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Bertrand Russell, having died according to the Japanese press, is unable to give interviews to Japanese journalists". Jump to. Sections of this page. Accessibility Help. Email or Phone Password Forgot account? Sign Up. See more of Bertrand Russell on Facebook. Indeed, he believed the same was true of philosophy. Another founder of modern philosophy of science, Ernst Mach, placed less reliance on method, per se, for he believed that any method that produced predictable results was satisfactory and that the principal role of the scientist was to make successful predictions.

While Russell would doubtless agree with this as a practical matter, he believed that the ultimate objective of both science and philosophy was to understand reality, not simply to make predictions. The fact that Russell made science a central part of his method and of philosophy was instrumental in making the philosophy of science a full-blooded, separate branch of philosophy and an area in which subsequent philosophers specialised.

Among the several schools that were influenced by Russell were the logical positivists, particularly Rudolph Carnap, who maintained that the distinguishing feature of scientific propositions was their verifiability. This contrasted with the theory of Karl Popper, also greatly influenced by Russell, who believed that their importance rested in the fact that they were potentially falsifiable.

It is worth noting that outside of his strictly philosophical pursuits, Russell was always fascinated by science, particularly physics, and he even authored several popular science books, The Abc Of Relativity Religion and theology Russell's ethical outlook and his personal courage in facing controversies were certainly informed by his religious upbringing, principally by his paternal grandmother, who instructed him with the Biblical injunction, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" Exodus , something he said influenced him throughout his life.

For most of his adult life, however, Russell thought it very unlikely that there was a god, and he maintained that religion is little more than superstition and, despite any positive effects that religion might have, it is largely harmful to people. He believed religion and the religious outlook he considered communism and other systematic ideologies to be species of religion serve to impede knowledge, foster fear and dependency, and are responsible for much of the war, oppression, and misery that have beset the world.

In his speech, "Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic? On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods. There is no logically necessary connection between events at different times; therefore nothing that is happening now or will happen in the future can disprove the hypothesis that the world began five minutes ago.

Philosophy, Norton, , p. As a young man, Russell had a decidedly religious bent, himself, as is evident in his early Platonism. He longed for eternal truths, as he makes clear in his famous essay, "A Free Man's Worship", widely regarded as a masterpiece in prose, but one that Russell came to dislike. While he rejected the supernatural, he freely admitted that he yearned for a deeper meaning to life. The speech was published later that year as a pamphlet, which, along with other essays, was eventually published as a book. In the book, Russell considers a number of logical arguments for the existence of God, including the first cause argument, the natural-law argument, the argument from design, and moral arguments.

He also goes into specifics about Christian theology. His final conclusion: "Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.


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While others were also influential, notably, Frege, Moore, and Wittgenstein, more than any other person, Russell made analysis the dominant approach to philosophy. Moreover, he is the founder or, at the very least, the prime mover of its major branches and themes, including several versions of the philosophy of language, formal logical analysis, and the philosophy of science. The various analytic movements throughout the last century all owe something to Russell's earlier works. Russell's influence on individual philosophers is singular, and perhaps most notably in the case of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was his student between and It should also be observed that Wittgenstein exerted considerable influence on Russell, especially in leading him to conclude, much to his regret, that mathematical truths were trivial, tautological truths.

Evidence of Russell's influence on Wittgenstein can be seen throughout the Tractatus, which Russell was responsible for having published. Russell also helped to secure Wittgenstein's doctorate and a faculty position at Cambridge, along with several fellowships along the way. However, as previously stated, he came to disagree with Wittgenstein's later linguistic and analytic approach to philosophy, while Wittgenstein came to think of Russell as "superficial and glib," particularly in his popular writings.

Russell's influence is also evident in the work of A. Quine, and a number of other philosophers and logicians. Some see Russell's influence as mostly negative, primarily those who have been critical of Russell's emphasis on science and logic, the consequent diminishment of metaphysics, and of his insistence that ethics lies outside of philosophy. Russell's admirers and detractors are often more acquainted with his pronouncements on social and political matters, or what some e.

Among non-philosophers, there is a marked tendency to conflate these matters, and to judge Russell the philosopher on what he himself would certainly consider to be his non-philosophical opinions. Russell often cautioned people to make this distinction. Russell left a large assortment of writing. Since adolescence, Russell wrote about 3, words a day, in long hand, with relatively few corrections; his first draft nearly always was his last draft, even on the most complex, technical matters.


