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Inspirational quotes by Bertrand Russell on life, love, war, knowledge and other things.

100 Inspirational Quotes By Bertrand Russell That Portray The Positive Aspects Of Life

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Philosopher

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Trellech, Monmouthshire, UK

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Nobel Laureate Bertrand Arthur William Russell was a British polymath who rose to prominence primarily as a philosopher, and later as a logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic and political activist. Despite being a renowned philosopher, Bertrand Russell is remembered for his political activism and altercations with the British government. Though Russell shuffled as a liberal, a socialite and a pacifist in his life, he never adapted any of these. He is best known for escorting the British ‘revolt against idealism’. Russell is also believed to be the founder of the analytic philosophy, His prominent philosophical essay ‘On Denoting’ is famously remarked as a ‘paradigm of philosophy’. Much of Russell’s philosophical works exerted a strong influence on varying subjects including logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics, epistemology and metaphysics. In his life, Russell dearly advocated anti-war sentiments. He championed anti-imperialism and also campaigned against Adolf Hitler. Russell also openly criticised Stalinist totalitarianism, and attacked the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War. He was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament. His writings are reflective of his humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought. The same can also be seen in his quotes that touch a wide variety of aspects of life. Explore some of the best known quotes by Bertrand Russell in this section.

There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.

- Bertrand Russell

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

- The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

- Bertrand Russell

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already 3-parts dead.

- Bertrand Russell

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.

- Bertrand Russell

And 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

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- A History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

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

- Unpopular Essays, Bertrand Russell

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.

- The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

It's easy to fall in love. The hard part is finding someone to catch you.

- Bertrand Russell

Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.

- Bertrand Russell

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- A History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

Those who have never known the deep intimacy and the intense companionship of happy mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give.

- Bertrand Russell

It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.

- Bertrand Russell

We know very little, and yet it is astonishing that we know so much, and still more astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power.

- Bertrand Russell

No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.

- On Education, Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.

- Unpopular Essays, Bertrand Russell

Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people's.

- The Impact of Science on Society, Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Sceptical Essays, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Unpopular Essays, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

Anything you're good at contributes to happiness.

- Bertrand Russell

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.

- Bertrand Russell

Sin is geographical.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge

- Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Value, Bertrand Russell

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.

- Bertrand Russell

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.

- Unpopular Essays, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

It is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbors, or even our relations.

- Bertrand Russell

There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts.

- Bertrand Russell

Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attibutable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.

- A History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

Dogmatism is the greatest of mental obstacles to human happiness.

- The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.

- Bertrand Russell

Your writing is never as good as you hoped; but never as bad as you feared.

- Bertrand Russell

To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.

- Bertrand Russell

Love can flourish only as long as it is free and spontaneous; it tends to be killed by the thought of duty. To say that it is your duty to love so-and-so is the surest way to cause you to hate him of her.

- Marriage and Morals, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty?

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- The Impact of Science on Society, Bertrand Russell

Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.

- Bertrand Russell

Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it?

- The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

Mathematics rightly viewed possesses not only truth but supreme beauty.

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Dear Bertrand Russell: A Selection of His Correspondence with the General Public 1950-68, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Sceptical Essays, Bertrand Russell

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.

- The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

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

- Marriage and Morals, Bertrand Russell

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

- The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Our Knowledge of the External World, Bertrand Russell

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

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

- The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

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

- Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

One must care about a world one will not see.

- Bertrand Russell

Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery.

- Bertrand Russell

We love our habits more than our income, often more than our life.

- Sceptical Essays, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Bertrand Russell

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.

- Sceptical Essays, Bertrand Russell

Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.

- The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

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.

- Unpopular Essays, Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Education and the Social Order, Bertrand Russell

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.

- The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

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

- Bertrand Russell

Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn

- Bertrand Russell