Bertrand Russell

Love is wise; hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don't like. We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.

My desire and wish is that the things I start with should be so obvious that you wonder why I spend my time stating them. This is what I aim at because 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.

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 ... Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.

I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.

When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That’s if you want to teach them to think.

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.

Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possiblities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what the may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familar things in an unfamilar aspect.

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.

A Conversation with Bertrand Russell (1952)

Romney Wheeler interviews British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic Bertrand Russell at Russell's home in Surrey, England.

Bertrand Russell - Great Interview with John Chandos - 1961

Speaking Personally: Earl Bertrand Russell. 1961.
Interview with John Chandos.
Recorded on 11-12 April 1961 at Bertrand Russell's house in North Wales.

  • List of Topics:
  • Childhood and Earliest Memories
  • Life Begins at Cambridge
  • Eccentrics and Personages
  • Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson
  • Mr Gladstone
  • Lytton Strachey and Family
  • Bertrand Russell in prison
  • Cause and Effects of World War I, H. H. Asquith
  • Approach to the Abyss
  • Man's Peril and Neutrality
  • Einstein's Last Act
  • A Meeting with Lenin
  • Scandal in New York
  • Christ versus Christianity
  • Morality and Hypocrisy
  • Lawrence, Shaw, Einstein, Conrad
  • Background to National Greatness
  • Original Thinking and Persecution
  • USSR and USA-the Conflict
  • Education and Tolerance
  • Survival and Unilateral Disarmament
  • Religion and Fear
Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)

Bertrand Russell first delivered this lecture on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society, South London Branch, at Battersea Town Hall.

See below for a section breakdown:

  • What Is a Christian?
  • The Existence of God
  • The First-cause Argument
  • The Natural-law Argument
  • The Argument from Design
  • The Moral Arguments for Deity
  • The Argument for the Remedying of Injustice
  • The Character of Christ
  • Defects in Christ's Teaching
  • The Moral Problem
  • The Emotional Factor
  • How the Churches Have Retarded Progress
  • Fear, the Foundation of Religion
  • What We Must Do