"I do not pretend to start with precise questions. I do not think you can start with anything precise. You have to achieve such precision as you can, as you go along." -- Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 — 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, socialist, pacifist, and social critic. He spent most of his life in England; he was born in Wales where he also died, aged 97.
Russell led the British "revolt against idealism" in the early 1900s. He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his predecessor Gottlob Frege and his protégé Ludwig Wittgenstein, and is widely held to be one of the 20th century's premier logicians. He co-authored, with A. N. Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, an attempt to ground mathematics on logic. His philosophical essay "On Denoting" has been considered a "paradigm of philosophy." His work has had a considerable influence on logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics, and philosophy, especially philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics.
Russell was a prominent anti-war activist; he championed free trade and anti-imperialism. Russell went to prison for his pacifist activism during World War I. Later, he campaigned against Adolf Hitler, then criticised Stalinist totalitarianism, attacked the United States of America's involvement in the Vietnam War, and finally became an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament.
In 1950, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought."
"A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it.""A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.""A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.""A process which led from the amoeba to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a 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 to be endured with patient resignation.""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.""Admiration of the proletariat, like that of dams, power stations, and aeroplanes, is part of the ideology of the machine age.""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.""Against my will, in the course of my travels, the belief that everything worth knowing was known at Cambridge gradually wore off. In this respect my travels were very useful to me.""All movements go too far.""Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attributable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.""Anything you're good at contributes to happiness.""Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted.""Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.""Awareness of universals is called conceiving, and a universal of which we are aware is called a concept.""Boredom is... a vital problem for the moralist, since half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.""Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.""Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.""Contempt for happiness is usually contempt for other people's happiness, and is an elegant disguise for hatred of the human race.""Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.""Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame.""Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.""Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.""Drunkenness is temporary suicide.""Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself.""Every philosophical problem, when it is subjected to the necessary analysis and justification, is found either to be not really philosophical at all, or else to be, in the sense in which we are using the word, logical.""Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery.""Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.""Freedom comes only to those who no longer ask of life that it shall yield them any of those personal goods that are subject to the mutations of time.""Freedom in general may be defined as the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires.""Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.""I believe in using words, not fists. I believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street. I believe in honesty. I believe in a good time. I believe in good food. I believe in sex.""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.""I remain convinced that obstinate addiction to ordinary language in our private thoughts is one of the main obstacles to progress in philosophy.""I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.""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.""I've made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I'm convinced of the opposite.""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 any philosopher had been asked for a definition of infinity, he might have produced some unintelligible rigmarole, but he would certainly not have been able to give a definition that had any meaning at all.""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 a 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 America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.""In the revolt against idealism, the ambiguities of the word experience have been perceived, with the result that realists have more and more avoided the word.""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 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.""It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.""It seems to be the fate of idealists to obtain what they have struggled for in a form which destroys their ideals.""Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.""Liberty is the right to do what I like; license, the right to do what you like.""Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.""Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.""Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous and loathed because they impose slavery.""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 a man will have the courage to die gallantly, but will not have the courage to say, or even to think, that the cause for which he is asked to die is an unworthy one.""Many people when they fall in love look for a little haven of refuge from the world, where they can be sure of being admired when they are not admirable, and praised when they are not praiseworthy.""Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.""Marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.""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.""Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.""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.""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.""Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power.""No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.""No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?""None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.""Obscenity is whatever 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 symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.""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.""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.""Reason is a harmonising, controlling force rather than a creative one.""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 that teach brotherly love have been used as an excuse for persecution, and our profoundest scientific insight is made into a means of mass destruction.""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.""Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.""Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.""Sin is geographical.""So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.""The coward wretch whose hand and heart Can bear to torture aught below, Is ever first to quail and start From the slightest pain or equal foe.""The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts.""The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.""The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.""The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.""The fundamental defect of fathers, in our competitive society, is that they want their children to be a credit to them.""The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.""The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.""The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.""The most savage controversies are about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.""The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself.""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 than hostile.""The secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible.""The slave is doomed to worship time and fate and death, because they are greater than anything he finds in himself, and because all his thoughts are of things which they devour.""The theoretical understanding of the world, which is the aim of philosophy, is not a matter of great practical importance to animals, or to savages, or even to most civilised men.""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 poetry.""The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.""The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.""The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.""There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.""There is no need to worry about mere size. We do not necessarily respect a fat man more than a thin man. Sir Isaac Newton was very much smaller than a hippopotamus, but we do not on that account value him less.""There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths.""Those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires.""Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, Thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought is great and swift and free.""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.""To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy.""To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.""To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.""To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.""To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.""To understand a name you must be acquainted with the particular of which it is a name.""War does not determine who is right - only who is left.""We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.""What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.""When the intensity of emotional conviction subsides, a man who is in the habit of reasoning will search for logical grounds in favour of the belief which he finds in himself.""Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?""With the introduction of agriculture mankind entered upon a long period of meanness, misery, and madness, from which they are only now being freed by the beneficent operation of the machine.""Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other matter; second, telling other people to do so."
