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A History of Western Philosophy A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
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“A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“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.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attibutable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“This [Hegel's philosophy] illustrates an important truth, namely, that the worse your logic, the more interesting the consequences to which it gives rise.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“The search for something permanent is one of the deepest of the instincts leading men to philosophy.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“The ancient world found an end to anarchy in the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire was a brute fact, not an idea. The Catholic world sought an end to anarchy in the church, which was an idea, but was never adequately embodied in fact. Neither the ancient nor the medieval solution was satisfactory – the one because it could not be idealized, the other because it could not be actualized. The modern world, at present, seems to be moving towards a solution like that of antiquity: a social order imposed by force, representing the will of the powerful rather than the hopes of the common men. The problem of a durable and satisfactory social order can only be solved by combining the solidarity of the Roman Empire with the idealism of St. Augustine’s City of God. To achieve this a new philosophy will be needed”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“William James describes a man who got the experience from laughing-gas; whenever he was under its influence, he knew the secret of the universe, but when he came to, he had forgotten it. At last, with immense effort, he wrote down the secret before the vision had faded. When completely recovered, he rushed to see what he had written. It was: "A smell of petroleum prevails throughout.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Science tells us what we can know, but what we can know is little, and if we forget how much we cannot know, we become insensitive to many things of great importance.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“I dislike Nietzsche because he likes the contemplation of pain, because he erects conceit into a duty, because the men whom he most admires are conquerors, whose glory is cleverness in causing men to die.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Two things are to be remembered: that a man whose opinions and theories are worth studying may be presumed to have had some intelligence, but that no man is likely to have arrived at complete and final truth on any subject whatever. When an intelligent man expresses a view which seems to us obviously absurd, we should not attempt to prove that it is somehow true, but we should try to understand how it ever came toseemtrue. Thisexercise of historical and psychological imagination at once enlarges the scope of our thinking, and helps us to realize how foolish many of our own cherished prejudices will seem to an age which has a different temper of mind.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“The first effect of emancipation from the Church was not to make men think rationally, but to open their minds to every sort of antique nonsense”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Nevertheless, when it is your lot to have to endure something that is (or seems to you) worse than the ordinary lot of mankind, Spinoza's principle of thinking about the whole, or at any rate about larger matters than your own grief, is a useful one. There are even times when it is comforting to reflect that human life, with all that is contains of evil and suffering, is an infinitesimal part of the life of the universe. Such reflections may not suffice to constitute a religion, but in a painful world they are a help towards sanity and an antidote to the paralysis of utter despair. - about Spinoza”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Philosophy, for Plato, is a kind of vision, the 'vision of truth'...Everyone who has done any kind of creative work has experienced, in a greater or less degree, the state of mind in which, after long labour, truth or beauty appears, or seems to appear, in a sudden glory - it may only be about some small matter, or it may be about the universe. I think that most of the best creative work, in art, in science, in literature, and in philosophy, has been a result of just such a moment.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“هنگام مطالعه‌ی نظریات هر فیلسوفی٬ طرز برخورد درست نه ارادت است و نه تحقیر؛ بلکه باید در آغاز امر نسبت به وی نوعی همدلی فرضی در خود پدید آوریم تا ممکن شود که بدانیم اگر به نظریات او باور داشته باشیم چه حالی خواهیم داشت؛ و فقط در این هنگام است که باید طرز برخورد انتقادی را در خود زنده کنیم. و این طرز برخورد نیز باید تا آنجا که ممکن است مانند حالت فکری شخصی باشد که می‌خواهد عقایدی را که تاکنون بدان‌ها باور داشته٬ رها کند. در این جریان٬ در مرحله‌ی اول حس تحقیر و در مرحله‌ی دوم ارادت مانع کار می‌شود. دو چیز را باید به یاد داشت: یکی این‌که هرکس نظریاتش به مطالعه بیارزد٬ لابد از فهم و هوش بهره‌ای داشته است. دیگر این‌که به هیچ وجه احتمال نمی‌رود آن‌کس در موضوعی٬ هرچه باشد٬ به حقیقت کامل و نهایی رسیده باشد. هنگامی که شخص هوشمندی نظری اظهار می‌کند که در نظر ما آشکارا سخیف می‌نماید٬ نباید بکوشیم تا ثابت کنیم آن نظر به نحوی درست است؛ بلکه باید بکوشیم تا دریابیم که آن نظر چگونه درست می‌نماید. این طرز به کار بردن تخیل تاریخی و روانی فورا دامنه‌ی اندیشه‌ی ما را گسترش می‌دهد و به ما کمک می‌کند تا دریابیم در عصری که دارای طرز تفکر دیگری است چگونه بسیاری از عقاید گرامی ما احمقانه می‌نماید.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Science tells us what we can know, but what we can know is little, and if we forget how much we cannot know we become insensitive to many things of very great importance.