Quotations by Bertrand Russell

    Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
        ==Autobiography, 1967

    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

    But there is about great happiness something eternal which is satisfying even when the immediate cause of happiness is removed.
        ==Letter to Alys Pearsall Smith, 1893

    For the health of the moral life, for ennobling the tone of an age or a nation, the austerer virtues have a strange power, exceeding the power of those not informed and purified by thought. Of these austerer virtues the love of truth is the chief, and in mathematics, more than elsewhere, the love of truth may find encouragement for waning faith. Every great study is not only an end in itself, but also a means of creating and sustaining a lofty habit of mind …
        ==“The Study of Mathematics,” 1902

    That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes, his fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all devotions, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath a universe in ruins — all these things, if not beyond dispute, are, yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.
    Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation be safely built.
        ==“A Free Man’s Worship,” 1903

    Shall we worship Force or shall we worship Goodness? Shall our God exist and be evil, or shall he be recognized as the creation of our own consciousness.
        ==“A Free Man’s Worship,” 1903

    To abandon the struggle for private happiness, to expel all eagerness of temporary desire, to burn with passion for eternal things — this is emancipation, and this is the free man’s worship. And this liberation is effected by a contemplation of Fate, for Fate itself is subdued by this mind which leaves nothing to be purged by the purifying fire of Time.
        ==“A Free Man’s Worship,” 1903

    The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, toward a goal few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. … Very brief is the time which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is to be decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to install faith in hours of despair. Let us not weigh in grudging scales their merits and demerits, but let us think only of their need.
        ==“A Free Man’s Worship,” 1903

    In action, in desire, we must submit perpetually to the tyranny of outside forces; but in thought, in aspiration, we are free, free from our fellow men, free from the petty planet on which our bodies impotently crawl, free even, while we live, from the tyranny of death. Let us learn, then, that energy of faith, which enables us to live constantly in the vision of the good; and let us descend, in action, into the world of fact, with that vision always before us.
        ==“A Free Man’s Worship,” 1903

    … when first the opposition of fact and ideal grows fully visible, a spirit of fiery revolt, of fierce hatred of the gods, seems necessary to the assertion of freedom. To defy with Promethean constancy a hostile universe, to keep its evil always in view, always actively hated, to refuse no pain the malice of Power can invent, appears to be the duty of all who will not bow before the inevitable.
    But indignation is still a bondage, for it compels our thoughts to be occupied with an evil world, and in the fierceness of desire from which reflection springs there is a kind of self-assertion which it is necessary for the wise to overcome. Indignation is a submission of our thoughts, but not of our desires; the Stoic freedom in which wisdom consists is found in the submission of our desires, but not of our thoughts.
    From the submission of our desires springs the virtue of resignation; from the freedom of our thoughts springs the whole world of art and philosophy, and the vision of beauty by which, at last, we half reconquer the reluctant world.
        ==“A Free Man’s Worship,” 1903

    Whenever one finds oneself inclined to bitterness, it is a sign of emotional failure; a larger heart and a greater self-restraint, would put a calm autumnal sadness in the place of the instinctive outcry of pain.
        ==Letter to Lucy Donnelly, 1903

    To my mind, truthfulness demands as imperatively that we should doubt what is doubtful as that we should disbelieve what is false.
        ==Letter to Lowes Dickinson, 1904

    Every general theory that all is for the best must be forced by the facts into defense of the indefensible.
        ==”On History,” 1904

    I think, like most believers, you greatly overestimate what your belief in God does for you — I know I did when I believed. You would find quite as much infinity in the world without him.
        ==Letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell, 1911

    Sudden beauty in the midst of strife, uncalculating love, or the night-wind in the trees, seem to suggest the possibility of a life free from the conflicts and pettinesses of our everyday world, a life where there is peace which no misfortune can disturb. The things which have this quality of infinity seem to give an insight deeper than the piecemeal knowledge of our daily life. A life dominated by this insight, we feel, would be a life free from struggle, a life in harmony with the whole, outside the prison-walls built by the instinctive desires of the finite self.
            ==“The Essence of Religion,” 1912

    It is the quality of infinity that makes religion, the selfless untrammeled life in the whole which frees men from the prison-house of eager wishes and little thoughts.
        ==“The Essence of Religion,” 1912

    The religion which has no dogma is greater and more religious than one which rests upon the belief that in the end our ideals are fulfilled in the outer world.
        ==“The Essence of Religion,” 1912

    The decay of traditional religious beliefs, bitterly bewailed by upholders of the Churches, welcomed with joy by those who regard the old creeds as mere superstition, is an undeniable fact. Yet when the dogmas have been rejected, the question of the place of religion in life is by no means decided.
    The dogmas have been valued, not so much on their own account, as because they were believed to facilitate a certain attitude towards the world, an habitual direction of our thoughts, a life in the whole, free from the finiteness of self and providing an escape from the tyranny of desire and daily cares.
    Such a life is possible without dogma and ought not to perish through the indifference of those to whom the beliefs of former ages are no longer credible. Acts inspired by religion have some quality of infinity in them …
        ==“The Essence of Religion,” 1912

    We have to learn to acquiesce in the inevitable without judging that the inevitable must be good …
        ==“The Essence of Religion,” 1912

    The realization of necessity is the liberation from indignation.
        ==“The Essence of Religion,” 1912

    In order to free religion from all dependence upon dogma, it is necessary to abstain from any demand that the world shall conform to our standards.
        ==“The Essence of Religion,” 1912

The impartiality which, in contemplation, is the unalloyed desire for truth, is the very same quality of mind which, in action, is justice, and in emotion is that universal love which can be given to all, and not only to those who are judged useful or admirable. Thus contemplation enlarges not only the objects of our thoughts, but also the objects of our actions and our affections; it makes us citizens of the universe, not only of one walled city at war with all the rest.
        ==The Problems of Philosophy, 1912

 Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers exist, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves, because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination, and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes the highest good.
        ==The Problems of Philosophy, 1912

The kernel of the scientific outlook is a thing so simple, so obvious, so seemingly trivial, that the mention of it may excite derision. The kernel of the scientific outlook is the refusal to regard our own desires, tastes and interests as affording a key to the understanding of the world.
        ==“The Place of Science in a Liberal Education,” 1913

    In thought … those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires.
        ==“Mysticism and Logic,” 1914

    A truly scientific philosophy will be more humble, more piecemeal, more arduous, offering less glitter of outward mirage to flatter fallacious hopes, but more indifferent to fate, and more capable of accepting the world without the tyrannous imposition of our human and temporary demands.
        ==“Mysticism and Logic,” 1914

    The desire to establish this or that result, or generally to discover evidence for agreeable results, of whatever kind, has of course been the chief obstacle to honest philosophizing. So strangely perverted do men become by unrecognized passions, that a determination in advance to arrive at this or that conclusion is regarded as a mark of virtue, and those who studies lead to an opposite conclusion are though to be wicked. No doubt it is commoner to wish to arrive at an agreeable result than to wish to arrive at a true result. But only those in whom the desire to arrive at a true result is paramount can hope to serve any good purpose by the study of philosophy.
        ==Our Knowledge of the External World, 1914

    These two processes, of doubting the familiar and imagining the unfamiliar, are correlative, and form the chief part of the mental training required of a philosopher.
        ==Our Knowledge of the External World, 1914

    The naive beliefs which we find in ourselves when we first begin the process of philosophic reflection may turn out, in the end, to be almost all capable of a true interpretation; but they ought all, before being admitted into philosophy, to undergo the ordeal of skeptical criticism. Until they have gone through this ordeal, they are mere blind habits, ways of behaving rather than intellectual convictions.
        ==Our Knowledge of the External World, 1914
 
    Even in time of war I continue to believe in truth, and I find everybody in Europe averse from truth at present, inventing lies whose purpose is to inflame hatred.
    It is not good to hate even the wicked, even if oneself is virtuous; and I think wickedness and virtue are barbaric notions, savoring of Yahweh and the Inquisition. People act according to their natures, just as stones or planets do. A stone which falls on your head is inconvenient, not wicked.
    English and German newspapers are exactly alike, barbaric, unbalanced, untruthful, brutal, full of hatred; I am sorry this is the way most men are made, but I will not wallow with them in the pig-trough.
        ==Letter to Helen Flexner, 1914