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  • His previously unpublished work is an immense treasure trove, and scholars are continuing to gain new insights into Russell's thought. Russell's activism Political and social activism occupied much of Russell's time for most of his long life, which makes his prodigious and seminal writing on a wide range of technical and non-technical subjects all the more remarkable.

    Russell remained politically active to the end, writing and exhorting world leaders and lending his name to various causes. Some maintain that during his last few years he gave his youthful followers too much license and that they used his name for some outlandish purposes that a more attentive Russell would not have approved.

    There is evidence to show that he became aware of this when he fired his private secretary, Ralph Schoenman, then a young firebrand of the radical left. Pacifism, war and nuclear weapons While never a complete pacifist in 'The Ethics of War', an article published in , Russell stated that colonial wars were legitimate where the side with the stronger culture could put the land to better use , Russell opposed British participation in World War I. As a result, he was first fined, then lost his professorship at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was later imprisoned for six months.

    In Russell called his stance "relative political pacifism"- he held that war was always a great evil, but in some particularly extreme circumstances such as when Adolf Hitler threatened to take over Europe it might be a lesser of multiple evils. In the years leading to World War II, he supported the policy of appeasement; but by he acknowledged that in order to preserve democracy, Hitler had to be defeated.

    Russell was a prominent opponent of nuclear weapons. On November 20, , in a public speech at Westminster School, addressing a gathering arranged by the New Commonwealth, Russell shocked some observers by suggesting that a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union was justified. Russell argued that the threat of war between the United States and the Soviet Union would enable the United States to force the Soviet Union to accept the Baruch Plan for international atomic energy control.

    Earlier in the year he had written in the same vein to Walter W. Russell felt this plan "had very great merits and showed considerable generosity, when it is remembered that America still had an unbroken nuclear monopoly. Russell later relented from this stance, instead arguing for mutual disarmament by the nuclear powers, possibly linked to some form of world government. In Russell released the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, co-signed by Albert Einstein and nine other leading scientists and intellectuals, which led to the first of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs in In , Russell became the first president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

    He resigned two years later when the CND would not support civil disobedience, and formed the Committee of In , when he was in his late eighties, he was imprisoned for a week for inciting civil disobedience, in connection with protests at the Ministry of Defence and Hyde Park. The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation began work in , in order to carry forward Russell's work for peace, human rights and social justice. Russell was an early critic of the official story in the John F. Kennedy assassination; his "16 Questions on the Assassination" from is still considered a good summary of the apparent inconsistencies in that case.

    Communism and socialism Russell visited the Soviet Union and met Lenin in , and on his return wrote a critical tract, The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism. He was unimpressed with the result of the communist revolution, and said he was "infinitely unhappy in this atmosphere-stifled by its utilitarianism, its indifference to love and beauty and the life of impulse. He was extremely critical of the totalitarianism exhibited by Stalin's regime, and of Marxism and communism generally. Russell was an enthusiast for world government, and advocated the establishment of an international or world government in some of the essays collected in Has Man a Future?

    The hopes which inspire communism are, in the main, as admirable as those instilled by the Sermon on the Mount, but they are held as fanatically and are as likely to do as much harm. I regard it primarily as an adjustment to machine production demanded by considerations of common sense, and calculated to increase the happiness, not only of proletarians, but of all except a tiny minority of the human race.

    Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish for ever. In his pamphlet, Anti-Suffragist Anxieties, Russell wrote that some men opposed suffrage because they "fear that their liberty to act in ways that are injurious to women will be curtailed. Sexuality Russell wrote against Victorian notions of morality. Marriage and Morals expressed his opinion that sex between a man and woman who are not married to each other is not necessarily immoral if they truly love one another, and advocated "trial marriages" or "companionate marriage", formalised relationships whereby young people could legitimately have sexual intercourse without being expected to remain married in the long term or to have children an idea first proposed by Judge Ben Lindsey.

    This might not seem extreme by today's standards, but it was enough to raise vigorous protests and denunciations against him during his visit to the United States shortly after the book's publication. Russell was also ahead of his time in advocating open sex education and widespread access to contraception. He also advocated easy divorce, but only if the marriage had produced no children - Russell's view was that parents should remain married but tolerant of each other's sexual infidelity, if they had children. This reflected his life at the time- his second wife Dora was openly having an affair, and would soon become pregnant by another man, but Russell was keen for their children John and Kate to have a "normal" family life.

