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1. The analysis of mind
2. The Problems of Philosophy
3. Political Ideals
4. The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism
5. The problem of China
6. The Basic Writings of Bertrand
7. The Conquest of Happiness
8. A History of Western Philosophy
9. Mysticism and Logic: And Other
10. Why I Am Not A Christian And Other
11. Mysticism and Logic and Other
12. Religion and Science
13. Autobiography (Routledge Classics)
14. In Praise of Idleness: And Other
15. Human Knowledge: Its Scope and
16. Principia Mathematica - Volume
17. Bertrand Russell
18. Bertrand Russell's Best (Routledge
19. Unpopular Essays (Routledge Classics)
20. Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901-1950

1. The analysis of mind
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 322 Pages (2010-08-25)
list price: US$30.75 -- used & new: US$22.16
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Asin: 1177697734
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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One of Russell's most important and interesting books which reconciles the materialistic tendency of psychology with the anti-materialistic tendency of physics. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

1-0 out of 5 stars It is not the contents but the book quality
The book is very bad printed. There are numerous mistakes and overall it results very painfull to see, not to say, read it. It is a shame that one buy a book and there is no way to make a complain about its printing quality. That is the reason I am doing this here as a review. I will appreciate if you send me another, good copy of Analysis of Mind. If you want I can send you back the copy I received.

1-0 out of 5 stars Unreadable format
The format for this book is just about unreadable with serveral lines of open space between sentences.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Analysis Of Mind
Formally this book doesn't contain groundbreaking insights, or better: it doesn't say anything that isn't already under your eyes. Its biggest accomplishment, however, is in the very act of showing how sometimes we don't see what's under our eyes for a sort of mental laziness.

Russell forces us to move away from this laziness and reconsider what we take for granted about ourselves, and does so with his enjoyable style. He seems to possess the rare skill of finding the minimum amount of words and concepts needed to explain (and solve) the problem clearly and accurately. He will never forget to define precisely all the terms needed in the discussion, or to question the limits of the premises in order to understand the scope of the conclusion.

In each chapter he considers a facet of what we call mind and explores itboth from the point of introspection and of external analysis of observable behavior. Introspection gives use informations impossible to obtain with other methods, and it is what gives meaning to the problem of mind in the first place, but it has the intrinsic problem of an instrument trying to measure itself. So Russell keeps on correcting this "view from the inside" and the delusions it can create with the stick of behaviourism and objective observation.

On a less technical side, I highly appreciate the intellectual honesty of someone who can freely use the words "contrary to what I once stated".

The only minus I can think of is that after one has understood the method of analysis employed he can probably predict how it will be used by the author to investigate the remaining items of his enquiry. While I was reading the second half of the book I often found myself anticipating his reasoning, and thinking that those last chapters could have been thinner. However the author's highly readable prose makes this a very small problem, and I suggest this book to everyone interested in the subject (anyone should be!)

[A NOTE ABOUT BOOK READABILITY: Amazon merged on the same page the reviews for the paperback and the ebook, so please notice that the review below which warns you about the unreadable format of the book refers ONLY to the kindle version. If you are interested in the paperback edition you should disregard that warning. I don't remember finding any problem in readability in the book, but since the "Look inside!" feature is available you can check for yourself if the format is acceptable to you.) ... Read more

2. The Problems of Philosophy
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 174 Pages (2010-03-31)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$12.95
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Asin: 1451582854
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Bertrand Russell's work on general problems of Philosophy - includes his famous article "On Denoting" ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Stimulating Set of Problems
Bertrand Russell was one of the most prominent British mathematicians and philosophers from the beginning of the twentieth century. He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy. His varied interests have led him to become widely known even outside his own domains of professional specialization. In 1950 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

This book was written as some sort of an introduction to philosophy, having a general reader in mind. The topics and issues that are discussed herein are some of the most prominent and lasting ones in philosophy - what is knowledge, how are we able to acquire it, can we ever be completely certain of things that we know. Russell presents many of these topics from a historical perspective, introducing the reader to some of the most prominent philosophers who had previously dealt with them.

The writing in this book is lucid and precise, without becoming pedantic. This is by no means a light-hearted and watered-down survey of philosophy, so the reader should expect to have to be constantly intellectually engaged with the material presented here. However, the book is also not a technical work aimed at the experts, and no prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed. As long as the reader has a keen mind and appreciation for critical thinking, this book will be an enjoyable and stimulating adventure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Engaging; Appropriately Challenging
First off, I am nowhere near qualified to comment on the philosophical arguments posited by Russell about knowledge.However, as someone who has rediscovered philosophy in middle-age, having taken it in college and abandoned it shortly thereafter, I found Russell's writing eminently readable.Some of the concepts discussed are appropriately challenging and I was surprised at how clearly and engagingly Russell writes.I incorrectly assumed that a great philosophical mind like his would wrap his prose in incomprehensible philosophical jargon.Fortunately, I was wrong.The highlight for me was a passage in the concluding chapter, where Russell explains the purpose of the philosophical discipline, which is to bring a person outside their immediate world of daily concerns and crises, to the larger world around them of thoughts and ideas, and thereby enlarge their world to their benefit.My favorite sentence: "Every complete sentence must contain at least one word which stands for a universal, since all verbs have a meaning which is universal."Highly recommended as an introduction to some of the fundamental questions addressed by philosophy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosophy 101
A brief tour of epistemology and metaphysics. This book is directed at at those who are curious about the discipline of philosophy; it's only about 150 or so pages, but navigating through may not be easy. Russell starts of by wondering whether material objects seen in the world of sense data really exist and takes the reader through a brief analysis of the differing view points regarding the existence and the nature of matter. The view points of the idealists and empiricists are compared and contrasted as Russell tries to take his position. What one gets out of this is the way the topic is analyzed and how seemingly obvious and self-evident points are dissected and a question mark put on them; the opinion he arrives at (ex. why the idealists & Berkeley were in the wrong) is irrelevant. In any case, given the brief nature of the discussion here, you will have to supplement your reading with other materials to get a genuine and more than a verbal understanding of these various schools of thought; the objective here is merely to give you a broad outline. Russell then moves on to the process by which we acquire knowledge, our reliance on inductive reasoning and proceeds to talk about a priori knowledge, contribution of Kant and the debate surrounding the feasibility of a priori knowledge. Plato's Universals is covered in two chapters. If and onceyou get to the end of it, questions whether all of this is merely hairsplitting and devoid of any practical utility is addressed by Russell in the final chapter where he says that the role of philosophy is to keep alive the "speculative interest in the universe" otherwise which we would be confined to verifiable and ascertainable knowledge.

A well written introduction and if the flame still burns there is a list of books in the bibliographical note to take your interest further.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Problems of Epistemology
I've always enjoyed Russell's perspicuity, as displayed so generously in A History of Western Philosophy; none of it is lacking here.

Russell takes on several key concepts, such as idealism, knowledge by acquaintance versus knowledge by description, and sets forth a theory which clearly delineates what we can and cannot know.

It addresses the fundamental problems of epistemology, and as such should probably be read pretty early on by those who are interested in epistemology and philosophy in general.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dense ... And Free
Dense is probably the best way to describe Russel's writing style. He throws a lot of complicated ideas and thoughts at you all at once. That being said, this is a great book, that anyone will enjoy. It is free, that is the biggest plus. The formatting is great for the kindle. This book really makes you think about a lot of things, and thinking is good for you. It is not a light read, you must really focus on what is being said to understand it. However, understanding it is very rewarding. This is my first book by Russel, but it has sparked an intrest in me, and I plan to read more of his work. So, if you want to read some great philosophy, and have a kindle, then you should look no further than this wonderful book.

Did I mention it's free? ... Read more

3. Political Ideals
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 42 Pages (2010-07-24)
list price: US$14.14 -- used & new: US$14.13
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Asin: 1153741474
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Political science; Economics; Socialism; Individualism; Business ... Read more

4. The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 70 Pages (2010-03-07)
list price: US$14.31 -- used & new: US$12.80
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Asin: 1443250961
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Communism; History / General; History / Europe / Russia ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fair and Balanced
In 1920, Russia was a disaster scene. Hunger and misery were widespread. It was a police state blockaded by the outside world. Is it fair, Russell asks, to judge Bolshevism in this context? Bolshevism was not entirely responsible for Russia's misery.

But Russell is critical of Bolshevism for its dogmatism, its superficial understanding of human nature and human motivations, and its ruthlessness. He concedes that its ideals were good, but its methods departed from its ideals. Nevertheless, it was the right government for Russia at the time.

He recommends that capitalist injustices be resisted non-violently and gradually, focussing on power at first, not money, and on "propaganda to make the necessity of the transition obvious to the great majority of wage earners."

Russell wrote this book in 1920. When he revised it in 1948 he found little need for change. Many of his predictions have come true. Despite its abstract subject, this book is a quick and easy read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Written in 1920, reads like a post-analysis rather than a warning.
Russell saw the outcome of Lenin's power grab in 1920. A power grab that hid behind the ideology of 'communism'. Because Russell is one of the clearest writers of English in history, i was able to read this in 2 hours.

I can't write as good as Russell, so i'll quote one paragraph.

