100 Inspirational Quotes By Bertrand Russell That Portray The Positive Aspects Of Life
Trellech, Monmouthshire, UK
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. Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric. The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already 3-parts dead. I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong. 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 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. 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. 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. Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. It's easy to fall in love. The hard part is finding someone to catch you. Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so. The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. 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. 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. It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly. 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. No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues. It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this. The secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible. Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd. Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people's. Patriots always talk of dying for their country but never of killing for their country. So far as I can remember there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence. Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality. 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. [T]he infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell. 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. 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. 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. Anything you're good at contributes to happiness. To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness. The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. 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. Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise. Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. 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. The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge 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. Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones. 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. 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. 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. Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attibutable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century. Dogmatism is the greatest of mental obstacles to human happiness. Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. Your writing is never as good as you hoped; but never as bad as you feared. To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness. 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. 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. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? 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. Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves. Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it? 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. Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim. Conquer the world by intelligence, and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it. The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. 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. Mathematics rightly viewed possesses not only truth but supreme beauty. 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. Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact. Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons I consider the official Catholic attitude on divorce, birth control, and censorship exceedingly dangerous to mankind. 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. One of the most powerful of all our passions is the desire to be admired and respected. 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 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 Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed. 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. Whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities. No nation was ever so virtuous as each believes itself, and none was ever so wicked as each believes the other. The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination. 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. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. 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. Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer results, than any other branch of learning. To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level. Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it. I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure. 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. One must care about a world one will not see. Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery. We love our habits more than our income, often more than our life. 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. 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. Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile.
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.
The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.
Belief in God and a future life makes it possible to go through life with less of stoic courage than is needed by skeptics.
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.
There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.
Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed. Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn