a word of explanation and apology


Senior Member
Bertrand Russell- A History of Western Philosophy

Can you explain what does 'a word of explanation and apology' mean? Thanks in advance.

In the case of the men whom I have discussed, I have mentioned what seemed relevant as regards their lives and their social surroundings; I have even sometimes recorded intrinsically unimportant details when I considered them illustrative of a man or of his times.
Finally, I owe a word of explanation and apology to specialists on any part of my enormous subject. It is obviously impossible to know as much about every philosopher as can be known about him by a man whose field is less wide;I have no doubt that every single philosopher whom I have mentioned, with the exception of Leibniz, is better known to many men than to me.
  • scoiattolino

    English - England
    "a word" is functioning as a quantifier here. He is effectively saying "Finally, I owe you a small explanation and an apology. I'm now going to give you that explanation and apology in just a few words".

    He is acknowledging that he is talking about an enormous subject and that there will be specialists/experts within this subject who will know more about parts of it than him. He is therefore apologising to these experts in case he is over-generalising, and acknowledges that he could not possibly know everything.
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