Bertrand Arthur William Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell

Born: 1872. Died: 1970.


- The Theory of Types: Sentences may not be only true or false but meaningless because of inconcsistent uses of language.

- The Theory of Descriptions: Existence is a property of propositional functions; it is not a property of things.

- All knowledge of the world is derived from sense data.

- We do not know objects directly, but only indirectly, through sensations.

- The right action is always that which will, from a purely objective point of view, have the best consequences, that is, the one that will produce the greatest good and the least evil.

- Good is whatever produces the greatest satisfaction for the greatest number; one form of satisfaction is as good as any other.

- Determination is probably true, but it does not follow from this that human beings are not responsible for what they do.

- Morality is not dependent upon God's approval or disapproval.

- All of the proofs for the existence of God are fallacious.

- Christ is not divine, and Christianity is a particularly cruel and inhuman religion.

- There is a very little likelyhood that there is an afterlife.


Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, logician, essayist, and social critic, was born at Trelleck on 18th May, 1872. His parents were Viscount Amberley and Katherine, daughter of 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley. At the age of three he was left an orphan. His father had wished him to be brought up as an agnostic; to avoid this he was made a ward of Court, and brought up by his grandmother. Instead of being sent to school he was taught by governesses and tutors, and thus acquired a perfect knowledge of French and German. In 1890 he went into residence at Trinity College, Cambridge, and after being a very high Wrangler and obtaining a First Class with distinction in philosophy he was elected a fellow of his college in 1895. But he had already left Cambridge in the summer of 1894 and for some months was attache at the British embassy at Paris.

In December 1894 he married Miss Alys Pearsall Smith. After spending some months in Berlin studying social democracy, they went to live near Haslemere, where he devoted his time to the study of philosophy. In 1900 he visited the Mathematical Congress at Paris. He was impressed with the ability of the Italian mathematician Peano and his pupils, and immediately studied Peano's works. In 1903 he wrote his first important book, The Principles of Mathematics, and with his friend Dr. Alfred Whitehead proceeded to develop and extend the mathematical logic of Peano and Frege. From time to time he abandoned philosophy for politics.

In 1910 he was appointed lecturer at Trinity College. In the same year, he published his Anti-Suffragist Anxieties.

After the first World War broke out, he took an active part in the No Conscription fellowship and was fined £100 as the author of a leaflet criticizing a sentence of two years on a conscientious objector. His college deprived him of his lectureship in 1916. He was offered a post at Harvard university, but was refused a passport. He intended to give a course of lectures (afterwards published in America as Political Ideals, 1918) but was prevented by the military authorities. In 1918 he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for a pacifistic article he had written in the Tribunal. His Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919) was written in prison. His Analysis of Mind (1921) was the outcome of some lectures he gave in London, which were organized by a few friends who got up a subscription for the purpose.

In 1920 Russell had paid a short visit to Russia to study the conditions of Bolshevism on the spot. In the autumn of the same year he went to China to lecture on philosophy at the Peking university. On his return in September 1921, having been divorced by his first wife, he married Miss Dora Black. They lived for six years in Chelsea during the winter months and spent the summers near Lands End. In 1927 he and his wife started a school for young children, which they carried on until 1932. He succeeded to the earldom in 1931.

Although he became the third Earl Russell upon the death of his brother in 1931, Russell's radicalism continued to make him a controversial figure well through middle-age. While teaching in the United States in the late 1930s, he was offered a teaching appointment at City College, New York. (The appointment was revoked following a large number of public protests and a 1940 judicial decision which found him morally unfit to teach at the College.)

He was divorced by his second wife in 1935 and the following year married Patricia Helen Spence. In 1938 he went to the United States and during the next years taught at many of the country's leading universities. In 1940 he was involved in legal proceedings when his right to teach philosophy at the College of the City of New York was questioned because of his views on morality. When his appointment to the college faculty was cancelled, he accepted a five-year contract as a lecturer for the Barnes foundation, Merion, Pa., but the cancellation of this contract was announced in January 1943 by Albert C. Barnes, director of the foundation.

Russell was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1908, and re-elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1944.

Russell also ran unsuccessfully for Parliament (in 1907, 1922, and 1923) and, together with his second wife, founded and operated an experimental school during the late 1920s and early 1930s.

