In the sentences of Bertrand Rusell we find wisdom of the highest invoice. This British philosopher, writer and mathematician has written some of the most memorable lines of human thought. He was one of the most deserved Nobel Prizes, distinction that reached in 1950.
The most interesting thing about Bertrand Russell’s phrases is that almost all of them are written in a colloquial tone. He never intended to amaze others with his knowledge. What he was looking for with his aphorisms was to communicate, to make simple what is complex.
This fabulous thinker was also a pacifist convinced of freedom as the supreme value. His ideas, defended with passion and commitment, took him to prison in World War I. He was also banned several times for not supporting power. As a tribute and to learn from him, we bring up some of his best known phrases.
“The most difficult thing to learn in life is what bridge you have to cross and what bridge you have to burn.”
1. Scientists and politicians
One of the recurring themes in Bertrand Russell’s sentences is science and superstition. Within this last field he locates politics, to which he dedicated several of his most critical and forceful lines.
In comparing science and politics, the philosopher says the following:
“Scientists strive to make the impossible possible. Politicians to do the impossible possible”. This statement shows off his fine humor, which evidently has that characteristic British note.
2. One of Bertrand Russell’s statements about doubt
This is one of Bertrand Rusell’s phrases that are still frequently cited today. He says:
“Many of the difficulties the world is going through are due to the fact that the ignorant are completely safe and the intelligent ones are full of doubts.”
One of the characteristics of ignorance is that tone of certainty with which it speaks. Who has traveled through the world of science or culture knows that it is difficult to talk about absolute truths. The truth is always under construction and that is why doubt is always relevant.
3. Wariness in love
In Bertrand Russell we find a philosopher concerned about the ethical issue. He strongly opposed idealism and romantic values, which he considered inconvenient for the human being. He argued that deep down they were a form of authoritarianism.
That’s why when Russell talks about love he does it from a crude perspective, but without giving up humor. This phrase reflects very well the attitude he promotes with his thought:
“Among all the forms of caution, caution in love is possibly the most lethal for authentic happiness.”
One of the subjects on which Bertrand Russell reflected was leisure. This was truly brave, since in their time leisure and vice seemed synonymous. However, the texts that Rusell dedicated to this subject are truly masterful. He managed to understand and convey the essential of what free time means.
Regarding this issue, he points out:
“The wise use of leisure is a product of civilization and education.”
For Rusell, free time was an infinitely valuable time that gave the opportunity to exercise the greatest human quality: creativity. For him, moments of leisure put to the test the intelligence of a person and, by extension, of a society.
5. Lack is better than having
This is one of those phrases by Bertrand Russell that shows the depth of his reflections. It says the following:
“Lacking any of the things you want is an indispensable condition of happiness.”
It is very interesting to associate happiness with lack, something that is also worked on in Lacanian psychology and psychoanalysis.
Lacking something leads to desire. And desire is, in itself, a source of motivation for action. When you get that something you want, the enthusiasm loses its intensity and a kind of “fullness” arises that often depresses. Rusell clarifies that it is not lacking everything you want, but something of this.
There are countless phrases by Bertrand Russell that give us those brushstrokes of wisdom that so much nourish us. It could not be otherwise with someone who is considered by many the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century within the English scenario.