"In the first place, [Bolshevism] makes much of the treachery of [capitalist politicians] constitutional movements, but does not consider the possibility of the treachery of Communist leaders in a revolution. To this the Marxian would reply that in constitutional movements men are bought,directly or indirectly, by the money of the capitalists, but that revolutionary Communism would leave the capitalists no money with which to attempt corruption. This has been achieved in Russia, and could be achieved elsewhere. But selling oneself to the capitalists is not the only possible form of treachery. It is also possible, having acquired power, to use it for one's own ends instead of for the people. This is what I believe to be likely to happen in Russia: the establishment of a bureaucratic aristocracy, concentrating authority in its own hands, and creating a régime just as oppressive and cruel as that of capitalism. Marxians never sufficiently recognize that love of power is quite as strong a motive, and quite as great a source of injustice, as love of money; yet this must be obvious to any unbiased student of politics. It is also obvious that the method of violent revolution leading to a minority dictatorship is one peculiarly calculated to create habits of despotism which would survive the crisis by which they were generated. "

I love this comparision of communism with religion:

" Bolshevism is not merely a political doctrine; it is also a religion, with elaborate dogmas and inspired scriptures. When Lenin wishes to prove some proposition, he does so, if possible, by quoting texts from Marx and Engels. A full-fledged Communist is not merely a man who believes that land and capital should be held in common, and their produce distributed as nearly equally as possible. He is a man who entertains a number of elaborate and dogmatic beliefs--such as philosophic materialism, for example--which may be true, but are not, to a scientific temper, capable of being known to be true with any certainty. This habit, of militant certainty about objectively doubtful matters, is one from which, since the
Renaissance, the world has been gradually emerging, into that temper of constructive and fruitful scepticism which constitutes the scientific outlook. "

The rest of the book is filled with these types of insights.

5-0 out of 5 stars History in the Making
This is not a history book. Rather, this book is history. The author wrote what is now a time capsule forever poised on the breaking edge of world events. The year was 1920. The Russian Revolution--despite huge difficulties due to World War I and, following that, attacks from the Western powers--was triumphant. Russell went to Moscow as a huge VIP, a world-famous mathematician/philosopher who believed in Socialism and Communism. Further, he considered capitalism both evil and doomed...And yet, and yet, as we'll see, Bolshevism was for Russell a step too far.

Russell had one of the best minds of the century. Writing this book, he was 48, at the height of his powers. It is altogether delightful to travel through history with a tip-top intelligence. Russell is rigorous, careful, precise, decent, and highly educated. He waltzes gracefully from point to point, fact to fact, deduction to deduction. Remember, he is in the very crucible of history, trying to make sense of events even as they unfold outside his window. I believe an entire college course could be made from this short book. Of course, students would have to read lots of additional material to run along side Russell and evaluate all the arresting things he says, for example: "Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam; and the result is something radically new, which can only be understood by a patient and passionate effort of imagination."

Students taking such a course would understand what so many American intellectuals, all through the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's, did not. Blinded by their love of Communism and their hatred of the West, they consistently aided and abetted what was the very definition of an evil government, the USSR under Stalin. Russell's mind is more subtle and sinuous. He wants a better world but sees that the Bolsheviks are willing to destroy everything to get it; but then it's not better, it's only rubble and death. Writing in 1920, when Lenin was in total control and Stalin was a minor figure, Russell nonetheless saw everything that was coming. He dissects the fanaticism, the many ways in which Bolshevism functions as a religion and its adherents become murderous ideologues.

Russell writes, with sadness but also alarm: "While some forms of Socialism are immeasurably better than capitalism, others are even worse. Among those that are worse, I reckon the form which is being achieved in Russia, not only in itself, but as a more insuperable barrier to further progress."

Aside: I ordered this book because I knew that Russell spent an hour with Lenin, a figure I wanted to know more about. Russell noted a cruel streak; for example, Lenin "described the division between rich and poor peasants, and the Government propaganda among the latter against the former, leading to acts of violence which he seemed to find amusing." This at a time when the country could not feed itself! I'm intrigued by cold-hearted intellectuals who think nothing of leveling what civilization there is in order to build their brave new worlds. Let us never forget Pol Pot who went back to Cambodia and killed 25% of his own country. In the field I mostly write about, education, there's our own John Dewey, who set out to dumb down an entire country so he could build his version of socialism. Lenin was a tough guy relative to the professorial Dewey, but I detect the same megalomania in both men. ... Read more

5. The problem of China
by Bertrand Russell
 Paperback: 266 Pages (2010-09-08)
list price: US$27.75 -- used & new: US$20.23
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Asin: 1171743963
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Notes: This is an OCR reprint. There may be numerous typos or missing text. There are no illustrations or indexes.When you buy the General Books edition of this book you get free trial access to Million-Books.com where you can select from more than a million books for free. You can also preview the book there. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful Thoughts Even Valueable Today
Russell explained in depth the power balance in China among British, French, Russia, US, Germany, and Japan in the late 19th century and early 20th century.As a peace lover, Russell disgusted at the Japanese invasionand control in China.He was able to explain the root cause of theJapanese aggression using the Race, Culture, Religion, and Industrydevelopment factors.As he stated the Chinese culture could not incubateaggression as contrary to the Japanese culture.Since the Far East cultureroot is deep and usually carries along for centuries, I believe his viewstill holds true in the 21st century.This book also explained thepossibility of a 'Red China' in 1922.Because Russia was a traditionalenemy of Japan in the Far East, Russell thought Russia would have a hugeimpact on 'Young China' because "one's enemy's enemy is usually afriend".I was so much impressed by Russell's social analysis andinsightful thought on China.I wish he were still alive today so he couldeducate the Westerns about who is the true peace loving people in the FarEast.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even good for western people to understand current China
In this book, Bertrand Russell expressed his ideas about both the positive and negative characters of Chinese. It can only be written after carefully thinking over what are in Chinese people's mind. And only you have been toChina for over 6 months can you really understand what he really means.This is perhaps the best book for western people to learn the way ofthinking of Chinese and the character of the Chinese people. After readingthe book I think people will rebuild an idea about China, thus they canunderstand the Chinese people in American better. ... Read more

6. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (Routledge Classics)
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 784 Pages (2009-04-06)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.78
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Asin: 0415472385
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Few philosophers have had a more profound influence on the course of modern philosophy than Bertrand Russell. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell is a comprehensive anthology of Russell’s most definitive essays written between 1903 and 1959. First published in 1961, this remarkable collection is a testament to a philosopher whom many consider to be one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. This is an essential introduction to the brilliance of Bertrand Russell.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great collection of papers!
Great collection of papers. Russell discusses his intellectual development, moral issues, political issues, religion and more. His thoughts on / interpretations of other philosophers is particularly insightful.

I especially like his "Language and Metaphysics" (page 246).

One drawback - no index!

4-0 out of 5 stars Expectantly Profound and Comprehensive
Bertrand Russell is an exceptionally deep and multifaceted thinker.Having written comprehensively on a rich number of subjects and having added new and profound thoughts to so many well known topics, Russell never disappoints critical thinkers with an open mind.

This work consists of several of Russell's writings on a number of topics.Ranging from thoughts on life, language, mathematics, politics, economics, and world affairs, there is something for every intellectual in this collection.There is no way for a mere reviewer to competently convey the essence of Russell's thoughts.I can only add that if you enjoy philosophy, if you respect the deep thinkers of our times, and if you read with an open mind, you will enjoy The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell.

4-0 out of 5 stars Russel
A very consise compilation of Russell's writings. A must have for those who wish to explore his ouvre.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lord Bertrand Russell: Lord Of Knowledge, Lord Of Power
A collection of samples of the extensive writings of Nobel Laureate Lord Bertrand Russell.
Wherein we see Lord Russell lay waste to his adversaries in Philosophy, Politics, Science and almost every other discipline that might be called scholarly much the same way as Alexander The Great lay waste to foreign armies. Effortlessly. Such were the destructive powers of Russell's arguments
and such were the destructive powers of Alexander's forces.

Both conquerors thereby establishing their respective "dominions".
The first his dominion in having superior knowledge, superior powers of reasoning and therefore being able to create political pressure in a century of great political and social instability.The later complete rule over humanity. But despite the apparent difference there seems to me to be a parallel. That is what makes his writings exciting.

He is able to vanquish opposing arguments of course using his superior logic which is based on mathematicsand his insistence on dispensing with what he considers to be the opposing side's meaningless terms.

(And if he doesn't like what they have to say he simply omits them. See "A History of Western Philosophy" where he categorically omits Kierkegaard and others )

As well Russell will use the sciences such as physics as guiding principles for his Philosophical speculations. For example making references to Quantum Mechanics and Relativity. His knowledge is encyclopedic.

His particularly favorite quarry are politicians and philosophers who it seems to him are arbitrarily "fabricating the truth" or on the other hand "running" from it. A prime example is Dewey. He goes after Dewey like a cranky female cheetah after an impala on a hot day in Kenya!

It is interesting to note that many of his predictions made in his "open letters" toleaders of governments written and published in the 1950's actually came to fruition in the 1960's. As a political force for social change he was definitely in his "prime" during the Cold War and greatly feared. Few dared to take him on in a one-to-one debate. They would have had too much to lose.