He was awarded the Sylvester medal of the Royal Society, 1934, the de Morgan medal of the London Mathematical Society in the same year, the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1950.

In 1954 he delivered his famous "Man's Peril" broadcast on the BBC, condemning the Bikini H-bomb tests. A year later, together with Albert Einstein, he released the Russell-Einstein Manifesto calling for the curtailment of nuclear weapons. In 1957 he was a prime organizer of the first Pugwash Conference, which brought together a large number of scientists concerned about the nuclear issue. He became the founding president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958 and was once again imprisoned, this time in connection with anti-nuclear protests in 1961. The media coverage surrounding his conviction only served to enhance Russell's reputation and to further inspire the many idealistic youths who were sympathetic to his anti-war and anti-nuclear protests.

During these controversial years Russell also wrote many of the books that brought him to the attention of popular audiences. These include his Principles of Social Reconstruction (1916), A Free Man's Worship (1923), On Education (1926), Why I Am Not a Christian (1927), Marriage and Morals (1929), The Conquest of Happiness (1930), The Scientific Outlook (1931), and Power: A New Social Analysis (1938).

Russell remained a prominent public figure until his death at the age of 97.

His most influential contributions include his defense of logicism (the view that mathematics is in some important sense reducible to logic), and his theories of definite descriptions and logical atomism. Along with George Edward Moore, Russell is generally recognized as one of the founders of analytic philosophy. Along with Kurt Gödel, he is also regularly credited with being one of the two most important logicians of the twentieth century.

Over the course of his long career, Russell made significant contributions, not just to logic and philosophy, but to a broad range of other subjects including education, history, political theory and religious studies. In addition, many of his writings on a wide variety of topics in both the sciences and the humanities have influenced generations of general readers.

After a life marked by controversy (including dismissals from both Trinity College, Cambridge, and City College, New York), Russell was awarded the Order of Merit in 1949 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. Also noted for his many spirited anti-war and anti-nuclear protests.

Russell's social influence stems from three main sources: his long-standing social activism, his many writings on the social and political issues of his day, and his popularizations of technical writings in philosophy and the natural sciences.

Among Russell's many popularizations are his two best selling works, The Problems of Philosophy (1912) and A History of Western Philosophy (1945). Both of these books, as well as his numerous but less famous books popularizing science, have done much to educate and inform generations of general readers. Naturally enough, Russell saw a link between education, in this broad sense, and social progress. At the same time, Russell is also famous for suggesting that a widespread reliance upon evidence, rather than upon superstition, would have enormous social consequences: "I wish to propose for the reader's favorable consideration," says Russell, "a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true."

Still, Russell is best known in many circles as a result of his campaigns against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and against western involvement in the Vietnam War during the 1950s and 1960s.

Major Books of Bertrand Arthur William Russell

- A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz, 1900
- A History of Western Philosophy, 1945
- The ABC of Atoms, 1923
- The ABC of Relativity, 1925
- An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry, 1897
- An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, 1940
- An Outline of Philosophy, 1927
- The Analysis of Matter, 1927
- The Analysis of Mind, 1921
- Authority and the Individual, 1949
- The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, 3 Volumes, 1967–1969
- The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, R.E. Egner and L.E. Denonn, editors, 1961
- Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind, 1960
- Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare, 1959
- The Conquest of Happiness, 1930
- Dear Bertrand Russell... A Selection of his Correspondence with the General Public 1950–1968, Barry Feinberg and Ronald Kasrils, editors, 1969
- Education and the Social Order, 1932
- Essays in Skepticism, 1963
- Fact and Fiction, 1961
- Freedom and Organization, 1814–1914, 1934
- German Social Democracy, 1896
- Has Man a Future?, 1961
- History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, 1946
- Human Knowledge:Its Scope and Limits, 1948
- Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954
- Icarus, or the Future of Science, 1924
- The Impact of Science on Society, 1952
- In Praise of Idleness, 1935
- Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, 1919
- Justice in War-time, 1916
- Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901–1950, Robert C. Marsh, editor, 1956
- Marriage and Morals, 1929
- My Philosophical Development, 1959
- Mysticism and Logic, 1918
- New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951
- Nightmares of Eminent Persons and Other Stories, 1954
- On Education, Especially in Early Childhood, 1926
- On the Philosophy of Science, Charles A. Fritz Jr., editor, 1965
- Our Knowledge of the External World, 1914
- Philosophical Essays, 1910
- Political Ideals, 1917
- Portraits from Memory and Other Essays, 1956
- Power: A New Social Analysis, 1938
- The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, 1920
- Principia Mathematica, with Arthur North Whitehead, Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3, 1910-1913
- The Principles of Mathematics, 1903
- Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916
- The Problem of China, 1922
- The Problems of Philosophy, 1912
- Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchims, and Syndicalism, 1918
- The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, with Dora Russell, 1923
- Religion and Science, 1935
- Satan in the Suburbs and Other Stories, 1953
- Sceptical Essays, 1928
- Selected Papers of Bertrand Russell, 1927
- The Scientific Outlook, 1931
- Unarmed Victory, 1963
- Understanding History and Other Essays, 1958
- Unpopular Essays, 1950
- War Crimes in Vietnam, 1967
- What I Believe, 1925
- Which Way to Peace?, 1936
- Why I Am Not a Christian, 1927
- Wisdom of the West, Paul Foulkes, editor, 1959

