Author: A. C. Grayling
Oxford University Press
Biography gives access to the life of eminent personality. It teaches how they achieve greatness by hard work, perseverance and devotion. I read an essay during my schooling on Russell. I hardly recall anything about him except he is a great mathematician. During my college days, I read one of his works, entitled “Dreams and Facts”. It is about how our wishes influence our belief system. Russell interests me by his bold statement and logical justification of his points. He asserts, “No man can achieve the greatness of which he is capable until he has allowed himself to see his own littleness”. This makes me take my pick on Russell’s biography.
The book is slick. It gives a peep into the life and work of Russell. There are many astonishing facts about Russell’s life. At some point, he seems like a playboy and believes in the philosophy of love like P. B. Shelly did. The book is a compendium to his philosophy on varied subjects, like marriage, religion, education, probability and others. He kept on inquiring about the assumptions before him. For him reality is mental and rejected idealism too.
Bertrand Russell was one of the most famous and important philosophers of the twentieth century. The book introduces both Russell’s contributions to logic and philosophy, and his wide-ranging views on education, politics, war and sexual morality. Russell is credited with being one of the founders of modern analytic philosophy, and also with playing an important part in the revolution in social attitudes witnessed throughout the world. The book gives a clear survey of Russell’s achievements across their whole range.
Russell broadens our understanding about knowledge and concepts such as, perception, attributive, referential, acquaintance, and many others. There are many axioms that he resolved and many which are conflicting. For him, “brains consist of thoughts”.
Russell states, “…the importance of philosophical grammar is very much greater than it is generally thought to be. I think that practically all traditional metaphysics is filled with mistakes due to bad grammar…”
He asserts that education helps to build the best kind of character. However, he states how adult influence in developing anxiety and wildness among children which results in the war and spirit of nationalism. Some of Russell’s methods of Russell have exponential results for educating children. Russell’s view on politics is aligned with Foucault. He considered that it is amour proper that leads to mad slaughter and hysteria in the world. He contributed to the cause of peace and campaign against hoarding of weapons by nations. Many times, he was imprisoned for his efforts.
His views on ethical judgement are profound and esoteric. For him, they are disguised expressions of our hopes, fears, desires or aversions. An Individual’s good consists in the satisfaction of his personal desires.
His views on sexual relationships are bold and far ahead of his time, as: “sexual relationships should be deep, serious love between man and woman which embraces the whole personality of both and leads to a fusion by which each is enriched and enhanced”. He further asserts “the essence of a good marriage is mutual respect and deep intimacy. Where these exist, serious love between man and woman is ‘the most fructifying of all human experiences”. It is shocking that his work Marriage and Moral, lost him his job, it earned him a Noble prize, which illustrates how unpredictable life is. Russell’s influence is far and immense. In his work, philosophy of language is pivotal. He expanded our understanding of philosophy, instead of being a passive receptor of any philosophical implication, he wanted his reader to be an active inquisitor. One fails to understand him, if one is not alert to his uncanny language.