| Bertrand Russell
18.5.1872 Chepstow, Monmouthshire – 2.2.1970 Penrhyndendraeth, Wales
Bertrand Russell – Agnostiker oder Atheist? Russell zu Gott und Religion –
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justification of wars of self-defense is very convenient, since so far
as I know there has never yet been a war which was not one of
Die genaue Quelle kenne ich nicht. Für Hinweise bin ich dankbar.
|“Of those who survive many will be
brutalized and morally degraded by the fierce business of killing,
which, however much it may be the soldier's duty, must shock and often
destroy the more humane instincts. As every truthful record of war
shows, fear and hate let loose the wild beast in a not inconsiderable
proportion of combatants, leading to strange cruelties, which must be
faced, but not dwelt upon if sanity is to be preserved.”
Russell, Bertrand (1915): "The Ethics of War". International Journal of Ethics 25:2, S. 127-142.
Siehe dazu: Bellum Justum – Der Gerechte Krieg
precept of veracity, it seems to me, is not such as James thinks. It
is, I should say: »Give to any hypothesis which is worth your while to
consider just that degree of credence which the evidence warrants.« And
if the hypothesis is sufficiently important there is the additional
duty of seeking further evidence.” S.
Russell, Bertrand (2004): „William James“. In: History of Western Philosophy. London: Routledge. 
|Ein bemerkenswertes Zitat über
Bertrand Russell, offensichtlich von einem Ignoranten:
"... the world of analytical philosophy appears to me as so much bean-counting—or, rather, enumeration of the ways in which beans might be counted. Literary types tend to be drawn more to the poetic visions of a Heidegger or a Blanchot than to the logical conundrums of a Russell or an Ayer." Tom McCarthy in einer Besprechung des letzten, unvollendeten Romans von David Foster Wallace: The Pale King. Das Romanfragment wurde – als letztes Werk des früh aus dem Leben geschiedenen Autors – enorm hochgejubelt.
Tom McCarthy: "David Foster Wallace: The Last Audit", New York Times, April 14, 2011
not assert dogmatically that there is no cosmic purpose, but I will say
that there is no shred of evidence in favor of there being one.”
"Is There a God?" (1952), in: The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell
| “Man is a rational animal – so
at least I have been told. Throughout a long life, I have looked
diligently for evidence in favor of this statement, but so far I have
not had the good fortune to come across it, though I have searched in
many countries spread over three continents.”
So nüchtern leitet Russell den Essay »An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish« (1943) ein. Doch er gibt sofort einen Hoffnungssschimmer: “... folly is perennial and yet the human race has survived ...” (S. 69).
“As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles.” (S. 79)
“In practice, people choose the book considered sacred by the community in which they are born, and out of that book they choose the parts they like, ignoring the others.” (S. 79)
“The importance of Man, which is the one indispensable dogma of the theologians, receives no support from a scientific view of the future of the solar system” (S. 82).
“When one reads of the beliefs of savages, or of the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians, they seem surprising by their capricious absurdity. But beliefs that are just as absurd are still entertained by the uneducated even in the most modem and civilized societies.” (S. 95)
“The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion.” (S. 101)
“The only way I know of dealing with this general human conceit is to remind ourselves that man is a brief episode in the life of a small planet in a little corner of the universe, and that, for aught we know, other parts of the cosmos may contain beings as superior to ourselves as we are to jellyfish” (S. 103).
»An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish«, in: Unpopular Essays
“... scientific progress without a corresponding moral and political progress may only increase the magnitude of the disaster that misdirected skill may bring about” (S. 131).
»Ideas That Have Helped Mankind«, in: Unpopular Essays
“Belief in a Divine mission is one of the many forms of certainty that have afflicted the human race” (S. 157).
»Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind«, in: Unpopular Essays
|"We may define “faith” as a firm
belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is
evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two
and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith
when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of
emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups
substitute different emotions. Christians have faith in the
Resurrection, communists have faith in Marx’s Theory of Value. Neither
faith can be defended rationally, and each therefore is defended by
propaganda and, if necessary, by war. The two are equal in this
respect. If you think it immensely important that people should believe
something which cannot be rationally defended, it makes no difference
what the something is. Where you control the government, you teach the
something to the immature minds of children and you burn or prohibit
books which teach the contrary. Where you do not control the
government, you will, if you are strong enough, build up armed forces
with a view to conquest. All this is an inevitable consequence of any
strongly held faith unless, like the Quakers, you are content to remain
forever a tiny minority."
Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954
does not determine who is right, only who is left."
on religion remain those which I acquired at the age of sixteen. I
consider all forms of religion not only false but harmful. My published
works record my views.”
"Bertrand Russell on the Afterlife", The Humanist, 28:5 (Sept.- Oct. 1968)
|"Warum sollte es mich sorgen, daß ich
aufhöre zu leben. Die ganze Zeit vor meiner Geburt habe ich doch auch
nicht gelebt, ohne daß mir das Sorgen bereitet."