Southern Jameson West

p.s. historians of debate take note: was there ever a debate between Russell and William F. Buckley? that would have been one to savor.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good collection, but without "On Denoting"!
The collection is generally good and varied, the print is OK, but they didn't include the famous and VERY basic "On Denoting" in it! I think it's unbearable! ... Read more

7. The Conquest of Happiness
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 192 Pages (1996-03-17)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.99
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Asin: 0871401622
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"The books of Bertrand Russell are a modern substitute for the Bible."—Time

"The Conquest of Happiness, a primer of self-regeneration, is a most excellent book. This manual of systemized common sense, sane and forthright, should be read by every parent, teacher, minister and Congressman in the land."—Atlantic Monthly ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag of the Useful and the Downright Silly and Foul
First off, let's get one thing clear: I benefited from reading the book -- not in a major way, but in way of polishing up some concerns and concepts I'd let get kind of fuzzy and rusty over the years, like the nature of real affection versus what is a duty and what constitutes self-absorption versus introspection. Russell re-energized their meanings for me and made them fresh and exciting again.

However, reading Russell here is like having a conversation over the kitchen table and coffee with an elderly aunt from a previous aristocratic age (where some very unpleasant dealings occurred perhaps in secret), some of it well worth listening to while other partsdefinitely prattlingly eccentric and even downright repulsive (because evil). "You take the good with the bad, what more can I say?" the saying goes.

Russell spends a lot of useful time navigating the terrain of unhappiness which includes boredom, jealousy, fear, and lack of curiosity. His knowledge of these obstacles to happiness is definitely profound for what illuminations can be had on the dark side of psychic existence. His knowledge of what is happiness is less plentiful, but is at least interesting and somewhat uplifting: the secret to happiness is to "let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to ... things ...be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile." (Page 123, "Is Happiness Still Possible?")

In fact, the book is unusually sympathetic toward women and the role of woman in society. He really does seem to understand the double-binds women can get into regarding motherhood and careers in particular. I encourage women, mothers in particular, to read this book because it is supportive, nurturing and instructive.

But let's get to some of the (evil) nonsense and (evil) silliness that can be found in this off-the-cuff (Look, Ma, no logic!) collection of essays.

1. Russell thinks that the play "Massenmensch" by Ernst Toller (who?) is comparable to the best of Shakespeare's (unhappiness-making) plays. Why? Because it "concerns itself rather with the community than with the individual." Do you, dear reader, smell the inherent stench of Socialism in this man's thoughts here? While Russell does advocate that thinking about oneself too much is a source of unhappiness, he goes so far as to think, illogically, that the individual isn't important at all! What is "community" except a collection of individuals? (Page 37, "Byronic Unhappiness")

2. Russia's young generation (after their parents were executed, starved, and otherwise ruthlessly murdered ) are "happier" than America's young generation because their "new world" has been "disinfected" of the past generation! (Page 117-118, "Is Happiness Still Possible?") Do you understand that Socialism is partnered with Fascism and Communism for a reason? Are you aware that Bertrand Russell actually favored a totalitarian scientific dictatorship and worked toward that goal all his life "for the sake of mankind"?

3. Russell discusses, without irony, the positive value of "the human atmosphere of the factory" versus the utter "boredom" of working on a farm and outside in nature. (Page 120, "Is Happiness Possible?" Obviously, he's never experienced factory work or farm work to know what he's talking about! Factory work has been the subject of much muck-racking journalism, documentaries, and novels -- all of it notoriously bad. No matter, Russell is a "great philosopher," eh? And how few farms there are today offering real food and real nurturance versus how many megalithic factory-like corporations there are, like Monsanto, producing only GMO-foods and eliminating anything natural for the sake of the almighty peso?

4. Russell writes on page 151, "... civilization produced by the white races has this singular characteristic . . . they become sterile." Now, Russell, as a member of the Elite who worked tirelessly to create what we now understand as the New World Order, knew something that he let his readers know about -- without explaining how he knew it or why he knew it. However, this much we know: besides being a member of the Elite advocating a totalitarian dictatorship, he was also an advocate of eugenics -- population control and population elimination of the weak, inferior and the unwanted. ("The Family") Who bought into the propaganda of contraception and the two-children-per-family concept?The white races.

5. "It is customary to say that in our machine age there is less room than formerly for the craftsman's joy in skilled work. I am not at all sure this is true: the skilled workman nowadays works, it is true, at quite different things from those that occupied the attention of the medieval guilds, but he is still very important and and quite essential in the machine economy." (Page 118, "Is Happiness Possible?") There's a huge difference between joy in skilled labor and a mere mechanical importance in an economy run by very wealthy bankers.But Russell is speaking here like an old eccentric and aristocratic aunt, not a logician or philosopher.In Bertrand Russell's totalitarian-run economy by the Elite, the individual really isn't much of anything really; the "community" is what counts and mechanical importance is very important, indeed.

The last chapter called "The Happy Man" is a bit of a sleepy rhetorical eulogy to the man who works for the "good of mankind." (Was he talking about himself? One feels that this is so.) He alone, says Russell about "the happy man," can never suffer unhappiness, even when he fails in his struggles in the short-term. Russell must have known the plan to create a New World Order he was working on (along with H.G. Wells and a numerous others) was going to succeed after all -- even way back in the 1930s.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Enduring Secret of Happiness
This is a great book that I got to read when I was in college.Betrand Russell boils down human origin of happiness to some basic things in life.This a great refuge for people who get caught up in the day-to-day drama of this complicated life and lose ones bearing.

Some of the things that I have learned from this book has helped me start a blog on happiness titled Simple Pleasures.I invite you to read a few of my viewpoints and enjoy them at [...]

3-0 out of 5 stars Time Impacts Read
One wishes Russell were with us today to update this work. Seventy plus years takes its toll. Much of the book relies on examples that are no longer relevent such as a womans place in the home and the method and speed of life and communication. Still, as you repaint examples in your mind while reading - the book offers unintended opportunity to the reader. Fill in your own dots - change the color - but the room remains - Russell makes clear that we can control our own happiness.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great read
By looking at the title, one would think that this is just another book that is filled with truisms and that doesn't increase your knowledge about the subject. However, all this changes once you see who the author is. Personally, I can't say that I agree with Mr. Russell about his philosophy of life, but that didn't reduce the pleasure that I felt while reading the book. This book accomplishes in just a few pages what most people fail to do all their life. Russell shows that happiness is a simple thing and that contrary to what many believe, it can be found in today's complicated world. The reason that most people haven't found happiness in their life, although it is simple, is that they have been looking in the wrong direction. This book points you in the right direction. I would recommend this book to everyone. It's very short and very enjoyable. Reading this book doesn't mean that you will find happiness for sure, but at least you will know what it is.

4-0 out of 5 stars Rational Psychology
Bertrand Russell was the quintessential rational man. In this book he applies rationality to psychology in a systematic examination of human thinking and motivations. Without denying the importance of external social forces, he concerns himself here with only those factors which lie within the power of the individual mind to change.

Discussing the psychological causes of unhappiness, he concludes that preoccupation with self is the chief culprit. The personality should be directed outward. The introvert, "with the manifold spectacle of the world spread out before him, turns away and gazes only upon the emptiness within. Fundamental happiness depends more than anything else upon what may be called a friendly interest in persons and things." Not unlike Dale Carnegie's advice! Preoccupations with sin and the "sympathy of the herd" are other causes of misery. He advises a quiet life satisfying to instinct. To Russell, happiness was especially important because he regarded it as the best hope for ending warfare and other social ills.

On pages 12 and 126 he makes comments that might be construed as racist, which is surprising. Maybe I'm misunderstanding him, but he seems to be concerned about the "dwindling" of the white population. You decide. Otherwise, this book is clear, concise, readable, and very quotable. ... Read more

8. A History of Western Philosophy
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 895 Pages (1967)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$12.67
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Asin: 0671201581
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Since its first publication in 1945? Lord Russell's A History of Western Philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject -- unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. Among the philosophers considered are: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists, Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, the Sceptics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, Plotinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the Great, John the Scot, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson, James, Dewey, and lastly the philosophers with whom Lord Russell himself is most closely associated -- Cantor, Frege, and Whitehead, co-author with Russell of the monumental Principia Mathematica. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (102)

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, With Occassional Misgivings
Russell's education, intelligence, style and wit are in abundant evidence. Although he does cover W. philosophy, it is in great bounds. And as much as I love Russell's piercing insights and dry wit, I occasionally cringed at the obvious British, 20th century perspective from which philosophies and philosophers were reviewed. This all works out just fine, if one knows better than to take some of his criticism as solid arguments. This book is a joy to read, even with occasional flaws.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bertrand Russell's humorous take on western philosophy
This is the one of the most entertaining books that I have ever read!Bertrand Russell breaths life into a subject that is often depicted as somewhat dry.Russell pokes gentle fun at various philosophers and their ideas.I was especially amused by his description of Leibnitz view where the universe was something like a fancy mechanical clock where various figures (i.e. automatons) moved about in a synchronized dance when the hour was about to be struck.Indeed, Leibnitz seemed to believe that events occurred not because of cause and effect, but because of some preordained plan that was followed to the letter.Perhaps it is analogous to the present day when people often imagine that living beings are analogous to computers complete with hardware and software.It should be noted that in Leibnitz day this sort of elaborate mechanical clock was novel and state of the art, and so one might model the universe in a was that reflected the advanced technology of the day.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best single volume on philosophy
Best book on philosophy that I know of. But don't get the idea that it's simple: Russell's style is clear, and he is witty, and this can lead readers to think his material is simple; but Russell now and then puts in very sharp and complicated theory-of-types analysis. Its divided mostly into names, which is handy for anyone dipping into the views of Parmenides, Plato, Bacon, Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Spinoza, John Stuart Mill, Marx, Nietzsche... there's a long list. Russell is happy to admit that academic philosophers have usually been cowardly types, and admits many names (e.g. Byron) not normally considered philosophers.

