Tara's Reviews > The Conquest of Happiness

The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell
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Mar 28, 08

bookshelves: philosophy

I was so excited to read this book, because I love Bertrand Russell. I still love Bertrand Russell. It's just too bad that his view of humanity is so narrow-minded in this work. His descriptions of people, of society make you go "whaaaaat?", and while it could be chalked up to the fact that it was written nearly eighty years ago, I think there's more to it. Russell displayed enormous depth and understanding when he wrote "A History of Western Philosophy" a decade later, and I think time really improved his capacity for forgiveness and imagination. The truth is, "The Conquest of Happiness" is a self-righteous book which displays little insight into human behavior. There are phrases which simply made me cringe (colored people are happier by nature? a-buh? women are merely vessels of bottled-up antagonism towards better-dressed members of the gender? thanks, but I'll pass on that analysis). Like I said, I still enjoy a lot of Russell. I think he himself is aware of his faulty reasoning, and you can see that when he says "This issue goes beyond what I can say here" or "I'm loathe to talk like a mystic, but I have to here..." It would have been a better book if he'd paid more attention to those urges. Go ahead and read it because it does tell us a lot about the author's progression as a person, and it does have good insights at points, but I'd recommend Simone Weil or Erich Fromm or Hazrat Khan or Aldous Huxley or Paul Tillich or many others for more fruitful reading (hey Russell! Some women care about more than their clothes. Check out Simone Weil who was fighting the fascists while you were only smoking your pipe and talking about the working-class!) Also, it's really fascinating that he wrote this book when he himself was miserable and needed some money. Should be kept in mind.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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♥ Ibrahim ♥ Tara, hello, what part of the book in which you see him as having a narrow minded view of people? in what way do you see him self-righteous? I have the book in both Arabic and English and I would like to discuss your objections with you if it is possible. Merci.

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K I'm halfway through the book and it's dissapointing.

message 3: by Yang (new)

Yang I thought he was a bit narrow minded too. I guess his advice isn't well suited to people today since we no longer believed in the prejudices well off white guys in his days tend to believe.Like, as you said, the bit in the beginning about colored people driving erratically...

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