Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bertrand Russell

“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life...What we need is not the 'will to believe' but the will to find out... I shouldn't wish people to dogmatically believe any philosophy, not even mine... Contact with those who have no doubts has intensified a thousandfold my own doubts... The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt... If there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence... In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted... Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom... Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so... To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it... It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."
About Russell. As a philosopher, mathematician, educator, social critic and political activist, Bertrand Russell authored over 70 books and thousands of essays and letters addressing a myriad of topics. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950, Russell was a fine literary stylist, one of the foremost logicians ever, and a gadfly for improving the lives of men and women.
Born in 1872 into the British aristocracy and educated at Cambridge University, Russell gave away much of his inherited wealth. But in 1931 he inherited and kept an earldom. His multifaceted career centered on work as a philosophy professor, writer, and public lecturer. Here is a detailedchronology of Russell's life, an overview of his analytic philosophy, and a completebibliography of all his publications... (continues)

Bertrand Russell, third Earl Russell, was born on 18th May 1872 at Cleddon Hall, Monmouthshire, into one of the great political families of Britain. His grandfather, Lord John Russell, the Whig politician and first Earl, who twice became Prime Minister, steered the 1832 Reform Act through Parliament. John Stuart Mill was Bertrand’s godfather, and young Bertie was introduced to Queen Victoria when he was two years old. Russell became a great and innovative philosopher, but he had politics in his genes.

Russell’s mother died when he was two years old, his father when he was three. There were two older siblings, a brother Frank, and a sister Rachel, who died young. Russell and his brother were brought up by their grandparents in Pembroke House, in the middle of Regent’s Park in London. (The house was the gift of Queen Victoria, and had been given in gratitude for Lord Russell’s political services. This was fitting, since, without the Reform Act, Victoria might not have had a throne to sit on.) Here the friendless boy grew up, looked after by a succession of Swiss and German nurses and governesses, and taught at home by a succession of English tutors. He was lonely, unhappy and highly precocious... (continues)
Russell texts online... Russell's message to future generations (video)
On Russell's History. "A precious book ... a work that is in the highest degree pedagogical which stands above the conflicts of parties and opinions." -Albert Einstein... "Parts of this famous book are sketchy ... in other respects it is a marvelously readable, magnificently sweeping survey of Western thought, distinctive for placing it informatively into its historical context. Russell enjoyed writing it, and the enjoyment shows; his later remarks about it equally show that he was conscious of its shortcomings." -A. C. Grayling... "I had the good fortune to have Russell's History assigned by my professor for my first course in philosophy, and my admiration for its verve and clarity has never dissipated." -Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

"I regarded the early part of my History of Western Philosophy as a history of culture, but in the later parts, where science becomes important, it is more difficult to fit into this framework. I did my best, but I am not at all sure that I succeeded. I was sometimes accused by reviewers of writing not a true history but a biased account of the events that I arbitrarily chose to write of. But to my mind, a man without bias cannot write interesting history — if, indeed, such a man exists."
on Love, Sex, the Good Life, and How Moral Superstitions Limit Our Happiness... on Immortality, Why Religion Exists, and What “The Good Life” Really Means | Brain Pickings
Russell the peripatetic. “Every morning Bertie would go for an hour’s walk by himself, composing and thinking out his work for that day. He would then come back and write for the rest of the morning, smoothly, easily and without a single correction.”Gymnasiums of the Mind

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