In The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell argues for reality; that there really is a world out there. In other words, there is a reality outside our sense-data and our thoughts. Upon concluding that this reality exists, Russell writes:
The argument which has led us to this conclusion is doubtless less strong than we could wish, but it is typical of many philosophical arguments, and it is therefore worth while to consider briefly its general character and validity. All knowledge, we find, must be built upon our instinctive beliefs, and if these are rejected, nothing is left. But among our instinctive beliefs some are much stronger than others, while many have, by habit and association, become entangled with other beliefs, not really instinctive, but falsely supposed to be part of what is believed instinctively.
Philosophy should show us the hierarchy of our instinctive beliefs, beginning with those we hold most strongly, and persisting each as much isolated and as free from irrelevant additions as possible. It should take care to show that, in the form in which they are finally set forth, our instinctive beliefs do not clash, but form a harmonious system. There can never be any reason for rejecting one instinctive belief except that it clashes with others; thus, if they are found to harmonize, the whole system becomes worthy of acceptance.
So much for Descartes and starting with doubt. So much for Kant and idealism. The last thing I would expect to hear from myself when reading Bertrand Russell is an “Amen!”, but I must confess that’s what happened. This defense of “instinctive beliefs” is very Chestertonian. Or perhaps, G. K. Chesterton was a bit Russellian in this respect. Of course, it goes without saying that while their thought may have coincided on this point, the conclusions drawn by these two English contemporaries were poles apart.