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Quotations from
Bertrand Russell


      Bertrand Russell was a British aristocrat, mathematician, philosopher, and social critic. His work has had considerable influence on logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics, computer science, and philosophy, especially philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics. He was a lifelong anti-war activist: he went to prison for his pacifism during World War I, campaigned against Adolf Hitler, criticised Stalinist totali-tarianism, opposed America's Vietnam War, and promoted nuclear disarmament. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought".

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The references to WMail issues indicate quotes that appeared in the free monthly 'WMail' ezine
connected with the revolutionary "Working Minds Philosophy of Empowerment" created by G.E. Nordell.

After WMail Issue #72 in October 2007, essays & quotations & news are being posted to the Dateline Chamesa blog

Bertrand Russell entry at Wikipedia
Bertrand Russell 1950 Nobel Prize bio page

Bertrand Russell Page
at Maison d'Être Philosophy Bookstore

Bertrand Russell in 90 Minutes book by Paul Strathern  
"Bertrand Russell in 90 Minutes" [2001]
Ivan R. Dee 8x5 pb [6/2001] for $7.95
Ivan R. Dee 8¼x5¼ hardcover [6/2001] out of print/used
Introducing Bertrand Russell book by Dave Robinson & Judy Groves  
"Introducing Bertrand Russell" [2002]
by Dave Robinson & Judy Groves

Totem Books 8x5½ pb [11/2002] for $11.95

“The resistance to a new idea increases as the square of its importance.”  {Issue #11}
•      •
“So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.”  {Issue #36}
•      •
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”  {Issue #36}
•      •
“There is a motive which is stronger than self-preservation: It is the desire to get the better
of the other fellow.”  {Issue #45}
•      •
“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.”  {blog 10/2007}
•      •
“Most people would sooner die than think. In fact, they do.”   {blog 1/2008}
•      •
“What science cannot tell us, mankind cannot know.”  {blog 9/2008}
•      •
“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.”   {blog 9/2008}
•      •
“I think our own hearts can teach us no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer
to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts to make the world a place to live in
instead of the sort of place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.”
{quoted by Felix De Cola on his deathbed}   {blog 9/2008}
•      •
“The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination.”  {blog 4/2009}
•      •
“The secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible.”  {blog 1/2010}
•      •
“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living
freely and nobly.”  {blog 2/2010}
•      •
“The best life is one in which the creative impulses play the largest part and the possessive
impulses the smallest.”  {blog 2/2010}
•      •
“The next step [in a fascist movement] is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent,
by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.”  {blog 3/2010}
•      •
“Anything [that] you're good at contributes to happiness.”   {blog 3/2011}
•      •
“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”  {blog 4/2011 & 4/2017}
•      •
“The time [that] you enjoy wasting is not time wasted.”   {blog 7/2011}
•      •
“There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you can enjoy it; the other,
that you can boast about it.”  {blog 8/2012}
•      •
“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.”  {blog 1/2013}

“I think [that] the universe is all spots and jumps, without coherence or orderliness . . . it consists of events - short, small, haphazard.
Order, unity, and continuity are human inventions just as truly as are catalogues and encyclopedias.”  {blog 1/2013}
•      •
“Philosophy, if it cannot answer so many questions as we could wish, has at least the power of asking questions which increase the interest
of the world, and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of daily life.”  {blog 3/2013}
•      •
“The place of the father in the modern suburban family is a very small one, particularly if he plays golf.”  {blog 7/2013}

“If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired
the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.”  {blog 7/2013}
•      •
“The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.”
in "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish" (1937)  {blog 2/2014}
•      •
“John Locke invented common sense, and only Englishmen have had it ever since!”   {blog 11/2014}
•      •
“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”  {blog 10/2015}
•      •
“Holders of power, always and everywhere, are indifferent to the good or evil of those who have no power,
except in so far as they are restrained by fear.”  {blog 10/2017}
•      •
“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.”  {blog 2/2018}
•      •
“Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.”  {blog 2/2018}

Bertrand Russell Quotations Not Yet Used on the Blog

"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates
what he hears into something he can understand."

"Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric."

"Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise."

"Government can easily exist without laws, but law cannot exist without government."

"If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way."

"In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper,
and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying."

"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."

"Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim."

"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 habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man."

"Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination."

"The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures
themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others."

"There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action."

"Too little liberty brings stagnation and too much brings chaos."

"War does not determine who is right - only who is left."

"When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others."

"One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to
keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary
tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways."

"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."

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty.
To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."

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

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