Moral judgment, as applied to others than one’s self, are a somewhat subtilized police force: they make use of men’s desire for approbation to bring self-interest into harmony with the interest of one’s neighbors.
But when a man is already trying to kill you, you will not feel much additional discomfort in the thought that he has a low opinion of your moral character. For this reason, disapproval of our enemies in wartime is useless, so far as any possible effect upon them is concerned.
It has, however, a certain unconscious purpose, which is, to prevent humane feelings toward the enemy, and to nip in the bud any nascent sympathy for his sufferings.  Under the stress of danger, belief and emotions all become subservient to the one end of self-preseration.
Since it is repugnant to civilized men to kill and maim other just like themselves, it becomes necessary to conquer repugnance by denying the likeness and imputing wickedness to those whom we wish to injure.
And so it comes about that the harshest moral judgments of the enemy are formed by the nations which have the strongest impulses of kindliness to overcome.
    ==”An Appeal to Intellectuals,” 1915

    The war of self-defense … is almost universally admitted to be justifiable, and is condemned only by Christ and Tolstoy. The justification of wars of self-defense is very convenient, since so far as I know, there has never yet been a war which was not one of self-defense.
        ==”The Ethnics of War,” 1915

    The fundamental irrational belief, on which all the others rest, is the belief that the victory of one’s own side is of enormous and indubitable importance, and even of such importance as to outweigh all the evils involved in prolonging the war. It is possible, in view of the uncertainty of all human affairs, that the victory of one side or the other might bring great good to humanity. But even if this be the case, the beliefs of the combatants are nevertheless irrational, since there is no evidence such as would convince an impartial observer.
        ==Justice in Wartime, 1916

    Unrequited hatred is as bitter as unrequited love.
        ==Justice in Wartime, 1916

    The happiest men and women, as we can all testify from our own experience, are those who are indifferent to money because they have some positive purpose which shuts it out. And yet all our political thought, whether imperialist, radical or socialist, continues to occupy itself almost exclusively with men’s economic desires, as though they alone had real importance.
        ==Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916

It is creeds that hold men together in fighting organizations: Churches, States, political parties. It is intensity of belief in a creed that produces efficiency in fighting: victory comes to those who feel the strongest certainty about matters on which doubt is the only rational attitude.
        ==Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916

Subjectivism, the habit of directing thought and desire to our own states of mind rather than to something objective, invariably makes life fragmentary and unprogressive.
        ==Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916

In England, men were sent to prison in recent years for expressing disagreement with the Christian religion or agreement with the teachings of Christ.
        ==Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916

Thinking ill of others is not in itself a good reason for thinking well of ourselves.
        ==Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916

No institution inspired by fear can further life.
        ==Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1916

Every man who has really sincere desire for any great amelioration in the conditions of life has first to face ridicule, then persecution, then cajolery and attempts at subtle corruption. We know from painful experience how few pass unscathed through these three ordeals.
        ==Political Ideals, 1917

Those who resist authority when it encroaches on the legitimate sphere of the individual are performing a service to society, however little society may value it.
        ==Political Ideals, 1917

A certain kind of self-respect or native pride is necessary to a good life; a man must not have a sense of utter inward defeat if he is to remain whole, but must feel the courage and the hope and the will to live by the best that is in him, whatever outward or inward obstacles it may encounter. So far as it lies within a man’s own power, his life will realize its best possibilities if it has three things: creative rather than possessive impulses, reverence for others, and respect for the fundamental impulse within himself.
        ==Political Ideals, 1917

There can be no final goal for human institutions; the best are those that most encourage progress toward others still better.
        ==Political Ideals, 1917

Killing is a state prerogative; it is equally criminal to do it unbidden and not to do it when bidden.
        ==Political Ideals, 1917

Those whose lives are faithful to themselves, to their friends, or to the world are inspired by hope and sustained by joy: they see in imagination the things that might be and the way in which they are to be brought into existence. … A life lived in this spirit — the spirit that aims at creating rather than possessing — has a certain fundamental happiness, of which it cannot be wholly robbed by adverse circumstances. This is the way of life recommended in the Gospels, and by all the great teachers of the world. They who have found it are freed from the tyranny of fear, since what they value most in their lives is not at the mercy of outside power.
        ==Roads to Freedom, 1918

The world we must seek is a world in which the creative spirit is alive, in which life is an adventure full of joy and hope, based rather upon the impulse to construct rather than the desire to retain what we possess or to seize what is possessed by others. It must be a world in which affection has free play, in which love is purged of the instinct for domination, in which cruelty and envy have been dispelled by happiness and the unfettered development of all the instincts that build up life and fill it with mental delights. Such a world is possible; it waits only for men to wish to create it.
        ==Roads to Freedom, 1918

“Postulating” what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil.
        ==Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, 1919

Civilization is not so stable that it cannot be broken up; and a condition of lawless violence is not one out of which any good thing is likely to emerge. For this reason, if for no other, revolutionary violence in a democracy is infinitely dangerous.
        ==The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, 1920

By a religion I mean a set of beliefs held as dogma, dominating the conduct of life, going beyond or contrary to evidence, and inculcated by methods which are emotional or authoritarian, not intellectual. By this definition Bolshevism is a religion …
Those who accept Bolshevism become impervious to scientific evidence, and commit intellectual suicide. Even if all the doctrines of Bolshevism were true, this would still be the case, since no unbiased examination of them is tolerated.
One who believes, as I do, that the free intellect is the chief engine of human progress, cannot but be fundamentally opposed to Bolshevism as much as to the Church of Rome.
        ==The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, 1920

Optimism tends to verify itself by making people impatient of avoidable evils; while despair, on the other hand, makes the world as bad as it believes it to be.
        ==The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, 1920

The system of production for profit rather than consumption … is the root evil of the present economic regime. Production ought to be ordered by those who represent the consumer, and in such amounts as represent a balance between the consumer’s desire for goods and the worker’s desire for leisure. So long as production is directed by men who do not want the goods, but only the profit derived from selling them, so long the world must remain feverish, wasteful of resources, and prone to war between rival groups of industrial magnates.
        ==Letter to H.C. Emery, 1921

The Chinese intellectual … is vigorously assailed by Bolshevism and the Y.M.C.A., … learning a belief from the one in the class-war and the dictatorship of the communists, from the other in the mystic efficacy of cold baths and dumb-bells. Both these creeds, in their Western adepts, involve a contempt for the rest of mankind except as potential converts, and the belief that progress consists in the spread of a doctrine. They both involve a belief in government and a life against Nature.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

In talking with a Chinese, you feel that he is trying to understand you, not to alter you or interfere with you. The result of his attempt may be a caricature or a panegyric, but in either case it will be full of delicate perception and subtle humor.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

The distinctive merit of our civilization, I should say, is the scientific method; the distinctive merit of the Chinese is a just conception of the ends of life. It is these two I would like to see gradually uniting.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

The typical Westerner wishes to be the cause of as many changes as possible in his environment; the typical Chinaman wishes to enjoy as much as delicately as possible.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

The obvious charm which the tourist finds in China cannot be preserved; it must perish at the touch of industrialism. But perhaps something may be preserved, something of the ethical qualities in which China is supreme, and which the modern world most desperately needs. Among these qualities I place first the pacific temper, which seeks to settle disputes on grounds of justice rather than by force. It remains to be seen whether the West will allow this temper to persist, or will force it to give place in self-defense, to a frantic militarism like that to which Japan has been driven.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

Whatever may be said against filial piety carried to excess, it is certainly less harmful than its Western counterpart, patriotism. … The principal method of advancing the interests of one’s nation is homicide; the principal method of advancing the interest of one’s family is corruption and intrigue. Therefore family feeling is less harmful than patriotism. This view is borne out by the history and present condition of China as compared to Europe.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

