An analysis of the topic of the two possibilities by bertrand russell

What kind of reality belongs to good and evil? Second, critical thinking requires being critical about our own attempts at criticism. Letter to Lucy Donnely, April 22, We tend to believe the premises because we can see that their consequences are true, instead of believing the consequences because we know the premises to be true.

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Sometimes, Russell simply uses the notion of intelligence, by contrast with information alone, to indicate the whole set of critical abilities he has in mind. An incomplete paper circa , perhaps building on the similarly titled paper cited in fn. Russell calls attention to various dispositions which mean that the relevant skills are actually exercised. But all this is only the preface to a good life or good political institutions, in which creation will altogether outweigh possession, and distributive justice will exist as an uninteresting matter of course. No one can view the world with complete impartiality, Russell notes, but a continual approach is possible. The reason Russell believes many ordinarily accepted statements are open to doubt is that they appear to refer to entities that may be known only through inference. One of the most horrible things about commercialism is the way in which it poisons the relations of men and women.

Believing that one central purpose of education is to prepare students to be able to form "a reasonable judgment on controversial questions in regard to which they are likely to have to act", Russell maintains that in addition to having "access to impartial supplies of knowledge," education needs to offer "training in judicial habits of thought.

Definite descriptions appear to be like names that by their very nature denote exactly one thing, neither more nor less. Letter to Lucy Martin Donnelly, February 10, I don't like the spirit of socialism — I think freedom is the basis of everything.

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Upon analysis, however, we realize that this conception fails to hold up to much, if any, serious scrutiny. But it is precisely these synthetic a priori truths which lead to the most biting criticism of rationalism believing that there are synthetic a priori truths : where do these truths come from? Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good. The real obstacles lie in the heart of man, and the cure for these is a firm hope, informed and fortified by thought. Dreams and Facts Main article: The Problems of Philosophy Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it? But every future will some day be past: if we see the past truly now, it must, when it was still future, have been just what we now see it to be, and what is now future must be just what we shall see it to be when it has become past. Partly this is due to our need to understand nature, but equally important is our need to understand each other: The thing, above all, that a teacher should endeavor to produce in his pupils, if democracy is to survive, is the kind of tolerance that springs from an endeavor to understand those who are different from ourselves.

Even so, they continue to convey something of the intellectual excitement associated with advances in twentieth-century science and philosophy. Our institutions rest upon injustice and authority: it is only by closing our hearts against sympathy and our minds against truth that we can endure the oppressions and unfairnesses by which we profit.

We can try to hear all sides and discuss our views with people who have different biases, making sure to face real opponents; we can stretch our minds by trying to appreciate alternative pictures of the world presented in philosophy, anthropology and history; we can learn to recognize our own biases by, for example, noting when contrary opinions make us angry.

The critical outlook, for Russell, reflects an epistemological and ethical perspective which emphasizes: i how beliefs are held i.

bertrand russell essays

For a time, Russell thought that we could only be acquainted with our own sense data —momentary perceptions of colours, sounds, and the like—and that everything else, including the physical objects that these were sense data of, could only be inferred, or reasoned to—i.

However, unlike both idealism and physicalism, neutral monism holds that this single existing substance may be viewed in some contexts as being mental and in others as being physical.

The conquest of happiness

As a young man, he says, he spent part of each day for many weeks reading Georg Cantor, and copying out the gist of him into a notebook. Russell's logical work with Whitehead continued this project. Cambridge is one of the few places where one can talk unlimited nonsense and generalities without anyone pulling one up or confronting one with them when one says just the opposite the next day. Frege had argued, employing his distinction between sense and reference, that such sentences were meaningful but neither true nor false. Even so, they continue to convey something of the intellectual excitement associated with advances in twentieth-century science and philosophy. Ethics[ edit ] While Russell wrote a great deal on ethical subject matters, he did not believe that the subject belonged to philosophy or that when he wrote on ethics that he did so in his capacity as a philosopher. The conception of the necessary unit of all that is resolves itself into the poverty of the imagination, and a freer logic emancipates us from the straitwaistcoated benevolent institution which idealism palms off as the totality of being. The chains which bind Asia and Africa in subjection to Europe are partly riveted by him. The belief in solipsism might be false even if I were the only person or thing in the universe. Returning to the crux of his inquiry — the possible complementarity of science and mystical philosophy — Russell argues that while mysticism may be misguided as a test of truth, there is something vital science can learn from its spirit of inquiry: While fully developed mysticism seems to me mistaken, I yet believe that, by sufficient restraint, there is an element of wisdom to be learned from the mystical way of feeling, which does not seem to be attainable in any other manner. Religion and theology[ edit ] For most of his adult life Russell maintained that religion is little more than superstition and, despite any positive effects that religion might have, it is largely harmful to people. One of the best summaries is given by Alan Wood: Russell sometimes maintained, partly I think out of perverseness, that there was no connection between his philosophical and political opinions. This makes sense in some contexts, starving can certainly lead to the invention of new ways of finding food, and facing a hungry lion can lead to startling ingenuity in weaponry. More than any other single work, it established the speciality of mathematical or symbolic logic.

I hate the planet and the human race — I am ashamed to belong to such a species.

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Bertrand Russell on Critical Thinking