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

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 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.

I believe four ingredients are necessary for happiness: health, warm personal relations, sufficient means to keep you from want, and successful work.

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.

Happiness [is] an effect and knowledge a mere instrument of successful activity.

Good qualities are easier to destroy than bad ones, and therefore uniformity is most easily achieved by lowering all standards.

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.

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavor after a worthy manner of life.

Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself.

Envy is the basis of democracy.

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.

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.

'Change' is scientific, 'progress' is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy.

Boredom is ... a vital problem for the moralist, since half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.

Belief in a Divine mission is one of the many forms of certainty that have afflicted the human race.

Be very wary of opinions that flatter your self-esteem.

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 the 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 most education are very often atrophied in their mental and spiritual life.

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.

All the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.

All moral rules must be tested by examining whether they tend to realize ends that we desire. I say ends that we desire, not ends that we ought to desire... Outside human desires there is no moral standard.

All knowledge must be built on intuitive beliefs; if they are rejected, nothing is left.

A sense of duty is useful in work, but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not endured with patient resignation.

Worry is a form of fear, and all forms of fear produce fatigue. A man who has learned not to feel fear will find the fatigue of daily life enormously diminished.

Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?

What men want is not knowledge, but certainty.

What is wanted is not the will to believe but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.

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