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Durant 1926: Introduction to American Philosophers

Reference: The Story of Philosophy

This paper presents Chapter X Section 4 from the book THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY by WILL DURANT. The  contents are from the 1933 reprint of this book by TIME INCORPORATED by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc.

The paragraphs of the original material (in black) are accompanied by brief comments (in color) based on the present understanding.

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Introduction to American Philosophers

There are, as everybody knows, two Americas, of which one is European. European America js chiefly the eastern states, where the older stocks look up respectfully to foreign aristocracies, and more recent immigrants look back with a certain nostalgia to the culture and traditions of their native lands. In this European America there is an active conflict between the Anglo-Saxon soul, sober and genteel, and the restless and innovating spirit of the newer peoples. The English code of thought and manners must eventually succumb to the continental cultures that encompass and inundate it here; but for the present that British mood dominates the literature, though no longer the morals, of the American East. Our standard of art and taste in the Atlantic states is English; our literary heritage is English; and our philosophy, when we have time for any, is in the line of British thought. It is this new England that produced Washington and Irving and Emerson and even Poe; it is this new England that wrote the books of the first American philosopher, Jonathan Edwards; and it is this new England that captured and remade that strange, exotic figure, America’s latest thinker, George Santayana. For Santayana, of course, is an American philosopher only by grace of geography; he is a European who, having been born in Spain, was transported to America in his unknowing childhood, and who now, in his ripe age, returns to Europe as to a paradise for which his years with us were a probation. Santayana is steeped in the “genteel tradition” of the old America.*

* Cf. his own analysis of the two Americas: “America is not simply a young country with an old mentality; it is a country with two mentalities, one a survival of the beliefs and standards of the fathers, the other an expression of the instincts, practices and discoveries of the younger generations. In all the higher things of the mind—in religion, in literature, in the moral emotions—it is the hereditary spirit that prevails, so much so that Mr. Bernard Shaw finds that America is a hundred years behind the times. The truth is that one-half of the American mind has remained, I will not say high and dry, but slightly becalmed; it has floated gently in the back-water, while alongside, in invention and industry and social organization, the other half of the mind was leaping down a sort of Niagara Rapids. This may be found symbolized in American architecture. …The American Will inhabits the ‘skyscraper; the American Intellect inhabits the colonial mansion.”—Winds of Doctrine, New York, 1913; p. 188.

Santayana is steeped in the “genteel tradition” of the old America.

The other America is American. It consists of those people, whether Yankees or Hoosiers or cowboys, whose roots are in this soil, and not in Europe; whose manners, ideas and ideals are a native formation; whose souls are touched neither with the gentility of the families that adorn Boston, or New York, or Philadelphia, or Richmond, nor with the volatile passions of the southern or eastern European; men and women moulded into physical ruggedness and mental directness and simplicity by their primitive environment and tasks. This is the America that produced Lincoln and Thoreau and Whitman and Mark Twain; it is the America of “horse sense,” of “practical men,” of “hard-headed business men”; it is the America which so impressed itself upon William James that he became its exponent in philosophy while his brother became more British than an Englishman; and it is the America that made John Dewey.

New America is characterized by “horse sense,” “practical men,” and “hard-headed business men.” William James was impressed by it. John Dewey grew up in it.

We shall study Santayana first, despite chronology; because, though he is the youngest of our greater philosophers, he represents an older and a foreign school; and the subtlety of his thought, and the fragrance. of his style are like the perfume that lingers in a room from which the flowers have been taken away. We shall have, very probably, no more Santayanas; for hereafter it is America, and not Europe, that will write America’s philosophies.

We shall have, very probably, no more Santayanas; for hereafter it is America, and not Europe, that will write America’s philosophies.

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Samadhi Pada

Reference: Patanjali Yoga Sutras

These notes are derived from the book FOUR CHAPTERS ON FREEDOM by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, First edition 1976, Published by Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India.

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Durant 1926: Epilogue (Bertrand Russell)

Reference: The Story of Philosophy

This paper presents Chapter X Section 3.3 from the book THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY by WILL DURANT. The  contents are from the 1933 reprint of this book by TIME INCORPORATED by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc.

The paragraphs of the original material (in black) are accompanied by brief comments (in color) based on the present understanding.