What is Americanism? “Clean living, clean thinking and pep,” I think an American would reply. This means, in practice, the substitution of tidiness for art, cleanliness for beauty, moralizing for philosophy, prostitutes for concubines … and a general air of being fearfully busy for the leisurely calm of the traditional Chinese.
     ==The Problem of China, 1922

The Chinese are a great nation, incapable of permanent suppression by foreigners. They will not consent to adopt our vices in order to acquire military strength; but they are willing to adopt our virtues in order to advance in wisdom. I think they are the only people in the world who quite genuinely believe that wisdom is more precious than rubies. That is why the West regards them as uncivilized.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

When I went to China, I went to teach; but every day that I stayed I thought less of what I had to teach them and more of what I had to learn from them. Among Europeans who had lived a long time in China, I found this attitude not uncommon; but among those whose stay is short, or who go only to make money, it is sadly rare.
It is rare because the Chinese do not excel in the things we really value — military prowess and industrial enterprise. But those who value wisdom or beauty, or even the simple enjoyment of life, will find more of these things in China than in the distracted and turbulent West, and will be happy to live where such things are valued.
I wish I could hope that China, in return for our scientific knowledge, may give us something of her large tolerance and contemplative peace of mind.
        ==The Problem of China, 1922

A “good American” is a man or woman imbued with the belief that America is the finest country on earth, and ought always to be enthusiastically supported in any quarrel. It is just possible that these propositions are true; if so, a rational man will have no quarrel with them. But if they are true, they ought to be taught everywhere, not only in America. It is a suspicious circumstance that such propositions are never believed outside the particular country which they glorify.
        ==“Free Thought and Official Propaganda,” 1922

There are two simple propositions which, if they were adopted, would solve almost all social problems. The first is that education should have for one of its aims to teach people only to believe propositions when there is some reason to think they are true. The second is that jobs should be given solely for fitness to do the work.
        ==“Free Thought and Official Propaganda,” 1922

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.
        ==“Free Thought and Official Propaganda,” 1922

No man can be happy unless he feels his life in some way important; so long as his life remains a futile round of pleasures or pains leading to no end, realizing no purpose he can believe to be of value, so long it is impossible to escape despair. … I do not believe that a tolerable existence is possible for an individual or a society without some sense of duty.
        ==The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, 1923

…I should judge a community to be in a good state if I found a great deal of instinctive happiness, a prevalence of feelings of friendship and affection rather than hatred and envy, a capacity for creating and enjoying beauty, and the intellectual curiosity which leads to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge.
        ==The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, 1923

The best teachers are not impartial; they are men of strong enthusiasms, to which they wish to give expression in their teaching. The impartiality of the learner is best secured by exposing him to teachers with opposite prejudices, not by giving him only such teaching as will seem colorless to men who believe that the truth must be what is commonly believed. If the result is skepticism of all violent opinions, so much the better …
        ==The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, 1923

A boy will naturally like whatever seems to support the side to which he belongs: a Manchester boy will be impatient when he hears praise of Liverpool, and vice versa.  But boys can be taught to like fairness in thought, just as they can be taught fairness in games. It is a pity the spirit of fair play is thought wicked when applied to the intellectual sphere; for example, the man who denies falsehoods about the enemy in wartime is regarded as a traitor.
        ==The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, 1923

The governors of the world believe, and have always believed, that virtue can be taught only by teaching falsehood, and that any man who knew the truth would be wicked.
        ==The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, 1923

Our society is so imbued with the belief that happiness consists of financial success that men do not realize how much richer their lives might be if they cared less for money.
        ==The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, 1923

Almost all the great disasters of politics come from the fact the people hold their opinions excitedly.
        ==The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, 1923

I think there is a mixture of truth and falsehood in the admiration of “nature,” which it is important to disentangle. To begin with, what is “natural?” Roughly speaking, anything to which the speaker was accustomed in childhood.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian God may exist; so may the Gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other; they are outside the realm of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

There is no short cut to the good life, whether individual or social. To build up the good life, we must build up intelligence, self-control and sympathy.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

The philosophy of nature is one thing, the philosophy of value is quite another. Nothing but harm can come of confusing them. What we think good, what we should like, has no bearing whatever on what is, which is the question for the philosophy of nature. On the other hand, we cannot be forbidden to value this or that on the ground that the nonhuman world does not value it, nor can we be compelled to admire anything because it is a “law of nature.”
        ==What I Believe, 1925

It is for us to determine the good life, not for nature — not even by nature personified as God.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

Neither love without knowledge nor knowledge without love can produce a good life.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

Love at its fullest is an indissoluble combination of … delight and well-wishing. … Delight without well-wishing may be cruel; well-wishing without delight easily tends to become cold and a little superior.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

To respect physical nature is foolish; physical nature should be studied with a view to making it serve human ends as far as possible, but it remains ethically neither good nor bad.
        ==What I Believe, 1925
 
Where envy is unavoidable it must be used as a stimulus to one’s own efforts, not to the thwarting of the efforts of rivals.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cozy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigor, and the great open spaces have a splendor of their own.
        ==What I Believe, 1925

Mathematics possesses not only truth, but some supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.
        ==Mysticism and Logic, 1925

Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility.
        ==Education and the Good Life, 1926

The teacher should love his children better than his State or his Church; otherwise he is not an ideal teacher.
        ==Education and the Good Life, 1926

All sorts of intellectual systems — Christianity, socialism, patriotism, etc. — are ready, like orphan asylums, to give safety in return for servitude. A free mental life cannot be as warm and comfortable as a life enveloped in a creed: only a creed can give the feeling of a cozy fireside while the winter storms are raging without.
        ==Education and the Good Life, 1926

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more 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 to the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. … Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world and the chief glory of man.
        ==Education and the Good Life, 1926

I should make it my object to teach thinking, not orthodoxy or even heterodoxy. And I should absolutely never sacrifice intellect to the fancied interest of morals.
        ==Education and the Good Life, 1926

Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching — an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence.
You do not, for example, find this attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him, and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of indignation.
        ==”Why I Am Not a Christian,” 1927

… The more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.
You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feelings, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the elimination of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world.
        ==”Why I Am Not a Christian,” 1927

We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world — its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it. Conquer the world by intelligence and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror which comes from it. The whole conception of God is a conception derived from ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings.
We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages.
A good world needs knowledge, kindliness and courage; its does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of free intelligence by words uttered long ago by ignorant men. It needs a fearless outlook and a free intelligence. It needs hope for the future, not looking back all the time toward a past that is dead, which we trust will be far surpassed by the future that our intelligence can create.
        ==“Why I Am Not a Christian,” 1927

If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Indian’s view that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, “How about the tortoise?” the Indian said, “Suppose we change the subject.” The argument is really no better than that.
        ==“Why I Am Not a Christian,” 1927

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing — fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. …
Science can help us got over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look round for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the Churches in all these centuries have made it.
        ==“Why I Am Not a Christian,” 1927

Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.
        ==”Why I Am Not a Christian,” 1927

… If you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, you are then in this situation: Is the difference between right and wrong due to God’s fiat or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God Himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning independent of God’s fiats, because God’s fiats are good and not bad independently of the fact that He made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God. You could, of course, say that there was a superior deity who gave orders to the God who made this world, or you could take up the line that some of the Gnostics took up — a line which I often thought was a very plausible one — that as a matter of fact this world that we know was made by the devil at a moment when God was not looking. There is a good deal to be said for that, and I am not concerned to refute it.
        ==“Why I Am Not a Christian,” 1927

Now, apart from the arguments as to the proved fallibility of memory, there is one awkward consideration which the skeptic may urge.
Remembering, which occurs now, cannot possibly — he may say — prove that what is remembered occurred at some other time because the world might have sprung into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, full of acts of remembering which were entirely misleading.
Opponents of Darwin, such as Edmund Gosse’s father, urged a very similar argument against evolution. The world, they said, was created in 4004 B.C., complete with fossils, which were inserted to try our faith. The world was created suddenly, but was made such as it would have been if it had evolved.
There is no logical impossibility about this view. And similarly there is no logical impossibility the world was created five minutes ago, complete with memories and records. They may seem an improbable hypothesis, but it is not logically refutable.
        ==An Outline of Philosophy, 1927

