## Bertrand Russell

**Country :**United Kingdom**Profession :**Philosopher, Logician, Mathematician, Historian, and Social Critic**DOB:**1872-05-18

**Details About Author:**

Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) was a British philosopher, logician, and social critic. Renowned for his contributions to analytic philosophy, he co-authored “Principia Mathematica” and championed logic’s role in clarifying thought. Russell’s pacifist activism led to his dismissal from Cambridge in World War I. He advocated for nuclear disarmament during the Cold War. His works covered a wide array of topics including ethics, metaphysics, and the nature of knowledge. Russell won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950. His ideas on logic, mathematics, and language remain influential, shaping modern philosophy and cognitive science.

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**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than man, which is the touchstone of highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

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

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

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 civilized men.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The solution of the difficulties which formerly surrounded the mathematical infinite is probably the greatest achievement of which our age has to boast.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The significance of a fact is relative to [the general body of scientific] knowledge. To say that a fact is significant in science, is to say that it helps to establish or refute some general law; for science, though it starts from observation of the particular, is not concerned essentially with the particular, but with the general. A fact, in science, is not a mere fact, but an instance. In this the scientist differs from the artist, who, if he deigns to notice facts at all, is likely to notice them in all their particularity.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The scientific attitude of mind involves a sweeping away of all other desires in the interest of the desire to know.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The root of the matter the thing I mean is love, Christian 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.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The results of science, in the form of mechanism, poison gas, and the yellow press, bid fair to lead to the total downfall of our civilization.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The pure mathematician, like the musician, is a free creator of his world of ordered beauty.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The oranges, it is true, are not all exactly of the same size, but careful machinery sorts them so that automatically all those in one box are exactly similar. They travel along with suitable things being done to them by suitable machines at suitable points until they enter a suitable refrigerator car in which they travel to a suitable market. The machine stamps the word “Sunkist” upon them, but otherwise there is nothing to suggest that nature has any part in their production.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

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

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The nineteenth century, which prided itself upon the invention of steam and evolution, might have derived a more legitimate title to fame from the discovery of pure mathematics.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The nineteenth century which prides itself upon the invention of steam and evolution, might have derived a more legitimate title to fame from the discovery of pure mathematics.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The most obvious and easy things in mathematics are not those that come logically at the beginning; they are things that, from the point of view of logical deduction, come somewhere in the middle. Just as the easiest bodies to see are those that are neither very near nor very far…

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The more we realize our minuteness and our impotence in the face of cosmic forces, the more amazing becomes what human beings have achieved.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The modern development of mathematical logic dates from Boole’s Laws of Thought (1854). But in him and his successors, before Peano and Frege, the only thing really achieved, apart from certain details, was the invention of a mathematical symbolism for deducing consequences from the premises which the newer methods shared with Aristotle.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The method of “postulating” what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The Italian Renaissance, though not medieval, is not modern; it is more akin to the best age of Greece. … No Italian of the Renaissance would have been unintelligible to Plato or Aristotle…. With the seventeenth century it is different: Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas and Occam, could not have made head or tail of Newton.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The human race may well become extinct before the end of the century. Speaking as a mathematician, I should say the odds are about three to one against survival.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The first man who said “fire burns” was employing scientific method, at any rate if he had allowed himself to be burnt several times. This man had already passed through the two stages of observation and generalization. He had not, however, what scientific technique demands—a careful choice of significant facts on the one hand, and, on the other hand, various means of arriving at laws otherwise than my mere generalization. (1931)

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The fact that all Mathematics is Symbolic Logic is one of the greatest discoveries of our age; and when this fact has been established, the remainder of the principles of mathematics consists of the analysis of Symbolic Logic itself.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The examination system, and the fact that instruction is treated mainly as a training for a livelihood, leads the young to regard knowledge from a purely utilitarian point of view as the road to money, not as the gateway to wisdom.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The distinctive Western character begins with the Greeks, who invented the habit of deductive reasoning and the science of geometry.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The desire to understand the world and the desire to reform it are the two great engines of progress.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. If you take your children for a picnic on a doubtful day, they will demand a dogmatic answer as to whether it will be fine or wet, and be disappointed in you when you cannot be sure.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