Zitiert nach Robert Spaemann: "Sein und Gewordensein. Was erklärt die Evolutionstheorie?" In: Spaemann, Robert, Peter Koslowski, Reinhard Löw, Hg.: Evolutionstheorie und menschliches Selbstverständnis. Zur philosophischen Kritik eines Paradigmas moderner Wissenschaft, S. 90
Hinzuweisen ist darauf, dass "bereitet" Gegenwart ist. Spaemann kommentiert wie folgt:
Vergleiche dazu J.L. Borges, Epikur, Jonathan Franzen, Palmerston und Wittgenstein
from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer
results, than any other branch of learning“ (S.13).
„The difference between man and the lower animals, which to our human conceit appears enormous, was shown to be a gradual achievement, ...“ (S. 22)
„A process which led from the amoeba to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress—though whether the amoeba would agree with this optimism is not known“ (S. 22-23).
„What I do wish to maintain—and it is here that the scientific attitude beomes imperative—is that insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth, in spite of the fact that much of the most important truth is first suggested by its means“ (S. 31)
„Instinct, intuition, or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reasons confirms or confutes“ (S. 31)
„Aristotle had spoken, and it was the part of humbler men merely to repeat the lesson after him“ (S. 42)
„Philosophy cannot boast of having achieved such a degree of certainty that it can have authoritiy to condemn the facts of experience and the laws of science“ (S. 74)
Our Knowledge of the External World As A Field For Scientific Method In Philosophy.1993  – Rezension
|Zum Problem der Verallgemeinerung
„... some world-governing Caligula, having made a complete census, might extirpate his subjects and then commit suicide, exclaiming with his last breath: »Now I know that all men are mortal«. But in the meantime we have to rely upon less conclusive Evidence.“, S. 155
„The common-sense practice is to accept testimony unless there is a positive reason against doing so in the particular case concerned.“ S. 206
„Either, therefore, we know something independently of experience, or science is moonshine“, S. 524
„…all human knowledge is uncertain, inexact, and partial. To this doctrine we have not found any limitation whatever.“ S. 527
Human Knowledge. Its Scope and Limits. London 1951  – Rezension
feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise,
for only a fool will think that it is happiness” A Liberal Decalogue, 1951
as usually in philosophy, the first difficulty is to see that the
problem is difficult",
"As soon as we remember the possible fallibility of the observer, we have introduced the serpent into the behaviourist's paradise. The serpent whispers doubts, and has no difficulty in quoting scientific scripture for the purpose." S. 12-13
„Naive realism leads to physics, and physics, if true, shows that naive realism is false“, S. 13
Das wird oft fälschlich mit "commen sense" wiedergegeben, z.B. in Levin (2000), S. 234: „Russell’s famous refutation of common sense: common sense implies physics; physics contradicts common sense; hence common sense implies its own denial; hence common sense is false.“ Levin, Michael (2000): „Demons, Possibility and Evidence”. Noûs 34:3, S. 422-440.
"Since we cannot examine everything, we cannot know general propositions empirically", S. 44
"Practical convenience mainly determines what sensible qualities shall have names", S. 51
"The newspapers, at one time, said that I was dead, but after carefully examining the evidence I came to the conclusion that the statement was false", S. 75
"Facts are what they are, without ambiguity", S. 79
"There is no point in the growing precision of language beyond which we cannot go; our language can always be rendered less inexact, but can never become quite exact." S. 83
"... every empirical concept has the sort of vagueness that is obvious in such examples as »tall« or »bald«", S. 100
Über Leibniz, Malebranche u.a.:
"In all these systems, however, there was felt to be something fantastic, and only philosophers with a long training in absurditiy could suceed in believing them", S. 110
"... a perceptive experience is a dogmatic belief in what physics and induction show to be probable", S. 116
"The purpose of words, though philosophers seem to forget this simple fact, is to deal with matters other than words", S. 141
"A sentence may signify a truth, or signify a falsehood, or signify nothing; but if a sentence signifies anything, then what it signifies must be true or false." S. 168
"... »correct« is a social concept, but »true« is not", S. 177
"Empiricists fail to realize that much of the knowledge they take for granted assumes events that are not experienced", S. 206
"Whether we accept or reject the words »true« and »false«, we are all agreed that assertions can be divided into two kinds, sheep and goats", S. 308
Alle obigen Zitate aus: An Inquiry Into Meaning and Truth. London: Penguin, 1965 – Rezension
|"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." S. 13
"Italy and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy",
"... one's work is never so bad as it appears on bad days, nor so good as it appears on good days",
"... what we have to do [...] is to treat the religious instinct with profound respect, but ot insiste that there is no shred or particle of truth in any of the metapyhsics it has suggested",
Brief vom 16.7.1903, zitiert nach S. 186-87.