Bertrand Russell was born on 18 May 1872 at Cleddon Hall, Trellech, Monmouthshire, Wales, into a liberal family of the British aristocracy.
His paternal grandfather, John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, was the third son of John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, and had twice been asked by Queen Victoria to form a government, serving her as Prime Minister in the 1840s and 1860s.The Russells had been prominent in England for several centuries before this, coming to power and the peerage with the rise of the Tudor dynasty. They established themselves as one of Britain's leading Whig (Liberal) families, and participated in every great political event from the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536—40 to the Glorious Revolution in 1688—89 to the Great Reform Act in 1832.
Russell's mother Katharine Louisa (1844—1874) was the daughter of Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley, and was the sister of Rosalind Howard, Countess of Carlisle.
Russell's parents were radical for their times. Russell's father, Viscount Amberley, was an atheist and consented to his wife's affair with their children's tutor, the biologist Douglas Spalding. Both were early advocates of birth control at a time when this was considered scandalous. John Russell's atheism was evident when he asked the philosopher John Stuart Mill to act as Russell's secular godfather. Mill died the year after Russell's birth, but his writings had a great effect on Russell's life.
Childhood and adolescence
Russell had two siblings: Frank (nearly seven years older than Bertrand), and Rachel (four years older). In June 1874 Russell's mother died of diphtheria, followed shortly by Rachel's death. In January 1876, his father also died of bronchitis following a long period of depression. Frank and Bertrand were placed in the care of their staunchly Victorian grandparents, who lived at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park. John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, his grandfather, who had been Prime Minister, died in 1878, and was remembered by Russell as a kindly old man in a wheelchair. As a result, his widow, the Countess Russell (née Lady Frances Elliot), was the dominant family figure for the rest of Russell's childhood and youth.
The countess was from a Scottish Presbyterian family, and successfully petitioned a British court to set aside a provision in Amberley's will requiring the children to be raised as agnostics. Despite her religious conservatism, she held progressive views in other areas (accepting Darwinism and supporting Irish Home Rule), and her influence on Bertrand Russell's outlook on social justice and standing up for principle remained with him throughout his life ... her favourite Bible verse, 'Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil' (Exodus 23:2), became his motto. The atmosphere at Pembroke Lodge was one of frequent prayer, emotional repression and formality; Frank reacted to this with open rebellion, but the young Bertrand learned to hide his feelings.
Russell's adolescence was very lonely, and he often contemplated suicide. He remarked in his autobiography that his keenest interests were in sex, religion and mathematics, and that only the wish to know more mathematics kept him from suicide. He was educated at home by a series of tutors. His brother Frank introduced him to the work of Euclid, which transformed Russell's life.
Also, during these formative years, he discovered the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. In his Autobiography, he writes: "I spent all my spare time reading him, and learning him by heart, knowing no one to whom I could speak of what I thought or felt, I used to reflect how wonderful it would have been to know Shelley, and to wonder whether I should meet any live human being with whom I should feel so much sympathy." Russell claimed that beginning at age 15, he spent considerable time thinking about the validity of Christian religious dogma, and by 18 had decided to discard the last of it.