    Russell's private life was even more unconventional and freewheeling than his published writings revealed, but that was not well known at the time. For example, philosopher Sidney Hook reports that Russell often spoke of his sexual prowess and of his various conquests. Eugenics and race Some critics of Russell have pointed out racist passages in his early writings, as well as his initial praise for the then-fashionable idea of eugenics. For example, in a letter to Alys Pearsall he wrote: "Thee might observe incidentally that if the State paid for child-bearing it might and ought to require a medical certificate that the parents were such as to give a reasonable result of a healthy child- this would afford a very good inducement to some sort of care for the race, and gradually as public opinion became educated by the law, it might react on the law and make that more stringent, until one got to some state of things in which there would be a little genuine care for the race, instead of the present haphazard higgledy-piggledy ways.

    Selected Letters, vol. It seems on the whole fair to regard negroes as on the average inferior to white men, although for work in the tropics they are indispensable, so that their extermination apart from questions of humanity would be highly undesirable. Later in his life, Russell criticized eugenic programs for their impracticality chiefly their vulnerability to corruption , and by he was to condemn the "unwarranted assumption" that "Negroes are congenitally inferior to white men" New Hopes for a Changing World : "It is sometimes maintained that racial mixture is biologically undesirable.

    There is no evidence whatever for this view. Nor is there, apparently, any reason to think that Negroes are congenitally less intelligent than white people, but as to that it will be difficult to judge until they have equal scope and equally good social conditions. Russell summing up his life Admitting to failure in helping the world to conquer war and in winning his perpetual intellectual battle for eternal truths, Russell wrote this in "Reflections on My Eightieth Birthday", which also served as the last entry in the last volume of his autobiography, published in his 98th year: "I have lived in the pursuit of a vision, both personal and social.

    Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times. Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them. These things I believe, and the world, for all its horrors, has left me unshaken.

    Since we launched in , Biblio has remained committed to preserving our natural resources and environment and helping to reduce the adverse factors that contribute to pollution and the climate crisis. Sign In Register Help Cart. Cart items. Toggle navigation. In this paper, I will examine one of the major ways in which Lawrence responds to the war, his dialogue with Bertrand Russell. If one counts the fictional portrayals of the philosopher in Women in Love and "The Blind Man," this dialogue spans the length of the war, although their active relationship is confined to In this paper, I will discuss the relationship between the two authors, arguing that, from Lawrence's perspective, their brief agreement and extended disagreements were primarily over the question of religion.

    In June, when Russell visited Lawrence in Greatham, they discussed giving a series of public lectures together in response to the war. During the visit, Lawrence writes to Lady Ottoline that he and Russell seem to be "rallying to a point. He won't let go, he won't act in the eternal things, when it comes to men and life" L 2: Lawrence wants Russell's thought to incorporate a more transcendental element, which he describes as "Knowledge of the Absolute," "Knowledge of Eternity.

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    Indeed, he tells Lady Ottoline that he has begun to convince Russell to think in these terms: "Now he is changing. He is coming to have a real logical belief in Eternity, and upon this he can work: a belief in the absolute, an existence in the Infinite" L 2: A week earlier Russell had written to Lady Ottoline, concerning the draft of Lawrence's philosophy that he had seen, "I can't make head or tail of Lawrence's philosophy [ The morning after his visit to Greatham, though, he writes of the plan to lecture:.

    We talked of a plan of lecturing in the autumn on his religion, politics in the light of religion, and so on. I believe something might be made of it. I could make a splendid course on political ideas: morality, the State, property, marriage, war, taking them to their roots in human nature, and showing how each is a prison for the infinite in us. And leading on to the hope of a happier world. Letters In "The Essence of Religion" , distilled from his unfinished book Prisons , he had written that "the soul of man is [ The value of religion, he argues, is that it allows the infinite part of the soul momentarily to transcend the finite part, which "builds prison-walls round the infinite part of our nature, and endeavours to restrain it from that free life in the whole which constitutes its being" , so that the essence of religion is the experience of "the escape from prison that gives to some moments and some thoughts a quality of infinity, like light breaking through from some greater world beyond" It was this kind of thinking that allowed Russell and Lawrence to believe in Greatham in the possibility of some kind of agreement or common purpose in their views of what was needed in response to the war.