I wish to propose a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it true.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

It may be laid down as a general rule to which there are few exceptions that, when people are mistaken as to what is to their own interest, the course that they believe to be wise is more harmful to others than the course that really is wise.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

Rationality in practice may be defined as the habit of remembering all our relevant desires, and not only the one which happens at the moment to be strongest.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

People hate skeptics far more than they hate the passionate advocates of opinions hostile toward their own.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

When there are rational grounds for an opinion, people are content to set them forth and wait for them to operate. In such cases, people do not hold their opinions with passion; they hold them calmly, and set forth their reasons quietly.
The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

The skepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be certain; (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend judgment.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

Our dealings with those whom we love may be safely left to instinct; it is our dealings with those whom we hate that ought to be brought under the dominion of reason. In the modern world, those whom we hate are distant groups, especially foreign nations. We conceive them abstractly, and deceive ourselves into the belief that acts which are really embodiments of hatred are done from love of justice or some lofty motive.
Only a large measure of skepticism can tear away the veils which hide this truth from us. Having achieved that, we could begin to build a new morality, not based on envy and restriction, but on the wish for a full life and the realization that other human beings are a help and not a hindrance when once the madness of envy has been cured. This is not a Utopian hope … It could be realized tomorrow if men would learn to pursue their own happiness more than the misery of others.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

The adult should think little about death, either his own or that of people whom he loves, not because he deliberately turns his thoughts to other things, for that is a useless exercise which never really succeeds, but because of the multiplicity of his interests and activities. When he does think of death, it is best to think with a certain stoicism, deliberately and calmly, not attempting to minimize its importance, but feeling a certain pride in rising above it. The principle is the same as in the case of any other terror: resolute contemplation of the terrifying object is the only possible treatment. One must say to oneself: “Well, yes, that might happen, but what of it?”
        ==“Stoicism and Mental Health,” 1928

When misfortune threatens, there are two ways of dealing with the situation: we may try to avoid the misfortune, or we may decide that we will meet it with fortitude. The former method is admirable where it is available without cowardice: but the latter is necessary, sooner or later, for anyone who is not prepared to be the slave of fear.
        ==“Stoicism and Mental Health,” 1928

The psychology of adultery has been falsified by conventional morals, which assume, in monogamous countries, that attraction to one person cannot coexist with a serious affection for another. Everybody knows that this is untrue.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The Church attacked the habit of the bath on the ground that everything which makes the body more attractive tends toward sin. Dirt was praised and the odor of sanctity became more and more penetrating. “The purity of the body and its garments,” said St. Paula, “means the impurity of the soul.” … Lice were called the pearls of God, and to be covered with them was an indispensable mark of a holy man.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The Puritans, in their determination to avoid the pleasures  of sex, became somewhat more conscious than people had been before of the pleasures of the table. As a seventeenth-century critic of Puritanism says: “Would you enjoy gay nights and pleasant dinners? Then must you board with saints and bed with sinners.” It would seem, therefore, that the Puritans did not succeed in subduing the purely corporeal part of our human nature, since what they took away from sex they added to gluttony. Gluttony is regarded by the Catholic Church as one of the seven deadly sins, and those who practice it are placed by Dante in one of the deeper circles of hell, but it is a somewhat vague sin, since it is hard to say where a legitimate interest in food ceases, and guilt begins to be incurred. Is it wicked to eat anything that is not nourishing? If so, with every salted almond we risk damnation.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The view of the orthodox moralist (this includes the police and the magistrates, but hardly any modern educators) on the question of sex knowledge may, I fancy, be fairly stated as follows. … There is no doubt that sexual misconduct is promoted by sexual thoughts, and that the best road to virtue is to keep the young occupied in mind and body with matters wholly unconnected with sex. They must, therefore, be told nothing whatever about sex; they must as far as possible be prevented from talking about it with each other, and grownups must pretend there is no such topic. It is possible by these means to keep a girl in ignorance until the night of her marriage, when it is to be expected that the facts will so shock her as to produce exactly the attitude towards sex which every sound moralist considers desirable in women.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Catholic teaching … has a two-fold basis; it rests, on the one hand, upon the asceticism which we already find in St. Paul, on the other, upon the view that it is good to bring into the world as many souls as possible, since every soul is capable of salvation. For some reason I do not understand, the fact that souls are equally capable of damnation is not taken into account, and yet it seems quite as relevant. Catholics, for example, use their political influence to prevent Protestants from practicing birth control, and yet they must hold that the great majority of Protestant children whom their political action causes to exist will endure eternal torment in the next world. This makes their action seem somewhat unkind, but doubtless these are mysteries which the profane cannot hope to understand.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The recognition of children as one of the purposes of marriage is very partial in Catholic doctrine. It exhausts itself in drawing the inference that intercourse not intended to lead to children is sin. It has never gone so far as to permit the dissolution of a marriage on the ground of sterility. However ardently a man may desire children, if it happens that his wife is barren, he has no remedy in Christian ethics. The fact is that the positive purpose of marriage, namely procreation, plays a very subordinate part, and its main purpose remains, as with St. Paul, the prevention of sin. Fornication still holds the center of the stage, and marriage is still regarded essentially as a somewhat less regrettable alternative.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

It is permissible with certain precautions to speak in print of coitus, but it is not permissible to employ the monosyllabic synonym for this word. This has recently been decided in the case of Sleeveless Errand.
Sometimes this prohibition of simply language has grave consequences; for example, Mrs. Sanger’s pamphlet on birth control, which is addressed to working women, was declared obscene on the ground that working women could understand it. Dr. Marie Stopes’s books, on the other hand, are not illegal because their language can only be understood be persons with a certain amount of education.     The consequence is that, while it is permissible to teach birth control to the well-to-do, it is criminal to teach it to wage-earners and their wives. I commend this fact to the notice of the Eugenic Society, which is perpetually bewailing the fact that wage-earners breed faster than middle-class people, while carefully abstaining from any attempt to change the state of the law which is the cause of this fact.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Very few men or women who have had a conventional upbringing have learnt to feel decently about sex and marriage. Their education has taught them that deceitfulness and lying are considered virtues by parents and teachers; that sexual relations, even within marriage, are more or less disgusting, and that in propagating the species men are yielding to their animal nature while women are submitting to a painful duty. This attitude has made marriage unsatisfying to both men and to women, and the lack of instinctive satisfaction has turned to cruelty masquerading as morality.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Peasant children early become accustomed to what are called the facts of life, which they can observe not only among human beings, but among animals. They are thus saved from both ignorance and fastidiousness.
The carefully educated children of the well-to-do, on the contrary, are shielded from all practical knowledge of sexual matters, and even the most modern parents, who teach children out of books, do not give them the practical familiarity which the peasant child early acquires.
The triumph of Christian teaching is when a man and woman marry without either having had previous sexual experience.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Missionaries may argue that the superiority of the Christian religion is known by revelation. The philosopher, however, must observe that other religions make the same claim … the Manicheans thought it wicked to eat any animal food except fish, but many sects have considered this exception an abomination. The Dukhobors refused military service, but held it proper to dance naked all together around a camp fire; being persecuted for the former tenet in Russia, they emigrated to Canada, where they were persecuted for the latter. The Mormons had a divine revelation in favor of polygamy, but under pressure from the United States government they discovered that the revelation was not binding.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Before the war, one of the objections commonly urged against votes for women was that women would tend to be pacifists. During the war they gave a large-scale refutation of this charge, and the vote was given to them for their share in the bloody work.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Sexual morality, I should say, must be such as to commend itself to well-informed persons and not to depend upon ignorance for its appeal. This is part of a wider doctrine which, though it has never been held by governments or policemen, appears indubitable in the light of reason. That doctrine is that right conduct can never, except by some rare accident, be promoted by ignorance or hindered by knowledge.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The Christian ethics inevitably, through the emphasis laid upon sexual virtue, did a great deal to degrade the position of women. Since the moralists were men, woman appeared as the temptress; if they had been women, men would have had this role.
Since woman was the temptress, it was desirable to curtail her opportunities for leading men into temptation; consequently respectable women were more and more hedged about with restrictions, while the women who were not respectable, being regarded as sinful, were treated with utmost contumely. It is only in quite modern times that women have regained the degree of freedom they enjoyed within the Roman Empire.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

