Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bertrand Russell’s Ten Commandments for Living in a Healthy Democracy

Considered the greatest logician of the 20th century, Bertrand Russell was also a brilliant philosopher, mathematician, historian, and social critic.

I've enjoyed his writings and thought this item, found in the website "Open Culture", thought provoking:

Here Russell explains liberalism:

“The essence of liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma [a feature of tyranny], and insuring stability [which anarchy undermines] without involving more restraints than are necessary for the preservation of the community.”


"But the liberal attitude does not say that you should oppose authority. It says only that you should be free to oppose authority, which is quite a different thing. The essence of the liberal outlook in the intellectual sphere is a belief that unbiased discussion is a useful thing and that men should be free to question anything if they can support their questioning by solid arguments. The opposite view, which is maintained by those who cannot be called liberals, is that the truth is already known, and that to question it is necessarily subversive."

Russell criticizes radicals who advocate change at any cost:

"The teacher who urges doctrines subversive to existing authority does not, if he is a liberal, advocate the establishment of a new authority even more tyrannical than the old. He advocates certain limits to the exercise of authority, and he wishes these limits to be observed not only when the authority would support a creed with which he disagrees but also when it would support one with which he is in complete agreement. I am, for my part, a believer in democracy, but I do not like a regime which makes belief in democracy compulsory."

 Russell offered a  “ 'new decalogue' with advice on how to live one’s life in the spirit of liberalism. 'The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows,' he says:

1: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2: Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3: Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.

4: When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5: Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6: Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you. 

7: Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric. 

8: Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9: Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it. 

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.


Infidel753 said...

Typical of Russell's penetrating insight. If all ten of these were scrupulously followed by everyone, religion would be comprehensively prevented.

Rational Nation USA said...

If these 10 rules were scrupulously followed by everone the mystics of muscle would comprehensively be prevented.

okjimm said...

I always get Bertrand Russell mixed up with Bill Russell.

"Most people have a harder time letting themselves love than finding someone to love them."
-Bill Russell

you can learn stuff from basketball too!

Rational Nation USA said...

So true okjimm, from baseball too.

"It ain't over until the fat lady sings."

Think Yogi B. said it. Don't have time to verify as it is single malt Scotch time.

Later... :-)

okjimm said...

RN..did some research...
Yogi is attributed with, "It ain't over til it's over" according to Wikipeida the fat lady part came as late as 1976...which suprises me ..cause I thought it was Yogi, too.

//The first recorded use appeared in the Dallas Morning News on 10 March 1976, by journalist Ralph Carpenter:

Despite his obvious allegiance to the Red Raiders, Texas Tech sports information director Ralph Carpenter was the picture of professional objectivity when the Aggies rallied for a 72–72 tie late in the SWC tournament finals. "Hey, Ralph," said Bill Morgan, "this... is going to be a tight one after all." "Right", said Ralph, "the opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings."//

...but...for thoughtful quotes from noted Sports peole that make you ,ah, thin...nobody beats Casey Stengel.....

Without losers, where would the winners be?

There comes a time in every man's life, and I've had plenty of them.

When you are younger you get blamed for crimes you never committed and when you're older you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.

....all of which adds a smidgeon to the post...Bertrand Russell invoked us to think Stengle and Berra as well as others, like Twain and Vonnegut..ask us to think...and laugh a little too...laughter is oft the twist of the lid on our psyche that unlocks the truth and releases and banishes fears we have. I think that got touched on in the pprevious post...fear and bullying. I somethimes think that bullying is a counter to fears...that the fearful push back because of unreasonable fear. It is taught, generationaly as a defense, needlessly, by some that cannot come to grips with that within the world that troubles them. A human condition. Ha, the human condition!!! It's for the birds! If we caould all just fly south, like the birds, at least occasionaly, we would all be better off.

Like Casey also said, "Now there's three things you can do in a baseball game: You can win or you can lose or it can rain."

... I often pray for rain.


Anonymous said...

"You could just imagine if Laura Bush didn't have media along!!!!!!!!!!; Instead, Reuters opens its story with "Michelle Obama, a Harvard educated lawyer..." Is she trying a case over there? Oh, wait, I think she lost her law license, didn't she."

Whoever wrote the above has never read Russell's words:

1: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2: Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

Michelle Obama never "lost" her license. The idiots who are sure that Mrs. Obama did would rather spread lies and misinformation than look for facts.

Another reason the Rethuglican Party attracts half-wits.

skudrunner said...


In the second question are you referring to bengazi again.

Neither Michelle or Barry have an active law license. They surrendered them voluntarily and therefore their license became inactive. If a license is inactive, they cannot practice law so you are partially right.

Anonymous said...

skudrunner down the leg, the Obama's didn't not take the exams to renew their licenses to practice law because they've been busy being the First Family of the United States of America and did not anticipate their having to practice law to earn a living. So their licenses have not, by choice, been renewed. So they cannot practice law until they renew them.

Do you get it now, skudrunner down the leg?

okjimm said...

Most ball games are lost, not won.

and then there are people like Skud....who just never seems to understand...and just lost.

Dervish Sanders said...

"Mystics of muscle", huh RN? Had to look that up, and "surprise", it's BS from Ayn Rand concerning how society is a bad thing. It's a good thing that most people reject the sociopathy of Rand.

Rational Nation USA said...

What the F*c* Skud! Your point is? Partially right? GD, you're a contrarian in spades.

skudrunner said...

Anon and RN

I said "They surrendered them voluntarily and therefore their license became inactive."

Are you off you meds again or just want to reinforce what I said in a snarky way. No wonder liberals don't smile

Rational Nation USA said...




;-) Must be a Randian or libertarian then Skud.

We (as in everybody) should try to be balanced however.

Yeah, I know. Ain't gonna happen.

Rational Nation USA said...

And, it is a GREAT thing that RATIONAL people reject the psychopathy of one Dervish Sanders.