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“A philosopher who uses his professional competence for anything other except a disinterested search for truth is guilty of a kind of treachery.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Leibniz was somewhat mean about money. When any young lady at the court of Hanover married, he used to give her what he called a "wedding present," consisting of useful maxims, ending up with the advice not to give up washing now that she had secured a husband. History does not record whether the brides were grateful. ”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Ages of prolonged uncertainty, while they are compatible with the highest degree of saintliness in a few, are inimical to the prosaic every-day virtues of respectable citizens. There seems no use in thrift, when tomorrow all your savings may be dissipated; no advantage in honesty, when the man towards whom you practise it is pretty sure to swindle you; no point in steadfast adherence to the cause, when no cause is important or has a chance of stable victory; no argument in favour of truthfulness, when only supple tergiversation makes the preservation of life and fortune possible. The man whose virtue has no source except a purely terrestrial prudence will in such a world, become an adventurer if he has the courage, and, if not, will seek obscurity as a timid time-server.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Social cohesion is a necessity, and mankind has never yet succeeded in enforcing cohesion by merely rational arguments. Every community is exposed to two opposite dangers: ossification through too much discipline and reverence for tradition, on the one hand; and on the other hand, dissolution, or subjection to foreign conquest, through the growth of individualism and personal experience that makes cooperation impossible”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Noone has yet succeeded in inventing a philosophy at once credible and self-consistent. Locke aimed at credibility, and achieved it at the expense of consistency. Most of the great philosophers have done the opposite. A philosophy which is not self-consistent cannot be wholly true, but a philosophy which is self-consistent can very well be wholly false. The most fruitful philosophies have contained glaring inconsistencies, but for that very reason have been partially true. There is no reason to suppose that a self-consistent system contains more truth than one which, like Locke’s, is more or less wrong.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Man is not a solitary animal, and so long as social Life survives, self-realization cannot be the supreme principle of ethics.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Liberation from the tyranny of the body contributes to greatness, but just as much to greatness in sin as to greatness in virtue.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“It might seem that the empirical philosopher is the slave of his material, but that the pure mathematician, like the musician, is a free creator of his world of ordered beauty.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“We may say, in a broad way, that Greek philosophy down to Aristotle expresses the mentality appropriate to the City State; that Stoicism is appropriate to a cosmopolitan despotism; that stochastic philosophy is an intellectual expression of the Church as an organization; that philosophy since Descartes, or at any rate since Locke, tends to embody the prejudices of the commercial middle class; and that Marxism and Fascism are the philosophies appropriate to the modern industrial state.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“It is obvious that in his day-dreams he is a warrior, not a professor; all of the men he admires were military. His opinion of women, like every man's, is an objectification of his own emotion towards them, which is obviously one of fear. "Forget not thy whip"-- but nine women out of ten would get the whip away from him, and he knew it, so he kept away from women, and soothed his wounded vanity with unkind remarks. [...] [H]e is so full of fear and hatred that spontaneous love of mankind seems to him impossible. He has never conceived of the man who, with all the fearlessness and stubborn pride of the superman, nevertheless does not inflict pain because he has no wish to do so. Does any one suppose that Lincoln acted as he did from fear of hell? Yet to Nietzsche, Lincoln is abject, Napoleon magnificent. [...] I dislike Nietzsche because he likes the contemplation of pain, because he erects conceit into duty, because the men whom he most admires are conquerors, whose glory is cleverness in causing men to die. But I think the ultimate argument against his philosophy, as against any unpleasant but internally self-conscious ethic, lies not in an appeal to facts, but in an appeal to the emotions. Nietzsche despises universal love; I feel it the motive power to all that I desire as regards the world. His followers have had their innings, but we may hope that it is coming rapidly to an end.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
“Uncertainty, in the presence of vivid hopes and fears, is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales.”
Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy: Collectors Edition
“Ever since Plato most philosophers have considered it part of their business to produce ‘proofs’ of immortality and the existence of God. They have found fault with the proofs of their predecessors — Saint Thomas rejected Saint Anselm's proofs, and Kant rejected Descartes' — but they have supplied new ones of their own. In order to make their proofs seem valid, they have had to falsify logic, to make mathematics mystical, and to pretend that deepseated prejudices were heaven-sent intuitions.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

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