Quotes by Bertrand Russell

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Bad philosophers may have a certain influence; good philosophers, never.

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.
The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.
A process which led from the amoebae to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress -- though whether the amoebae would agree with this opinion is not known.
Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?
Reason is a harmonizing, controlling force rather than a creative one.
Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic.
One must care about a world one will not see.
Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted.
In science men have discovered an activity of the very highest value in which they are no longer, as in art, dependent for progress upon the appearance of continually greater genius, for in science the successors stand upon the shoulders of their predecessors; where one man of supreme genius has invented a method, a thousand lesser men can apply it.
Can a society in which thought and technique are scientific persist for a long period, as, for example, ancient Egypt persisted, or does it necessarily contain within itself forces which must bring either decay or explosion?
The slave is doomed to worship time and fate and death, because they are greater than anything he finds in himself, and because all his thoughts are of things which they devour.
To expect a personality to survive the disintegration of the brain is like expecting a cricket club to survive when all of its members are dead.
The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.
There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.
The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts- the less you know the hotter you get.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.
If any philosopher had been asked for a definition of infinity, he might have produced some unintelligible rigmarole, but he would certainly not have been able to give a definition that had any meaning at all.
Hatred of enemies is easier and more intense than love of friends. But from men who are more anxious to injure opponents than to benefit the world at large no great good is to be expected.
Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.
Anything you're good at contributes to happiness.
To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life slowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future.
There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate government action.
No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.
Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.
Folly is perennial, yet the human race has survived.
The fundamental defect with fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them.
With the introduction of agriculture mankind entered upon a long period of meanness, misery, and madness, from which they are only now being freed by the beneficent operation of the machine.
In the revolt against idealism, the ambiguities of the word experience have been perceived, with the result that realists have more and more avoided the word.
An extra-terrestrial philosopher, who had watched a single youth up to the age of twenty-one and had never come across any other human being, might conclude that it is the nature of human beings to grow continually taller and wiser in an indefinite progress towards perfection; and this generalization would be just as well founded as the generalization which evolutionists base upon the previous history of this planet.
Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance.
Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself.
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.
We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.
To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy.
Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring that he is an inexact man.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
Conventional people are roused to fury by departures from convention, largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves.
The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.
There will still be things that machines cannot do. They will not produce great art or great literature or great philosophy; they will not be able to discover the secret springs of happiness in the human heart; they will know nothing of love and friendship.
If all our happiness is bound up entirely in our personal circumstances it is difficult not to demand of life more than it has to give.
What men want is not knowledge, but certainty.
Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
When the intensity of emotional conviction subsides, a man who is in the habit of reasoning will search for logical grounds in favor of the belief which he finds in himself.
No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor, but honest.
Indignation is a submission of our thoughts, but not of our desires.
In the visible world, the Milky Way is a tiny fragment; within this fragment, the solar system is an infinitesimal speck, and of this speck our planet is a microscopic dot. On this dot, tiny lumps of impure carbon and water, of complicated structure, with somewhat unusual physical and chemical properties, crawl about for a few years, until they are dissolved again into the elements of which they are compounded. They divide their time between labour designed to postpone the moment of dissolution for themselves and frantic struggles to hasten it for others of their kind.
I had supposed until that time that it was quite common for parents to love their children, but the war persuaded me that it is a rare exception. I had supposed that most people liked money better than almost anything else, but I discovered that they liked destruction even better. I had supposed that intellectuals frequently loved truth, but I found here again that not ten per cent of them prefer truth to popularity.
To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Our instinctive emotions are those that we have inherited from a much more dangerous world, and contain, therefore, a larger portion of fear than they should.
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.

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