Bertrand Russell Quotations

Bertrand Russell

A democrat need not believe that the majority will always reach a wise decision. He should however believe in the necessity of accepting the decision of the majority, be it wise or unwise, until such a time that the majority reaches another decision.

Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation.

America ... where laws and customs alike are based on the dreams of spinsters.

A sense of duty is useful in work, but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not to be endured with patient resignation.

Change is one thing, progress another. "Change" is scientific, "progress" is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy.

Every advance in civilization has been denounced as unnatural while it was recent.

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.

For aught we know an atom may consist entirely of the radiations which come out of it. It is useless to argue that radiations cannot come out of nothing...The idea that there is hard little lump there, which is the electron or proton, is an illegitimate intrusion of commonsense notions derived from touch.

Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.

In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors.

It is because modern education is so seldom inspired by a great hope that it so seldom achieves great results. The wish to preserve the past rather than the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young.

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.

Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.

Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.

Most people would sooner die than think; in fact they do so.

No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.

One should respect public opinion in so far as it is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.

Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.

Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible.

There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

The total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.

We have, in fact, two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practice, and another which we practice but seldom preach.

We must be skeptical even of our skepticism.

What hunger is in relation to food, zest is in relation to life.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.