Russell's style is so convincing he was often plagiarised - unconscious imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Joad (who copied Russell on Marx), and Aldous Huxley (who based Brave New World on a Russell work) are just two examples.

There are innumerable asides, which I presume (he wrote and assembled this book aged about 70) were the fruit of discussions in his youth and middle age; on psychology, groups, sex, emotions, animals, ethics, totalitarianism, adventures, trade - a vast range of topics.

I recommend this to everyone willing to take some trouble. I've met many people who would have benefitted from its intellectual stiffening - for example a gifted physics man who couldn't seem to grasp that atoms are mostly holes, even though they don't look that way. And who had never understood that the square root of two is 'irrational'. Hoary problems - 'universals', 'analytical' and 'synthetic', 'induction', 'teleology', 'determinism' - appear here and there, and it can do no harm to know about them. Russell also is good at picking out the odd practical effects of beliefs: just one example: Stoics and Christians both believed (supposedly) in personal virtue: if external circumstances cannot prevent a man from being virtuous, there is no need to seek a 'just' social system.

There are omissions, all I think to do with demarcation problems - the boundaries of philosophy, apart from politics, history, science, economics, and psychology. Darwin isn't here (much). Freud isn't here - but then Russell regarded the idea of unconscious motivation as the only significant part of Freud. Adam Smith isn't in. Marx is only treated as a philosopher: his economics is looked at by Russell in another book. Note that Russell seemed to regard Marx as 'socialistic'. All Russell's history in a sense is official: there must be innumerable people who were censored or killed or otherwise silenced; but Russell doesn't really bother with them. His book is a bit like commentary on a tidy, ordered library.

Russell's history is typical 20th century western: prehistory, with Egypt, Babylon and the rest regarded as 'oriental despotisms'. Rather inconsistently, the Bible is admitted. There's a conspiracy of silence about Jewish beliefs. Then Greece, then Rome; then the dark ages, and 'middle ages'; Russell accepts that Islam was a transmitter, though I'm not sure he makes a good case. Finally, modern enlightenment and science. Not much was known about many chunks of history, so this schema appeared satisfactory. Some of his historical comments are typically Victorian: the dislike of Rousseau from hatred of the French revolution, and of Rousseau as the supposed origin of romanticism and silliness. Rousseau and Nietzsche and Carlyle were supposed to have led to extremism and Auschwitz; Plato and Sparta to Stalin.

When eras change, Russell usually finds transitional people or ideas as exemplars: the Greeks treated in the then-usual awed way as a mix of peoples; Christianity as taking in Platonic and Judaic elements; Europe as church vs monarchs and feudal nobility and knights; Machiavelli, Erasmus and More at about the Renaissance. ...

Russell himself doubted his success in describing the relation of philosophy to social events when science became important. Russell mostly knew maths, but was notoriously hopeless in practical activities; he literally couldn't make a cup of tea. Such things as the rise and fall of the idea of phlogiston, the growth of chemistry, changes in transport, and such things as anaesthesia, aren't really covered but taken for granted, in rather the way unreflective people seem to think motor cars and piped water and printing have always existed.

Some accuse Russell of bias; typically these are:-

[1] Catholics often can't face the rationalistic side of Russell. (They don't seem to know that Russell wrote a lot on mysticism).

[2] People who like Kant and Hegel, and Nietzsche. Russell was not keen on German philosophy - when he was young, all official philosophers were Hegelians. He followed G E Moore in 'climbing down'.

[3] Supporters of Wittgenstein. Russell was a friend of his, and liked his work when it was new, but decided later it was rather trivial

[4] Supporters of Sartre and other existentialists. Russell dismissed it in a sentence: based emotionally on exasperation, and intellectually on errors of syntax.

[5] 'Linguistic' philosophers of the Gilbert Ryle type - 'just another clever man' according to Russell.

Note that, near the end of his life, Russell spent years on the problem of nuclear weapons, Kennedy's assassination, and, later, the Americans and the Vietnam War. For this reason he's partly censored, still.

It's a pity there is no equivalent book on eastern philosophies... that would be something.Incidentally 'Sophie's World' is based on Russell.

2-0 out of 5 stars Too detailed for Introductory book
My goal with this book is to get better understanding of what philosophy is. I found this book going into too many details and it was a hard read for me. If you what to understand the development of philosophy that could be a good book, but not as introduction.

2-0 out of 5 stars A shame it is so popular
This book is horribly biased and even downright wrong in many places. Recommended only for people very experienced in WEstern philosophy who are able to recognize and see past Russell's biases. This is a good book for a quick reference for writing papers, but DO NOT read this book to get a general understanding of philosophy. ... Read more

9. Mysticism and Logic: And Other Essays (1918)
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 248 Pages (2009-06-12)
list price: US$20.99 -- used & new: US$20.99
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Asin: 1112019219
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Originally published in 1918.This volume from the Cornell University Library's print collections was scanned on an APT BookScan and converted to JPG 2000 format by Kirtas Technologies.All titles scanned cover to cover and pages may include marks notations and other marginalia present in the original volume. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A contradictory sort of fellow
Will Durant, in his congenial The Story of Philosophy, describes Bertrand Russell as "...resolved to be hard-headed because he knows he can not be."-This is a bit unfair, as it doesn't really take into account Russell's philosophy, merely the man.But the two are so hard to separate!-Basically, Russell believes that mysticism "is the inspirer of what is best in man."But that it is absolutely muddle-headed and has lead mankind down numerous philosophic blind alleys in the past thousand or so years(I think anyone who has read Kant or Hegel can't help but come to this conclusion).-University professors (especially those of Philosophy) are excepted from the previous parenthetical remark! -But I don't guess Russell (a Nobel prize winner in literature, by the way) matters so much anymore: This book I'm reviewing is out of print, nobody else has reviewed it and I haven't heard his name mentioned in highbrow discussions for many a year.He was a mathematical genius, wrote prose that could cut like a razor blade concerning the most abstruse subjects in a manner understandable to most laymen, and was a profound skeptic in re matters religious.This latter got him into all kinds of trouble with women's societies and the like back in the earlier part of the century and actually got him fired from the City College of New York. So he packed his bags and went to teach at Harvard.-You see, he was a British aristocrat (an Earl) and all this rabble rousing by the hoi polloi was really a non-issue for him.In his autobiography, he recounts how his mother always told him, "Never follow a crowd to do Evil."Russell never followed a crowd to do anything!-All this biographical elaboration is to help readers understand the man who wrote this book which, in a nutshell, praises the mystical impulse in its pure, unadulterated form while deploring the aforementioned philosophical muddles to which it leads, and, on the other hand, glorifies (justly) the English schools of empirical logic and the scientific progress to which they have lead.One can hardly look at this computer screen and deny this claim.All this in a lucid and thoroughly enjoyable prose.Yes, Russell has seen his days of celebrity come and go (as well as his days in general, one might add,) but if you chance by a wizened looking professor loaded down with heavyweight tomes on metaphysical systems, you might get a rather surprising response if you mention Bertie Russell. - In his day, Russell was the Mick Jagger of Philosophy, and coeds used to quarrel over who got to bed down with him that night when he came to lecture that the stuff a good proportion of their professors were teaching was, quite literally, nonsense.-And just think, he got away with it all!What fun! ... Read more

10. Why I Am Not A Christian And Other Essays On Religion And Related Subjects
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 248 Pages (2008-05-18)
list price: US$28.45 -- used & new: US$25.60
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Asin: 1409727211
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (171)

5-0 out of 5 stars The book that launched a thousand atheists.
This was the book that launched my voyage from credulous belief in a supernatural being to atheism. Bertrand Russell's logical approach cleared away the lingering fog of unreason that dominated my Christian childhood. On finishing the essay that became the title of the book, I experienced a palpable sense of a great weight being lifted from my psyche. Barring a short-lived exploratory venture into Carlos Castaneda's world of out-of-body experiences in the 1960s, I have never looked back. The pure rationality of Lord Russell's writing is more than worth the price of admission.

Oh, that more people would find their way to this wonderful book. They've nothing to lose but their chains. They've everything to gain from a new-found freedom of thought.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but not quite Great...
One of the things I thought while reading The God Delusion is that:
"Surely this book is not unprecedented. Surely there have been other identikit books where the author goes through the arguments for God one-by-one & knocks them all flat..?"

Although there are apparently other books that do this, this one is not one of them & instead it is basically a collection of essays, rather than a complete demolition of the God hypothesis. Russell uses many arguments to dismiss elements of Christianity, but there is no one essay that completely grasps the nettle (although the title essay does a pretty good job).

The essays essentially range over bits & pieces of religious dogma & there are several themes that crop up notably:
1. Christians often differ from Christ's teaching (and Christ's teaching was not especially merit-worthy).
2. Religious movements (be they Christian or Soviet Communist) are no substitute for reasoned, independent thinking.
3. 1920's attitudes to sex were prudish in the extreme & unhealthy for Children & society.
4. Most philosophical arguments brought forth for God (e.g. the universe needs a cause & God is the basis of morality) are deeply flawed.