University and first marriage
Russell won a scholarship to read for the Mathematical Tripos at Trinity College, Cambridge, and commenced his studies there in 1890. He became acquainted with the younger G.E. Moore and came under the influence of Alfred North Whitehead, who recommended him to the Cambridge Apostles. He quickly distinguished himself in mathematics and philosophy, graduating as a high Wrangler in 1893 and becoming a Fellow in the latter in 1895.
Russell first met the American Quaker Alys Pearsall Smith when he was seventeen years old. He became a friend of the Pearsall Smith family...they knew him primarily as 'Lord John's grandson' and enjoyed showing him off...and travelled with them to the continent; it was in their company that Russell visited the Paris Exhibition of 1889 and was able to climb the Eiffel Tower soon after it was completed.
He soon fell in love with the puritanical, high-minded Alys, who was a graduate of Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, and, contrary to his grandmother's wishes, he married her on 13 December 1894. Their marriage began to fall apart in 1901 when it occurred to Russell, while he was out on his bicycle, that he no longer loved her. She asked him if he loved her and he replied that he didn't. Russell also disliked Alys's mother, finding her controlling and cruel. It was to be a hollow shell of a marriage and they finally divorced in 1921, after a lengthy period of separation.During this period, Russell had passionate (and often simultaneous) affairs with a number of women, including Lady Ottoline Morrell and the actress Lady Constance Malleson.
Russell began his published work in 1896 with German Social Democracy, a study in politics that was an early indication of a lifelong interest in political and social theory. In 1896, he taught German social democracy at the London School of Economics, where he also lectured on the science of power in the autumn of 1937. He was also a member of the Coefficients dining club of social reformers set up in 1902 by the Fabian campaigners Sidney and Beatrice Webb.
He now started an intensive study of the foundations of mathematics at Trinity during which he discovered Russell's paradox which challenged the foundations of set theory. In 1903 he published his first important book on mathematical logic, The Principles of Mathematics showing that mathematics could be deduced from a very small number of principles, and contributing significantly to the cause of logicism.
In 1905 he wrote the essay "On Denoting", which was published in the philosophical journal Mind. Russell became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1908. The first of three volumes of Principia Mathematica, written with Whitehead, was published in 1910, which, along with the earlier The Principles of Mathematics, soon made Russell world famous in his field.
In 1910 he became a lecturer in the University of Cambridge where he soon received an approach from the Austrian engineering student Ludwig Wittgenstein, who became his PhD student and whom he viewed as a genius and a successor who would continue his work on logic. He spent hours dealing with Wittgenstein's various phobias and his frequent bouts of despair. This was often a drain on Russell's energy, but Russell continued to be fascinated by him and encouraged his academic development, including the publication of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1922. Russell delivered his lectures on Logical Atomism, his version of these ideas, in 1918 before the end of the First World War and whilst Wittgenstein was still a prisoner of war.
First World War
During the First World War, Russell was one of a very small number of intellectuals engaged in pacifist activities, and, in 1916, he was dismissed from Trinity College following his conviction under the Defence of the Realm Act.A later conviction resulted in six months' imprisonment in Brixton prison (see Bertrand Russell's views on society). Russell was released from prison in September 1918.
Between the wars, and second marriage
In August 1920, Russell travelled to Russia as part of an official delegation sent by the British government to investigate the effects of the Russian Revolution. He met Lenin and had an hour-long conversation with him. In his autobiography, he mentions that he found Lenin rather disappointing, and that he sensed an "impish cruelty" in him. He also cruised down the Volga on a steam-ship. Russell's lover Dora Black also visited Russia independently at the same time ... she was enthusiastic about the revolution, but Russell's experiences destroyed his previous tentative support for it.
