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Bertrand Russell

(1872 - 1970)

Biography of Bertrand Russell :

Mathematician and philosopher born in the United Kingdom (Wales), small son of the Prime Minister John Russell, Bertrand Russell is regarded as the founder of the modern logic. After the very early death of his parents, he rejects religion and finds in mathematics the means to satisfy his needs for certainty.

Gifted for multiple talents, but first of all logician, Bertrand Russell conceives with Alfred North Whitehead a mathematical system of logic based on an abstract analysis of thought (Principia mathematica, 1913). His fights for pacifism and conscientious objection constrain him to leave his position of teacher in Trinity College and lead him in prison on several occasions.

Then Bertrand Russell devotes himself to the philosophy of knowledge, while being influenced by David Hume and George Edward Moore. He builds his own "logic atomism" that is a method of analysis for the complex proposals by reducing them to a system (atomist) of elementary proposals.

Bertrand Russell tries without success to found a school in Beacon Hill according to his convictions on education. After this failure, he earns his living as writer, journalist and lecturer. Between 1938 and 1944, he teaches in the United States before being laid under an interdict of teaching because of his positions against religion, for the defense of sexual freedom and because of his nonconformism.

Of return in England, Bertrand Russell is resolutely opposed to the use of nuclear energy for military aims. His Nobel Prize of literature in 1950 does not stop him continuing his battles (against the war of Vietnam, creation with Jean-Paul Sartre of the "International Court" against war crimes). He even is arrested at the age of 89, during a demonstration against the atomic bomb.

Bertrand Russell is a militant of the left, but anticommunist since his journey in the USSR in 1920. His convictions are close to anarchism. Committed in favor of humanism and freethinking, he tells himself he is philosophically agnostic and atheistic in practice. For him, nobody can prove the existence of God or gods, but he is strongly convinced of their non-existence.
Bibliography : On the Relations of Universals and Particulars (1911), The Problems of Philosophy (1912), Principia mathematica (with A.N. Whitehead, 1913), Our Knowledge of the External World (1914), Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism (1918), Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919), The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism (1920), The Analysis of Mind (1921), The ABC of relativity (1925), What I believe (1925), On Education (1926), The analysis of Matter (1926), Education and the Good Life (1926), Why I am not Christian (1927), Marriage and Morals (1932), The Conquest of Happiness (1930), Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? (1930), Education and Social Order (1926), The Bomb and Civilization (1945), A History of Western Philosophy (1946), Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (1948), New Hopes for a Changing World (1951), The Impact of Science on Society (1952), Religion and Science (1957), My Philosophical Development (1959).

Quotes of Bertrand Russell

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