All of these are interesting in their own right, and there are also other pieces about Thomas Paine & 2 sections on the 'New York College' controversy (where Russell was refused an academic position due to the actions of religious zealots in positions of power.)

Sadly though, as these essays are a collection of Russells writings on religion, they tend to repeat certain themes & are not as quotable or applicable as modern non-believers would desire. Indeed I could only find one quotation (from the end of the title essay) which is in wide circulation, compared to the rash of Hume & Voltaire quotations doing the rounds.

That is why I can't fully endorse this book & feel slightly frustrated that Russell never did one grand Magnum Opus to collect his thoughts on religion in one authoritive tome (with the arguable exception of History of Western Philosophy).

So, if you (like me) are after things to enhance your perspective on atheism, then do read this book. However, if you are after bulletproof arguments & answers to the deeper questions, then I recommend you finish the latest works of the 'Four Horsemen' (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens & Harris) first...
Oh, and also try the Tao Te Ching - proof that not all ancient literature was God-based or backwards...

2-0 out of 5 stars Kindle publications.
As a critical observer of neo-liberalism I have sensed a reluctance by Kindl to include publications that are critical neo-liberal views. Am I wrong?

4-0 out of 5 stars Why I am Not a Christian
If I were to write an essay with the same title, it would consist of just the following sentence: "Because I have an IQ score in the triple digits." The fact that Russell takes several thousand words to say what I just said in ten doesn't mean that his work is not essential reading.

1-0 out of 5 stars Unacceptable
This paperback book was rated as "Used, Condition GOOD" and priced at $13.00.The pages were so brown it was difficult to read.I did not think the book had been mistreated, but it had deteriorated past the point of being salable, in my opinion.I recycle books that are in that condition.

It was returned to the seller. ... Read more

11. Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 124 Pages (2010-03-07)
list price: US$21.33 -- used & new: US$19.19
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Asin: 1153790416
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Philosophy; Science; Mathematics; Philosophy / General; Philosophy / Logic; Body, Mind ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Let us reject power from our hearts
While the essays on physics are rather outdated, Russell's sarcastic comments on the philosophy of Bergson, education, ethics or vegetarianism are still well worth reading.

Bergson's crucial idea of `durée' is an error: `Since the past has effects now, it must still exist in some sense. The mistake in this maxim consists in the supposition that causes `operate'. The belief that causes `operate', results from assimilating them to volitions.'

For B. Russell, `ethics is essentially a product of the gregarious instinct, that is to say, of the instinct to co-operate with those who are to form our own group against those who belong to other groups. Those who belong to our own group are good; those who belong to hostile groups are wicked,'

`The endeavor to teach virtue has led to the production of stunted and contorted hypocrites instead of full-grown human beings"

`Even vegetarians do not hesitate to save the life of a man in a fever, although in doing so they destroy the lives of many millions of microbes.'

Philosophy and man's place in the universe
`No heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system. All these things are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.'

These almost `lyrical' essays are a must read for all fans of the superb free mind of Bertrand Russell.
... Read more

12. Religion and Science
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 272 Pages (1997-05-29)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$9.50
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Asin: 0195115511
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this timely work, Russell, philosopher, agnostic, mathematician, and renowned peace advocate, offers a brief yet insightful study of the conflicts between science and traditional religion during the last four centuries. Examining accounts in which scientific advances clashed with Christian doctrine or biblical interpretations of the day, from Galileo and the Copernican Revolution, to the medical breakthroughs of anesthesia and inoculation, Russell points to the constant upheaval and reevaluation of our systems of belief throughout history. In turn, he identifies where similar debates between modern science and the Church still exist today. Michael Ruse's new introduction brings these conflicts between science and theology up to date, focusing on issues arising after World War II.

This classic is sure to interest all readers of philosophy and religion, as well as those interested in Russell's thought and writings. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Quick History Lesson
Of the books I've read by Russell so far I think he is the easiest on religion here. I see two reasons for this. One, he never talks about sexual repression which is the subject that consistently gets him riled up about the church, and two, at the time this was written (1935) he was optimistic that the days of Christianity fighting progress were behind us and saw the real threats coming from the state. He was keenly aware that the governments of Russia, Germany and, to a lesser extent, his own Britain were throwing their citizens' freedoms under the bus. His later work shows that he later abandoned the optimism he had towards Christianity, but the important thing to remember is that he was pretty darn optimistic here.

The nice thing about the book is Bertrand doesn't particularly take a stand on whether or not religion and science are incompatible. Indeed his optimism about the future of Christianity suggests that at the time of this writing he thought that they could coexist. The first half is really just a history of instances when the church determined that science was incompatible with its teachings. The first few chapters are each dedicated to a specific scientific discovery the the church ardently opposed, often with the power of the state and serious threats against the scientists involved. This included discoveries like that the sun was the center of the solar system, that the earth was not a mere 6,000 years old and that the strata of rocks not only pointed to a very, very old earth, but did not show any evidence of a worldwide flood. He briefly mentions evolution, but doesn't seem to realize just how troublesome it would continue to be to many religious people.

Later chapters move away from the structure of relating the history of science being repressed by the church. This is of course because the church no longer had the power or, in Russell's opinion, the inclination to directly oppose science. Instead he focuses on religious schools of thought (not necessarily Christian) that are ideologically incompatible certain scientific thought. There's a chapter on determinism and the threat it poses to the doctrine of damnation (though it should be mentioned that Russell makes it clear that right now there is no way to know if determinism does in fact describe the movements of all things). Then he discusses mysticism and cosmic purpose. Sadly, because these two concepts really describe countless subsets of belief I found the chapters insufficient to really address them completely.

He finishes off with a chapter addressing the popular criticism of science that it doesn't say anything about morality. He did an excellent job talking about how, while technically true this doesn't mean that dependence on science will lead to immorality. Quite the contrary. He dismisses the idea of intrinsic morality and a conscience as illusions covering up the fact that morality is learned. Ultimately he ends up breaking down exactly what subjective morality is. He's 100 percent in step with The Ethics Of Spinoza though he more fully addresses the real world effect of a world where each person has their own personal morality which may in some ways contradict his fellows'. If nothing else that chapter alone deserves a read as it is the most complete and concise treatment of community and ethics I have come across.

The reason I made a fuss at the beginning of this review about Russell's relatively lenient attitude toward religion here and the fact that he himself does not declare religion and science incompatible is because of the introduction that was given to this book. It was written by Michael Ruse and by the time I had finished it I was certain that he hadn't read a word of Russell prior to getting the gig writing his intro. And after reading the book I'm not sure Ruse ever got around to reading this one either. He seems to think that it is Russell that asserts science and religion cannot coexist when Russell only recounts instances in which religion sees science as incompatible with itself, mostly in the past. To make matters worse Ruse doesn't seem to have a clue what either Russell or Spinoza thought of ethics, though that doesn't stop him from claiming that without religious morality Hitler's actions cannot be considered immoral. This is of course ludicrous since the entire basis of both Russell's and Spinoza's "good" is the fulfillment of the well-being of the individual and his community. It doesn't take a genius to know that the Nazis acted to annihilate the well-being of millions of people for the benefit of a few. I was stupefied that someone so ignorant of Russell and his ideas was given the task of writing his intro, it's really quite shameful. I've never come across such a poorly researched introduction before in my life.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Quality Look at the History of Religion and Science
Bertrand Russell reflects on the conflicts of science and religion by outlining the history of each.Although Russell is a renowned critical thinker and agnostic proponent of science, his presentation is closer to a historical account rather than a one-sided argument.He finds faults and praise for both science and religion and views their respective conflicts in relation to the thought process of societies at their respective time periods.

Religion has been mainstream for at least two millenniums and as Russell points out it has only been in the last two centuries that science has gained considerable influence.For two thousand years even Aristotle's views on falling objects was considered unquestionably valid until simple scientific experiments proved his faulty lines of reason.The history of religion has also evolved throughout the ages, but unlike science there are no definitive tests that influence the lines of reason, there are only common accepted beliefs and faiths.Russell asserts it is this difference that is as the core of the conflict of between science and religion; a clash made most famous by Galileo's persecution for his pronouncement that the earth was not the center of the universe.

Russell's' philosophical views are as relevant today as in the early parts of the 20th century when this piece was written.He capably conveys the importance of looking back into history to better grasp the integrity of our own views.Anyone with an interest in these subjects will find Religion and Science worthwhile and enjoyable.

3-0 out of 5 stars Content and heading do not match
There is no doubt that Bertrand Russel is one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. However, I was dissapointed in his book titled Religion and Science. Because my expectation was to learn in detail about the various battles between religion and science throughout history. Bertrand Russel talks about them briefly in the beginning of the book then devotes a major part of his book to a deep philosophy of science. In the beginning he skims over Galileo's conviction by the church for claiming that the Earth revolves around the sun not the other way around, Darwin's theory of Evolution versus Intelligent Design held by religious creationists, that Christianity deemed slicing of human cadavre for the study of anatomy a sin and in contrast with scientific psychological methods religion dealt with insanity through exorcism, claiming that the person was possesed. Although he had written this book in the 1930's those or similar conflicts between religion and science have been continuing since then and still do currently in the beginning of the 21st century.