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III. BERTRAND RUSSELL

3. Epilogue

All this, of course, is rather optimistic,—though it is better to err on the side of hope than in favor of despair. Russell has poured into his social philosophy the mysticism and the sentiment which he had so resolutely repressed in his attitude towards metaphysics and religion. He has not applied to his economic and political theories the same rigid scrutiny of assumptions, the same scepticism of axioms, which gave him such satisfaction in mathematics and logic. His passion for the a priori, his love of “perfection more than life,” leads him here to splendid pictures that serve rather as poetic relief to the prose of the world than as practicable approaches to the problems of life. It is delightful, for example, to contemplate a society in which art shall be better respected than wealth; but so long as nations rise and fall, in the flux of natural group-selection, according to their economic rather than their artistic power, it is economic and not artistic power which, having the greater survival value, will win the greater plaudits and the large rewards. Art can only be the flower that grows out of wealth; it cannot be wealth’s substitute. The Medici came before Michelangelo.

Russell is too optimistic. He has not applied the his usual rigid scrutiny of assumptions to his economic and political theories. His passion leads him to splendid pictures but they do not serve as practicable approaches to the problems of life. 

But it is not necessary to pick more flaws in Russell’s brilliant vision; his own experience has been his severest critic. In Russia he found himself face to face with an effort to create a socialist society; and the difficulties encountered by the experiment almost destroyed Russell’s faith in his own gospel. He was disappointed to find that the Russian Government could not risk such a measure of democracy as had seemed to him the axiom of a liberal philosophy; and he was so angered by the suppression of free speech and free press, and by the resolute monopoly and systematic use of every avenue of propaganda, that he rejoiced in the illiteracy of the Russian people;—the ability to read being, in this age of subsidized newspapers, an impediment to the acquisition of truth. He was shocked to find that nationalization of the land had been forced (except on paper) to yield to private ownership; and it dawned upon him that men, as made today, will not properly till and husband their holdings unless they can rely on transmitting them, and the improvements which they put into them, to their children. “Russia seems on the way to becoming a greater France, a great nation of peasant proprietors. The old feudalism has disappeared.” He began to understand that this dramatic overturn, with all its sacrifices and all its heroism, was only Russia’s 1789.

Russell’s experience has been the severest critic of his brilliant vision. The difficulties encountered in Russia to create a socialist society almost destroyed his faith in his own gospel. It dawned upon him that men will not properly till and husband their holdings unless they can rely on transmitting them to their children. 

Perhaps he was more at home when he went for a year to teach in China; there was less mechanism there, and a slower pace, one could sit down and reason, and life would stand still while one dissected it. In that vast sea of humanity new perspectives came to our philosopher; he realized that Europe is but the tentative pseudopodium of a greater continent and an older—and perhaps profounder—culture; all his theories and syllogisms melted into a modest relativity before this mastodon of the nations. One sees his system loosening as he writes:

I have come to realize that the white race isn’t as important as I used to think it was. If Europe and America kill themselves off in war it will not necessarily mean the destruction of the human species, nor even an end to civilization. There will still be a considerable number of Chinese left; and in many ways China is the greatest country I have ever seen. It is not only the greatest numerically and the greatest culturally, but it seems to me the greatest intellectually. I know of no other civilization where there is such open-mindedness, such realism, such a willingness to face the facts as they are, instead of trying to distort them into a particular pattern.

Russell’s stay in China made him aware of an open-mindedness, a realism, and a willingness to face the facts as they are, that was superior to the western culture. He realized that there was much more to the human species than the white race.

It is a little difficult to pass from England to America, and then to Russia, and then to India and China, and yet keep one’s social philosophy unchanged. The world has convinced Bertrand-Russell that it is too big for his formulae, and perhaps too large and heavy to move very rapidly towards his heart’s desire. And there are so many hearts, and so many different desires! One finds him now “an older and a wiser man,” mellowed by time and a varied life; as wide awake as ever to all the ills that flesh is heir to and yet matured into the moderation that know’s the difficulties of social change. All in all, a very lovable man: capable of the profoundest metaphysics and the subtlest mathematics, and yet speaking always simply, with the clarity which comes only to those who are sincere; a man addicted to fields of thought that usually dry up the springs of feeling, and yet warmed and illumined with pity, full of an almost mystic tenderness for mankind. Not a courtier, but surely a scholar and a gentleman, and a better Christian than some who mouth the word. Happily, he is still young and vigorous, the flame of life burns brightly in him yet; who knows but this next decade will see him grow out of disillusionment into wisdom, and write his name among the highest in “the serene brotherhood of philosophs”?