I believe myself that romantic love is the source of the most intense delights that life has to offer. In the relations of a man and a woman who love each other with passion and imagination and tenderness, there is something of inestimable value, to be ignorant of which is a great misfortune to any human being. …
… It may be good — I think it is good — that romantic love should form the motive for a marriage, but it should be understood that the kind of love which will enable a marriage to fulfill its social purpose is not romantic but is something more intimate, affectionate and realistic.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The glutton, the voluptuary, and the ascetic are all self-absorbed persons whose horizon is limited by their own desires, either by way of satisfaction or by way of renunciation. A man who is healthy in mind and body will not have his interests thus concentrated upon himself.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The general principle upon which the newer morality differs from the traditional morality of puritanism is this: we believe that instinct should be trained rather than thwarted.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Love cannot exist as a duty.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already half dead.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

In the modern world, however, love has an enemy more dangerous than religion, and that is the gospel of work and economic success. It is generally held that a man should not allow love to interfere with his career, and that if he does, he is silly. But in this as in all human matters a balance is necessary.
It would be foolish, though in some cases it might be tragically heroic, to sacrifice career completely for love, but it is equally foolish and in no degree heroic to sacrifice love completely for career. Nevertheless this happens, and happens inevitably, in a society organized on the basis of a universal scramble for money.
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

So long as there is death, there will be sorrow, and so long as there is sorrow, it can be no part of the duty of human beings to increase its amount …
        ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The good life cannot be led without self-control, but it is better to control a restrictive and hostile emotion such as jealousy rather than generous and expansive emotion such as love.
    ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

The essence of a good marriage is respect for each other’s personality combined with that deep intimacy, physical, mental and spiritual, which makes a serious love between man and woman the most fructifying of all human experiences.  Such love, like everything else that is great and precious, demands its own morality, and frequently entails a sacrifice of the less to the greater; but such sacrifice must be voluntary, for where it is not, it will destroy the very basis of the love for the sake of which it is made.
    ==Marriage and Morals, 1929

Fortunately, perhaps, we cannot foretell the future, and we have therefore the right to hope, if not to expect, that it may be an improvement on the present.
    ==Marriage and Morals, 1929    

Each profession has its own vested interest, and to each vested interest a false belief corresponds. Parsons believe in God, soldiers in war, lawyers in precedent, and doctors in the wisdom of consultants. In general the practitioners of a profession share the false beliefs of their dupes; the only profession I can think of where this is necessarily not the case is that of bookmaker, which is perhaps the most genuinely scientific of all professions.
        ==Letter to Mr. Siff, 1930

    Half the useful work in the world consists in combating the harmful work. A little time spent in trying to appreciate facts is not time wasted.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930
 
    Whoever wishes to increase human happiness must wish to increase admiration and decrease envy.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Fear is the principal reason why men are so unwilling to admit facts and so anxious to wrap themselves in a warm garment of myth. But the thorns tear the warm garment and the cold blasts penetrate through the rents, and the man who has become accustomed to its warmth suffers far more from these blasts than the man who has hardened himself to them from the first.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Young men and women meet each other with much less difficulty than was formerly the case, and every housemaid expects at least once a week as much excitement as would have lasted a Jane Austen heroine throughout a whole novel.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Few things are so likely to cure the habit of hatred as the opportunity to do constructive work of an important kind.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Even when a man has offended against his own rational code, I doubt whether a sense of sin is the best method of arriving at a better way of life. There is in the sense of sin something abject, something lacking in self-respect. No good was ever done to anyone by loss of self-respect. The rational man will regard his own undesirable acts as he regards those of others, as acts produced by certain circumstances, and to be avoided by a fuller realization that they are undesirable, or, when this is impossible, by avoidance of the circumstance that caused them.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Every civilized man or woman has, I suppose, some picture of himself or herself, and is annoyed when anything happens that seems to spoil the picture. The best cure is to have not only one picture, but a whole gallery, and to select the one appropriate to the incident in question. If some of the portraits are a trifle laughable, so much the better; it is not wise to see oneself all day long as a hero of high tragedy. …If you can forget yourself and not play a part at all, that is admirable. But if playing a part has become second nature, consider that you act in repertory, and so avoid monotony.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    A little work directed to a good end is better than a great deal of work directed to a bad end. … Those who care much for their work are always in danger of falling into fanaticism, which consists essentially in remembering one or two desirable things while forgetting all the rest, and in supposing that in the pursuit of these one or two any incidental harm of other sorts is of little account. Against this fanatical temper there is no better prophylactic than a large conception of the life of man and his place in the universe.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Public opinion is always more tyrannical toward those who obviously fear it than towards those who feel indifferent to it. A dog will bark more loudly and bite more readily when people are afraid of him than when they treat him with contempt, and the human herd has something of this same characteristic.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    … Four general maxims … will prove an adequate preventive of persecution mania if their truth is sufficiently realized. The first is: remember that your motives are not always as altruistic as they seem to yourself. The second is: don’t overestimate your own merits. The third is: don’t expect others to take as much interest in you as you do yourself. And the fourth is: don’t imagine that people give enough thought to you to have any desire to persecute you.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930
 
    When you find yourself inclined to brood on anything, no matter what, the best plan always is to think about it even more than you naturally would until at least its morbid fascination has worn off.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Wars, pogroms and persecutions have all been part of the flight from boredom; even quarrels with neighbors have been found better than nothing. Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Countries which believe in resignation and what is mistakenly called a “spiritual” view of life are countries with a high infant mortality. Medicine, hygiene, asepsis, suitable diet, are things not achieved without mundane preoccupations; they require energy and intelligence directed to the material environment. Those who think that matter is an illusion are apt to think the same of dirt, and by so thinking cause their children to die.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    The desire for excitement is very deep-seated in human beings, especially in males. I suppose that in the hunting stage it was more easily gratified than it has been since. The chase was exciting, war was exciting, courtship was exciting. A savage would manage to commit adultery with a woman while her husband was asleep beside her. The situation, I imagine, is not boring. But with the coming of agriculture life began to grow dull, except, of course, for the aristocrats, who remained, and still remain, in the hunting stage.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    Happiness is promoted by association of persons who share similar tastes and similar opinions. Social intercourse may be expected to develop more and more along these lines, and it may be hoped that by these means the loneliness that now afflict so many unconventional people will be gradually diminished almost to the vanishing point. This will undoubtedly increase their happiness, but it will of course diminish the sadistic pleasure which the conventional at present derive from having the unconventional at their mercy. I do not think, however, that this is a pleasure which we need to be greatly concerned to preserve.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    One of the chief causes of lack of zest is the feeling that one is unloved, whereas conversely, the feeling of being loved promotes zest more than anything else.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    A man who uses what is called “bad language” is not from a rational point of view any worse than a man who does not. Nevertheless practically everybody in trying to imagine a saint would consider abstinence from swearing as essential. Considered in the light of reason this is simply silly. The same applies to alcohol and tobacco. With regard to alcohol the feeling does not exist in southern countries, and indeed there is an element of impiety about it, since it is known that Our Lord and the Apostles drank wine. With regard to tobacco it is easier to maintain a negative position, since all the greatest saints lived before its use was known. But here also no rational argument is possible. The view that no saint would smoke is based in the last analysis upon the view that no saint would do anything solely because it gave him pleasure.
        ==The Conquest of Happiness, 1930

