Two women in Dong Van market.


It seems to me now that I am sitting in a chair, at a table of a certain shape, on which I see sheets of paper with writing or print.

Bertrand Russell (1912)

Tables are paradigms of ordinary objects: familiar, handy, unassuming. At the very least our daily worlds are constituted from such objects. However, some philosophers use the word much more widely, indeed allowing it to include all that there is. They do this because what we collectively encounter is what we have collectively created: the objects of daily life. We might casually assume that these objects are unambiguous entities quite independent of humans. But that is far from the case, for consciousness composes objects, as a composer creates music, taking from our sensations its notes, and from memory its themes. Our culture endows the table with meaning, our sensations give it density and colour. There is no ‘table’ there. Our objects are the very stuff of human experience, they are ours, and cannot be found in a world subsisting independently of consciousness.


The photo was taken in the market at Đồng Văn in northern Vietnam. The people are from the H’Mong ethnic group. The quotation is from Russell's “Problems of Philosophy” (p. 10), where he is about to argue that human objects bear little relation to that which is independent of humans.


Saturday 12th
January 2019

Murphy on duty

Details of the
Greeting Card

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