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Christianity offers reasons for not fearing death or the universe, and in so doing it fails to teach adequately the virtue of courage.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Education and the Social Order

Dogmatism is the greatest of mental obstacles to human happiness.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, The Conquest of Happiness

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Unpopular Essays

What science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Religion and Science

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, The Conquest of Happiness

Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Unpopular Essays

It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, "The Idea of Righteousness," Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?

Politics is concerned with herds rather than with individuals, and the passions which are important in politics are, therefore, those in which the various members of a given herd can feel alike.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, What Desires Are Politically Important?

I say people who feel they must have a faith or religion in order to face life are showing a kind of cowardice, which in any other sphere would be considered contemptible. But when it is in the religious sphere it is thought admirable, and I cannot admire cowardice whatever sphere it is in.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind

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 habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. It sees man, a feeble speck, surrounded by unfathomable depths of silence; yet it bears itself proudly, as unmoved as if it were lord of the universe. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Why Men Fight: A Method of Abolishing the International Duel

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, "Is There a God?", The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell

No man is liberated from fear who dare not see his place in the world as it is; no man can achieve the greatness of which he is capable until he has allowed himself to see his own littleness.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Dreams and Facts

Mystery is delightful, but unscientific, since it depends upon ignorance.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, "Recent Criticisms of Consciousness," The Analysis of Mind

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Mortals and Others

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, New Hopes for a Changing World

Of all evils of war the greatest is the purely spiritual evil: the hatred, the injustice, the repudiation of truth, the artificial conflict.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Justice in War-Time

For my part, while I am as convinced a Socialist as the most ardent Marxian, I do not regard Socialism as a gospel of proletarian revenge, nor even, primarily, as a means of securing economic justice. I regard it primarily as an adjustment to machine production demanded by considerations of common sense, and calculated to increase the happiness, not only of proletarians, but of all except a tiny minority of the human race.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, "The Case for Socialism," In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, letter to Ottoline Morrell, Dec. 17, 1920

Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, A History of Western Philosophy

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, "Dreams and Facts," Sceptical Essays

Science is what we know, and philosophy is what we don't know.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Unpopular Essays

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, The Problems of Philosophy

Drunkenness is temporary suicide.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, The Conquest of Happiness

The widespread interest in gossip is inspired, not by a love of knowledge but by malice: no one gossips about other people's secret virtues, but only about their secret vices. Accordingly most gossip is untrue, but care is taken not to verify it. Our neighbour's sins, like the consolations of religion, are so agreeable that we do not stop to scrutinise the evidence closely.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, On Education, Especially in Early Childhood

I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe – because, like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell, Mar. 1912

Since Adam and Eve ate the apple, man has never refrained from any folly of which he was capable.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, History of the World in Epitome (For Use in Martian Infant Schools)

There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dare not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Human Society in Ethics and Politics

I dislike Communism because it is undemocratic, and capitalism because it favors exploitation.


A process which led from the amœba to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress – though whether the amœba would agree with this opinion is not known.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays

Most people would die sooner than think -- in fact they do so.


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.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?

It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, The Russell-Einstein Manifesto

The pursuit of knowledge is, I think, mainly actuated by love of power. And so are all advances in scientific technique.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, What Desires Are Politically Important?

Perhaps instead of teaching manners, parents should teach the statistical probability that the person you are speaking to is just as good as you are.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Mortals and Others

The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Sceptical Essays

One must expect a war between U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. which will begin with the total destruction of London. I think the war will last 30 years, and leave a world without civilised people, from which everything will have to build afresh--a process taking (say) 500 years.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, letter to Gamel Brenan, September 1, 1945

Power, like vanity, is insatiable. Nothing short of omnipotence could satisfy it completely.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, What Desires Are Politically Important?


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