Philosophy

Bertrand Russell: On Thought

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth—more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. It sees man, a feeble speck, surrounded by unfathomable depths of silence; yet it bears itself proudly, as unmoved as if it were lord of the universe. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world and the chief glory of man.

But if thought is to become the possession of the many, not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back—fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be.

Hope, not fear, is the creative principle in human affairs.

References

Russell, Bertrand.
Why Men Fight: A Method of Abolishing the International Duel, Independent, Coppell, TX, 2022, p 97.

Russell, Bertrand.
Principles of Social Reconstruction,
Routledge, New York, NY, 1997, p. 115.

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