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(18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate.
At various points in his life, Russell considered himself a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, although he also confessed that his sceptical nature had led him to feel that he had 'never been any of these things, in any profound sense.'
His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science (see type theory and type system) and philosophy, especially the philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics.
Occasionally, he advocated preventive nuclear war, before the opportunity provided by the atomic monopoly had passed and he decided he would 'welcome with enthusiasm' world government.
Later, Russell concluded that war against Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany was a necessary 'lesser of two evils' and criticised Stalinist totalitarianism, attacked the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament.
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.
(One could challenge the view that Bertrand stood up for his principles, based on his own well-known quotation: 'I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong'.) Her favourite Bible verse, 'Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil' (Exodus 23:2), became his motto.
When Russell was eleven years old, his brother Frank introduced him to the work of Euclid, which he described in his autobiography as 'one of the great events of my life, as dazzling as first love.'
Russell wrote: '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, which he found very unconvincing.
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.
At the age of 29, in February 1901, Russell underwent what he called a 'sort of mystic illumination', after witnessing Whitehead's wife's acute suffering in an angina attack.
The Trinity incident resulted in Russell being fined £100, which he refused to pay in hope that he would be sent to prison, but his books were sold at auction to raise the money.
later conviction for publicly lecturing against inviting the United States to enter the war on the United Kingdom's side resulted in six months' imprisonment in Brixton prison (see Bertrand Russell's views on society) in 1918.
He found the Brixton period so much agreeable that while he was reading Strachey's Eminent Victorians chapter about Gordon he laughed out loud in his cell prompting the warden to intervene and reminding him that 'prison was a place of punishment'.
In 1924, Bertrand again gained press attention when attending a 'banquet' in the House of Commons with well-known campaigners, including Arnold Lupton, who had been a Member of Parliament and had also endured imprisonment for 'passive resistance to military or naval service'.
Broad – in which he gave an authoritative account about Russell's 1916 dismissal from Trinity College, explaining that a reconciliation between the college and Russell had later taken place and gave details about Russell's personal life.
Russell contemplated asking Trinity for another one-year leave of absence but decided against it, since this would have been an 'unusual application' and the situation had the potential to snowball into another controversy.
I wrote it without his knowledge and, when I sent him the typescript and asked for his permission to print it, I suggested that, unless it contained misstatement of fact, he should make no comment on it.
about his experiences on this trip, taken with a group of 24 others from the UK, all of whom came home thinking well of the Soviet regime, despite Russell's attempts to change their minds.
For example, he told them that he had heard shots fired in the middle of the night and was sure that these were clandestine executions, but the others maintained that it was only cars backfiring.
In the 1922 and 1923 general elections Russell stood as a Labour Party candidate in the Chelsea constituency, but only on the basis that he knew he was extremely unlikely to be elected in such a safe Conservative seat, and he was unsuccessful on both occasions.
In 1937 he wrote in a personal letter: 'If the Germans succeed in sending an invading army to England we should do best to treat them as visitors, give them quarters and invite the commander and chief to dine with the prime minister.'
In 1943, he adopted a stance toward large-scale warfare called 'relative political pacifism': 'War was always a great evil, but in some particularly extreme circumstances, it may be the lesser of two evils.'
He was appointed professor at the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1940, but after a public outcry the appointment was annulled by a court judgment that pronounced him 'morally unfit' to teach at the college due to his opinions, especially those relating to sexual morality, detailed in Marriage and Morals (1929).
Albert Einstein's oft-quoted aphorism that 'great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds' originated in his open letter, dated 19 March 1940, to Morris Raphael Cohen, a professor emeritus at CCNY, supporting Russell's appointment.
By this time Russell was world-famous outside academic circles, frequently the subject or author of magazine and newspaper articles, and was called upon to offer opinions on a wide variety of subjects, even mundane ones.
In 1942 Russell argued in favour of a moderate socialism, capable of overcoming its metaphysical principles, in an inquiry on dialectical materialism, launched by the Austrian artist and philosopher Wolfgang Paalen in his journal DYN, saying 'I think the metaphysics of both Hegel and Marx plain nonsense – Marx's claim to be 'science' is no more justified than Mary Baker Eddy's.
In 1943, Russell expressed support for Zionism: 'I have come gradually to see that, in a dangerous and largely hostile world, it is essential to Jews to have some country which is theirs, some region where they are not suspected aliens, some state which embodies what is distinctive in their culture'.
In a speech in 1948, 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 it 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 United States possessed an atomic bomb, and the USSR was pursuing an extremely aggressive policy towards the countries in Eastern Europe which were being absorbed into the Soviet Union's sphere of influence.
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. However,
just after the atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Russell wrote letters, and published articles in newspapers from 1945 to 1948, stating clearly that it was morally justified and better to go to war against the USSR using atomic bombs while the United States possessed them and before the USSR did.
