Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) was a prestigious British mathematician, philosopher and writer who made important contributions to the world of Western thought.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, not only for the depth of his texts but also for his humanistic spirit. He was, together with Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper, one of the main references in the field of analytical philosophy. He also theorized about religions and their impact on human societies.
Famous phrases of Bertrand Russell
His pacifism and his fierce opposition to the First World War tell us of a global thinker who swam against the tide of the designs of the early 20th century.
In order to know in depth the thought of this extraordinary thinker, we have proposed to compile the best phrases of Bertrand Russell in today’s article .
1. The history of the world is the sum of that which would have been avoidable.
Famous quote referring to the catastrophe of war.
2. I oppose all superstition, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Buddhist.
A summary of the value he placed on religions.
3. Scientists strive to make the impossible possible. Politicians strive to make the possible impossible.
A contradiction that can only be understood if we know the interests of the political elite.
4. Slander is always simple and plausible.
The insult always (or almost always) comes free.
5. Being able to fill leisure intelligently is the ultimate result of civilization.
Knowing how to have fun is a symptom of vitality.
6. Whether science can survive long depends on psychology; that is, it depends on what human beings desire.
Interesting reflection on the human will.
7. How nice would be a world in which no one was allowed to trade on the stock exchange unless he or she had passed an exam on Greek economics and poetry, and in which politicians were obliged to have a solid knowledge of history and modern novels!
A famous quote by Bertrand Russell with a certain aristocratic flair.
8. Much of the difficulty the world is experiencing is due to the fact that the ignorant are completely safe and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Phrase about the intelligence that prevents us from false prophets.
9. The judicious man thinks of his evils only when they lead to something practical; all other moments are devoted to other things.
Rumination is a bad habit that we should banish from our minds, according to Russell.
10. Among all the forms of caution, caution in love is possibly the most lethal for authentic happiness.
Love must be lived spontaneously.
11. The world needs open minds and hearts, and these cannot be derived from rigid systems whether old or new.
Reflection on empathy and humanity.
12. Don’t think it’s convenient to act by hiding evidence, because the evidence ends up coming out.
Lies don’t have a long run.
13. Be scrupulous in the truth, even if the truth is uncomfortable, because it is more uncomfortable when you try to hide it.
Famous quote very much in line with the previous one.
14. The conclusion is that we know very little and yet it is amazing how much we know. And even more amazing that such small knowledge can give so much power.
Science and its practical use.
15. The wise use of leisure is a product of civilization and education.
Another thought on his vision of free time.
16. Mathematics can be defined as that subject about which we never know what we are saying or whether what we are saying is true.
A perfect summary of how Bertrand Russell perceived the exact science.
17. Much of what passes for idealism is hatred or love of masked power.
Our drive for power can become a great enemy of happiness.
18. A generation that does not endure boredom will be a generation of little value.
More excerpts on his theory of leisure.
19. The most enlightened among the Greeks held that slavery was justifiable as long as the masters were Greeks and the slaves were barbarians, but the opposite was true.
A nationalistic and identity-based principle that has been repeated throughout history.
20. The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn.
The power of elections and how they determine us.
21. The wise man thinks of his difficulties only when it has some object. When it does not, he thinks of something else.
The concerns have to serve to activate the mind in search of solutions and answers.
22. A happy man is one who lives objectively, who is free in his affections and has broad interests, who ensures his happiness by means of these interests and affections which, in their turn, make him the object of interest and the affection of many others.
About happiness and well-being, and the factors that lead to them.
23. Mathematics possesses not only truth, but a certain supreme beauty. A cold and austere beauty, like that of a sculpture.
The exact science, according to Bertrand Russell.
24. One symptom of approaching a breakdown is the belief that your work is tremendously important.
Relativizing the work aspect is essential to achieve inner peace.
25. When you encounter opposition, even from your spouse or children, try to overcome it through reason and not through authority, for a victory that depends on authority is unreal and illusory.
There is no room for self-deception: the only possible victory is victory with better arguments.
26. Be scrupulous in the truth, even if the truth is uncomfortable, for it is more uncomfortable when you try to hide it.
An advice to apply to our day to day.
27. It is concern for possessions, more than anything else, that prevents man from living nobly and freely.
Another sentence by Bertrand Russell in which he talks about the virtue of austerity.
28. The good life is a life inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
A great reflection with which to inspire and apply ourselves to every moment.
29. I deliberately assert that the Christian religion, as organized, has been and still is the main enemy of moral progress in the world.
In this quote he summarizes his assessment of the effect of religions on our society.
30. Lacking some of the things one desires is an indispensable condition of happiness.
In this way, unfulfilled aspirations help us to know how to live and to tolerate frustration.
31. Educators, more than any other class of professionals, are the guardians of civilization.
Russell gave great authority and importance to teachers and professors.
32. As far as I am concerned, I believe that the theoretical principles of communism are false, and I think that the practice of its maxims increases human misery immeasurably.
His criticism of communism.
33. A life among books possesses a very great calm and peace. While it is true that we are overwhelmed by a terrible hunger for something less tenuous, we are spared the remorse and horror and torture and the maddening poison of repentance.
Reading was one of Russell’s great passions; hence his therapeutic vision of this activity.
34. Rousseau was mad, but he was very influential; Hume was sane, but he had no followers.
A curious opinion about two indispensable thinkers.
35. I note that a large part of the human species does not believe in God and does not suffer any visible punishment as a result. And if there were a God, it seems to me very unlikely that he would have such a sickly vanity as to be offended by those who doubt his existence.
A reduction to the absurd that can make us distrust any dogma of faith.
36. To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already half dead.
Phrase of love famous as few.
37. Science is at no time entirely right, but it is seldom entirely wrong and is generally more likely to be right than non-scientific theories.
A conclusion based on statistics that shows us the fallible but reliable character of the scientific method.
38. Artists are, as a rule, less happy than men of science.
A risky statement by the great British mathematician.
39. No one should think they are perfect, or worry too much about not being perfect.
About narcissism and the culture of beauty.
40. Why repeat old mistakes when there are so many new ones to be made?
A great phrase by Bertrand Russell that reveals his vitalist and creative spirit.
41. Man can be scientifically manipulated.
Sad but true, and we have evidence of malpractice in science and medicine in recent times.
42. What is needed is not the will to believe, but the desire to find out, which is exactly the opposite.
There is a vaccine against dogmas of faith and religion: science and careful observation of our environment.
43. The pleasure of mental adventure is much more common in the young than in older men and women. It is rare in adult life because everything possible is done to kill it during education.
A blessed childhood, full of uncharted territory.
44. Humanity has a double morality: one that preaches and does not practice, and another that practices and does not preach.
The great contradiction that our civilization suffers from.
45. 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 start.
Some things can only be fixed by investing time and understanding.