Major Articles of Bertrand Arthur William Russell

- 1900, Sur la logique des relations avec des applications à la théorie des séries, Rivista di matematica
- 1901, On the Notion of Order, Mind
- 1902, On Cardinal Numbers, with Alfred North Whitehead, American Journal of Mathematics
- 1905, On Denoting, Mind
- 1908, Mathematical Logic as Based on the Theory of Types, American Journal of Mathematics

Quotes from Bertrand Arthur William Russell

- "Righteousness cannot be born until self-righteousness is dead." (from "Justice in War-Time", 1916)

- "Almost all education has a political motive: It aims at strengthening some group, national or religious or even social, in the competition with other groups. It is this motive, in the main, which determines the subjects taught, the knowledge offered and the knowledge withheld, and also decides what mental habits the pupils are expected to acquire. Hardly anything is done to foster the inward growth of mind and spirit; in fact, those who have had most education are very often atrophied in their mental and spiritual life." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "The energetic men who make great fortunes seldom desire the actual money: they desire the sense of power through a contest, and the joy of successful activity." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "The essence of [Maria Montessori's] method consists in giving a choice of [activities], any one of which is interesting to most children, and all of which are instructive." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "If life is to be fully human it must serve some end which seems, in some sense, outside human life, some end which is impersonal and above mankind, such as God or truth or beauty. Those who best promote life do not have life for their purpose. They aim rather at what seems like a gradual incarnation, a bringing into our human existence of something eternal, something that appears to imagination to live in a heaven remote from strife and failure and the devouring jaws of Time." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "If the object [of education] were to make pupils think, rather than to make them accept certain conclusions, education would be conducted quite differently; there would be less ... instruction and more discussion." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "Instinct, mind and spirit are all essential to a full life; each has its own excellence and its own corruption. Each can attain a spurious excellence at the expense of the others; each has a tendency to encroach upon the others; but in the life which is to be sought all three will be developed in coordination, and intimately blended in a single harmonious whole." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "The life of the spirit demands readiness for renunciation when the occasion arises, but is in its essence as positive and as capable of enriching individual existence as mind and instinct are. It brings with it the joy of vision, of the mystery and profundity of the world, of the contemplation of life, and above all the joy of universal love." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth-more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless to the well-tried wisdom of the ages." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "The principal source of the harm done by the State, is the fact that power is its chief end." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "Socialism ... is too ready to suppose that better economic conditions will of themselves make men happy. It is not only more material goods that men need, but more freedom, more self-direction, more outlet for creativeness, more opportunity for the joy of life, more voluntary cooperation and less involuntary subservience to purposes not their own." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "War ... seems a mere madness, a collective insanity." (from "Principles of Social Reconstruction", 1916)

- "From childhood upwards, everything is done to make the minds of men and women conventional and sterile. And if, by misadventure, some spark of imagination remains, its unfortunate possessor is considered unsound and dangerous, worthy only of contempt in time of peace and of prison or a traitor's death in time of war." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1917)

- "The instinct of conventionality, horror of uncertainty, and vested interests, all militate against the acceptance of a new idea." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1917)

- "Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself." (from "Mysticism and Logic", 1918)

- "Every great study is not only an end [in] itself, but also a means of creating and sustaining a lofty habit of mind." (from "Mysticism and Logic", 1918)

