Bertrand Russell Quotes

Bertrand Russell Quotes

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was a British philosopher, mathematician, and social reformer, widely regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. He was born in Trelleck, Monmouthshire, Wales, into an aristocratic family with a long tradition of radical social and political activism.

Russell’s early education was heavily influenced by his grandfather, John Russell, a prominent Whig politician and social reformer. In 1890, Russell entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics and philosophy. He soon became interested in the foundations of mathematics and logic, and his work in these fields laid the groundwork for much of his later philosophical thought.

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Russell’s early philosophical works include “The Principles of Mathematics” (1903) and “Principia Mathematica” (1910-1913), co-written with Alfred North Whitehead. These works established Russell as one of the leading figures in the field of analytic philosophy.

In addition to his philosophical work, Russell was an active participant in political and social movements. He was a member of the Fabian Society, a socialist group that aimed to achieve social and economic justice through gradual reform. He was also an outspoken critic of British imperialism and played a key role in the anti-war movement during World War I.

Russell continued to write and publish works on a wide range of topics throughout his life, including ethics, religion, and the history of philosophy. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in recognition of his contributions to the field of literature and philosophy.

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Despite his many achievements, Russell’s personal life was marked by tragedy and turmoil. He was married four times, and his personal relationships were often fraught with conflict and tension. He also struggled with depression throughout much of his life.

Russell died in 1970 at the age of 97. His legacy as a philosopher and social reformer continues to influence contemporary thought and politics.

We explore the insightful words of Bertrand Russell, where he shares his profound perspectives on success, happiness, and education.

Bertrand Russell Quotes About Knowledge

1. “The search for something permanent is one of the deepest of the instincts leading men to philosophy.”

2. “A habit of finding pleasure in thought rather than action is a safeguard against unwisdom and excessive love of power, a means of preserving serenity in misfortune and peace of mind among worries. A life confined to what is personal is likely, sooner or later, to become unbearably painful; it is only by windows into a larger and less fretful cosmos that the more tragic parts of life become endurable.”

3. “Whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.”

4. “Understanding human nature must be the basis of any real improvement in human life. Science has done wonders in mastering the laws of the physical world, but our own nature is much less understood, as yet, than the nature of stars and electrons. When science learns to understand human nature, it will be able to bring a happiness into our lives which machines and the physical sciences have failed to create.”

5. “I’ve made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant, I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite. ”

6. “The centre of me is always and eternally in terrible pain … A searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfiguring and infinite.”

7. “Language serves not only to express thought but to make possible thoughts which could not exist without it.”

Bertrand Russell quotes on Knowledge

8. “If the ordinary wage-earner worked four hours a day, there would be enough for everybody and no unemployment — assuming a certain very moderate amount of sensible organization. This idea shocks the well-to-do, because they are convinced that the poor would not know how to use so much leisure. In America men often work long hours even when they are well off; such men, naturally, are indignant at the idea of leisure for wage-earners, except as the grim punishment of unemployment; in fact, they dislike leisure even for their sons.”

9. “The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason.”

10. “We do not like to be robbed of an enemy; we want someone to hate when we suffer. It is so depressing to think that we suffer because we are fools; yet, taking mankind in the mass, that is the truth.”

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11. “The wise man will be as happy as circumstances permit, and if he finds the contemplation of the universe painful beyond a point, he will contemplate something else instead.”

12. “All the labor of all the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction. So now, my friends, if that is true, and it is true, what is the point?”

13. “Altogether it will be found that a quiet life is characteristic of great men, and that their pleasures have not been of the sort that would look exciting to the outward eye.”

14. “This [Hegel’s philosophy] illustrates an important truth, namely, that the worse your logic, the more interesting the consequences to which it gives rise.”

15. “The man who pursues happiness wisely will aim at the possession of a number of subsidiary interests in addition to those central ones upon which his life is built.”

16. “William James describes a man who got the experience from laughing-gas; whenever he was under its influence, he knew the secret of the universe, but when he came to, he had forgotten it. At last, with immense effort, he wrote down the secret before the vision had faded. When completely recovered, he rushed to see what he had written. It was: “A smell of petroleum prevails throughout.”

17. “Belief in God and a future life makes it possible to go through life with less of stoic courage than is needed by skeptics.”

18. “Never let yourself be diverted, either by what you wish to believe, or what you think could have beneficent social effects if it were believed; but look only and solely at what are the facts.”

19. “The root of the matter is a very simple and old fashioned thing… love or compassion. If you feel this, you have a motive for existence, a guide for action, a reason for courage, an imperative necessity for intellectual honesty.”

20. “I dislike Nietzsche because he likes the contemplation of pain, because he erects conceit into a duty, because the men whom he most admires are conquerors, whose glory is cleverness in causing men to die.”

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21. “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.”

22. “A life too full of excitement is an exhausting life, in which continually stronger stimuli are needed to give the thrill that has come to be thought an essential part of pleasure.”

23. “Politics is largely governed by sententious platitudes which are devoid of truth”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Education

24. “A man is rational in proportion as his intelligence informs and controls his desires.”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Education

25. “There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”

26. “no one ever gossips about the virtues of others”

27. “So in everything: power lies with those who control finance, not with those who know the matter upon which the money is to be spent. Thus, the holders of power are, in general, ignorant and malevolent, and the less they exercise their power the better.”

