bertrand Russell himself says in the chapter

The space of science, therefore, though connected with the spaces we see and feel, is not identical with them, and the manner of its connexion requires investigation.

Also clears up the meaning of the difference between space of science and space of touch and sight.

See Phenomenalism :

objects in space are identical to our representations,

vs Physicalism :

everything is physical.

In a nutshell, our experience is made of sense-data but science deals with objects (matter) existing outside of us in the real world.

These objects are located in the space of physics, the space described by the geometry used by our current physical theory (the euclidean geometry for classical physics as well as the non-euclidean one for reletivistic physics).

It is essential to science that its matter should be in a space, but the space in which it is cannot be exactly the space we see or feel.

See here : in the "world" of our experience there are colours and sounds, whle in the physical world there are waves of different wavelenghts.


Note. See also Primary/secondary quality distinction.

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