- "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty-a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show." (from "Mysticism and Logic", 1918)

- "An irrational fear should never be simply let alone, but should be gradually overcome by familiarity with its fainter forms." (from "Education and the Good Life", 1926)

- "Children learn at their own pace, and it is a mistake to try to force them. The great incentive to effort, all through life, is experience of success after initial difficulties. The difficulties must not be so great as to cause discouragement, or so small as not to stimulate effort. From birth to death, this is a fundamental principle. It is by what we do ourselves that we learn." (from "Education and the Good Life", 1926)

- "It should be quite unnecessary to [reveal] the moral; the right telling of the story should be sufficient. Do not moralize, but let the facts produce their own moral in the child's mind." (from "Education and the Good Life", 1926)

- "More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given." (from "Education and the Good Life", 1926)

- "No one gossips about other people's secret virtues." (from "On Education: Especially in Early Childhood", 1926)

- "Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities." (from "On Education: Especially in Early Childhood", 1926)

- "An honest politician will not be tolerated by a democracy unless he is very stupid." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Democracy, as conceived by politicians, is a form of government, that is to say, it is a method of making people do what their leaders wish under the impression that they are doing what they themselves wish." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Education should have two objects: first, to give definite knowledge, reading and writing, language and mathematics, and so on; secondly, to create those mental habits which will enable people to acquire knowledge and form sound judgments for themselves." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "The great trouble with the machine, from the point of view of the emotions, is its regularity. And, of course, conversely, the great objection to the emotions, from the point of view of the machine, is their irregularity. As the machine dominates the thoughts of people who consider themselves "serious," the highest praise they can give to a man is to suggest that he has the qualities of a machine- that he is reliable, punctual, exact, etc. And an "irregular" life has come to be synonymous with a bad life." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out. I do not believe that, on ... balance, religious belief has been a force for good. Although I am prepared to admit that in certain times and places it has had some good effects, I regard it as belonging to the infancy of human reason, and to a stage of development which we are now outgrowing." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "If human nature were unchangeable, as ignorant people still suppose it to be, the situation would indeed be hopeless." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "If wars are eliminated and production is organized scientifically, it is probable that four hours' work a day will suffice to keep everybody in comfort." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Logic [enables people] to refrain from drawing conclusions which only seem to follow." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful, and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous, and loathed because they impose slavery." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Many quite sensible people believe that the Marxian class war will be a war to end war. If it ever comes, they too will be disillusioned-if any of them survive." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power. Consequently those who live under the dominion of Puritanism become exceedingly desirous of power." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Nine times out of ten a man's politics can be predicted from the way in which he makes his living." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "The special skill of the politician consists in knowing what passions can be most easily aroused, and how to prevent them, when aroused, from being harmful to himself and his associates. There is a Gresham's law in politics as in currency; a man who aims at nobler ends than these will be driven out, except in those rare moments (chiefly revolutions) when idealism finds itself in alliance with some powerful movement of selfish passion." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "The State is a collection of officials ... drawing comfortable incomes so long as the status quo is preserved. The only alteration they are likely to desire in the status quo is an increase of bureaucracy and of the power of bureaucrats." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "Thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. ... Thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search. ...
   Thought is free when it is exposed to free competition among beliefs, i.e., when all beliefs are able to state their case, and no legal or pecuniary advantages or disadvantages attach to beliefs." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "What passes as "human nature" is at most one-tenth nature, the other nine-tenths being nurture." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "We have ... two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice, and another which we practice but seldom preach." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "We love our habits more than our income, often more than our life." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "We must be skeptical even of our skepticism." (from "Sceptical Essays", 1928)

- "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible." (from "Marriage and Morals", 1929)

- "It is illegal in England to state in print that a wife can and should derive sexual pleasure from intercourse." (from "Marriage and Morals", 1929)

- "Measures of sterilization should, in my opinion, be very definitely confined to persons who are mentally defective. I cannot favor laws such as that of Idaho, which allows sterilization of "mental defectives, epileptics, habitual criminals, moral degenerates, and sex perverts." The last two categories here are very vague, and will be determined differently in different communities. The law of Idaho would have justified the sterilization of Socrates, Plato, Julius Caesar, and St. Paul." (from "Marriage and Morals", 1929)

