Bertrand Russell Unpopular Essays

Bertrand Russell Unpopular Essays-79
The earth once produced “harmless trilobites and butterflies [p. Peace will return, though, as the earth returns to a state where it cannot support life.Philosophers are not content with the undirected change of the earth.This leads to an insincere philosophy, one that responds not solely to truth but to the fear that “clear thinking would lead to anarchy...[p. Protagoras and Hume, skeptics both, are exceptions.

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Hegel somehow is able to conclude from these philosophical foundations that “true liberty consists in obedience to an arbitrary authority, that free speech is an evil, that absolute monarchy is good…[p. The intermediate steps involve the logic of the ‘dialectio,’ the uncovering of “contradictions in abstract ideas and correcting them by making them less abstract [p.

22],” with ideas thereby progressing to the Absolute Idea.

Traditionally philosophy included a doctrine of virtuous behavior.

It has been appended to the criminal law and religion to prevent chaos, to make individual desires and the social good cohere.

24].”Once you “know” where history leads, you can justify any sort of compulsion to help people along the path.

Autocracy thinks itself justified by some such dogma.Democracy, alternatively, receives a theoretical justification only from Lockean-style empiricism.A Liberal political theory develops in commercial societies, especially those that are not military powers.Plato’s ideas require the pretty patina of philosophy to disguise their horrors.Plato’s purported static optimum is insufficient in a dynamic world, where hope and change are needed for happiness.The philosophy of Plato and Hegel “made itself the champion of injustice, cruelty, and opposition to progress [p.15].” (Russell cites Karl Popper as demonstrating this claim in the case of Plato.) Plato was so artful that people did not recognize “his reactionary tendencies [p.Modern philosophers thus have adopted an evolutionary viewpoint, where there is progress toward a goal that is never achieved.But change is a scientific notion, and progress is an ethical one.Liberalism concerns itself not with what opinions are held, but how they are held.This is the approach of science, though not of theology.


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