All these are fine but the title and introduction of the book promise a much more detailed treatment of these subjects which is lacking. Bertrand Russel's analysis of the philosophy of science is no doubtbased on his profound knowledge of the subject. But the language he uses is too heavy and difficult to comprehend. It is a pity that great thinkers are not always great communicators ; they often do not have good writing skills. Great ideas should be communicated with a simple language to the general public. Otherwise the general public is deprived of their good ideas or has to learn about them not from the originator of the ideas but from other authors who have better writing skills. Albert Einstein also attempted to write a book about his theories of relativity for the general public but with such long sentences and bad writing that most people have to learn about his theories from better writers. I wish Bertrand Russel had written this book with a simpler structure. Being complicated is not a virtue, being simple is a virtue. I recommend a book by Edward de Bono named Simplicity that explains this point very well.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Religion and Science" as opposed to "Religion vs. Science"
This book is the culmination of lengthy and grueling contemplations. It really reveals the author's depth of knowledge.

Religion and science are two major aspects of life. Religion (or to worship something more superior and powerful) has been around since the day humankind was created. In every epoch, in every land, human beings felt a need to believe in something which they can seek refuge when they are in need of protection, relief, solace and peace of mind. Whether you believe in a religion or not, it plays, perhaps, the biggest role in our lives everyday. Science, on the other hand, is the grand sum of all the endeavors that mankind expended in search of unraveling the mysteries of the universe.

In my opinion, the author could have named the book "Christianity and Science" as well, because he refers to other religions very briefly. I am sure he was not unaware of them, but to name a book with such a generic name, it entails a comprehensive treatise of all major religions. Although there are many common denominators among them, there are as well many stark contrasts. Furthermore, the historical development of major religions exhibit different features, distinct approaches and methodologies.

Having been raised in a Christian environment, it is not unusual for the author to bring forth such a book. At that time, the Islamic civilization was (and still is) in a state of decline and inertia. The concept of "religion and science" should be discussed in a forum with participants from all major religions. Hence, one will be able to produce a comprehensive treatise.

As for this book specifically, the chapter "Demonology and Medicine" is especially striking and includes very powerful stories. The outstanding difference between today's Western civilization and the Medieval Europe is characterized very successfully.In the latter chapters, the evolution of scientific thought in West is discussed with very illustrative examples. The notion of "relativity" in the sense that every human being perceives the Universe from a different angle with different assumptions and premises is argued and scrutinized very logically, effectively. This book really makes you ponder over the Universe in which you live, from many perspectives, with the ideas that shape it.

Personally, science and religions are not archnemeses. They are very powerful tools, which go parallel to each other, to perceive and comprehend the secrets of life.

Overall, a very powerful book for those who are not afraid of thinking!

5-0 out of 5 stars Comments on 2 CD Audio...
Hard to believe that this Book (here in CD Audio Format) was written was back in 1932! Most of it is as current and relevent now as then. The CD is broken down in to several parts, including RELIGION AND THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD,RELIGION AND DISEASE,RELIGION AND EVOLUTION, RELIGION AND MYSTICISM. Always very polite and a bit understated, the CD begins commenting on Copernicus and Galileo, scientists contradicting the dogma of their times. Then onto Church responses to disease including 1600's Plagues, and Smallpox. The blame was put on demons and devils, not germs aor viruses. His comments on the Smallpox outbreak in 1880's Montreal are worth the price of the CD. Evolution and biology are discussed, and Russll has some interesting thoughts on mysticism. Very worthwhile in this CD format! ... Read more

13. Autobiography (Routledge Classics)
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 768 Pages (2009-08-13)
list price: US$31.95 -- used & new: US$24.11
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Asin: 041547373X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Bertrand Russell remains one of the greatest philosophers and most complex and controversial figures of the twentieth century. Here, in this frank, humorous and decidedly charming autobiography, Russell offers readers the story of his life – introducing the people, events and influences that shaped the man he was to become. Originally published in three volumes in the late 1960s, Autobiography by Bertrand Russell is a revealing recollection of a truly extraordinary life written with the vivid freshness and clarity that has made Bertrand Russell’s writings so distinctively his own.

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Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bertrand Russell -- Autobiography, or 700 pages of Bio (39%) and Letters (61%)
Before I've ordered this gorgeous book I had thought it can be some letters inside.I just don't think such way anymore.

Bad news for mathematicians -- there is no mathematics, good news for linguists -- some letters of Wittgenstein and Einstein are in German, letters of French mathematician Jean Nicod in original -- all translated into beautiful English, and index has special note for letter's part.

There is a chapter Principia Mathematica, but no chapter History of Western Philosophy; there are the chapters First Marriage and Second Marriage, but no Third Marriage and Fourth Marriage... However, my favourite chapters are especially good: Russia (travelling 1920)and China (travelling 1920).No synchronic table (what was done when).We all still have Wikipedia, hmm:)

No grumbling about content, the whole life from soup to nuts is before us by the eyes of author, and the author is one of few men understanding Mathematical Philosophy (!!!), so if you were interested in this book before, you will not loose your interest after.

On the condition that you have your favourite chair (of course, you have!), your favourite drink (...think better!), and simple in use touch-screen calculator, divide the total sum of pages on your usual quantity of pages per hour, and voilà, you have guaranteed time of pleasure!

4-0 out of 5 stars An amazing book about an extraordinary individual
Russell lived a long and fruitful life, and for most of it he had been a very controversial figure. You shouldn't read Russell just to agree or to disagree with him; you should read him to know what he has to say about a topic. The great historian Arnold Toynbee compared him to Plato's philosopher who is responsible for descending back to the cave to enlighten those that have not seen the light. One of Russell's most important characteristics is that he was a great writer, and this truly shows in his autobiography. Reading this book, one is inclined to ask himself over and over again "what have I done so far?" It's probably not fair to try to compare yourself to Russell because the only thing that would lead to is insanity. However, this book is a window to one of the greatest minds of recent times and everyone should come and take a peak.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Logical Man
This is one of the great autobiographies of all time, for its clarity and candor, for its amazing scope, for its cast of interesting characters. Russell was driven by logic. He could see the illogic, the absurdities, in the way the world operated. His refusal to compromise with those absurdities made him conspicuous, made him a great man. He believed that human suffering could best be relieved by putting the world on a logical, a rational, basis. But the world did not understand, still does not understand. Like most people ahead of their time, he was punished for his efforts.

My notebooks are rich with quotations from these three volumes. Whether your interest is psychology, education, war and peace, history, literature, whatever, you will find much food for thought in these books.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not very good
I found this autobiography boring for the most part, but then I wasn't interested in his philosophical musings.And I especially found the letters uninteresting, so I skipped over most of them.I did find his relationship with and description of Joseph Conrad interesting.AND I did enjoy reading his descriptions of his childhood and of his love relationships.I shall never forget his saying that even if it meant being murdered by her husband it would be worth spending just one night with Ottoline.I would have liked to read a more vivid description of his friend A.N.Whitehead, but maybe I have a very early edition of his autobiography and later editions may be more expansive in that regard. I must say that what I did read satisfied by curiosity about this great man.

5-0 out of 5 stars *Comment on the typeface for this Routledge edition*
Caveat emptor: whilst this is a magnificent autobiography published in one quality volume by Routledge, any potential buyers should be aware of the very small type setting of this book. I am 31 years with 20/20 eyesight and I find it immensely difficult to read. Try this out: take a word document and change it to 10pt. Times New Roman font, single spaced, and imagine it on bright white copy, 3" wide paragraphs. I've repeatedly tried to read this book, but the effect is so hypnotic on the page such that I cannot. The font is reminiscent of (but worse than) those cheap paperback classics read in school, by Signet or some such version.
Since I do actually want to read this book, I am now in search of a readable copy. What does it matter to have it in one or two or six volumes, as long as I can appreciate the words? I am deprived of the pleasure of regarding the words on the page. I hope this helps someone make a decision. ... Read more

14. In Praise of Idleness: And Other Essays (Routledge Classics)
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 208 Pages (2004-03-04)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.81
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Asin: 0415325064
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In this collection of essays, Russell surveys the social and political consequences of his beliefs with characteristic clarity and humour. In Praise of Idleness is a tour de force that only Bertrand Russell could perform. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Progress is the work of a small group of individuals
Besides his praise of idleness, Bertrand Russell demolishes in these lectures the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and gives formidable comments on fascism and communism (`Scylla and Charybdis'), religion, politics and civilization.
The all important issue in his `literary' work was to save mankind from the suicidal disaster of (nuclear) war.

B. Russell demonstrates clearly that Fichte's whole philosophy develops out of the proposition `I am I'. For Fichte, the Ego is both the agent and the result of the action. The Ego exists because it wills to exist. Or more generally, `the universe is myself'.
In his `Address to the German Nation', Fichte states that `the German is superior to all other moderns, because he alone has a pure language. If the German character is to be preserved, there must be a new kind of education, which must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys the freedom of the will' (!).

For B. Russell, civilization is a combination of knowledge and forethought. The degree of forethought involved in any act is measured by three factors: present pain, future pleasure and the length of the interval between them.

Religion is a conscious phenomenon, because `one doesn't find that believers in a future life are less afraid of illness. The reason for this apparent inconsistency is, of course, that religious beliefexists only in the region of conscious thought and has not succeeded in modifying unconscious mechanisms.'