In September 1949, one week after the USSR tested its first A-bomb, but before this became known, Russell wrote that USSR would be unable to develop nuclear weapons because following Stalin's purges only science based on Marxist principles would be practiced in the Soviet Union.
After it became known that the USSR carried out its nuclear bomb tests, Russell declared his position advocating for the total abolition of atomic weapons.
The result was a month-long correspondence in The Times between the supporters and detractors of ordinary language philosophy, which was only ended when the paper published an editorial critical of both sides but agreeing with the opponents of ordinary language philosophy.
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).
In September 1961, at the age of 89, Russell was jailed for seven days in Brixton Prison for 'breach of peace' after taking part in an anti-nuclear demonstration in London.
Russell published a highly critical article weeks before the Warren Commission Report was published, setting forth 16 Questions on the Assassination and equating the Oswald case with the Dreyfus affair of late 19th-century France, in which the state wrongly convicted an innocent man.
This incident fused two of his most controversial causes, as he had failed to be granted Fellow status, which would have protected him from firing, because he was not willing to either pretend to be a devout Christian, or at least avoid admitting he was agnostic.
He later described the resolution of these issues as essential to freedom of thought and expression, citing the incident in Free Thought and Official Propaganda, where he explained that the expression of any idea, even the most obviously 'bad', must be protected not only from direct State intervention, but also economic leveraging and other means of being silenced:
He viewed the crisis as another reminder of the pressing need for a more effective mechanism for international governance, and to restrict national sovereignty to places such as the Suez Canal area 'where general interest is involved'.
Although he later feigned a lack of concern, at the time he was disgusted by the brutal Soviet response, and on 16 November 1956, he expressed approval for a declaration of support for Hungarian scholars which Michael Polanyi had cabled to the Soviet embassy in London twelve days previously, shortly after Soviet troops had already entered Budapest.
In January 1958 Russell elaborated his views in The Observer, proposing a cessation of all nuclear-weapons production, with the UK taking the first step by unilaterally suspending its own nuclear-weapons program if necessary, and with Germany 'freed from all alien armed forces and pledged to neutrality in any conflict between East and West'.
He urged that all nuclear-weapons testing and constant flights by planes armed with nuclear weapons be halted immediately, and negotiations be opened for the destruction of all hydrogen bombs, with the number of conventional nuclear devices limited to ensure a balance of power.
He proposed that Germany be reunified and accept the Oder-Neisse line as its border, and that a neutral zone be established in Central Europe, consisting at the minimum of Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, with each of these countries being free of foreign troops and influence, and prohibited from forming alliances with countries outside the zone.
In the Middle East, Russell suggested that the West avoid opposing Arab nationalism, and proposed the creation of a United Nations peacekeeping force to guard Israel's frontiers to ensure that Israel was prevented from committing aggression and protected from it.
In 1964 he was one of eleven world figures who issued an appeal to Israel and the Arab countries to accept an arms embargo and international supervision of nuclear plants and rocket weaponry.
On 31 January 1970 Russell issued a statement condemning 'Israel's aggression in the Middle East', and in particular, Israeli bombing raids being carried out deep in Egyptian territory as part of the War of Attrition.
When Brand Blanshard asked Russell why he did not write on aesthetics, Russell replied that he did not know anything about it, though he hastened to add 'but that is not a very good excuse, for my friends tell me it has not deterred me from writing on other subjects'.
they consist in hearing all sides, trying to ascertain all the relevant facts, controlling our own bias by discussion with people who have the opposite bias, and cultivating a readiness to discard any hypothesis which has proved inadequate.
Every man of science whose outlook is truly scientific is ready to admit that what passes for scientific knowledge at the moment is sure to require correction with the progress of discovery;
He believed that religion and the religious outlook serve to impede knowledge and foster fear and dependency, and to be responsible for much of our world's wars, oppression, and misery.
One pamphlet titled, 'I Appeal unto Caesar': The Case of the Conscientious Objectors, ghostwritten for Margaret Hobhouse, the mother of imprisoned peace activist Stephen Hobhouse, allegedly helped secure the release from prison of hundreds of conscientious objectors.
A Poltergeist Who Adores Apricots and Cat-Loving A.I.
Now is the winter of our list content, with Top 10s and Best-ofs declaring the most notable works of the year published between January and October.
There the Scandinavianish colonists called the Fjern have enslaved and brutalized the dark-skinned islanders for generations, partly through the use of “kraft,” magical powers that range from inflicting pain and fear to compelling truth to speaking with the dead.
Grown to adulthood, possessed of a powerful desire for vengeance as well as an unusually potent ability to read and influence minds, Sigourney uses her powers to manipulate her way into the social circles of her family’s murderers in order to play a dangerous game: to compete with them for the attention and favor of their heirless king and destroy his empire from within.
This plays two thematic ends to a middle: First, it forces us to see and experience the settlers as whole human beings, full of longing and disappointment and love and fear, but always in the context of the fathomless evil they’re engaged in, benefit from and perpetuate;
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