Russell subsequently lectured in Beijing on philosophy for one year, accompanied by Dora. He went there with optimism and hope, as China was then on a new path. Among other scholars there was Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian poet and also a Nobel Laureate. While in China, Russell became gravely ill with pneumonia, and incorrect reports of his death were published in the Japanese press. When the couple visited Japan on their return journey, Dora notified the world that "Mr. Bertrand Russell, having died according to the Japanese press, is unable to give interviews to Japanese journalists." The press were not amused and did not appreciate the sarcasm.
On the couple's return to England on 26 August 1921, Dora was six months pregnant, and Russell arranged a hasty divorce from Alys, marrying Dora six days after the divorce was finalised, on 27 September 1921. Their children were John Conrad Russell, 4th Earl Russell, born on 16 November 1921 and Katharine Jane Russell (now Lady Katharine Tait) born on 29 December 1923. Russell supported himself during this time by writing popular books explaining matters of physics, ethics, and education to the layman. Some have suggested that at this point he had an affair with Vivienne Haigh-Wood, first wife of T. S. Eliot.
Together with Dora, he also founded the experimental Beacon Hill School in 1927. The school was run from a succession of different locations, including its original premises at the Russells' residence, Telegraph House, near Harting, West Sussex. On 8 July 1930 Dora welcomed her third child, a daughter, Harriet Ruth. After he left the school in 1932, Dora continued it until 1943.
Upon the death of his elder brother Frank, in 1931, Russell became the 3rd Earl Russell. He once said that his title was primarily useful for securing hotel rooms.
Russell's marriage to Dora grew increasingly tenuous, and it reached a breaking point over her having two children with an American journalist, Griffin Barry. They separated in 1932 and finally divorced. On 18 January 1936, Russell married his third wife, an Oxford undergraduate named Patricia Spence, who had been his children's governess since the summer of 1930. Russell and Peter had one son, Conrad Sebastian Robert Russell, 5th Earl Russell, who became a prominent historian and one of the leading figures in the Liberal Democrat party.
Second World War
Russell opposed rearmament against Nazi Germany, but in 1940 changed his view that avoiding a full scale world war was more important than defeating Hitler. He concluded that Adolf Hitler taking over all of Europe would be a permanent threat to democracy. In 1943, he adopted a stance toward large-scale warfare, "Relative Political Pacifism": War was always a great evil, but in some particularly extreme circumstances, it may be the lesser of two evils.
Post-Second World War
Before the Second World War, Russell taught at the University of Chicago, later moving on to Los Angeles to lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was appointed professor at the City College of New York in 1940, but after a public outcry, the appointment was annulled by a court judgement: his opinions (especially those relating to sexual morality, detailed in Marriage and Morals ten years earlier) made him "morally unfit" to teach at the college. The protest was started by the mother of a student who would not have been eligible for his graduate-level course in mathematical logic. Many intellectuals, led by John Dewey, protested against his treatment. Albert Einstein's often-quoted aphorism that "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds..." originated in his open letter in support of Russell, during this time. Dewey and Horace M. Kallen edited a collection of articles on the CCNY affair in The Bertrand Russell Case. He soon joined the Barnes Foundation, lecturing to a varied audience on the history of philosophy; these lectures formed the basis of A History of Western Philosophy. His relationship with the eccentric Albert C. Barnes soon soured, and he returned to Britain in 1944 to rejoin the faculty of Trinity College.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Russell participated in many broadcasts over the BBC, particularly The Brains Trust and the Third Programme, on various topical and philosophical subjects. By this time Russell was world famous outside of academic circles, frequently the subject or author of magazine and newspaper articles, and was called upon to offer up opinions on a wide variety of subjects, even mundane ones. En route to one of his lectures in Trondheim, Russell was one of 24 survivors (among a total of 43 passengers) in a aeroplane crash in Hommelvik in October 1948. A History of Western Philosophy (1945) became a best-seller, and provided Russell with a steady income for the remainder of his life.
