A Briton who lived a life devoted to the study of philosphy, Russell taught at leading British and American universities. He garnered some notoriety during the first world war due to his support for passivism.
Related Links: Bertrand Russell Society
Showing 1 through 23 of 23 quotations by Bertrand Russell.
"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."
"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way."
"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavour after a worthy manner of life."
"There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate government action."
"Although it is a gloomy view to suppose that life will die out, sometimes when I contemplate the things that people do with their lives I think it is almost a consolation."
"Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones."
"What men really want is not knowledge but certainty."
"I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: 'The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair.' In these words he epitomized the history of the human race."
"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."
"Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure."
"I wish to propose for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true."
"Religion is based ... mainly upon fear ... fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand . . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race."
"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."
"The Christian view that all intercourse outside marriage is immoral was, as we see in the...passages from St. Paul, based upon the view that all sexual intercourse, even within marriage, is regrettable. A view of this sort, which goes against biological facts, can only be regarded by sane people as a morbid aberration. The fact that it is embedded in Christian ethics has made Christianity throughout its whole history a force tending towards mental disorders and unwholesome views of life."
"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."
"The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution."
"Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves."
"The method of 'postulating' what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil."
"Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so."
"The desire to understand the world and the desire to reform it are the two great engines of progress."
"Religions that teach brotherly love have been used as an excuse for persecution, and our profoundest scientific insight is made into a means of mass destruction."
"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."