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Bertrand Russell: Philosophical Works and Letters

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BERTRAND RUSSELL (1872-1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, and political activist. At various points in his life, Russell considered himself a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had "never been any of these things, in any profound sense". He was awarded the 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought."

In the early 20th century, Russell led the British "revolt against idealism". He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his predecessor Gottlob Frege, colleague G. E. Moore and protégé Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is widely held to be one of the 20th century's premier logicians. With Alfred North Whitehead he wrote PRINCIPIA MATHEMATICA, an attempt to create a logical basis for mathematics. His philosophical essay "On Denoting" has been considered a "paradigm of philosophy". His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, and philosophy, especially the philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics.

To the general public, he was best known as an anti-war activist and as a popular writer on social, political, and moral subjects. He went to prison for his pacifism during World War I. Russell later concluded war against Adolf Hitler was a necessary "lesser of two evils" and criticized Stalinist totalitarianism, attacked the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament.


"On those rare occasions when a boy or girl who has passed the age at which it is usual to determine social status shows such marked ability as to seem the intellectual equal of the rulers, a difficult situation will arise, requiring serious consideration. If the youth is content to abandon his previous associates and to throw in his lot whole-heartedly with the rulers, he may, after suitable tests, be promoted, but if he shows any regrettable solidarity with his previous associates, the rulers will reluctantly conclude that there is nothing to be done with him except to send him to the lethal chamber before his ill-disciplined intelligence has had time to spread revolt. This will be a painful duty to the rulers, but I think they will not shrink from performing it." The Scientific Outlook, Chapter XV, 'Education in a Scientific Society'


Thanks, Langeille. Russell collaborated with Whitehead on some works. I am interested in that relationship because Russell stayed with logic while Whitehead broke from it and founded his own views relating to organic processes, ie organic growth which logic can never hope to encapsulated. Do you read any of Whitehead's works, too?
Speaking of cult figures, I have read that Wittgenstein held quite charismatic hold over his disciples...funny how nobody really talks about the cults in the sciences...Richard Feynman would be another possible candidate
Yes, I am using the term cult loosely but it is only because there are so many shades to belief and fervor and reverence...and uncritical acceptance

I'm not familiar with Whitehead's works.
If you read history Pythagoras founded its cult.
There is huge difference if you are member of natural science cult or social science cult.
If you are chemist, you will produce medicine, earn money for you/your company and never share the formulae with other chemists. If you are physicist, you may write some new theory but the effect would be nonharmful because even if its incorrect no one would read it.
If you are philosopher, your teaching has direct influence on the cult members which are in the legislative and judicial branch.
Elite people, cult members have different levels of truth knowledge. At the bottom of the hierarchy are lies for the masses (including false philosophical theories).
To explain you this different way: in the nature, the most intelligent animals are "evil". They prey, kill and eat other animals. Basic human law is not to kill member of our species. But there is no law which forbid manipulation, coercion, influence, usury to others. That is non-physical harmless way how the most intelligent ("evil") among us create hierarchy and extract resources from the others.