Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell - (Born: 18 May 1872 - Died: 2 February 1970)

British philosopher, logician, essayist, and social critic, best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy.

His most influential technical contributions include his defense of logicism (the view that all mathematics is derivable from formal logic), and his theories of definite descriptions and logical atomism.

Jailed, lost his professorship, and fined after writing a pacifist pamphlet and opposing WWI. However, he was a "Relative Pacifist" who believed war could be justified in the absence of other options. After visiting Russia, attacked Stalin and Bolshevism. Supported WWII against fascism.

He was vigorously protested against during his first visit to the US, for justifying sex outside of marriage between people who truly love each other.

The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will be arrived at. First, that the influence of the home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity.

...Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The population will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.

-- Bertrand Russell, 1951, The Impact of Science on Society

Prominent anti-nuclear campaigner.

His History of Western Philosophy (ISBN 0671201581 ) is a brilliant piece of work.

CategoryPhilosophy CategoryPerson

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