28. “The Church no longer contends that knowledge is in itself sinful, though it did so in its palmy days; but the acquisition of knowledge, even though not sinful, is dangerous, since it may lead to pride of intellect, and hence to a questioning of the Christian dogma.”

29. “The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.”

30. “Even if all the experts agree, they may well be mistaken.”

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31. “Love is wise, Hatred is foolish”

32. “I must, before I die, find some way to say the essential thing that is in me, that I have never said yet — a thing that is not love or hate or pity or scorn, but the very breath of life, fierce and coming from far away, bringing into human life the vastness and the fearful passionless force of non-human things.”

33. “I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: “The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that’s fair.” In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.”

34. “Most people would rather die than think and many of them do!”

35. “I consider the official Catholic attitude on divorce, birth control, and censorship exceedingly dangerous to mankind.”

36. “Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.”

37. “I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.”

38. “Every isolated passion, is, in isolation, insane; sanity may be defined as synthesis of insanities. Every dominant passion generates a dominant fear, the fear of its non-fulfillment. Every dominant fear generates a nightmare, sometimes in form of explicit and conscious fanaticism, sometimes in paralyzing timidity, sometimes in an unconscious or subconscious terror which finds expression only in dreams. The man who wishes to preserve sanity in a dangerous world should summon in his own mind a parliament of fears, in which each in turn is voted absurd by all the others.”

39. “Envy consists in seeing things never in themselves, but only in their relations. If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon, but Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.”

40. “I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive.”

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41. “There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it [on Goodreads].”

42. “The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship or affection.”

43. “No nation was ever so virtuous as each believes itself, and none was ever so wicked as each believes the other.”

44. “Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Success

45. “Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Success

46. “The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.”

47. “I hate the world and almost all the people in it. I hate the Labour Congress and the journalists who send men to be slaughtered, and the fathers who feel a smug pride when their sons are killed, and even the pacifists who keep saying human nature is essentially good, in spite of all the daily proofs to the contrary. I hate the planet and the human race—I am ashamed to belong to such a species.”

48. “a generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men, of men unduly divorced from the slow process of nature, of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers as though they were cut flowers in a vase.”

49. “Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery.”

50. “Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer results, than any other branch of learning.”

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51. “We love our habits more than our income, often more than our life.”

52. “One must care about a world one will not see.”

53. “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

54. “Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn”

55. “Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.”

56. “Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.”

57. “There was a footpath leading across fields to New Southgate, and I used to go there alone to watch the sunset and contemplate suicide. I did not, however, commit suicide, because I wished to know more of mathematics.”

58. “Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.”

59. “Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives’ mouths.”

60. “I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. ”

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61. “In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Life

62. “I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Life

63. “Conquer the world by intelligence, and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it.”

64. “It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won’t go.”

65. “It seems to me a fundamental dishonesty, and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful and not because you think it’s true.”

66. “The world that I should wish to see would be one freed from the virulence of group hostilities and capable of realizing that happiness for all is to be derived rather from co-operation than from strife. I should wish to see a world in which education aimed at mental freedom rather than imprisoning the minds of the young in rigid armor of dogma calculated to protect them through life against the shafts of impartial evidence.”

67. “Morality in sexual relations, when it is free from superstition, consists essentially in respect for the other person, and unwillingness to use that person solely as a means of personal gratification, without regard to his or her desires.”

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

69. “The wise man thinks about his troubles only when there is some purpose in doing so; at other times he thinks about other things, or, if it is night, about nothing at all.”

70. “Mathematics rightly viewed possesses not only truth but supreme beauty.”

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71. “The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish form our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair.”

72. “One of the most powerful of all our passions is the desire to be admired and respected.”

73. “The secret of happiness is very simply this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile”

74. “Having made the decision, do not revise it unless some new fact comes to your knowledge. Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.”

75. “It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition.”

76. “Whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities.”

77. “The use of self control is like the use of brakes on train. It is useful when you find yourself in wrong direction but merely harmful when the direction is right”

78. “Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.”

79. “We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one which we preach, but do not practice, and another which we practice, but seldom preach.”

80. “Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.”

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81. “Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.”

82. “To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Happiness

83. “The secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible.”

Bertrand Russell Quotes On Happiness

84. “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

85. “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 widely spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”

86. “[T]he infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.”

87. “Patriots always talk of dying for their country but never of killing for their country.”

88. “Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.”

89. “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.”

90. “So far as I can remember there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.”

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91. “The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.”

92. “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

93. “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.”

94. “Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cozy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigor, and the great spaces have a splendor of their own.”

95. “I believe in using words, not fists. I believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street. I believe in honesty. I believe in a good time. I believe in good food. I believe in sex.”

96. “The secret of happiness is this: let your interest be as wide as possible and let your reactions to the things and persons who interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile. ”

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

98. “The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.”

99. “The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge”

100. “When considering marriage one should ask oneself this question; ‘will I be able to talk with this person into old age?’ Everything else is transitory, the most time is spent in conversation.”

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