I shall not consider the great catastrophes such as loss of all one's children, or public disgrace. And the same is true of modern democracy. The habit of thinking in terms of comparisons is a fatal one. He has probably no men friends who are important to him, although he has a number with whom he affects a geniality that he wishes he felt. Only democracy and free publicity can prevent the holders of power from establishing a servile state, with luxury for the few and overworked poverty for the many.
We must ignore the tyranny of reality that continually undermines all of our hopes and aspirations. This is what must happen if nations and their rulers are lacking in constructive vision. The second possibility, that of a reversion to barbarism, would leave open the likelihood of a gradual return to civilization, as after the fall of Rome. The next step in this long historical process should reduce the two to one, and thus put an end to the period of organized wars, which began in Egypt some six thousand years ago. The same thing still happens in China and Japan, where industrialism is new; to some extent also in the Southern States of America.
The trouble arises from the generally received philosophy of life, according to which life is a contest, a competition, in which respect is to be accorded to the victor. To feel tragedy, a man must be aware of the world in which he lives, not only with his mind, but with his blood and sinews. I do not deny that there is a great deal too much lying in the world, and that we should all be the too much better for an increase of truthfulness, but I do deny, as I think every rational person must, that lying is in no circumstances justified. The human body has been adapted through the ages to this rhythm, and religion has embodied something of it in the festival of Easter. No one is surprised to find an eminent general or admiral poor; indeed, poverty in such circumstances is, in a sense, itself an honour. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish … the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power. The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell.
But this is rhetoric with a bogus air of heroism. For the future, therefore, it may be taken that much the most important evils that mankind have to consider are those which they inflict upon each other through stupidity or malevolence or both. High tragedy in the present day, therefore, has to concern itself rather with the community than with the individual. There is, it is true, an idealistic theory according to which democracy is the best form of government. Instead of calling this essay 'Ideas that have harmed mankind', I might perhaps have called it simply 'Ideas have harmed mankind', for, seeing that the future cannot be foretold and that there is an almost endless variety of possible beliefs about it, the chance that any belief which a man may hold may be true is very slender. Archived from on 13 March 2008.
This particular form of virtue is certainly its own reward. In the first place, all through working hours, and still more in the time spent between work and home, the urban worker is exposed to noise, most of which, it is true, he learns not to hear consciously, but which none the less wears him out, all the more owing to the subconscious effort involved in not hearing it. The stimuli exist, but not in literary coteries. It is a fair prophecy that if you tell a man he is a knave and a fool he will not love you, and it is a fair prophecy that if you say the same thing to seventy million people they will not love you. To quote the immortal lines of the poet during the first World War: Gott strafe England, and God save the King. Calvinists, by the fiat of undeserved mercy, would go to heaven, and their feelings that sin deserved punishment would receive a merely vicarious satisfaction.
Physical labour carried beyond a certain point is atrocious torture, and it has very frequently been carried so far as to make life all but unbearable. Or, again, watch people at a gay evening. I do not suggest that a man should set apart, say, an hour a day for self-examination. Bertrand Russell is one of the greatest masters of English Prose. This false belief, by producing international hatreds and rivalries, is a cause of war, and in this way tends to make itself true, since when war has once broken out the conflict of national interests becomes only too real. He contends, and in this I cannot but agree with him, that Ibsen's Ghosts is inferior to King Leer.
Firstly, what seems like a little vacation for the boys is quickly erased by the brutal savage-like behavior that many of the boys on the island possess. It is an inaccurate phrase which he has picked up in order to give dignity to something essentially trivial. No individual will think, or even feel, for himself, but each will be contentedly a mere unit in the mass. Yet these are strict analogues of the things the Russians have done in Poland. Along the way we learn. But pains of these kinds do not destroy the essential quality of life, as do those that spring from disgust with self. The rational man, when he feels any or all of these emotions, will be glad that he feels them and will do nothing to lessen their strength, for all these emotions are parts of the good life, the life, that is, that makes for happiness both in oneself and in others.
It was supposed, especially by Protestants, that conscience reveals to every man when an act to which he is tempted is sinful, and that after committing such an act he may experience either of two painful feelings, one called remorse, in which there is no merit, and the other called repentance, which is capable of wiping out his guilt. There is in the sense of sin something abject, something lacking in self-respect. To summarize the above arguments: we have to guard against three dangers—the extinction of the human race, a reversion to barbarism, and the establishment of a universal slave state involving misery for the vast majority and the disappearance of all progress in knowledge and thought. To write tragedy, a man must feel tragedy. I have no doubt that those who have suffered greatly through poverty in their childhood, are haunted by terrors lest their children should suffer similarly, and feel that it is hardly possible to build up enough millions as a bulwark against this disaster. In this he is unlike the religious innovator, the anarchist, and the revolutionary, who all feel that, whatever may be their fate in the present, the future is with them and will honour them as much as they are execrated in the present.
Although it must be regarded as unimaginative humbug, it is dangerous, because it makes men less energetic in seeking ways of avoiding the catastrophe that they pretend not to dread. With regard to alcohol the feeling does not exist in Southern countries, and indeed there is an element of impiety about it, since it is known that Our Lord and the Apostles drank wine. The specification expects you to show knowledge of how Copleston and Russell debated. Americans and Englishmen, when they become acquainted with the Balkans, feel an astonished contempt when they study the mutual enmities of Bulgarians and Serbs, or Hungarians and Rumanians. In a certain sense it is true; yet in another, and that a very important sense, it is profoundly false.
Love is an experience in which our whole being is renewed and refreshed as is that of plants by rain after drought. Empiricism, Existence, Materialism 1418 Words 5 Pages The purpose of this paper is to show that while Ernst Mach and Bertrand Russell share similar views on matter and knowledge, their end conclusions differ. Such men can forget their crime when there seems little chance of detection, but when they are found out, or in grave danger of being so, they wish they had been more virtuous, and this wish may give them a lively sense of the enormity of their sin. The positive sum of pleasures in a modern man's life is undoubtedly greater than was to be found in more primitive communities, but the consciousness of what might be has increased even more. A couple may form, as the Brownings did, a mutual admiration society. He does not, of course, tell us what these promises were, but he seems to think that sixty years ago men like Darwin and Huxley expected something of science which it has not given.