Russell’s social philosophy could not help but change as he passed from the western to the eastern culture. His sincerity shines in the clarity of his observations. He did grow out of his disillusionment into wisdom.

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Durant 1926: The Reformer (Bertrand Russell)

Reference: The Story of Philosophy

This paper presents Chapter X Section 3.2 from the book THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY by WILL DURANT. The  contents are from the 1933 reprint of this book by TIME INCORPORATED by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc.

The paragraphs of the original material (in black) are accompanied by brief comments (in color) based on the present understanding.

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III. BERTRAND RUSSELL

1. The Reformer

And then the Great Madness came; and the Bertrand Russell who had lain so long buried and mute under the weight of logic and mathematics and epistemology, suddenly burst forth, like a liberated flame, and the world was shocked to find that this slim and anemic-looking professor was a men of infinite courage, and a passionate lover of humanity. Out of the recesses of his formulae the scholar stepped forth, and poured out upon the most exalted statesmen of his country a flood of polemic that did not stop even when they ousted him from his chair at the University, and isolated him, like another Galileo, in a narrow quarter of London. Men who doubted his wisdom admitted his sincerity; but they were so disconcerted by this amazing transformation that they slipped for a moment into a very un-British intolerance. Our embattled pacifist, despite his most respectable origins, was outlawed from society, and denounced as a traitor to the country which had nourished him, and whose very existence seemed to be threatened by the maelstrom of the war.

Bertrand Russell who had lain so long buried and mute under the weight of logic and mathematics and epistemology, suddenly burst forth, like a liberated flame. He poured out a flood of polemic upon the most exalted statesmen of his country for which he was isolated and outlawed from society.

Back of this rebellion lay a simple horror of all bloody conflict. Bertrand Russell, who had tried to be a disembodied intellect, was really a system of feelings; and the interests of an empire seemed to him not worth the lives of the young men whom he saw so proudly marching forth to kill and die. He set to work to ferret out the causes of such a holocaust; and thought he found in socialism an economic and political analysis that at once revealed the sources of the disease and indicated its only cure. The cause was private property, and the cure was communism.

Back of this rebellion lay a simple horror of all bloody conflict. He set to work to ferret out the causes of such a holocaust. To him, the cause was private property, and the cure was communism.

All property, he pointed out, in his genial way, had had its origin in violence and theft; in the Kimberley diamond mines and the Rand gold mines the transition of robbery into property was going on under the nose of the world. “No good to the community, of any sort or kind, results from the private ownership of land. If men were reasonable they would decree that it should cease tomorrow, with no compensation beyond a moderate life-income to the present holders.”

Since private property is protected by the state, and the robberies that make property are sanctioned by legislation and enforced by arms and war, the state is a great evil; and it would be ‘Well if most of its functions were taken over by cooperatives and producers’ syndicates. Personality and individuality are crushed into a rote conformity by our societies; only the greater safety and orderliness of modern life can reconcile us to the state.

All property, he pointed out, in his genial way, had had its origin in violence and theft. Since private property is protected by the state, and the robberies that make property are sanctioned by legislation and enforced by arms and war, the state is a great evil.

Freedom is the supreme good; for without it personality is impossible. Life and knowledge are today so complex, that only by free discussion can we pick our way through errors and prejudices to that total perspective which is truth. Let men, let even teachers, differ and debate; out of such diverse opinions will come an intelligent relativity of belief which will not readily fly to arms; hatred and war come largely of fixed ideas or dogmatic faith. Freedom of thought and speech would go like a cleansing draught through the neuroses and superstitions of the “modern” mind.

Freedom is the supreme good; for without it personality is impossible. Life and knowledge are today so complex, that only by free discussion can we pick our way through errors and prejudices to that total perspective which is truth.