- "Morality in sexual situations, when it is free from superstition, consists essentially of respect for the other person, and unwillingness to use that person solely as a means of personal gratification, without regard to his or her desires." (from "Marriage and Morals", 1929)

- "To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead." (from "Marriage and Morals", 1929)

- "To obey God means, in practice, to obey one's conscience." (from "Marriage and Morals", 1929)

- "What [the Puritans] took away from sex they added to gluttony." (from "Marriage and Morals", 1929)

- "A sense of duty is useful in work, but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not endured with patient resignation." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves. They will pardon much unconventionality in a man who has enough jollity and friendliness to make it clear, even to the stupidest, that he is not engaged in criticizing them." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "The happiness that is genuinely satisfying is accompanied by the fullest exercise of our faculties, and the fullest realization of the world in which we live." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "Human nature is so constructed that it gives affection most readily to those who seem least to demand it." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men in history." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "The most intelligent young people in Western countries tend to have that kind of unhappiness that comes of finding no adequate employment for their best talents." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "There is ... no point in deliberately flouting public opinion; this is still to be under its domination, though in a topsy-turvy way. But to be genuinely indifferent to it is both a strength and a source of happiness." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "To be out of harmony with one's surroundings is of course a misfortune, but it is not always a misfortune to be avoided at all costs. Where the environment is stupid or prejudiced or cruel, it is a sign of merit to be out of harmony with it." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "Wars, pogroms, and persecution have all been part of the flight from boredom. ... Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "Work ... is desirable, first and foremost, as a preventive of boredom. ... It [also] makes holidays much more delicious when they come." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?" (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "With the introduction of agriculture mankind entered upon a long period of meanness, misery, and madness, from which they are only now being freed by the beneficent operation of the machine. ... Companionship and cooperation are essential elements in the happiness of the average man, and these are to be obtained in industry far more fully than in agriculture." (from "The Conquest of Happiness", 1930)

- "Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic." (from "New York Herald Tribune Magazine", 1938)

- "An organization is a set of people who are combined [by] virtue of activities directed to common ends." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "Competition for power is of two sorts: between organizations, and between individuals for leadership within an organization." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "Every organization will, in the absence of any counteracting force, tend to grow both in size and in density of power." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "The history of the French Revolution is analogous to that of the Commonwealth of England: fanaticism, victory, despotism, collapse, and reaction." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "Men who allow their love of power to give them a distorted view of the world are to be found in every asylum: one man will think he is the Governor of the Bank of England, another will think he is the King, and yet another will think he is God. Highly similar delusions, if expressed by educated men in obscure language, lead to professorships of philosophy; and if expressed by emotional men in eloquent language, lead to dictatorships." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "Most people, at a crisis, feel more loyalty to their nation than to their class." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "Power may be defined as the production of intended effects." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "Social cohesion demands a creed, or a code of behavior, or a prevailing sentiment, or, best, some combination of all three; without something of the kind, a community disintegrates, and becomes subject to a tyrant or a foreign conqueror." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "Something of the hermit's temper is an essential element in many forms of excellence, since it enables men to resist the lure of popularity, to pursue important work in spite of general indifference or hostility, and arrive at opinions which are opposed to prevalent errors." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "The technique of acquiring dictatorship over what has been a democracy ... always involves the same mixture of bribery, propaganda and violence." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "When men willingly follow a leader, they do so with a view to the acquisition of power by the group which he commands, and they feel that his triumphs are theirs." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "With modern technique most empires are fairly safe except against external attack, and revolution is only to be expected after defeat in war." (from "Power: A New Social Analysis", 1938)

- "The sciences have developed in an order the reverse of what might have been expected. What was most remote from ourselves was first brought under the domain of law, and then, gradually, what was nearer: first the heavens, next the earth, then animal and vegetable life, then the human body, and last of all (as yet very imperfectly) the human mind." (from "Religion and Science", 1938)

- "Happiness [is] an effect and knowledge a mere instrument of successful activity." (from "A History of Western Philosophy", 1946)

- "Mathematics is, I believe, the chief source of the belief in eternal and exact truth, as well as in a super-sensible intelligible world." (from "A History of Western Philosophy", 1946)

- "Optimism assumes, or attempts to prove, that the universe exists to please us, and pessimism that it exists to displease us. Scientifically, there is no evidence that it is concerned with us either one way or the other. The belief in either pessimism or optimism is a matter of temperament, not of reason." (from "A History of Western Philosophy", 1946)