    1. Do not lie to yourself.
    2. Do not lie to other people unless they are exercising tyranny.
    3. When you think it is your duty to inflict pain, scrutinize your
reasons closely.
    4. When you desire power, examine yourself closely as to why you deserve it.
    5. When you have power, use it to build up people, not to constrict them.
    6. Do not attempt to live without vanity, since this is impossible, but choose the right audience from which to seek admiration.
    7. Do not think of yourself as a wholly self-contained unit.
    8. Be reliable.
    9. Be just.
    10. Be good-natured.
        ==”My Ten Commandments,” in Everyman, 1930

    In the development of science, the power impulse has increasingly prevailed over the love impulse. The power impulse is embodied in industrialism and in governmental technique. It is embodied also in the philosophies known as pragmatism and instrumentalism. Each of these philosophies holds, broadly speaking, that our beliefs about any object are true in so far as they enable us to manipulate it with advantage to ourselves. …But the desire for knowledge has another form, belonging to an entirely different set of emotions.  … Wherever there is ecstasy or joy or delight derived from the object, there is the desire to know that object — to know it not in the manipulative fashion that consists of turning it into something else, but to know it in the fashion of the beatific vision, because in itself and for itself it sheds happiness upon the lover. In sex love as in other forms of love the impulse to this kind of knowledge exists, unless the love is purely physical or practical. This may indeed be the touchstone of any love that is valuable. Love which has value contains an impulse toward that kind of knowledge out of which the mystic union springs.
        ==The Scientific Outlook, 1931

Traditional morality gives very little help in the modern world. A rich man may plunge millions into destitution by some act which not even the severest Catholic confessor would consider sinful, while he will need absolution for a trivial sexual aberration which, at the worst, has wasted an hour that might have been more usefully employed. There is need of a new doctrine on the subject of my duty to my neighbor.
        ==The Scientific Outlook, 1931

Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. When a man tells you he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring he is an inexact man.
        ==The Scientific Outlook, 1931

One great merit of the scientific technique [is] … that it tends to avoid those intractable disputes which arise when private emotion is regarded as the test of truth.
        ==The Scientific Outlook, 1931

Deduction from inspired books is the method of arriving at truth employed by jurists, Christians, Mohammedans and Communists.
        ==The Scientific Outlook, 1931

Science is in its essence nothing but the systematic pursuit of knowledge, and knowledge, whatever ill-uses bad men may make of it, is in its essence good. To lose faith in knowledge is to lose faith in the best of man’s capacities; and therefore I repeat unhesitatingly that the unyielding rationalist has a better faith and a more unbending optimism than any of the timid seekers after the childish comforts of a less adult age.
        ==The Scientific Outlook, 1931

Owing to the identification of religion with virtue, together with the fact that the most religious men are not the most intelligent, a religious education gives courage to the stupid to resist the authority of educated men, as has happened, for example, where the teaching of evolution has been made illegal. So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence; and in this respect ministers of religion follow gospel authority more closely than in some others.
        ==Education and the Social Order, 1932

Belief in God and a future life makes it possible to go through life with less of stoic courage than is needed by skeptics. A great many young people lose faith in these dogmas at an age when despair is easy, and thus have to face a much more intense unhappiness than that which falls to the lot of those who have never had a religious upbringing. Christianity offers reasons for not fearing death or the universe, and in so doing it fails to teach adequately the virtue of courage. The craving for religious faith being largely an outcome of fear, the advocates of faith tend to think that certain kinds of fear are not to be deprecated. In this, to my mind, they are gravely mistaken. To allow oneself to entertain pleasant beliefs as a means of avoiding fear is not to live in the best way. In so far as religion makes its appeal to fear, it is lowering to human dignity.
        ==Education and the Social Order, 1932

Herd pressure is to be judged by two things: first, its intensity, and second, its direction. If it is very intense, it produces adults who are timid and conventional, except in a few rare instances. This is regrettable, however excellent may be the moral standards by which the herd is actuated.
        ==Education and the Social Order, 1932

Punctuality is a quality the need of which is bound up with social cooperation. It has nothing to do with the relation of the soul to God, or with mystic insight, or with any of the matters with which the more elevated and spiritual moralists are concerned. One would be surprised to find a saint getting drunk, but one would not be surprised to find him late for an engagement. And yet in the ordinary business of life punctuality is absolutely necessary.
        ==Education and the Social Order, 1932

“How can you teach children to be good, they ask, if you do not teach them religion?” How can you teach them to be good, I should reply, if you habitually and deliberately lie to them on a subject of the greatest importance? And how can any conduct which is genuinely desirable need false beliefs as its motive?
        ==Education and the Social Order, 1932

None of the higher mental processes are required for conservatism. The advocate of change, on the contrary, must have a certain degree of imagination in order to be able to conceive of anything different from what exists.
        ==Education and the Social Order, 1932

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied, “The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that’s fair.” In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.
    ==Education and the Social Order, 1932

Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relative to other such matter; second, telling other people what to do.
Those who do the unpleasant task of moving matter around are poorly paid, while those who order them to do so from comfortable offices and distant boardrooms are very well paid. …
The second kind is capable of indefinite expansion: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice on what orders are to be given.
        ==In Praise of Idleness, 1932

Leisure is essential to civilization, and in former times leisure for the few was only rendered possible by the labors of the many. But their labors were valuable, not because work is good, but because leisure is good.
    ==In Praise of Idleness, 1932

Good nature is, of all moral qualities, the one that the world needs most, and good nature is the result of ease and security, not a life of arduous struggle. Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others.
    ==In Praise of Idleness, 1932

No real excellence can be inextricably bound up with unfounded beliefs; and if theological beliefs are unfounded, they cannot be necessary for the preservation of what is good in the religious outlook. To think otherwise is to be filled with fears as to what we may discover, which will interfere with our attempts to understand the world; but it is only in the measure in which we achieve such understanding that true wisdom becomes possible.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

One occasion for theological intervention to prevent the mitigation of human suffering was the discovery of anesthetics. Simpson, in 1947, recommended their use in childbirth, and was immediately reminded by the clergy that God said to Eve: “In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.” (Genesis 3: 16) And how could she sorrow if she was under the influence of chloroform? Simpson succeeded in proving there was no harm in giving anesthetics to men, because God put Adam into a deep sleep when He extracted his rib. But male ecclesiastics remained unconvinced as regards the sufferings of women, at any rate in childbirth.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

The mystic emotion, if it is freed from unwarranted beliefs, and not so overwhelming as to remove a man wholly from the ordinary business of life, may give something of very great value — the same kind of thing, though in a heightened form, that is given by contemplation. Breadth and calm and profundity may all have their source in this emotion, in which, for the moment, all self-centered desire is dead, and the mind becomes a mirror for the vastness of the universe. …
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

Mysticism expresses an emotion, not a fact; it does not assert anything, and therefore can be neither confirmed nor contradicted by science.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

As for the view that God’s eternal blessedness should be a comfort for the poor, it has always been held by the rich, but the poor are beginning to grow weary of it.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

Man as a curious accident in a backwater, is intelligible: his mixture of virtues and vices is such as might be expected to result from a fortuitous origin. But only abysmal self-complacency can see in Man a reason which Omniscience could consider adequate as a motive for the Creator.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

People are more unwilling to give up the word  “God” than to give up the idea for which the word has hitherto stood.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

We have seen that, in the period since Copernicus, whenever science and theology have disagreed, science has proved victorious. We have seen also that, where practical issues were involved, as in witchcraft and medicine, science has stood for the diminution of suffering, while theology has encouraged man’s natural savagery. The spread of the scientific outlook, as opposed to the theological, has indisputably made, hitherto, for happiness.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

When we contemplate the human race, we may desire that it should be happy, or healthy, or intelligent, or warlike, and so on. Any one of these desires, if it is strong, will produce its own morality; but if we have no such general desires, our conduct, whatever our ethic may be, will only serve social purposes in so far as self-interest and the interests of society are in harmony.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

Our desires are, in fact, more general and less purely selfish than many moralists imagine; if it were not so, no theory of ethics would make moral improvement possible. It is, in fact, not by ethical theory, but by the cultivation of large and generous desires through intelligence, happiness, and freedom from fear, that men can be brought to act more than they do at present in a manner that is consistent with the general happiness of mankind. Whatever our definition of the “Good,” and whether we believe it to be subjective or objective, those who do not desire the happiness of mankind will not endeavor to further it, while those who do desire it will do what they can to bring it about.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935
    