B. Russell is extremely cynical in his evaluation of modern governments: `In view of the fact that the bulk of the public expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payment for past wars or preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as that bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers.'

As one of the greatest philosophers of all time and as a true pacifist, Bertrand Russell's works are a must read for all those who want to understand (and change) the world we live in.

5-0 out of 5 stars in praise of Bertrand Russell
Reading Bertrand Russell's books is always a pleasure. This book collects a number of articles Bertrand Russell wrote more than 50 years ago. It does not make any difference: most of the articles have not aged at all, a very sad reflection. There is only one section (on the future of architecture) where Russell's proposals and predictions are outdated. But the cruelty and folly of mankind that brought us to the horrors of World War 2 are still with us. In addition, the writing is always witty and entertaining. Pay attention especially at Russell's article on financial interests. It seems that it has been written after the crash of Wall Street of last year. It also proposes remedies.....

5-0 out of 5 stars Challenging, clear, and controversial
This collection of essays could be titled, In Praise of the Individual. Our culture is a distraction from facing up to the essential problem: fear of death. If this is a prime issue for us, it is also the most taboo. To slow down is to become aware of that from which we are distracting ourselves.

Writing in 1930, Lord Russell laments the lack of individuality in outlook he finds in visiting America. Conformity makes a population listless.

Many of the same issues of the 1930's are with us today: economic uncertainty, fear, and an uncritical belief in a better world in the future.

The essay on "Useless" Knowledge is about appreciation and clearly a part of the Slow Lifestyle canon.

We are all more aware of our fellow-citizens than we used to be, more anxious, if we are virtuous, to do them good, and in any case to make them do us good. We do not like to think of anyone lazily enjoying life, however refined may be the quality of his enjoyment...We have not the leisure of mind, therefore, to acquire any knowledge except such as will help us in the fight for whatever it may happen to be that we think important.

Lord Russell advises a stoic approach which teaches us to be in command of ourselves and to assert our individuality. In order to be mentally healthy, we need to value courage, self-discipline, appreciation, and tolerance.

Do we value courage today?

Do we teach it in school?

This is still a stimulating and provocative book.

5-0 out of 5 stars In Praise of this Book!!

Controversial philosopher and Nobel Prize winner (for Literature) Lord Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) gives us thirteen scintillating essays on which to whet our intellectual appetites.These short essays were written between 1925 and 1935.

Russell writes in an elegant, readable and understandable style.His arguments are well thought out.

The essays consider social questions not discussed in politics.The general theme that ties these essays together is that the world suffers from dogmatism and narrowness; what is needed is the willingness to question dogma.

The essays are a blend of philosophy with other disciplines such as psychology, economics, science, and history.All the essays are brutally honest and forthright.Each essay is packed with a load of wisdom.What's amazing is that these essays are as current today as when they were first written and they will probably remain relevant into the future.

My five favorite essays in this collection include the following:

(1) "In Praise of Idleness."Discusses work and the importance of leisure.In order to get a sample of Russell's insight that permeates this book, here's a sentence from this essay: "The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery."

(2) "'Useless' Knowledge."States that all knowledge is useful not only knowledge that has a practical value.

(3) "The Case for Socialism."Russell gives nine arguments in favor of socialism, most notably the need for preventing war.

(4) "Western Civilization."Discusses its characteristics.One sentence from this essay that I like is, "I cannot escape from the conclusion that the great ages of progress have depended upon a small number of individuals of transcendent utility."

(5) "Education and Discipline."My favorite sentence from this essay is as follows: "Education...must be something more positive than a mere opportunity for growth...it must...also provide a mental and moral equipment [for] children."

In conclusion, this book is Bertrand Russell at his best.Enjoy!!

(first published in 1935; preface to this edition; introduction; original preface; 13 chapters, main narrative 150 pages; index)


5-0 out of 5 stars Great reading
Being somewhat familiar with Russell's work in philosophy, I was a little taken aback by his use of broad generalizations and universal statements in these essays. Russell definately over-simplifies complex issues, but by doing so he presents ideas that are ingenious and downright revolutionary. His ideas are contentious and make for entertaining reading. These essays also prove that rationality and reason can be far more compassionate than any emotional arguments. In fact, rationality and reason may be the only means to compassionate action.

Some of the ideas in these essays seem a little bit dated, but others are as relevant (maybe even more so) as they were in Russell's day. This is a book that deserves to be read by contemporary readers, especially considering the popularity of current writers like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and the like. The preface and introduction in this edition serve well to place Russell's arguments in context of current issues and thought. ... Read more

15. Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (Routledge Classics)
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 480 Pages (2009-04-06)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$21.34
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Asin: 0415474442
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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How do we know what we "know"? How did we –as individuals and as a society – come to accept certain knowledge as fact? In Human Knowledge, Bertrand Russell questions the reliability of our assumptions on knowledge. This brilliant and controversial work investigates the relationship between ‘individual’ and ‘scientific’ knowledge. First published in 1948, this provocative work contributed significantly to an explosive intellectual discourse that continues to this day.

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5-0 out of 5 stars Strictly reserved for the serious
To my knowledge, one of the best books ever written. Russell's English has a wonderful, graceful clarity. But this is not an easy book to read. What does it mean to "know"? what do we know? how far can we be sure that we do in fact know? These are fundamental questions about human thought, and this book is an essential item in the library of anyone who is concerned with such questions. ... Read more

16. Principia Mathematica - Volume One
by Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 684 Pages (2009-02-21)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$17.10
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Asin: 1603861823
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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An Unabridged, Digitally Enlarged Printing Of Volume I of III: Part I - MATHEMATICAL LOGIC - The Theory Of Deduction - Theory Of Apparent Variables - Classes And Relations - Logic And Relations - Products And Sums Of Classes - Part II - PROLEGOMENA TO CARDIANL ARITHMITIC - Unit Classes And Couples - Sub-Classes, Sub-Relations, And Relative Types - One-Many, Many-One, And One-One Relations - Selections - Inductive Relations ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars 1910-13 Edition!
Just to note that this is the 1910-13 Edition, so you're missing the introduction to the 1927 Second Edition, which can be found though in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (Routledge Classics), and 2 new appendixes: Appendix A replacing *9 and an all-new Appendix C.

5-0 out of 5 stars A landmark book
Principia Mathematica is a landmark book on the elements of mathematics.This edition is the best price I have seen in decades.

Both Whitehead and Russell are known for their insights into philosophy and mathematics. This book, although a mathematics book, is based upon their philosophy of how the universe works. The basic assumption of this book is that symbolic logic can be used to describe the universe. From that starting point they develop the elements of modern mathematics.

This book is meant for those of us nerds who want to understand why mathematics works and how it relates to a philosophy of the universe. Note that this book is heavy on mathematical symbols (which are explained).It can be slow reading, but Whitehead and Russell's insights are stunning. ... Read more

17. Bertrand Russell
by A. J. Ayer
Paperback: 175 Pages (1988-03-15)
list price: US$31.00 -- used & new: US$25.99
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Asin: 0226033430
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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With extraordinary concision and clarity, A. J. Ayer gives an account of the major incidents of Bertrand Russell's life and an exposition of the whole range of his philosophy. "Ayer considers Russell to be, except possibly for Wittgenstein, the most influential philosopher of our time. In this book [he] gives a lucid account of Russell's philosophical achievements."—James Rachels, New York Times Book Review

"I am sure [this] is the best introduction of any length to Russell, and I suspect that it might serve as one of the best introductions to modern philosophy. . . . Ayer begins with a brief, austere, and balanced account of Russell's life: as in Russell's autobiography this means his thought, books, women, and politics. Tacitus (and Russell) would have found the account exemplary. Ayer ends with a sympathetic and surprisingly detailed survey of Russell's social philosophy. But the bulk of this book consists of a chapter on Russell's work in logic and the foundations of mathematics, followed by a chapter on his epistemological views and one on metaphysics. . . . I find it impossible to imagine that this book will not remain indefinitely the very best book of its sort."—Review of Metaphysics

"The confrontation or conjunction of Ayer and Russell is a notable event and has produced a remarkable book—brilliantly argued and written."—Martin Lebowitz, The Nation
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4-0 out of 5 stars clear and illuminating
Excellent discussion of Russell's philosophical logic.Discussion of epistemology is a bit less lucid. Highly recommend overall. ... Read more

18. Bertrand Russell's Best (Routledge Classics)
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 128 Pages (2009-05-07)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.33
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Asin: 0415473586
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Bertrand Russell was regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest minds. Well known for his profound knowledge and controversial approach to a myriad of different issues and subjects, his prolific works also exhibited great intellectual wit and humour. Bertrand Russell’s Best is a collection of Russell’s wittiest and most pungent writings. First published in 1958, this delightfully funny and entertaining book is a striking testament to the remarkable life, work and wit of Bertrand Russell.

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19. Unpopular Essays (Routledge Classics)
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 200 Pages (2009-04-06)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.89
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Asin: 0415473705
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A classic collection of Bertrand Russell’s more controversial works, reaffirming his staunch liberal values, Unpopular Essays is one of Russell’s most characteristic and self-revealing books. Written to "combat… the growth in Dogmatism", on first publication in 1950 it met with critical acclaim and a wide readership and has since become one of his most accessible and popular books.

