The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell


Russell, an epistemologist and moral philosopher

Bertrand Russell, british philosopher, is one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. He is both a brilliant mathematician, a logician and a resolut moralist. He popularized the philosophy and was a left-wing political militant , close to socialism. Bertrand Russell was also a prolific writer. His bibliography is impressive.

Throughout his life, Bertrand Russell has demonstrated an extraordinary lucidity and an implacable logic. He was, above all, a man who had the courage of his convictions. Not only was he a free thinker, but also a free speaker. What he thought, he said, even offend people and make enemies, which was, it seems, the last of his worries. His radical positions have also earned him two spells in prison. Bertrand Russell was not only controversial, but he loved the controversy. He never missed an opportunity to take a stand on many issues, which earned him many disappointments.

Some of his books show, however, a certain complacency. Because of this complacency that transpire throughout his autobiography, reading the three volumes I have been rather painful. For cons, the reading of several of his other books was very rewarding. Bertrand Russell was an aristocrat, imbued with himself, but possessed of a keen intelligence and highly developed critical thinking. We can not say that humility, tact, delicacy and diplomacy were his strengths. His attitude earned him the difficult relationship with his entourage. His autobiography mentions his strained relationship with his parents, friends, teachers and even his wives, because he divorced a few times.


Bertrand Russel and religion

Having been raised in a religious atmosphere stifling, the young Bertrand rebelled against religion and biblical texts, as a teenager. He put into question the existence of God, free will and the immortality of the soul. He became an atheist. What the revolt at the highest point, it was the crimes committed, especially against women, in the name of religion and biblical texts. Based on the Bible and the following: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus XXII, 18), Pope Innocent VIII issued in 1494, a bull against witchcraft and appointed two inquisitors responsible for repression. The latter did appear, the same year a book entitled “Malheus Maleficarum,” or in French: “The Hammer of Malfaitrices” in which they claimed that witchcraft was more natural to women, because of the wickedness of their land heart. Between 1450 and 1550, an estimated one hundred thousand the number of women who were burned at the stake, in Germany alone.

It did not seem scruples in that time, nor the need to gather evidence, because the slightest denunciation became an automatic locking, poor women are subjected to the worst torture to extract confessions. The prosecution’s most crazy and most common was that of having caused the bad weather. According to the Church of the time, storms, storms, thunder and lightning were caused by women’s machinations. Those who dared to question the responsibility of women in bad weather, were exterminated without mercy.

The discovery of anesthetics was also an opportunity for intervention of the Church strongly opposed, especially for deliveries. She quoted the Bible where God told Eve that she give birth in pain. According to the Church, how could women give birth in pain if she was under the influence of anesthetics. By cons, there was anesthetized man, for ever according to the Bible, God had Adam plunged into a deep sleep to remove a rib.

Bertrand Russell wrote about religion: “The Christian religion was and still is the greatest enemy of moral progress in the world.” As for Islam, he wrote: “Among religions, Islam should be compared to Bolshevism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines, while Islam and Bolshevism have a practical purpose, social, material, whose sole purpose is to extend their dominion over the earth. ”

Bertrand Russell and peace in the world

Bertrand Russell strongly opposed the participation of England in the First World War, which earned him the loss of his professorship at Cambridge University, and six months in prison. By cons, he did not object to the Second World War against Nazi Germany, believing that Hitler was a terrifying threat to humanity. He took position to Albert Einstein when he was violently attacked by the U.S. McCarthyites who accused him of being a communist. During the 1950s, he opposed nuclear weapons by signing a manifesto with Albert Einstein and hosting conferences. He was imprisoned for his views. He campaigned against the war in Vietnam with Jean-Paul Sartre, organizing a court trying war crimes in the U.S. Army. There was obviously a lot of enemies.


Bertrand Russell and science

According to Bertrand Russell, there were many conflicts between science and religion throughout the history of humanity and science is always emerged victorious, because it was based on concrete evidence instead of relying on the illumination as did religion. When a man of science tells us the result of experience, it also tells us how the experiment was performed. If other people can repeat it, it holds for real. In terms of religion, we must rely on the vision of a mystic who believed himself invested with a divine mission to assert something without real proof. According to Bertrand Russell, it is useless to talk to the mystic who claims to have experienced enlightenment and who has strong beliefs, but why should we force others to believe as well?

A man of superior intelligence and logic as implacable as Bertrand Russell did not fail to bring out the incongruities and absurdities of a sacred text like the Bible. He deplored the crimes committed in the name of the Bible considered the word of God. To doubt the Bible, according to the Church was, to doubt the word of God and thus committing a sacrilege punishable by death.

One of the biggest conflicts between science and religion was unquestionably the position of the earth in the universe. On the basis of serious study, scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo came to the conclusion that the earth revolved around the sun. For its part, the Church, based on a text of the Bible in the Old Testament, where it says that Joshua commanded the sun to stop, came to the conclusion that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun, moon and stars revolved around the earth.

Surprisingly, it was the Protestant Christians who were the most bitter against the new astronomy. Luther said, “Some give ear to an upstart that astrology has sought to demonstrate that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. This fool wants to overturn the whole science of astrology, but the Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth. ”

Galileo had to appear before the Inquisition, to bow before his judges and recant his writings, asking pardon of God and the Church for daring to say such nonsense. He was still sentenced to three years in prison.


Russell’s Bibliography & Main Works :

Principia Mathematica with Alfred North Whitehead, 3 vols. (1910, 1912, 1913)

Problems of Philosophy (1910)

The scientific method in philosophy (1914)

Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics (1919)

The world might be (1920)

The analysis of the mind (1921)

ABC of Relativity (1925)

Why I’m not Christian (1927)

Testing skeptics (1928)

Marriage and morals (1929)

The Conquest of Happiness (1930)

The scientific spirit (1931)

Science and Religion (1935)

Human knowledge (1948)

Why I am not a Communist (1956)

My conception of the world (1962)

Autobiography, 3 vols. (1967)

Cite this article as: Tim, "The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, May 17, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 17, 2012,

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