Bertrand Russell was born in 1872, in Britain and was a mathematician, philosopher and a great contributor to society and politics. His family was very influential in Britain, closely involved in political matters (Blackwell, 2003).
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Bertrand Russell’s childhood was grim, as his parents and older sister died very early. This has reflected on him in an extreme way, as he was feeling alone and depressed. His overwhelming emotions led him to thoughts about ending own life but sciences and particularly mathematics, the quest for knowledge, helped him overtake his distraught condition. Russell’s understanding of feelings and soul are evident in the following:
“nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of the sort of love that religious teachers have preached; whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at best useless; it follows that war is wrong, that a public school education is abominable, that the use of force is to be deprecated, and that in human relations one should penetrate o the core of loneliness in each person and speak to that” (as cited in Ayer, 1988, p. 8).
The quote clearly illustrates his views on war, education, use of force and love, as it encompasses his views towards society and his lifelong following. His personal life consisted of four marriages and he held it true that one must marry only for love. Throughout his work and contributions, he was a pacifist and strongly opposed the First World War by being fined and almost going to jail, due to his refusal to participate.
Later, he was an avid supporter of the anti-Vietnam movement that took place in the United States. His view was that war must be avoided at all costs, as it destroys the lives of many people but at the onset of World War II, he agreed that sometimes war is inevitable, as there are things that are much worse, such as the threat of peace to a great number of people (Russell, 2004). He has written many articles and works in relation to the use of violence and evil that men do, which clearly outlines his opinion and dislike towards all hostility.
His opinions and thinking were much affected by the society and environment that he grew up in. The absence in the need for basic needs, food and shelter, gave him time to think about his own understanding of the world and the general principles that govern all existence. Bertrand Russell thought himself to be agnostic and an atheist and this could be considered a reflection of his childhood loss of parents and sister.
It is understandable because people often rely on God to help them in the hard times and he attributed his help to knowledge and science. Russell heavily relied on reasoning and logic, as they are able to resolve problems without the use of emotions and irrational thinking. There is no denying that logic is a strong force but at the same time, it cannot disprove the existence of a force that governs all creation.
Bertrand Russell very much supported the view that life ends with death and there is no continuation whatsoever and that all that happens is a mere collision of atoms in an accidental and chaotic matter (Griffin, 2003). But how could this be true if such strong and eternal sciences like mathematics, biology, physics, and chemistry are the laws that so precisely determine the movement of particles?
The fact that humans and thinkers are able to use this form of knowledge, does not mean that it was created by a human mind, it was simply “produced” from the link between concepts and pieces of information. If Bertrand Russell included the concept of a greater force, he would have come up with the even better description of the world and the laws that govern life.
Ayer, A. (1988). Bertrand Russell. Chicago, United States: University of Chicago Press.
Blackwell, K. (2003). A bibliography of Bertrand Russell. New York, United States: Routledge.
Griffin, N. (2003). The Cambridge companion to Bertrand Russell. New York, United States: Cambridge University Press.
Russell, B. (2004). Why men fight. New York, United States: Cosimo, Inc.