In a speech in 1948, A philosopher’s letters | Love, Bertie | Economist.com Russell said that if the USSR's aggression continued, it would be morally worse to go to war after the USSR possessed an atomic bomb than before they possessed one, because if the USSR had no bomb the West's victory would come more swiftly and with fewer casualties than if there were atom bombs on both sides. At that time, only the USA possessed an atomic bomb, and the USSR was pursuing an extremely aggressive policy towards the countries in Eastern Europe which it was absorbing into its sphere of influence. Many understood Russell's comments to mean that Russell approved of a first strike in a war with the USSR, including Lawson, who was present when Russell spoke. Others, including Griffin who obtained a transcript of the speech, have argued that he was merely explaining the usefulness of America's atomic arsenal in deterring the USSR from continuing its domination of Eastern Europe.
Russell also continued to write about philosophy. He wrote a foreword to Words and Things by Ernest Gellner which was highly critical of the later thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein and of Ordinary language philosophy. Gilbert Ryle refused to have the book reviewed in the philosophical journal Mind which caused Russell to respond via the Times. The results was a month-long correspondence in the Times, between the supporters and detractors of Ordinary language philosophy which was only ended when the Times published an editorial about the matter, which was critical of both sides but agreeing with the opponents of Ordinary language philosophy.
In the King's Birthday Honours of 9 June 1949, Russell was awarded the Order of Merit, and the following year he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. When he was given the Order of Merit, King George VI was affable but slightly embarrassed at decorating a former jailbird, saying that "You have sometimes behaved in a manner that would not do if generally adopted." Russell merely smiled, but afterwards claimed that the reply "That's right, just like your brother" immediately came to mind.
In 1952, Russell was divorced by Spence, with whom he had been very unhappy. Conrad, Russell's son by Spence, did not see his father between the time of the divorce and 1968 (at which time his decision to meet his father caused a permanent breach with his mother).
Russell married his fourth wife, Edith Finch, soon after the divorce, on 15 December 1952. They had known each other since 1925, and Edith had taught English at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sharing a house for twenty years with Russell's old friend Lucy Donnelly. Edith remained with him until his death, and, by all accounts, their marriage was a happy, close, and loving one. Russell's eldest son, John, suffered from serious mental illness, which was the source of ongoing disputes between Russell and John's mother, Russell's former wife, Dora. John's wife Susan was also mentally ill, and eventually Russell and Edith became the legal guardians of their three daughters (two of whom were later found to have schizophrenia).
In 1962, Russell played a public role in the Cuban Missile Crisis: in an exchange of telegrams with the Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev assured him that the Soviet government would not be reckless.
Russell spent the 1950s and 1960s engaged in various political causes, primarily related to nuclear disarmament and opposing the Vietnam war (see also Russell Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal). The 1955 Russell—Einstein Manifesto was a document calling for nuclear disarmament and was signed by 11 of the most prominent nuclear physicists and intellectuals of the time. He wrote a great many letters to world leaders during this period. He was in contact with Lionel Rogosin while the latter was filming his anti-war film Good Times, Wonderful Times in the 1960s. He also became a hero to many of the youthful members of the New Left. In early 1963, in particular, Russell became increasingly vocal about his disapproval of what he felt to be the US government's near-genocidal policies in South Vietnam. In 1963 he became the inaugural recipient of the Jerusalem Prize, an award for writers concerned with the freedom of the individual in society. In October 1965 he tore up his Labour Party card because he feared the party was going to send soldiers to support the USA in the Vietnam War.
Final years and death
Russell published his three-volume autobiography in 1967, 1968, and 1969. On 23 November 1969 he wrote to The Times newspaper saying that the preparation for show trials in Czechoslovakia was "highly alarming". The same month he appealed to Secretary General U Thant of the United Nations to support an international war crimes commission to investigate alleged torture and genocide by the USA in South Vietnam. The following month, he protested to Alexei Kosygin over the expulsion of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from the Writers Union.
On 31 January 1970, Russell issued a statement which condemned Israeli aggression in the Middle East and called for Israeli withdrawal from territory occupied in 1967. This was Russell's final political statement or act. It was read out at the International Conference of Parliamentarians in Cairo on 3 February 1970, the day after his death.