The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell. Vol. I.  1971, ( Rezension)
| Vladimir Nabokov über Bertrand
|Bertrand Russell lehnte die
Einladung zur Krönung der englischen Königin in die Westminster-Abtei
ab: "Ich habe sehr viel andere Dinge zu tun. Ich bin ein
"Bertrand Russell", Der Spiegel 10.06.1953, Seite 25
|"A good point of philosophy is to
start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end
with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it." – Quelle unbekannt
|"In all affairs, love, religion, politics or
business, it's ahaelthy idea, now and then, to hang a question mark on
things you have long taken for granted."
"Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know"
The Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations, Ware, 1996
| "A theologian cannot change his mind
an major issues of doctrine, for the consequence of this is heresy. A
scientist, however, can change his theories if further investigations
reveal his earlier formulations to be wrong. It is Russell's hope that
as philosophy comes closer to a scientific point of view, the right of
the philosopher to alter his opinions in the light of his later
thoughts will be accepted as a matter of course." Robert Charles Marsh,
Chicago, Illinois, Herausgeber von Bertrand Russell: Logic
and Knowledge. Essays 1901-1950, in Logic and
has a perfectly clear and concise meaning. It signifies the choice of
the right means to an end that you wish to achieve. It was nothing
whatever to do with the choice of ends."
Human Society in Ethics and Politics, London 1954. S. viii. Vergleiche dazu John R. Searle
observe that a very large portion of the human race does not believe in
God and suffers no visible punishment in consequence. And if there were
a God, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy
vanity as to be offended by those who doubt his existence.” – ? W.A.
fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid
are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
"The Triumph of Stupidity", 1933, in: Mortals and Others: Bertrand Russell's American Essays, 1931-1935, Routledge, 1998, S. 28
is one thing, progress is another. »Change« is scientific, »progress«
is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of
controversy.” – Unpopular Essays
does not determine who is right - only who is left.”
|“But so long as men are not
trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence, they will be
led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders
will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure
uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues. For the
learning of every virtue there is an appropriate discipline, and for
the learning of suspended judgment the best discipline is philosophy.”
Unpopular Essays 1950
are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.”
if it cannot answer so many questions as we could
wish, has at least the power of asking questions
which increase the interest of the world, and show the strangeness and
wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of
The Problems of Philosophy. 1998 . S. 6.
Die Philosophie kann nicht so viele Fragen beantworten, wie wir gerne möchten; aber sie kann wenigstens Fragen stellen, die unser Interesse an der Welt vergrößern und uns zeigen, wie dicht unter der Oberfläche der alltäglichsten Dinge alles seltsam und erstaunlich wird.
"... whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities."
The Problems of Philosophy. 1998 . S. 9.
process of sound philosophizing, to my mind, consists mainly in passing
from those obvious, vague, ambiguous things, that we feel quite sure
of, to something precies, clear, definite, which by reflection and
analysis we find is involved in the vague thing that we start from, and
is, so to speak, the real truth of which that vague thing is a sort of
The Philosophy of Logical Atomism.1918, 1919. S.179-180.
"Der Prozeß gültigen Philosophierens besteht nach meiner Meinung hautpsächlich darin, daß man von diesen offensichtlichen, vagen und mehrdeutigen Dingen, deren wir uns ganz sicher zu sein glauben, zu etwas Präzisem, Klarem und Bestimmtem übergeht, von dem wir durch Reflexion und Analyse feststellen, daß es in dem Vagen, von dem wir ausgehen, enthalten ist und so-zu-sagen die eigentliche Wahrheit ist, von der dieses Vage nur eine Art Schatten ist."
|"Presupposing has all the advantage over
demonstrating that theft has over honest labor."
|Russell zur Induktion|
|Auch Tiere unterliegen dem
Trugschluß der Induktion. Dazu brachte Russell dieses
„Domestic animals expect food when they see the person who feeds them. We know that all these rather crude expectations of uniformity are liable to be misleading. The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.” The Problems of Philosophy. Oxford, 1998 . S.35
|"We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think — in fact they do so." The ABC of Relativity, 1925, S. 166|
|"I wish to
propose for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may,
I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in
question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when
there is no ground whatever for supposing it true."
Introduction: On the Value of
Scepticism, Sceptical Essays, London, 1928.
|“Religion is based, I think, primarily and
mainly upon fear.”
Bertrand Russell Rede am 6. März, 1927 für die National Secular Society, South London Branch, in der Battersea Town Hall. In: Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays, 1957.
|"Supposing you got a crate of oranges that you opened, and you found all the top layer of oranges bad, you would not argue, 'The underneath ones must be good, so as to redress the balance.' You would say, 'Probably the whole lot is a bad consignment'; and that is really what a scientific person would say about the universe." Why I Am Not a Christian, London 1927|
|"Ich halte alle großen
Religionen der Welt – Buddhismus, Hinduismus, Christentum, Islam und
Kommunismus – sowohl für unwahr als auch für schädlich."
Warum ich kein Christ bin, München 1963 (13)