Bertrand Russell on Human Nature

Topics: Bertrand Russell, Epistemology, Human Pages: 3 (883 words) Published: April 11, 2013
Bertrand Russell on Human Nature, Construction vs. Destruction, and Science as a Key to Democracy On the art of acquiring "a high degree of intellectual culture without emotional atrophy." In 1926, British philosopher, mathematician, historian, and social critic Bertrand Russell – whose 10 commandments of teaching endure as a timeless manifesto for education, whose poignant admonition is among history's greatest insights on love, whose message to descendants should be etched into every living heart – penned Education and the Good Life, exploring the essential pillars of building character through proper education and how that might relate to broader questions of politics, psychology, and moral philosophy. One of Russell's key assertions is that science education – something that leaves much to be desired nearly a century later – is key to attaining a future of happiness and democracy: For the first time in history, it is now possible, owing to the industrial revolution and its byproducts, to create a world where everybody shall have a reasonable chance of happiness. Physical evil can, if we choose, be reduced to very small proportions. It would be possible, by organization and science, to feed and house the whole population of the world, not luxuriously, but sufficiently to prevent great suffering. It would be possible to combat disease, and to make chronic ill-health very rare. … All this is of such immeasurable value to human life that we dare not oppress the sort of education which will tend to bring it about. In such an education, applied science will have to be the chief ingredient. Without physics and physiology and psychology, we cannot build the new world. Still, Russell is sure to offer a disclaimer, advocating for the equal importance of the humanities, and asks: What will be the good of the conquest of leisure and health, if no one remembers how to use them? The humanities, he argues, help develop the imagination which, like many great scientists have...
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