Originally written in 1943 and published in 1957 by Philosophical Library, Inc, these vigorous essays from one of the most distinguished minds of our time reveal several facets of the English philosopher’s thought. The title piece exposes the deadliness of the academic approach to the past, and shows how the reading of history can be a vivid intellectual pleasure.
In “The Value of Free Thought,” Russell once again proves himself a ruthless foe of stifling orthodoxy and a fearless champion of free thought, free action and free speech. Then in a series of articles on a subject near to his heart, he explores the effect of atomic physics on such philosophic concepts as materialism, idealism, determinism and faith. In short, here is a complete banquet of provocative ideas—wise and witty; skeptical and profound—to whet the appetite of every discriminating reader.
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social reformer, and pacifist. Although he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born in Wales, where he also died. Russell led the British “revolt against Idealism” in the early twentieth century and is one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his protégé Wittgenstein and his elder Frege. He co-authored, with A. N. Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, an attempt to ground mathematics on logic. His philosophical essay “On Denoting” has been considered a “paradigm of philosophy.” Both works have had a considerable influence on logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics and analytic philosophy. He was a prominent anti-war activist, championing free trade between nations and anti-imperialism. Russell was imprisoned for his pacifist activism during World War I, campaigned against Adolf Hitler, for nuclear disarmament. He criticized Soviet totalitarianism and the United States of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1950, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.”