For we are not so educated as we think; we are but beginning the great experiment of universal schooling; and it has not had time to affect profoundly our ways of thinking and our public life. We are building the equipment, but we are still primitive in methods and technique; we think of education as the transmission of a certain body of settled knowledge, when it should be rather the development of a scientific habit of mind. The distinctive feature of the unintelligent man is the hastiness and absoluteness of his opinions; the scientist is slow to believe, and never speaks without modification. The larger use of science, and of scientific method, in education would give to us a measure of that intellectual conscience which believes only up to the evidence in hand, and is always ready to concede that it may be wrong. With such methods, education may prove the great solvent of our ills; it may even make of our children’s children the new men and women who must come before the new society can appear. “The instinctive part of our character is very malleable. It may be changed by beliefs, by material circumstances, by social circumstances, and by institutions.” It is quite conceivable, for example, that education could mould opinion to admire art more than wealth, as in the days of the Renaissance, and could guide itself by the resolution “to promote all that is creative, and so to diminish the impulses and desires that center round possession.” This is the Principle of Growth, whose corollaries would be the two great commandments of a new and natural morality: first, the Principle of Reverence, that “the vitality of individuals and communities is to be promoted as far as possible”; and. second, the Principle of Tolerance, that “the growth of one individual or one community is to be as little as possible at the expense of another.”

We think of education as the transmission of a certain body of settled knowledge, when it should be rather the development of a scientific habit of mind. The vitality of individuals and communities is to be promoted as far as possible. The growth of one individual or one community is to be as little as possible at the expense of another.”

There is nothing that man might not do if our splendid organization of schools and universities were properly developed and properly manned, and directed intelligently to the reconstruction of human character. This, and not violent revolution, or paper legislation, is the way out of economic greed and international brutality. Man has come to control all other forms of life because he has taken more time in which to grow up; when he takes still more time, and spends that time more wisely, he may learn even to control and remake himself. Our schools are the open sesame to Utopia.

Education and not violent revolution, or paper legislation, is the way out of economic greed and international brutality.

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Durant 1926: The Logician (Bertrand Russell)

Reference: The Story of Philosophy

This paper presents Chapter X Section 3.1 from the book THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY by WILL DURANT. The  contents are from the 1933 reprint of this book by TIME INCORPORATED by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc.

The paragraphs of the original material (in black) are accompanied by brief comments (in color) based on the present understanding.

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III. BERTRAND RUSSELL

1. The Logician

We have kept for the last the youngest and the most virile of the European thinkers of our generation.

When Bertrand Russell spoke at Columbia University in 1914, he looked like his subject, which was epistemology—thin, pale, and moribund; one expected to see him die at every period. The Great War had just broken out, and this tender-minded, peace-loving philosopher had suffered from the shock of seeing the most civilized of continents disintegrate into barbarism. One imagined that he spoke of so remote a subject as “Our Knowledge of the External World” because he knew it was remote, and wished to be as far as possible from actualities that had become so grim. And then, seeing him again, ten years later, one was happy to find him, though fifty-two, hale and jolly, and buoyant with a still rebellious energy. This despite an intervening decade that had destroyed almost all his hopes, loosened all his friendships, and broken almost all the threads of his once sheltered and aristocratic life.

Bertrand Russell spoke at Columbia University in 1914 on epistemology, because being tender-minded and peace-loving, he wished to be as far as possible from actualities of World War I.

For he belongs to the Russells, one of the oldest and most famous families in England or the world, a family that has given statesmen to Britain for many generations. His grandfather, Lord John Russell, was a great Liberal Prime Minister who fought an unyielding battle for free trade, for universal free education, for the emancipation of the Jews, for liberty in every field. His father, Viscount Amberley, was a free-thinker, who did not over-burden his son with the hereditary theology of the West. He is now heir presumptive to the second Earl Russell but he rejects the institution of inheritance, and proudly earns his own living. When Cambridge dismissed him for his pacifism he made the world his university, and became a traveling Sophist (in the original sense of that once noble word), whom the world supported gladly.

Russell belonged to one of the oldest and most famous families in England. He rejected the institution of inheritance, and proudly earned his own living. He was dismissed from Cambridge for his pacifism.