- "Since proofs need premises, it is impossible to prove anything unless some things are accepted without proof." (from "The Faith of a Rationalist", 1947)

- "The free intellect is the chief engine of human progress." (from "The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism", 1948)

- "A life which goes excessively against natural impulse is ... likely to involve effects of strain that may be quite as bad as indulgence in forbidden impulses would have been. People who live a life which is unnatural beyond a point are likely to be filled with envy, malice and uncharitableness." (from "Authority and the Individual", 1949)

- "Progress ... requires the utmost scope for personal initiative that is compatible with social order." (from "Authority and the Individual", 1949)

- "Mankind has become so much one family that we cannot insure our own prosperity except by insuring that of everyone else. If you wish to be happy yourself, you must resign yourself to seeing others also happy." (from an article New York Times Magazine, 1950)

- "And remember: conformity means death. Only protest gives a hope of life." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Be very wary of opinions that flatter your self-esteem." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Belief in a Divine mission is one of the many forms of certainty that have afflicted the human race." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held; instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way in which opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way in which they are held in theology." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "[Georg Hegel] set [his philosophy] out with so much obscurity that people thought it must be profound." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "If there is ever to be peace in the world, governments will have to agree either to inculcate no dogmas, or all to inculcate the same." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Man is a rational animal-so at least I have been told. Throughout a long life, I have looked diligently for evidence in favor of this statement, but so far I have not had the good fortune to come across it." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Man, viewed morally, is a strange amalgam of angel and devil." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "More cranks take up unfashionable errors than unfashionable truths." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "On one occasion a man came to ask me to recommend some of my books, as he was interested in philosophy. I did so, but he returned next day saying that he had been reading one of them, and had found only one statement he could understand, and that one seemed to him false. I asked him what it was, and he said it was the statement that Julius Caesar is dead. When I asked him why he did not agree, he drew himself up and said: "Because I am Julius Caesar."" (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "One of the most interesting and harmful delusions to which men and nations can be subjected is that of imagining themselves special instruments of the Divine Will." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Philosophy has had from its earliest days two different objects which were believed to be closely interrelated. On the one hand, it aimed at a theoretical understanding of the structure of the world; on the other hand, it tried to discover and inculcate the best possible way of life." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly I think, because it is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Science is what we know, and philosophy is what we don't know." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "We are now again in an epoch of wars of religion, but a religion is now called an "ideology."" (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "We believe, first and foremost, what makes us feel that we are fine fellows." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "When I put a question to [Lenin] about socialism in agriculture, he explained with glee how he had incited the poorer peasants against the richer ones, "and they soon hanged them from the nearest tree-ha! ha! ha!" His guffaw at die thought of those massacred made my blood run cold." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "When we pass in review the opinions of former times which are now recognized as absurd, it will be found that nine times out of ten they were such as to justify the infliction of suffering." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "The whole conception of "Sin" is one which I find very puzzling, doubtless owing to my sinful nat." (from "Unpopular Essays", 1950)

- "Organizations are of two kinds: those which aim at getting something done and those which aim at preventing something from being done." (from "The Impact of Science on Society', 1951)

- "I appeal as a human being to human beings: remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, nothing lies before but universal death." (from an article published in Saturday Review, 1955)

- "Free speech has been preserved, but its effective existence is disastrously curtailed if the more important means of publicity are only open to opinions which have the sanction of orthodoxy." (from "Portraits from Memory, and Other Essays", 1956)

- "I spent the evening of August 4 [1914] walking round the streets, especially in the neighborhood of Trafalgar Square, noticing cheering crowds, and making myself sensitive to the emotions of passersby. During this and the following days I discovered to my amazement that average men and women were delighted at the prospect of war. I had fondly imagined, what most Pacifists contended, that wars were forced upon a reluctant population by despotic and Machiavellian governments." (from "Portraits from Memory, and Other Essays", 1956)

- "It appeared that after first contemplating a book on some subject, and after giving serious preliminary attention to it, I needed a period of subconscious incubation which could not be hurried and was if anything impeded by deliberate thinking. ... Having, by a time of very intense concentration, planted the problem in my subconsciousness, it would germinate underground until, suddenly, the solution emerged with blinding clarity, so that it only remained to write down what had appeared as if in a revelation." (from "Portraits from Memory, and Other Essays", 1956)

- "Of the several factors that contribute to wisdom, I should put first a sense of proportion: the capacity to take account of all the important factors in a problem and to attach to each its due weight." (from "Portraits from Memory, and Other Essays", 1956)

- "History is invaluable in increasing our knowledge of human nature because it shows how people may be expected to behave in new situations. Many prominent men and women are completely ordinary in character, and only exceptional in their circumstances." (from "Understanding History, And Other Essays", 1957)

- "Good qualities are easier to destroy than bad ones, and therefore uniformity is most easily achieved by lowering all standards." (from "The Will to Doubt", 1958)

- "A great many people enjoy a war provided it's not in their neighborhood and not too bad." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "A stern morality [enables] you to inflict suffering without a bad conscience." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "All the important human advances that we know of since historical times began have been due to individuals of whom the majority faced virulent public opposition." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "Direct power over the body. This is the power of armies and police forces. Then there is the power of reward and punishment, which is. called the economic power. And then finally there is propaganda power, a power to persuade. I think these are the three main kinds of power." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "If you have a good scientific imagination, you can think of all sorts of things that might be true, and that's the essence of science. You first think of something that might be true-then you look to see if it is, and generally it isn't." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "In each country the propaganda is controlled by the state and is what the state likes. And what the state likes is to have you quite ready to commit murder when you're told to." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "It's very absurd when a war is imminent. Immense crowds assemble in Trafalgar Square to applaud. They echo the Government's decision to have them killed. It's odd. It's not what you would expect of human nature." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "The state is primarily an organization for killing foreigners." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "There are some philosophers who exist to uphold the status quo, and others who exist to upset it. ... For my part, I should reject both those as not being the true business of a philosopher, and I should say the business of a philosopher is not to change the world but to understand it, which is the exact opposite to what Marx said." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "When a man tells you that something you've always believed was in fact not true, it gives you a frightful shock and you think, "Oh! I don't know where I am. When I think I'm planting my foot upon the ground, perhaps I'm not." And you get into a terror." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "The whiter my hair becomes, the more ready people are to believe what I say." (from "Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind", 1960)

- "Freud has popularized the theory that dreams give expression to our wishes. No doubt this is true of a percentage of dreams, but I think dreams are just as apt to give expression to our fears." (from "Human Society in Ethics and Politics", 1962)

- "Human imagination long ago pictured Hell, but it is only through recent skill that men have been able to give reality to what they had imagined." (from "Human Society in Ethics and Politics", 1962)

- "The pursuit of knowledge is, I think, mainly actuated by love of power." (from "Human Society in Ethics and Politics", 1962)

- ""Right" conduct is conduct which promotes the general good." (from "Human Society in Ethics and Politics", 1962)

- "There is no reason why, in the ages to come, the sort of man who is now exceptional should not become usual, and if that were to happen, the exceptional man in that new world would rise as far above Shakespeare as Shakespeare now rises above the common man." (from "Human Society in Ethics and Politics", 1962)

- "True happiness for human beings is possible only to those who develop their godlike potentialities to the utmost." (from "Human Society in Ethics and Politics", 1962)

- "I believe four ingredients are necessary for happiness: health, warm personal relations, sufficient means to keep you from want, and successful work ." (from an interview with Tommy Robbins in Redbook)

- "The truth is-and it's merciful-that in memory, humiliations and failures tend to vanish and successes are magnified." (from an interview with Tommy Robbins in Redbook)

- "What I do object to about America is the herd thinking. There is no room for individuals in your country-and yet you are dedicated to saving the world for individualism." (from an interview with Tommy Robbins in Redbook)

- "You mustn't exaggerate, young man. That's always a sign that your argument is weak." (from an interview with Tommy Robbins in Redbook)

- "Not a gentleman; dresses too well." (from "Six Men" by Alistair Cooke)

- "The improvements in transportation do not cut down traveling time but merely increase the area over which people have to travel." (from "The End of Ideology" by Daniel Bell)

- "There's a Bible on that shelf there. But I keep it next to Voltaire- poison and antidote." (from "Kenneth Harris Talking to Maria Callas" by Kenneth Harris)

- "Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." (from "The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell: 1872-1914")

- "Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid." (from "In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays")

- "Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false."


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