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Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars One who gets Hegelitis will never be cured (F. Nietzsche)
In this `popular' book, B. Russell demolishes the philosophy of Hegel (and Marx) and gives blunt and/or harsh comments on ancient philosophy (Plato and Aristotle), communism, the US, religion and the (black) future of mankind.

B. Russell was cured of Hegelitis by discovering that everything Hegel said on the philosophy of mathematics was just plain nonsense.
B. Russell summarizes Hegel's philosophy as follows: there is an apparent reality, consisting of the every-day world in space and time. But `real' reality is timeless and can only be determined by logic (pure thought, dialectics). This reality is called `the Absolute Idea', or `pure thought thinking about pure thought'.
Those, who are forced to live as slaves of a temporal process, and who see only the parts, are only illusory products of illusion.
For B. Russell, Hegel's philosophy means, translated in political terms, that true liberty consists in obedience to an arbitrary authority, that free speech is an evil, that absolute monarchy is good, that the Prussian State was the best existing at the time Hegel wrote and that war is good.
Marx adopted Hegel's belief that history develops according to a logical plan and concluded that the victory of the proletariat was a scientific certainty.

The US
B. Russell admired the US for its freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry and freedom discussion.

B. Russell saw in communist countries that education is reduced to learning the formulae of orthodoxy and that `science and philosophy, art and literature will become sycophantic adjuncts of government.'

For B. Russell, the representatives of religion, the clergy, fought a losing battle against science. `They try to make the public forget their earlier obscurantism, in order that their present one may not be recognized.'

Future of mankind
Bertrand Russell is extremely pessimistic about the future of mankind, indeed. Till t the end of his life, he fought with all means against war to save mankind from the suicidal disaster of a nuclear conflict.

This work of a formidable free mind is a must read for all philosophers and for all those interested in the world we live in.

5-0 out of 5 stars Russell is a titan!
Russell is a titan!
He is concise.He is invigoration.He provides hope for those suffering with existential nausea.
Read all you can.

4-0 out of 5 stars POPULIST ESSAYS
Russell was not really an iconoclast, much less a rebel, least of all any revolutionary. His speciality was stating the obvious when orthodoxy did not want it stated, and pointing out what ought to have been obvious when lumpen conventional opinion could not be bothered looking for it. He also made statements and advanced arguments at times that were just plumb wrong or at least implausible, which makes him like any of the rest of us; but for the most part when he advanced opinions that went against the grain he didn't do it simply to annoy because he knew it teased, it usually meant that there was something wrong with the grain. He wasn't really a preacher either, in the sense that he had no great message of his own. His mind was basically analytical, and what drove him was a wish to counter what he saw as error, often dangerous error. He had a strong theoretical bent as everyone knows, but what marks him out among the generality of philosophers is his strong desire to communicate with not just students and other specialists but with the world at large.

This collection was published in 1950, and its contents date from the 15 years leading up to that time. They include his tongue-in-cheek self-obituary which he thought would be printed in his 91st year, although in the end he lived to age 97, finally falling victim to influenza; but what they are mainly concerned with is politics and philosophy. One of the political pieces is The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed, making the perfectly sensible point that the oppressed have no superior virtue. The reason why we should support the oppressed, it seems obvious to me, is simply that they are oppressed and not that they possess some sainthood bestowed on them by the sentimental. Otherwise his chief political preoccupation is with nuclear weapons, of which he was a celebrated opponent just as I myself am an obscure one. Russell sees the solution to the problem as being world government, and I suppose it's fair to say that this scion of the English aristocracy has next to no sense of Realpolitik. On the other hand I would say that he has put his finger on what I would see as the reality of the issue to this extent - once we have unlocked the atom we are playing with the power of Creation itself, as Jimmy Carter once said. It is something that is bigger than any nation, bigger than the entire planet, bigger than the entire galaxy. To make it an instrument of national policy is something that can be controlled at national level only for so long, and if we are to keep it under control internationally the individual nations, however important they think it makes them, are going to have to relinquish their private grip on it. Russell could not bring about rationality in the perception of the issue, still less can I expect to, but sooner or later, for better reasons or for worse, we are all going to have to.

When it comes to the philosophical side, Russell characteristically starts with a piece entitled Philosophy for Laymen, and in this and some later chapters he provides a handy little guide to which of them said what. His fearless common sense is at its self-confident best in some of this, as in his withering contempt for Plato's monstrous Republic. It has long seemed to me that abstract reasoning has a capacity for unsettling people's world-view in a completely unnecessary way. At the risk of seeming philistine, I am more than glad of his authoritative support for my own view that a great deal of the grander type of philosophy is plain old rubbish, the problem being to articulate why this is so. At the time of these essays, the linguistic school of epistemology mainly associated with Oxford does not seem to have gained the ascendancy that it would soon do. There has been a reaction against it on perceived grounds (often perceived rightly) of trivialisation of the philosophical process, but I maintain that it performed a major service. Russell's own way of attacking some of his great predecessors is slightly ad hominem, detecting psychological and biographical reasons for their way of thinking, and he seems to have resented the approach of the elegant master of all the linguistic philosophers J L Austin. However even without help from Oxford it seems to me that Russell could have demolished the systematic scepticism of Descartes simply by saying that if we are to carry doubt to these lengths we might as well doubt that we are doubting while we are about it. Again I would have thought that he had various simple replies to Bishop Berkeley's famous proposition that we only have an `idea' of (say) a tree. One would be that when we stop looking at the tree all that we remove is this `idea' and it all proves nothing about the independent reality of the tree. Another would be that if a man were killed by a falling tree because he didn't see it falling his misfortune was not that he had an idea of the tree but that he had no idea of it. When it comes to confronting a genuine giant like Hume, Russell could have done with the linguistic method. If I may make so bold, my answer to Hume's finding that `cause' cannot be identified might be `Who said it could?' It`s not something that can be abstracted from individual propositions of the kind `A is caused by X' any more than `reality' can be so extracted from propositions to the effect `A is real', as Austin so brilliantly demonstrated.

The attacks on entrenched opinions seem rather old hat these days, at least to the irreligious like myself. However they stay entrenched in some quarters, and the wit and gusto of Russell's ridicule should therefore stay entrenched too. All good intellectual smelling-salts.

4-0 out of 5 stars The method -Clarity short of totalcomprehensiveness
There is something wonderfully light and quick about these essays. Russell is not afraid of 'sacred cows' and he takes apart in this way philosophical greats Plato, Aristotle , Hegel, and comprehensive all - encompassing programs for understanding and shaping reality.
He defends a kind of 'enlightened liberalism' an openness to the market of ideas, a sense that truth is not the sole possession of any single vision or system.
His natural bent and lifework move him to feel close to 'observational methods' to ascientific way of understanding the world. It is interesting that though Russell is generally identified as a radical leftist he takes apart the Marxian historical straightjacket, as well as the Hegelian one.
Russell writes so clearly and cleverly , seems to provide such ready and reasonable answers to any questions he raises that it is only through more reflective rereading that one begins to see, his prejudices also.
Our scientific, and technological universe has changed so dramatically in the years since this work was written that it would of course be instructive to know what Russell would think about ' Internet' and ' stem cell research' and a kind of ' post- modernism' which is one possible path that might come out of his own pluralism and liberalism.
It is interesting that in the small chapters towards the end where he writes about those he admires, the one philosopher who wins his praise as person is Pragmatism's, Truth- as - cash - value of our investigations' William James.
Russell often offends but also hits the mark palpably many times.
This work is a pleasure to read, but not for the answers it provides but for its open- minded way of questioning.a

5-0 out of 5 stars Lifetime Book
I read this book 40 years ago, and it still sticks with me.
Russell is a stuffy upper class Englishman, and has so much
fun with it.

"A dog, a wife, and a walnut tree,
The more you beat them the better they be."

I have no experience of the moral effect of flagellation on walnut trees, but no civilized person would now justify the rhyme as regards wives. The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly I think, because it is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses."

... Read more

20. Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901-1950
by Bertrand Russell
Paperback: 382 Pages (2007-05-30)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$24.18
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Asin: 0851247342
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A collection of Bertrand Russell's most important essays in the fields of logic and the theory of knowledge, which provide an understanding of the development of philosophy in England during the 20th century and of the influence upon one another of Moore, Russell and Wittgenstein. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great selection of russell's more technical papers
I would give 5 stars to Russell's essays but 3 stars to this edition.
This edition contains most of the important/technical papers that russel wrote & are still worth reading for any serious philosophy student. The editor did a great job at selection but his snobbish introductory essays prefacing each russell essay is a complete waste of space & (your) time. The editor should have but didn't bother to update the logical symbols in the 1st russell essay, 'logic of relations', with the result that it would be incomprehensible even to people trained in symbolic logic.
'philosophy of logical atomism', for me anyway, helps me understand wittgenstein's Tractatus, which was otherwise incomprehsible to me.
I didn't make it through 'on denoting'. Who would really care about this important but by now mainly historical essay if you have already learned quantification theory & description theory?

5-0 out of 5 stars On Denoting
This book reproduces Russell's famous article 'On Denoting' that appeared in "Mind" in 1905.It provides the earliest account of his theory of descriptions that was later developed in principia mathematicaand 'improved' by W.V Quine. (It is however, a dog to read!) It is truly afundamental work in logical analysis and I recommend it to you all. ... Read more

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