Quotations From BERTRAND RUSSELL


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  • Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician. Unpopular Essays, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish," (1950).

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  • Admiration of the proletariat, like that of dams, power stations, and aeroplanes, is part of the ideology of the machine age.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician. "The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed," Unpopular Essays (1950).

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  • I do not pretend to start with precise questions. I do not think you can start with anything precise. You have to achieve such precision as you can, as you go along.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician, activist, pacifist. The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, p. 49 (1918). Reflection on the nature of analytic philosophy.
  • I remain convinced that obstinate addiction to ordinary language in our private thoughts is one of the main obstacles to progress in philosophy.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician, activist, pacifist. Library of Living Philosophers: The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, p. 694, ed. P. Schilpp (1944). One of the author's many expressions of his preference for an ideal or logically perfect language over ordinary language.
  • To understand a name you must be acquainted with the particular of which it is a name.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher. Logic and Knowledge, "The Philosophy of Logical Atomism," p. 205, Allen & Unwin (1956).
  • Liberty is the right to do what I like; license, the right to do what you like.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician. "Newly Discovered Maxims of La Rochefoucauld," Fact and Fiction, Simon & Schuster (1961).
  • Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician. Article first published in International Monthly, vol. 4 (1901). Mysticism and Logic, ch. 4 (1917). In a letter of March 1912 to Lady Ottoline Morrell, Russell wrote: "I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe—because, like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return."
  • In America everybody is of opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician. "Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind," ch. 10, Unpopular Essays (1950).

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  • Those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician. A Free Man's Worship and Other Essays, ch. 2 (1976).

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  • The theoretical understanding of the world, which is the aim of philosophy, is not a matter of great practical importance to animals, or to savages, or even to most civilised men.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician. A Free Man's Worship and Other Essays, ch. 1 (1976).

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