Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

Bertrand
Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell
1872
1970

British Philosopher, Logician, Mathematician, Historian, Socialist, Pacifist and Social Critic

Author Quotes

The fundamental argument for freedom of opinion is the doubtfulness of all our beliefs. If we certainly knew the truth, there would be something to be said for teaching it. But in that case it could be taught without invoking authority, by means of its inherent reasonableness.

The twin concepts of sin and vindictive punishment seem to be at the root of much that is most vigorous, both in religion and politics.

The slave is doomed to worship Time and Fate and Death, because they are greater than anything he finds in himself, and because all his thoughts are of things which they devour. But, great as they are, to think of them greatly, to feel their passionless splendor, is greater still. And such thought makes us free men.

The freedom we should seek is not the right to oppress others, but the right to live as we choose and think as we choose where our doing so does not prevent others from doing likewise.

Since power over human beings is shown in making them do what they would rather not do, the man who is actuated by love of power is more apt to inflict pain than to permit pleasure.

Science, by itself, cannot supply us with an ethic. It can show us how to achieve a given end, and it may show us that some ends cannot be achieved.

Right conduct can never, except by some rare accident, be promoted by ignorance or hindered by knowledge.

Reverence requires imagination and vital warmth; it requires least actual achievement or power. The child is weak and superficially foolish, the teacher is strong, and in an everyday sense wiser than the child. The teacher without reverence, or the bureaucrat without reverence, easily despises the child for these outward inferiorities.

Real life is, to most men, a long second-best, a perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible; but the world of pure reason knows no compromise, no practical limitations, no barrier to the creative activity embodying in splendid edifices the passionate aspiration after the perfect from which all great works springs. Remote from human passions, remote even from the pitiful facts of nature, the generations have gradually created an ordered cosmos, where pure thought can dwell as in its natural home, and where one, at least, of our nobler impulses can escape from the dreary exile of the actual world.

People wish to be liked, not to be endured with patient resignation.

One generation of fearless women could transform the world, by bringing into it a generation of fearless children, not contorted into unnatural shapes, but straight and candid, generous, affectionate, and free. Their ardor would sweep away the cruelty and pain which we endure because we are lazy, cowardly, hard-hearted and stupid. It is education that gives us these bad qualities, and education that must give us the opposite virtues. Education is the key to the new world.

Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce. What it should produce is a belief that knowledge is attainable in a measure, though with difficulty; that much of what passes for knowledge at any given time is likely to be more or less mistaken, but that the mistakes can be rectified by care and industry... Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility. Both are mistaken, and their errors, when widespread, produce social disaster.

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, - more than ruin, more even than death.

It is... possible for a civilized man and woman to be happy in marriage, although if this is to be the case a number of conditions must be fulfilled. There must be a feeling of complete equality on both sides; there must be no interference with mutual freedom; there must be the most complete physical and mental intimacy; and there must be a certain similarity in regard to standards of values.

If the intellectual has any function in society, it is to preserve a cool and unbiased judgment in the face of all solicitations to passion... During the war, the ordinary virtues, such as thrift, industry, and public spirit, were used to swell the magnitude of the disaster by producing a greater energy in the work of mutual extermination.

I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive... But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.

I believe marriage to be the best and most important relation that can exist between two human beings. If it has not often been realized hitherto, that is chiefly because husband and wife have regarded themselves as each other’s policeman. If marriage is to achieve its possibilities, husbands and wives must learn to understand that whatever the law may say, in their private lives they must be free.

Human nature is so constructed that it gives affection most readily to those who seem least to demand it.

God and Satan alike are essentially human figures, the one a projection of ourselves, the other of our enemies.

For the learning of every virtue there is an appropriate discipline and for the learning of suspended judgment the best discipline is philosophy.

Ethical metaphysics is fundamentally an attempt, however disguised, to give legislative force to our own wishes.

Education is, as a rule, the strongest force on the side of what exists and against fundamental change: threatened institutions, while they are still powerful, possess themselves of the educational machine, and instill a respect for their own excellence into the malleable minds of the young.

Education as a political weapon could not exist if we respected the rights of children. If we respected the rights of children, we should educate them so as to give them the knowledge and the mental habits required for forming independent opinions; but education as a political institution endeavors to form habits and to circumscribe knowledge in such a way as to make one set of opinions inevitable.

Civilized people cannot fully satisfy their sexual instinct without love.

Both in thought and feeling, even though time is real, to realize the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.

Author Picture
First Name
Bertrand
Last Name
Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell
Birth Date
1872
Death Date
1970
Bio

British Philosopher, Logician, Mathematician, Historian, Socialist, Pacifist and Social Critic