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Russell, Bertrand Arthur William

(1872–1970). Brit. philos., mathematician, educator, soc. reformer; b. Trelleck, Wales; educ. Cambridge; lectured at Cambridge 1910–16; dismissed because of pacifist activities; founded experimental Beacon Hill School 1927; to US 1938. Taught at U. of Chicago; U. of California at Los Angeles; Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. Returned to Cambridge 1944.

Russell thrice ran unsuccessfully for parliament; was jailed twice for pacifist activities; became 3d earl Russell 1931; received Nobel Prize for Literature 1950; often in conflict with moralists and religious conservatives; pacifist in WW I, but in WW II held that defeat of Nazis was necessary if human life was to be tolerable.

Russell is known for contributions to logic and his attempt to identify methods of philos, with those of science. He espoused various systems at different times (idealism, realism, monism, pluralism), but atomism runs through all (nonmental facts exist apart from our awareness; propositions can be true in isolation; analysis is useful as a method in philos.). His basic system may be defined as logical constructionism (formulation of a body of knowledge in terms of relations bet. simpler, more intelligible, more undeniable entities). He formulated some principles for an ideal language and tried to show that mathematics is an extension of logic.

Russell advocated certain moral and political ideals; first he held that “good” and “bad” are qualities in objects regardless of opinion; later he rejected this view for a doctrine of the subjectivity of values.

After breaking with Platonic idealism, Russell called himself an agnostic or atheist. He granted possibility of God's existence, but regarded religious tenets as intellectually indefensible and religion (which he said was based primarily and mainly on fear) as harmful. He expected religion to disappear when man's soc. problems are solved.

Works include Marriage and Morals; Education and the Social Order; The Principles of Mathematics; Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy; The Problems of Philosophy; A History of Western Philosophy; An Outline of Philosophy; The Analysis of Mind; The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism; Why I Am Not a Christian. EL

See also Logical Positivism.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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