The degree of one’s emotions varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts—the less you know the hotter you get.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Symbolism is useful because it makes things difficult. Now in the beginning everything is self-evident, and it is hard to see whether one self-evident proposition follows from another or not. Obviousness is always the enemy to correctness. Hence we must invent a new and difficult symbolism in which nothing is obvious. … Thus the whole of Arithmetic and Algebra has been shown to require three indefinable notions and five indemonstrable propositions.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Sir Arthur Eddington deduces religion from the fact that atoms do not obey the laws of mathematics. Sir James Jeans deduces it from the fact that they do.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Since the world is what it is, it is clear that valid reasoning from sound principles cannot lead to error; but a principle may be so nearly true as to deserve theoretical respect, and yet may lead to practical consequences which we feel to be absurd. There is therefore a justification for common sense in philosophy, but only as showing that our theoretical principles cannot be quite correct so long as their consequences are condemned by an appeal to common sense which we feel to be irresistible.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Scientific method, although in its more refined forms it may seem complicated, is in essence remarkably simply. It consists in observing such facts as will enable the observer to discover general laws governing facts of the kind in question. The two stages, first of observation, and second of inference to a law, are both essential, and each is susceptible of almost indefinite refinement. (1931)

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Science, in its ultimate ideal, consists of a set of propositions arranged in a hierarchy, the lowest level of the hierarchy being concerned with particular facts, and the highest with some general law, governing everything in the universe. The various levels in the hierarchy have a two-fold logical connection, travelling one up, one down; the upward connection proceeds by induction, the downward by deduction.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Science, by itself, cannot supply us with an ethic. It can show us how to achieve a given end, and it may show us that some ends cannot be achieved. But among ends that can be achieved our choice must be decided by other than purely scientific considerations. If a man were to say, “I hate the human race, and I think it would be a good thing if it were exterminated,” we could say, “Well, my dear sir, let us begin the process with you.” But this is hardly argument, and no amount of science could prove such a man mistaken.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

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

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Science may be a boon if war can be abolished and democracy and cultural liberty preserved. If this cannot be done, science will precipitate evils greater than any that mankind has ever experienced.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Science is what you more or less know and philosophy is what you do not know.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Remote from human passions, remote even from the pitiful facts of nature, the generations have gradually created an ordered cosmos [mathematics], where pure thought can dwell in its natural home…

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt read on and science as our guidelines.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Real life is, to most men, a long second-best, a perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible; but the world of pure reason ;knows no compromise, no practical limitations, no barrier to the creative activity.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Pure mathematics was discovered by Boole in a work which he called “The Laws of Thought” (1854).… His book was in fact concerned with formal logic, and this is the same thing as mathematics.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Pure Mathematics is the class of all propositions of the form “p implies q,” where p and q are propositions containing one or more variables, the same in the two propositions, and neither p nor q contains any constants except logical constants. And logical constants are all notions definable in terms of the following: Implication, the relation of a term to a class of which it is a member, the notion of such that, the notion of relation, and such further notions as may be involved in the general notion of propositions of the above form. In addition to these, mathematics uses a notion which is not a constituent of the propositions which it considers, namely the notion of truth.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Pure mathematics consists entirely of such asseverations as that, if such and such is a proposition is true of anything, then such and such another propositions is true of that thing. It is essential not to discuss whether the first proposition is really true, and not to mention what the anything is of which it is supposed to be true. Both these points would belong to applied mathematics. … If our hypothesis is about anything and not about some one or more particular things, then our deductions constitute mathematics. Thus mathematics may be defined as the the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, not whether what we are saying is true. People who have been puzzled by the beginnings of mathematics will, I hope, find comfort in this definition, and will probably agree that it is accurate.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Probability is the most important concept in modern science, especially as nobody has the slightest notion of what it means.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Physics tells us much less about the physical world than we thought it did.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little: it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Physical science is thus approaching the stage when it will be complete, and therefore uninteresting. Given the laws governing the motions of electrons and protons, the rest is merely geography—a collection of particular facts.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Philosophy is that part of science which at present people chose to have opinions about, but which they have no knowledge about. Therefore every advance in knowledge robs philosophy of some problems which formerly it had …and will belong to science.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So 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?