Russell died of influenza on 2 February 1970 at his home, Plas Penrhyn, in Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionethshire, Wales. He was cremated in Colwyn Bay on 5 February 1970. In accordance with his will there was no religious ceremony; his ashes were scattered over the Welsh mountains later that year.
Titles and honours from birth
Russell held throughout his life the following styles and honours:
from birth until 1908: The Honourable Bertrand Arthur William Russell
from 1908 until 1931: The Honourable Bertrand Arthur William Russell, FRS
from 1931 until 1949: The Right Honourable The Earl Russell, FRS
from 1949 until death: The Right Honourable The Earl Russell, OM, FRS
Russell is generally credited with being one of the founders of analytic philosophy. He was deeply impressed by Gottfried Leibniz (1646—1716) and wrote on every major area of philosophy except aesthetics. He was particularly prolific in the field of metaphysics, the logic and the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, ethics and epistemology. When Brand Blanshard asked Russell why he didn't write on aesthetics, Russell replied that he didn't know anything about it, "but that is not a very good excuse, for my friends tell me it has not deterred me from writing on other subjects."
Views on society
Political and social activism occupied much of Russell's time for most of his life, which makes his prodigious and seminal writing on a wide range of technical and non-technical subjects all the more remarkable. Russell remained politically active almost to the end of his life, writing to and exhorting world leaders and lending his name to various causes. He was also famously noted for saying "No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God."
1910—1913, Principia Mathematica (with Alfred North Whitehead). 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1912. The Problems of Philosophy. London: Williams and Norgate.
1914. Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scientific Method in Philosophy. Chicago and London: Open CPublishing.
1916. Principles of Social Reconstruction. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1916. Justice in War-time. Chicago: Open Court.
1917. Political Ideals. New York: The Century Co.
1918. Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays. London: Longmans, Green.
1918. Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism, and Syndicalism. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1919. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin. (ISBN 0-415-09604-9 for Routledge paperback) ( Copy at Archive.org).
1920. The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1921. The Analysis of Mind. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1922. The Problem of China. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1923. The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, in collaboration with Dora Russell. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1923. The ABC of Atoms, London: Kegan Paul. Trench, Trubner.
1924. Icarus; or, The Future of Science. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.
1925. The ABC of Relativity. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.
1925. What I Believe. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.
1926. On Education, Especially in Early Childhood. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1927. The Analysis of Matter. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.
1927. An Outline of Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1927. Why I Am Not a Christian. London: Watts.
1927. Selected Papers of Bertrand Russell. New York: Modern Library.
1928. Sceptical Essays. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1929. Marriage and Morals. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1930. The Conquest of Happiness. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1931. The Scientific Outlook. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1932. Education and the Social Order, London: George Allen & Unwin.
1934. Freedom and Organization, 1814—1914. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1935. In Praise of Idleness. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1935. Religion and Science. London: Thornton Butterworth.
1936. Which Way to Peace?. London: Jonathan Cape.
1937. The Amberley Papers: The Letters and Diaries of Lord and Lady Amberley, with Patricia Russell, 2 vols., London: Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press.
1938. A New Social Analysis. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1940. An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
1945. A History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. New York: Simon and Schuster.
1948. Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1949. Authority and the Individual. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1950. Unpopular Essays. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1951. New Hopes for a Changing World. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1952. The Impact of Science on Society. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1953. Satan in the Suburbs and Other Stories. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1954. Human Society in Ethics and Politics. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1954. Nightmares of Eminent Persons and Other Stories. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1956. Portraits from Memory and Other Essays. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1956. Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901—1950, edited by Robert C. Marsh. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1957. Why I Am Not A Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, edited by Paul Edwards. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1958. Understanding History and Other Essays. New York: Philosophical Library.
1959. Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1959. My Philosophical Development. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1959. Wisdom of the West, edited by Paul Foulkes). London: Macdonald.
1960. Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind, Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company.