There have been two Bertrand Russells: one who died during the war; and another who rose out of that one’s shroud, an almost mystic communist born out of the ashes of a mathematical logician. Perhaps there was a tender mystic strain in him always; represented at first by a mountain of algebraic formulae; and then finding a distorted expression in a socialism that has the ear-marks rather of a religion than of a philosophy. The most characteristic title among his books is Mysticism and Logic: a merciless attack on the illogicality of mysticism, followed by such a glorification of scientific method as makes one think of the mysticism of logic. Russell inherits the English positivist tradition, and is resolved to be tough-minded, because he knows that he cannot.

Russell inherited the English positivist tradition. He mercilessly attacked the illogicality of mysticism, and praised the scientific method.

Perhaps it was by an over-correction that he emphasized the virtues of logic, and made a divinity of mathematics. He impressed one, in 1914, as cold-blooded, as a temporarily animated abstraction, a formula with legs. He tells us that he never saw a motion-picture till he read Bergson’s cinematographic analogy for the intellect; then he reconciled himself to one performance, merely as a task in philosophy. Bergson’s vivid sense of time and motion, his feeling that all things were alive with a vital impetus; made no impression on Russell; it seemed to him a pretty poem and nothing more; for his part he would have no other god than mathematics. He had no liking for the classics; he argued vigorously, like another Spencer, for more science in education. The world’s woes, he felt, were largely due to mysticism, to culpable obscurity of thought; and the first law of morality should be, to think straight. “Better the world should perish than that I, or any other human being, should believe a lie; … that is the religion of thought, in whose scorching flames the dross of the world is being burnt away.”

Perhaps it was by an over-correction that he emphasized the virtues of logic, and made a divinity of mathematics. Bergson’s feeling that all things were alive with a vital impetus; made no impression on Russell. He had no liking for the classics; he argued for more science in education.

His passion for clarity drove him inevitably to mathematics; he was almost thrilled at the calm precision of this aristocratic science. “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.” He believes that the progress of mathematics was the finest feature of the nineteenth century; specifically, “the solution of the difficulties which formerly surrounded the mathematical infinite is probably, the greatest achievement of which our age can boast.” In one century the old geometry which had held the fortress of mathematics for two thousand years was almost entirely destroyed; and Euclid’s text, the oldest school-book in the world, was at last superseded. “It is nothing less than a scandal that he should still be taught to boys in England.”

His passion for clarity drove him inevitably to mathematics; he was almost thrilled at the calm precision of this aristocratic science. He believed that the progress of mathematics was the finest feature of the nineteenth century.

Perhaps the source of most of the innovations in modern mathematics is the rejection of axioms; and Russell delights in men who challenge “self-evident truths” and insist upon the demonstration of the obvious. He was rejoiced to hear that parallel lines may somewhere meet, and that the whole may be no greater than one of its parts. He likes to startle the innocent reader with such puzzles as this: the even numbers are but half of all numbers, and yet there are just as many of them as there are numbers altogether,—since for every number there is its even double. Indeed, this is the whole point about that hitherto indefinable thing, the mathematical infinite: it is a whole containing parts that have as many terms or items as the whole.—The reader may follow this tangent if the spirit moves him.*

*Not that one would recommend Russell’s mathematical volumes to the lay reader. The Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy sets out with a specious intelligibility, but soon makes demands which only a specialist in mathematics can meet. Even the little book on The Problems of Philosophy, though intended to be popular, is difficult, and unnecessarily epistemological; the larger volume, Mysticism and Logic, is much clearer and closer to the earth. The Philosophy of Leibnitz is a fine exposition of a great thinker, ignored in these limited pages. The twin volumes on The Analysis of Mind and The Analysis of Matter will serve to bring the reader up to date with certain aspects of psychology and physics. The post-war books are easy reading; and though they suffer from the confusion natural to a man whose idealism is slipping into disillusionment, they are interesting and worth while. Why Men Fight? is still the best of these tracts for the times. Roads to Freedom is a genial survey of social philosophies as old as Diogenes, which Russell rediscovers with all the enthusiasm of a Columbus.

Perhaps the source of most of the innovations in modern mathematics is the rejection of axioms; and Russell delighted in men who challenge “self-evident truths” and insist upon the demonstration of the obvious. 

