Bertrand Russell

English philosopher and mathematician who collaborated with Whitehead (1872-1970)

click to add your vote (10 votes)

Famous quotes by Bertrand Russell:Sort:PopularA - Z

Drunkenness is temporary suicide.
Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise.
The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.
War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others.
'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.
A process which led from the amoeba to man appeared to philosophers to be obviously progress -- though whether the amoeba would agree with this opinion is not known.
A sense of duty is useful in work, but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not be endured with patient resignation.
A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.
A truer image of the world, I think, is obtained by picturing things as entering into the stream of time from an eternal world outside, than from a view which regards time as the devouring tyrant of all that is.
Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.
All exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation.
All movements go too far.
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men although he was twice married, it never occured to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.
Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
Change is scientific, progress is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy.
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
Education, which was at first made universal in order that all might be able to read and write, has been found capable of serving quite other purposes. By instilling nonsense it unifies populations and generates collective enthusiasm.
Even in civilized mankind faint traces of monogamous instincts can be perceived.
Every living thing is a sort of imperialist, seeking to transform as much as possible of its environment into itself.
Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.
Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Fear is, I believe, a most effective tool in destroying the soul of an individual--and the soul of a people.
Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.
Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.
Government can easily exist without laws, but law cannot exist without government.
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.
I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.
I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.
If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.
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.
If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.
In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
In all things it is a good idea to hang a question mark now and then on the things we have taken for granted.
In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying.
Indignation is a submission of our thoughts, but not of our desires.
It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
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.
It is because modern education is so seldom inspired by a great hope that it so seldom achieves great results. The wish to preserve the past rather than the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young.
It is because modern education is so seldom inspired by a great hope that it so seldom achieves great results. The wish to preserve the past rather that the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young.
It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living.
It is obvious that 'obscenity' is not a term capable of exact legal definition in the practice of the Courts, it means 'anything that shocks the magistrate.'
It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it is true.
It may seem to your conceited to suppose that you can do anything important toward improving the lot of mankind. But this is a fallacy. You must believe that you can help bring about a better world. A good society is produced only by good individuals, just as truly as a majority in a presidential election is produced by the votes of single electors. Everybody can do something toward creating in his own environment kindly feelings rather than anger, reasonableness rather than hysteria, happiness rather than misery.
Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.
Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.
Many people would sooner die than think In fact, they do so.
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so.
Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
Mathematics takes us into the region of absolute necessity, to which not only the actual word, but every possible word, must conform.
Mathematics, rightly viewed, posses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.
Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.
Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.
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.
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.
Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.
Most people would sooner die than think; in fact they do so.
Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.
No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor, but honest.
No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.
Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.
Nothing of importance is ever achieved without discipline. I feel myself sometimes not wholly in sympathy with some modern educational theorists, because I think that they underestimate the part that discipline plays. But the discipline you have in your life should be one determined by your own desires and your own needs, not put upon you by society or authority.
Obscenity is what happens to shock some elderly and ignorant magistrate.
Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.
One of the chief obstacles to intelligence is credulity, and credulity could be enormously diminished by instructions as to the prevalent forms of mendacity. Credulity is a greater evil in the present day than it ever was before, because, owing to the growth of education, it is much easier than it used to be to spread misinformation, and, owing to democracy, the spread of misinformation is more important than in former times to the holders of power.
One of the signs of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways.
One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
Order, unity and continuity are human inventions just as truly as catalogues and encyclopedias.
Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man.
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.
Passive acceptance of the teacher's wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils it is moreover the way to win the favour of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position.
Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.
Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.
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.
Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.
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.
Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.
Sin is geographical.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
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 fundamental defect of fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them.
The good life is one inspired by life and guided by knowledge.
The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy - I mean that if you are happy you will be good.
The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
The happiness that is genuinely satisfying is accompanied by the fullest exercise of our faculties and the fullest realization of the world in which we live.
The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists - that is why they invented hell.
The main thing needed to make men happy is intelligence.
The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of frendship or affection.
The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship or affection.
The mind is a strange machine which can combine the materials offered to it in the most astonishing ways.
The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.
The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.
The place of the father in the modern suburban family is a very small one, particularly if he plays golf.
The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
The secret of happiness is this: Let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather that hostile.
The thing that I should wish to obtain from money would be leisure with security.
The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.
The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
The wise man thinks about his troubles only when there is some purpose in doing so; at other times he thinks about others things.
There are two motives for reading a book one, that you enjoy it the other, that you can boast about it.
There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.
There is much pleasure ot be gained from useless knowledge.
There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.
This is one of those views which are so absolutely absurd that only very learned men could possibly adopt them.
This is patently absurd but whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities.
This is patently absurd; but whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities.
Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, the chief glory of man.
To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.
To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.
To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
Too little liberty brings stagnation and too much brings chaos.
We have, in fact, two kinds of morality side by side one which we preach but do not practice, and another which we practice but seldom preach.
We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.
We know very little, and yet it is astonishing that we know so much, and still more astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power.
What the world needs is not dogma but an attitude of scientific inquiry combined with a belief that the torture of millions is not desirable, whether inflicted by Stalin or by a Deity imagined in the likeness of the believer.
When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others.
When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others. It is much more nearly certain that we are assembled here tonight than it is that this or that political party is in the right. Certainly there are degrees of certainty, and one should be very careful to emphasize that fact, because otherwise one is landed in an utter skepticism, and complete skepticism would, of course, be totally barren and completely useless.
Whereas in art nothing worth doing can be done without genius, in science even a very moderate capacity can contribute to a supreme achievement.

Share your thoughts on Bertrand Russell's quotes with the community:

Citation

Use the citation below to add this author page to your bibliography:

Style:MLAChicagoAPA

"Bertrand Russell Quotes." Quotes.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 31 Jul 2014. <http://www.quotes.net/authors/Bertrand Russell>.

Missing a quote of Bertrand Russell?

Know another good quote of Bertrand Russell? Don't keep it to yourself!


The Web's Largest Resource for

Famous Quotes & Sayings


A Member Of The STANDS4 Network