1961. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, edited by R.E. Egner and L.E. Denonn. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1961. Fact and Fiction. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1961. Has Man a Future?, London: George Allen & Unwin.
1963. Essays in Skepticism. New York: Philosophical Library.
1963. Unarmed Victory. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1965. On the Philosophy of Science, edited by Charles A. Fritz, Jr. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
1967. Russell's Peace Appeals, edited by Tsutomu Makino and Kazuteru Hitaka. Japan: Eichosha's New Current Books.
1967. War Crimes in Vietnam. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1967—1969. The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, 3 vols.. London: George Allen & Unwin.
1969. Dear Bertrand Russell... A Selection of his Correspondence with the General Public 1950—1968, edited by Barry Feinberg and Ronald Kasrils. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Note: This is a mere sampling, for Russell also wrote many pamphlets, introductions, articles and letters to the editor. His works also can be found in any number of anthologies and collections, perhaps most notably The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, which McMaster University began publishing in 1983. This collection of his shorter and previously unpublished works is now up to 16 volumes, and many more are forthcoming. An additional three volumes catalogue just his bibliography. The Russell Archives at McMaster University also have more than 30,000 letters that he wrote.
1900, Sur la logique des relations avec des applications à la théorie des séries, Rivista di matematica 7: 115-148.
1901, On the Notion of Order, Mind (n.s.) 10: 35-51.
1902, (with Alfred North Whitehead), On Cardinal Numbers, American Journal of Mathematics 23: 367-384.
John Newsome Crossley. A Note on Cantor's Theorem and Russell's Paradox, Australian Journal of Philosophy 51: 70-71.
Ivor Grattan-Guinness, 2000. The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870-1940. Princeton University Press.
Books about Russell's philosophy
Bertrand Russell: Critical Assessments, edited by A. D. Irvine, 4 volumes, London: Routledge, 1999. Consists of essays on Russell's work by many distinguished philosophers.
Bertrand Russell, by John Slater, Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1994.
Bertrand Russell's Ethics. by Michael K. Potter, Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006. A clear and accessible explanation of Russell's moral philosophy.
The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, edited by P.A. Schilpp, Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University, 1944.
Russell, by A. J. Ayer, London: Fontana, 1972. ISBN 0-00-632965-9. A lucid summary exposition of Russell's thought.
The Lost Cause: Causation and the Mind-Body Problem, by Celia Green. Oxford: Oxford Forum, 2003. ISBN 0-9536772-1-4 Contains a sympathetic analysis of Russell's views on causality.
Russell's Idealist Apprenticeship, by Nicholas Griffin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Bertrand Russell: Philosopher and Humanist, by John Lewis (1968)
Bertrand Russell, by A. J. Ayer (1972), reprint ed. 1988: ISBN 0-226-03343-0
The Life of Bertrand Russell, by Ronald W. Clark (1975) ISBN 0-394-49059-2
Bertrand Russell and His World, by Ronald W. Clark (1981) ISBN 0-500-13070-1
Bertrand Russell: Mathematics: Dreams and Nightmares by Ray Monk (1997) ISBN 0-75380-190-6
Bertrand Russell: 1872—1920 The Spirit of Solitude by Ray Monk (1997) ISBN 0-09-973131-2
Bertrand Russell: 1921—1970 The Ghost of Madness by Ray Monk (2001) ISBN 0-09-927275-X
An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, and Christos Papadimitriou (2009)
Bertrand Russell. 1967—1969, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, 3 volumes, London: George Allen & Unwin.
Wallechinsky, David & Irving Wallace. 1975-1981, "Famous Marriages Bertrand Russell & Alla Pearsall Smith, Part 1" & "Part 3", on "Alys" Pearsall Smith, webpage content from The People's Almanac, webpages: Part 1 & Part 3 (accessed 8 November 2008).
Russell B, (1944) "My Mental Development", in Schilpp, Paul Arturn "The Philosophy of Betrand Russell", New York, Tudorm 1951, pp 3—20