If there had been a country where the men of science could have persecuted Christians, perhaps Galileo’s friends would not have protested against all  intolerance, but only against that of the opposition party. In that case Galileo’s friends would have exalted his doctrine into a dogma, and Einstein, who showed that Galileo and the Inquisition were both wrong, would have been persecuted by both parties, and have been unable to find a refuge anywhere.
        ==Religion and Science, 1935

The idea of one universal truth has been abandoned: there is English truth, French truth, German truth, Montenegran truth, and truth for the principality of Monaco. Similarly there is truth for the wage-earner and truth for the capitalist. Between these different “truths,” if rational persuasion is despaired of, the only possible decision is by means of war and rivalry in propagandist insanity.
        ==“The Ancestry of Fascism,” 1935

… So long as unreason prevails, a solution to our troubles can only be reached by chance; for while reason, being impersonal, makes universal cooperation possible, unreason, since it represents private passions, makes strife inevitable. It is for this reason that rationality, in the sense of an appeal to a universal and impersonal standard of truth, is of supreme importance to the well-being of the human species, not only in ages in which is easily prevails, but also, and even more, in those less fortunate times in which it is despised and rejected as the vain dream of mean who lack the virility to kill were they cannot agree.
        ==“The Ancestry of Fascism,” 1935

No man thinks sanely when his self-esteem has suffered a mortal wound, and those who deliberately humiliate a nation have only themselves to thank if it becomes a nation of lunatics.
        ==“The Ancestry of Fascism,” 1935

The philosopher king was dismissed long ago as an idle dream, but the philosopher party, though equally fallacious, is hailed as a great discovery.
        ==Power: A New Social Analysis, 1938

When only one doctrine is officially allowed, men get no practice in thinking or in weighing alternatives; only a great wave of passionate revolt can dethrone orthodoxy; and in order to make the opposition sufficiently whole-hearted and violent to achieve success, it will seem necessary to deny even what was true in governmental dogma. The only thing that will not be denied will be the importance of immediately establishing some new orthodoxy, since this will be considered necessary for victory.
From a rationalist standpoint, therefore, the likelihood of revolution in a totalitarian State is not necessarily a ground for rejoicing. What is more to be desired is a gradual increase in the sense of security, leading to a lessening of zeal, and giving an opening for laziness — the greatest of all virtues in the ruler of a totalitarian State, with the sole exception of non-existence.
        ==Power: A New Social Analysis, 1938

When the populace is kept ignorantly confident, its confidence and its bellicose sentiment may easily be communicated to the rulers, who can hardly attach the same weight to unpleasant facts which they know but conceal as to the pleasant facts that are being proclaimed in every newspaper and in every conversation. Hysteria and megalomania are catching, and governments have no immunity.
When war comes, the policy of concealment may produce effects exactly opposite to those intended. Some, at least, of the unpleasant facts which had been kept dark are likely to become patent to all, and the more men have been made to live in a fool’s paradise, the more they will be horrified and discouraged by the reality.
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

Men who allow their love of power to give them a distorted view of the world are to be found in every asylum: one man will think that he is the Governor of the Bank of England, another will think he is the King, and yet another will think he is God. Highly similar delusions, if expressed by educated men in obscure language, lead to professorships in philosophy; and if expressed by emotional men in eloquent language, lead to dictatorships.
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

All great moralists, from Buddha and the Stoics down to recent times, treated the good as something to be, if possible, enjoyed by all men equally. They did not think of themselves as princes or Jews or Greeks; they thought of themselves primarily as human beings. Their ethic always had a twofold source: on the one hand, they valued certain elements in their own lives; on the other hand, sympathy made them desire for others what they desired for themselves. Sympathy is the universalizing force in ethics …
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

The great ethical innovators have not been men who knew more than others; they have been men who desired more, or, to be more accurate, men whose desires were more impersonal and of larger scope than those of average men. Most men desire their own happiness; a considerable percentage desire the happiness of their children; not a few desire the happiness of their nation; some, genuinely and strongly, desire the happiness of all mankind.
These men, seeing that many others have no such feeling, and that this is an obstacle to universal felicity, wish that others feel as they do …
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

… The principle of universal sympathy … is the analog, in the realm of feeling, of impersonal curiosity in the realm of intellect; both are essential elements in mental growth.
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

What makes an organization grow old is habit based upon success; when new circumstances arise, the habit is too strong to be shaken off.
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

One of the advantages of democracy, from the governmental point of view, is that it makes the average citizen easier to deceive, since he regards the government as his government. Opposition to a war which is not swiftly successful arises much less readily in a democracy; a majority can only turn against the government by first admitting to themselves that they were mistaken in formerly thinking well of their chosen leaders, which is difficult and unpleasant.
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

When all opposing propaganda is forbidden, rulers are likely to think that they can cause anything to be believed, and so to become over-weening and careless. Lies need competition if they are to retain their vigor.
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

The temper required to make a success of democracy is, in the practical life, exactly what the scientific temper is in the intellectual life; it is a halfway house between scepticism and dogmatism. Truth, it holds, is neither completely attainable nor completely unattainable; it is attainable to a certain degree, and that only with difficulty.
        ==Power: a New Social Analysis, 1938

In a democracy it is necessary that people should learn to endure having their sentiments outraged.
        ==Letter to the New York Times, 1940

The essence of academic freedom is that teachers should be chosen for their expertness in the subject they are to teach and that the judges of this expertness should be other experts.
        ==“Freedom and the Colleges,” 1940

The bully in a school is seldom a boy whose proficiency in learning is up to the average. When a lynching takes place, the ringleaders are almost invariably very ignorant men. This is not because mental cultivation produces positive humanitarian feelings, though it may do so; it is rather because it gives other interests than the ill-treatment of neighbors, and other sources of self-respect than the assertion of domination.
The two things most universally desired are power and admiration. Ignorant men can, as a rule, only achieve either by brutal means, involving the acquisition of physical mastery. Culture gives a man less harmful forms of power and more deserving ways of making himself admired.
        ==Let the People Think, 1941

What is needed is not this or that specific piece of information, but such knowledge as inspires a conception of the ends of human life as a whole: art and history, acquaintance with the lives of heroic individuals, and some understanding of the strangely accidental and ephemeral position of man in the cosmos — all this touched with an emotion of pride in what is distinctively human, the power to see and to know, to feel magnanimously and to think with understanding. It is from large perceptions combined with impersonal emotion that wisdom most readily springs.
        ==Let the People Think, 1941

“Free thought” means thinking freely. To be worthy of the name … [a freethinker]  must be free of two things: the force of tradition, and the tyranny of his own passions. No one is completely free from either, and in the measure of a man’s emancipation he deserves to be called a free thinker.
        ==“The Value of Free Thought,” 1944

That [the dogmas of religion] … do little harm is not true. Opposition to birth control makes it impossible to solve the population problem, and therefore postpones indefinitely all chance of world peace.
        ==“The Value of Free Thought,” 1944

The man who thinks himself virtuous in fearing an angry God will soon begin to see virtue in submission to earthly tyrants.
        ==“The Value of Free Thought,” 1944

The more sins you commit, the more the church profits by the steps you have to take to mitigate the punishment. The system is convenient both for priests and for sinners, but it is preposterous to pretend that it promotes virtue. What it does promote is mental docility and abject fear.
        ==“The Value of Free Thought,” 1944

The perfect model of truth is the multiplication table, which is precise and certain and free of all temporal dross.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

In general, important civilizations start with a rigid and superstitious system, gradually relaxed and leading, at a certain stage, to a period of brilliant genius, while the good of the old tradition remains and the evil inherent in its dissolution has not yet developed. But as the evil unfolds, it leads to anarchy, thence, inevitably, to a new tyranny, producing a new synthesis secured by a new system of dogma.
The doctrine of liberalism is an attempt to escape from this endless oscillation. The essence of liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma, and insuring stability without involving more restraints than are necessary for the preservation of the community. Whether this attempt can succeed only the future can determine.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

