In the Facebook-page for Bertrand Russell that I founded a few years ago, there was discussion of how philosophers need to be open to all ideas. Bertrand Russell for one was open to new ideas all his life. He was always ready to change his views if new and compelling scientific evidence made it necessary.
However, his very basic and fundamental values did remain quite constant all his life. When I thought about it, I found without straining myself 12 ideas that I think Bertrand Russell did hold and value during the whole of his incredibly long life. After all, he died in the ripe age of 98 and was even then still very active.
1. Solidarity of all humans and humanity.
"The only thing that will redeem mankind is co-operation."
in “Human Society in Ethics and Politics “(1954)
2. Opposition to war and violence in all forms.
"This idea of weapons of mass extermination is utterly horrible and is something which no one with one spark of humanity can tolerate. I will not pretend to obey a government which is organising a mass massacre of mankind."
in Speech in Birmingham, England encouraging civil disobedience in support of nuclear disarmament (1961)
3. Respect for truth.
“I cannot believe — and I say this with all the emphasis of which I am capable — that there can ever be any good excuse for refusing to face the evidence in favour of something unwelcome. It is not by delusion, however exalted, that mankind can prosper, but only by unswerving courage in the pursuit of truth."
in "The Pursuit of Truth" in The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell (1993)
4. Opposition to dogma and dogmatism in all of its forms and especially religious dogmas.
“All definite knowledge — so I should contend — belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man’s Land, exposed to attack by both sides; this No Man’s Land is philosophy.“
in A History of Western Philosophy (1945)
5. Respect for real science.
“Most literary men is obsessed with the idea that science has not fulfilled its promises. They do not, of course, tell us what these promises were. This is an entire delusion, fostered by those writers and clergymen who do not wish their specialties to be thought of little value.”
in Marriage and Morals (1929) Ch. 2: Byronic Unhappiness
6. Advocating sexual liberation.
“Nine-tenths of the appeal of pornography is due to the indecent feelings concerning sex which moralists inculcate in the young; the other tenth is physiological, and will occur in one way or another whatever the state of the law may be.”
in Marriage and Morals (1929) Ch. 8: The Taboo on Sex Knowledge
“Joy of life... depends upon a certain spontaneity in regard to sex. Where sex is repressed, only work remains, and a gospel of work for work's sake never produced any work worth doing.”
in Marriage and Morals (1929) Ch. 20: The Place of Sex Among Human Values
“To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead."
in Marriage and Morals (1929) Ch. 19: Sex and Individual Well-Being
7. Strong distaste for the open, greedy capitalism.
“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.”
in Sceptical Essays (1928) Ch. 13: Freedom in Society
“For my part, the thing I would wish to obtain from money would be leisure with security. But what the typical modern man desires to get with it is more money, with a view to ostentation, splendour, and the outshining of those who have hitherto been his equals.”
in Conquest of Happiness (1930) Ch. 3: Competition
“The businessman's religion and glory demand that he should make much money; therefore, like the Hindu widow, he suffers the torment gladly.”
in Conquest of Happiness (1930) Ch. 3: Competition
8.Opposition to nationalism and overdrawn patriotism.
“Patriots always talk of dying for their country, and never of killing for their country.”
In Has Man a Future? (1962)
9. Strong respect for liberalism and liberal ideas.
"The doctrine of liberalism is an attempt to escape from this endless oscillation. The essence of liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma, and insuring stability without involving more restraints than are necessary for the preservation of the community." in A History of Western Philosophy (1945) Introductory, p. xxi
11. Rejection of automatic authority by a position in hierarchy.
“As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles. “
in Outline of Intellectual Rubbish
12. Love of life and humanity.
“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. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair..Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people..the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer. This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”
in The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1967) Prologue: What I Have Lived For
Quotes from Wikiquote
(This piece refurbished on 24th of April, 2013)