    Lawrence's account of their discussion, however, makes clear the way in which they would thereafter disagree. He tells Lady Ottoline:. We think to have a lecture hall in London in the autumn, and give lectures: he on Ethics, I on Immortality: also to have meetings, to establish a little society or body around a religious belief which leads to action. We must centre in the knowledge of the Infinite, of God. Then from this Centre each one of us must work to put the temporal things of our own natures and of our own circumstances in accord with the Eternal God we know.

    L 2: Even in works like "The Essence of Religion," in which he seeks to salvage what is valuable in religion, what can be so salvaged must be altogether divorced from any theological dogma. As he puts it, "It has become a matter of the first importance to preserve religion without any dependence upon dogmas to which an intellectually honest assent grows daily more difficult" Contemplation , among which he includes the existence of God. Not even in this period in which he is most sympathetic to religion does Russell ever suggest that the infinite which he values is equivalent to God.

    The same is true a fortiori of Lawrence's phrase "the Eternal God. The essence of this criticism he expresses the following day to Lady Ottoline: "As yet he stands too much on the shore of this existing world. He must get into a boat and preach from out of the waters of eternity, if he is going to do any good" L 2: In his outline, Russell argues that the problem, or "disease," in contemporary society is "disintegration," and that the remedy is "cooperation not authority.

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    Lawrence's margin note above the first section in Russell's outline, "Forms of Disintegration," already implies a criticism of the latter's solution to the problem he delineates there. Russell adduces the prevention of children, "living in towns, away from [the] earth," specialism in the professions, and freedom from housework and child-rearing for women as sources of the "living for sensation" that is the essence of the disintegration of contemporary society.


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    • Russell on religion selections from the writings of bertrand russell.
    • Lawrence writes, however, "Cause of Disintegration: The belief that we cannot know any fulfilment save what is allowed by our Civilised System. So our impulse towards truth and unanimity is prevented" LBR Like his deletions of Russell's accounts of each "source" of the problem, for which Lawrence substitutes the word "example," this note implicates Russell's solutions to the problem of contemporary society in Lawrence's view of the problem itself.

      Russell writes, "What is wanted is a direct interest in other people," which Lawrence vigorously deletes and writes "no — no" in the margin Russell, "Philosophy" 3; LBR In Lawrence's view, Russell's solutions are still stated at the level of the problem, an inadequate belief in the truth or value of anything less tangible than material institutions. In a longer note to Russell's paragraph about interest in others, he writes, "What is wanted is a knowledge of the true conditions we all desire in our souls, putting aside the fetish of what is" LBR He criticises the State as "absurd" and "evil," because of its "geographical" nature The State, like all the institutions he criticises, is "based on Power," and he argues that, in the political institutions of the future "the relationship of human beings should be based on mutual liberty, with Love" Lawrence's response can be summed up in his insertion after Russell's point, about the difference between the modern and the medieval periods, that one "can"t worship the State.

      In a long passage in pencil beneath Russell's typed section, he writes:. We proceed to create our State according to our religious belief, our philosophical conception of life.

      Bertrand Russell's philosophical views

      The King represents God. The Ministers subject to the King are the Archangels subject to God. The metaphysical belief is no longer held. Therefore our State is a falsity. The State must represent the deepest philosophical or religious belief. Russell, "Philosophy" 6; LBR Lawrence does not mark any disagreement with this definition.

      There is no society which is not the expression of a fundamental idea which in this sense is religious, Lawrence argues, and so the question for him is only on which religious idea will the society of the future be based. Contemporary society, he writes in Russell's section on the Churches, "all rests on the Christian metaphysic, which each man severally rejects, but to which we all subscribe as a State or Society" What he wants Russell to articulate is the new metaphysic on which the better society for which they are looking will be based: "You must advance on the New State , where none of our sense of Truth is violated" Lawrence makes this point over and over again in his notes on Russell's typescript.

      In the section on the Churches, he writes, "There is no living society possible but one which is held together by a great religious idea. We only need not be subjectively religious. But one and all we must act from a profound religious belief" In the section in which Russell summarises his critique of contemporary institutions, he writes, "All these institutions are based on Power, Power of the King, of the husband, of the feudal baron, of God.

      This is no doubt because in this section Russell broaches the kind of criticism of the world-view that underlies social formations for which Lawrence is looking. His only notes on the section are the underlining of the following text, and the margin note, written large and underlined itself, "Do develop this! In the Roman Empire, fully developed in Stoicism, [subjectivism] made my virtue the end of life. Mediaeval Empire and Church swept away the individual. Luther began to revive him. In philosophy German idealism and English sensationalism did the same.