What draws Russell to mathematics is, again, its rigid impersonality and objectivity; here, and here alone, is eternal truth, and absolute knowledge; these a priori theorems are the “Ideas” of Plato, the “eternal order” of Spinoza, the substance of the world. The aim of philosophy should be to equal the perfection of mathematics by confining itself to statements similarly exact, and similarly true before all experience. “Philosophical propositions … must be a priori,” says this strange positivist. Such propositions will refer not to things but to relations, and to universal relations. They will be independent of specific “facts” and events; if every particular in the world were changed, these propositions would still be true. E. g., “if all A’s are B’s, and X is A, then X is a B”: this is true whatever A may be; it reduces to a universal and a priori form the old syllogism about the mortality of Socrates; and it would be true if no Socrates, even if nobody at all, had ever existed. Plato and Spinoza were right: “the world of universals may also be described as the world of being. The world of being is unchangeable, rigid, exact, delightful to the mathematician, the logician, the builder of metaphysical systems, and all who love perfection more than life.” To reduce all philosophy to such mathematical form, to take all specific content out of it, to compress it (voluminously) into mathematics—this was the ambition of this new Pythagoras.

“People have discovered how to make reasoning symbolic, as it is in algebra, so that deductions can be effected by mathematical rules. … Pure mathematics consists entirely of assertions to the effect that if such and such a proposition is true of anything, then such and such another proposition is true of that thing. It is essential not to discuss whether the first proposition is really true, and not to mention what the anything is of which it is supposed to be true. … 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.”

What draws Russell to mathematics is, again, its rigid impersonality and objectivity; here, and here alone, is eternal truth, and absolute knowledge; these a priori theorems are the “Ideas” of Plato, the “eternal order” of Spinoza, the substance of the world. They refer not to things but to universal relations. 

And perhaps (if one may rudely interrupt exposition with opinion) this description does no great injustice to mathematical philosophy. It is a splendid game for those who like it; guaranteed to “kill time” as rapidly as chess; it is a new form of solitaire, and should be played as far as possible from the contaminating touch of things. It is remarkable that after writing several volumes of this learned moonshine, Bertrand Russell should suddenly come down upon the surface of this planet, and begin to reason very passionately about war, and government, and socialism, and revolution,—and never once make use of the impeccable formulae piled like Pelion upon Ossa in his Principia Mathematica. Nor has anyone else, observably, made use of them. To be useful, reasoning must be about things, and must keep in touch with them at every step. Abstractions have their use as summaries; but as implements of argument they require the running test and commentary of experience. We are in danger here of a scholasticism beside which the giant Summa’s of medieval philosophy would be models of pragmatic thought.

But what use are these impeccable formulae in Russell’s Principia Mathematica when they cannot be used to solve the real problems of war, and government, and socialism, and revolution? To be useful, reasoning must be about things, and must keep in touch with them at every step. 

From such a starting point, Bertrand Russell was almost fated to pass into agnosticism. He found so much in Christianity that could not be phrased in mathematics, that he abandoned it all except its moral code. He speaks scornfully of a civilization that persecutes men who deny Christianity, and imprisons those who take it seriously. He can find no God in such a contradictory world; rather, only a humorous Mephistopheles could have produced it, and in a mood of exceptional deviltry. He follows Spencer in his vision of the end of the world, and rises to eloquence in describing the Stoic’s resignation to the ultimate defeat of every individual and every species. We talk of evolution and progress; but progress is an egotistical phrase and evolution is but one half of an unmoral cycle of events terminating in dissolution and death. “Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher; and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately, it is the philosopher; not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance.”  The “free man” cannot comfort himself with childish hopes and anthropomorphic gods; he has to keep his courage up even though he knows that in the end he too must die, that all things must die. Nevertheless, he will not surrender; if he cannot win, he can at least enjoy the fight; and by the knowledge that foresees his own defeat he stands superior to the blind forces that will destroy him. His worship will go not to these brute powers without, that by their aimless persistence conquer him, and tear down every home and every civilization that he builds; but to those creative powers within him that struggle on in the face of failure, and raise for at least some centuries the frail beauty of carved and pictured things, and the majestic ruins of the Parthenon. 

This was the starting point of Russell’s philosophy. The “free man” cannot comfort himself with childish hopes and anthropomorphic gods; he has to keep his courage up even though he knows that in the end he too must die, that all things must die. His worship will go to those creative powers within him that struggle on in the face of failure.

Such was the philosophy of Bertrand Russell-before the war.

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