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Russell’s Day Off

In reading Bertrand Russell’s pieces of writing, and listening to him speak out to the public on his self-discoveries, I’ve found him to be a very honest man. I admire his ability to remove any sort of biassed opinions, and to stay true to the base of what everything comes down to. Although he expresses a blunt personality, he redeems himself and his compassion for man as he suggests, “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.”
As a traditional English man, he was able to adapt to different insights and understandings throughout his life. Self proclaiming himself as a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist at various points in life, he explained that he had never been so in such a profound sense, but simply indulging in the rationalism he found in them. Russell was a peaceful man, expressing a hatred for war, and a love for all unity.
Russell was agnostic, not believing the purpose of religion. In his article “Is There a God?”, written in 1952, he explains why.
“Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.” 
For my “Phil’s Day Off”, I decided to go down Main Street in Vancouver to ask various people whether or not they practiced in any religions, and how it affected their ethics and morality. In Russell’s message to the future, he advises to keep a rational outlook on the things we do. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8h-xEuLfm8) Given the ability to converse with people of all walks of life, I came to the conclusion of believing that religion is not complicated, but people are. Things in the world are simply themselves, but it is us as people who take them and subjectively altar their organic definitions. A young man I spoke to explained that he was raised with religious beliefs, but later decided he wouldn’t participate in the traditions his parents had raised him to practice. When I asked him why not, he said, “I believe to not believe.”
He spoke about religion as though it was something to live for your future, or your death, opposed to living for your life. Others described it as an insurance, or living your life for a purpose.
Bertrand Russell believed that people should live freely, and in unity. Speaking out to people in the city gave me the idea that Russell would continue in his previous concepts of metaphysics, and be proud of the originality and individualism society has come to allow. A famous quote of Russell’s which is now a very distilled idea in our upbringing states, “do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”  


2 thoughts on “Russell’s Day Off

  1. Hi Jade,

    Bertrand Russell seems to be the essential quaint British academic. He’s very proper in a silly way. Russell, Einstein, and Wittgenstein (my philosopher) all place an importance on silliness. Why is silliness viewed as negative or unnecessary.

    When we are silly we allow ourselves to venture into unknown and possibly incorrect ideas. Silliness allows us to be vulnerable. As your opening quote from Russell states “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.” I think anything that opens us up to failure and makes us vulnerable is in negative light. Love, silliness, honesty. To be challenged or questioned is when we’re weakest… or so we think.

    Looking at this from a fencing perspective… when are you weakest? You’re the weakest when you’ve made an attack, or in this case conclusion. With each attack you are setting yourself up for vulnerability, but also great success. Is it a balance between be reserved and eccentric, or dedication of eccentricity in all lights that progresses us?

    In my opinion, taking yourself seriously gets you nowhere, it’s preserving dignity that is a balanced reservation.

    Posted by julieisafriendofmine | October 15, 2013, 11:20 pm
    • I completely agree. I think it really ties into the ideas of anarchistic epistemology. Essentially a theory saying that things should be subjective, otherwise held back by the rules and guidelines of objectivity. He really encourages a good sense of individuality and free-will.

      Posted by jadedevaras | October 17, 2013, 12:53 am

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