      Russell, "Philosophy" 16, Lawrence's emphasis. It is the philosophical, which for Lawrence will ultimately be the religious, basis of social formations which he wants both to understand and to change in his response to Russell's response to the war. Above Russell's section on "Industrialism," he writes, "The key to this is the falsity of having for an aim the production of wealth. Our aim should be the establishment of Truth" LBR Russell argues for practical solutions to the spiritual evils of industrialism — "education, shorter hours, everybody have a garden," and above all his syndicalist vision of democracy within industries as well as within the political system For Lawrence, though, it is a question of the ultimate concern on which industrialism is based, and of changing the system of production to one based on a different, and true, ultimate concern.

      He sums it up to Lady Ottoline by saying that his lecture outline "is not mystical and Blake-ish enough for him" Letters His criticism of Lawrence's response to him is ultimately that the latter's views are fantasies:. He says one ought to live from the "impulse towards the truth" which he says is fundamental in all of us. It seems to me, in him, merely an impulse to mistake his imaginations for the truth [ In his Autobiography , Russell repeats this view, speaking of the "dream-like quality of all [Lawrence's] thinking," in which "he never let himself bump into reality" ii, Nevertheless, a reading of the differences between the lecture outline that Russell sent Lawrence and the final text of the lectures themselves, delivered from January to March , suggests that Russell developed some of his ideas in response to Lawrence's criticism.

      In his autobiography, Russell recalls that when he first met Lawrence, "I thought that perhaps his insight into human nature was deeper than mine" ii, Although he came eventually to believe that Lawrence was a "positive force for evil," by the time Lawrence had criticised his lectures on social reconstruction, Russell still thought "perhaps that he could give me a vivifying dose of unreason.

      I did in fact acquire a certain stimulus from him, and I think the book that I wrote in spite of his blasts of denunciation was better than it would have been if I had not known him. He sees this in the book's first principle, that institutions should maximise "the joy of life, the quick affection, the creative insight, by which the world may grow young and beautiful and filled with vigour" Ray Monk sees the emphasis on the human instinct to fight in the essays in Justice in War-Time also to derive from Russell's discussions with Lawrence I would suggest that the main way in which Russell has developed his ideas in Principles of Social Reconstruction in response to Lawrence's criticism is that, in the final text of the lectures, he frequently uses terms like "religion," "worship" and "gods" to describe the beliefs on which contemporary institutions and practices are based, a language absent from his lecture outline.

      In the lecture on "Property," he writes:. In the modern world generally, it is the decay of life which has promoted the religion of material goods, and the religion of material goods, in its turn, has hastened the decay of life on which it thrives. Principles Russell had used the language of worship in "The Free Man's Worship" , writing, "In this lies Man's true freedom: in determination to worship only the God created by our own love of the good" Contemplation In Principles , however, he sees social practices and institutions as products of beliefs which are comparable to more traditionally recognisable religious beliefs, in precisely the way that Lawrence had been urging him to do in the notes to his lecture outline.

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      He writes:. Germany's religion is of great importance to the world, since Germans have a power of real belief, and have the energy to acquire the virtues and vices which their creed demands. For the sake of the world, we must hope that they will soon abandon the worship of wealth which they have unfortunately learnt from us. We have learned gradually to free our God from the savagery with which the primitive Israelites and the Fathers endowed Him: few of us now believe that it is His pleasure to torture most of us in an eternity of hell-fire. But we have not yet learnt to free our national ideals from the ancient taint.

      Devotion to the nation is perhaps the deepest and most widespread religion of the present age. In particular, he analyses contemporary society in precisely the terms that Lawrence asked him to in his notes on the outline for these lectures, namely to understand its practices in terms of the world view, which is ultimately a kind of religion, which underlies and governs these practices. Russell goes so far as to say, with respect to contemporary patriotism, "If the world is to be saved [ This is precisely the way in which Lawrence believes that contemporary society should be understood.

      For Lawrence, of course, the point of such criticism is to rebuild society on the basis of belief in the true God, faith in anything like which Russell cannot and will not accept. Nevertheless, Russell's statement of the problem in contemporary society, and indeed of the cause of the war, becomes, by the time he completes his lectures on social reconstruction, the kind of analysis of false gods which, for Lawrence, is the first step towards a solution in a true one. The following week Lawrence writes, "I have been wrong, much too Christian, in my philosophy. These early Greeks have clarified my soul.