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Ordinary language is totally unsuited for expressing what physics really asserts, since the words of everyday life are not sufficiently abstract. Only mathematics and mathematical logic can say as little as the physicist means to say.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Only mathematics and mathematical logic can say as little as the physicist means to say. (1931)

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

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

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

One of the main purposes of scientific inference is to justify beliefs which we entertain already; but as a rule they are justified with a difference. Our pre-scientific general beliefs are hardly ever without exceptions; in science, a law with exceptions can only be tolerated as a makeshift. Scientific laws, when we have reason to think them accurate, are different in form from the common-sense rules which have exceptions: they are always, at least in physics, either differential equations, or statistical averages. It might be thought that a statistical average is not very different from a rule with exceptions, but this would be a mistake. Statistics, ideally, are accurate laws about large groups; they differ from other laws only in being about groups, not about individuals. Statistical laws are inferred by induction from particular statistics, just as other laws are inferred from particular single occurrences.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

One of the chiefest triumphs of modern mathematics consists in having discovered what mathematics really is.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

One must expect a war between U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. which will begin with the total destruction of London. I think the war will last 30 years, and leave a world without civilised people, from which everything will have to build afresh—a process taking (say) 500 years.

Stated just one month after the Hiroshima atomic explosion. Russell became one of the best-known antinuclear activists of his era.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Of these austerer virtues the love of truth is the chief, and in mathematics, more than elsewhere, the love of truth may find encouragement for waning faith. Every great study is not only an end in itself, but also a means of creating and sustaining a lofty habit of mind; and this purpose should be kept always in view throughout the teaching and learning of mathematics.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

No man treats a motorcar as foolishly as he treats another human being. When the car will not go, he does not attribute its annoying behavior to sin; he does not say, “You are a wicked motorcar, and I shall not give you any more petrol until you go.” He attempts to find out what is wrong and to set it right. An analogous way of treating human beings is, however, considered to be contrary to the truths of our holy religion.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Mere instruction to memorise data is empty. The attempt to enforce conventional mediocrity on the young is criminal.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

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

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth more than ruin more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Mathematics takes us still further from what is human, into the region of absolute necessity, to which not only the world, but every possible world, must conform.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Mathematics may be defined as the the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, not whether what we are saying is true.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Mathematics is a study which, when we start from its most familiar portions, may be pursued in either of two opposite directions. The more familiar direction is constructive, towards gradually increasing complexity: from integers to fractions, real numbers, complex numbers; from addition and multiplication to differentiation and integration, and on to higher mathematics. The other direction, which is less familiar, proceeds, by analysing, to greater and greater abstractness and logical simplicity; instead of asking what can be defined and deduced from what is assumed to begin with, we ask instead what more general ideas and principles can be found, in terms of which what was our starting-point can be defined or deduced. It is the fact of pursuing this opposite direction that characterises mathematical philosophy as opposed to ordinary mathematics.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Man is a rational animal—so at least I have been told. … Aristotle, so far as I know, was the first man to proclaim explicitly that man is a rational animal. His reason for this view was … that some people can do sums. … It is in virtue of the intellect that man is a rational animal. The intellect is shown in various ways, but most emphatically by mastery of arithmetic. The Greek system of numerals was very bad, so that the multiplication table was quite difficult, and complicated calculations could only be made by very clever people.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Man is a part of nature, not something contrasted with nature. His thoughts and his bodily movements follow the same laws that describe the motions of stars and atoms.

**Author:**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.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous and loathed because they impose slavery.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

John Locke invented common sense, and only Englishmen have had it ever since!

**Author:**Bertrand Russell

It seemed that animals always behave in a manner showing the rightness of the philosophy entertained by the man who observes them… . Throughout the reign of Queen Victoria all apes were virtuous monogamists, but during the dissolute twenties their morals underwent a disastrous deterioration.

**Author:**Bertrand Russell