By self-interest, Man has become gregarious, but in instinct he has remained to a great extent solitary; hence the need of religion and morality to reinforce self-interest. But the habit of foregoing present satisfactions for the sake of future advantages is irksome, and when passions are roused, prudent restraints of social behavior become difficult to endure.
Those who, at such times, throw them off, acquire a new energy and sense of power from cessation of inner conflict, and, though they may come to disaster in the end, enjoy meanwhile a sense of God-like exaltation which, though known to the great mystics, can never be experienced by a merely pedestrian virtue.
The solitary part of their nature reasserts itself, but if the intellect survives, the reassertion must clothe itself in a myth. The mystic becomes one with God, and in the contemplation of the infinite he feels absolved from duty to his neighbor.
The anarchic rebel does even better, he feels himself not only one with God but God. Truth and duty, which represent our subjection to matter and to our neighbors, exist no longer for the man who has become God; for others, truth is what he  posits, duty what he  commands. If we could all live solitary and without labor, we could all enjoy the ecstasy of independence; since we cannot, its delights are only available to madmen and dictators.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

Intellectually, the effect of mistaken moral considerations upon philosophy has been to impede progress to an extraordinary extent. I do not myself believe that philosophy can either prove or disprove the truth of religious dogmas, but ever since Plato most philosophers have considered it part of their business to produce “proofs” of immortality and the existence of God. They have found fault with the proofs of their predecessors. Thomas rejected St. Anselm’s proofs, and Kant rejected Descartes’, but they have supplied new ones of their own. In order to make their proofs seem valid, they have had to falsify logic, to make mathematics mystical, and to pretend that deep-seated prejudices were heaven-sent intuitions.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

There is little of the true philosophical spirit in Aquinas. He does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever the argument may lead. He is not engaged in an inquiry, the result of which is impossible to know in advance. Before he begins to philosophize, he already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith. If he can find apparently rational arguments for some parts of the faith, so much the better; if he cannot, he need only fall back on revelation. The finding of arguments for a conclusion given in advance is not philosophy, but special pleading.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

In the welter of conflicting fanaticisms, one of the few unifying forces is scientific truthfulness, by which I mean the habit of basing our beliefs upon observations and inferences as impersonal, and as much divested of local and temperamental bias as is possible for human beings.
To have insisted upon the introduction of this virtue into philosophy and to have invented a powerful method by which it can be rendered fruitful, are the chief merits of the philosophical school of which I am a member.
The habit of careful veracity acquired in the practice of this philosophical method can be extended to the whole sphere of human activity, producing, wherever it exists, a lessening of fanaticism with an increasing capacity of sympathy and mutual understanding.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

It must be admitted that there is a certain type of Christian ethic to which Nietzsche’s strictures can be justly applied. Pascal and Dostoevsky — his own illustrations — have both something abject in their virtue. Pascal sacrificed his magnificent mathematical intellect to his God, thereby attributing to him a barbarity which was a cosmic enlargement of Pascal’s morbid mental tortures. Dostoevsky would have nothing to do with “proper pride”; he would sin in order to repent and to enjoy the luxury of confession.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

Virtue with a view to heaven is psychologically very analogous to saving with a view to investment.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

However ardently I or all mankind may desire something, however necessary it may be to human happiness, this is no ground for supposing it to be true. There is no law of nature guaranteeing that mankind should be happy.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

Any logically coherent body of doctrine is sure to be in part painful and contrary to current prejudices.
        ==History of Western Philosophy, 1945

In a shipwreck the crew obey orders without the need of reasoning with themselves, because they have a common purpose which is not remote, and the means to its realization are no difficult to understand. But if the Captain were obliged, like the Government, to explain the principles of currency in order to prove his commands wise, the ship would sink before his lecture was finished.
        ==Authority and the Individual, 1949

When the journey from means to end is not too long, the means themselves are enjoyed if the end is ardently desired.
A boy will toil uphill with a toboggan for the sake of the few brief moments of bliss during the descent; no one has to urge him to be industrious, and however he may puff and pant he is still happy. But if instead of the immediate reward, you promised him an old-age pension at seventy, his energy would very quickly flag.
        ==Authority and the Individual, 1949

Two great religions, Buddhism and Christianity, have sought to extend to the whole human race the cooperative feeling that is spontaneous toward fellow tribesmen. They have preached the brotherhood of man, showing by the use of the word “brotherhood” that they are attempting to extend beyond its natural bounds an emotional attitude which, in its origin, is biological. If we are all children of God, we are all one family.
But in practice those who in theory adopted this creed have always felt that those who did not adopt it were not children of God but children of Satan, and the old mechanism of hatred for those outside the tribe has returned, giving added vigor to the creed, but in a direction which diverted it from its original purpose.
Religion, morality, economic self-interest, the mere pursuit of biological survival, all supply to our intelligence unanswerable arguments in favor of worldwide cooperation, but the old instincts that have come down to us from our tribal ancestors rise up in indignation, feeling that life would lose its savor if there were no one to hate, that anyone who could love such a scoundrel as So-and-so would be a worm, that struggle is the law of life, and that in a world where we all loved one another there would be nothing to live for.
        ==Authority and the Individual, 1949

Anthropologists have described how Papuan head hunters, deprived by white authority of their habitual sport, lose all their zest, and are no longer able to be interested by anything. I do not wish to infer they should have been allowed to go on hunting heads, but I do mean that it would have been worth while if psychologists had taken some trouble to find some innocent substitute activity.
Civilized Man everywhere is, to some degree, in the position of the Papuan victims of virtue. We have all kinds of aggressive impulses, and also creative impulses, which society forbids us to indulge, and the alternatives it supplies in the shape of football matches and all-in wrestling are hardly adequate. Anyone who hopes in time it may be possible to abolish war should give serious thought to the problem of satisfying harmlessly the instincts which we inherit from long generations of savages.
For my part, I find a sufficient outlet in detective stories, where I alternately identify myself with the murderer and the huntsman-detective, but I know there are those to which this vicarious outlet is too mild, and for them something stronger should be provided.
        ==Authority and the Individual, 1949

If two hitherto rival football teams, under the influence of brotherly love, decided to cooperate in placing the football first beyond one goal and then beyond the other, no one’s happiness would be increased. There is no reason why the zest derived from competition should be confined to athletics. Emulation between teams or localities or organizations can be a useful incentive. But if competition is not to become ruthless and harmful, the penalty for failure must not be disaster, as in war, or starvation, as in unregulated economic competition, but only loss of glory. Football would not be a desirable sport if defeated teams were put to death or left to starve.
        ==Authority and the Individual, 1949

If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Mankind has become so much one family that we cannot insure our own prosperity except by insuring that of everyone else. If you wish to be happy yourself, you must resign yourself to seeing others also happy.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

The pursuit of philosophy is founded on the belief that knowledge is good, even if what is known is painful. A man imbued with the philosophical spirit, whether a professional philosopher or not, will wish his beliefs to be as true as he can make them and will, in equal measure, love to know and hate to be in error. This principle has a wider scope than may be apparent at first sight.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

The interrelation of logical and emotional generality in ethics is an interesting subject. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” inculcates emotional generality; “ethical statements should not contain proper names” inculcates logical generality. The two precepts sound  very different, but when they are examined it will be found they are scarcely distinguishable in practical import. Benevolent men will prefer the traditional form; logicians may prefer the other. I hardly know which class of men is the smaller.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

The only philosophy that affords a theoretical justification of democracy, and that accords with democracy in its temper of mind, is empiricism. Locke, who may be regarded, so far as the modern world is concerned, as the founder of empiricism, makes it clear how closely this is connected with his views of liberty and toleration, and with his opposition to absolute monarchy. He is never tired of emphasizing the uncertainty of most of our knowledge, not with a skeptical intention such as Hume’s, but with the intention of making men aware that they may be mistaken, and that they should take account of this possibility in all their dealings with men of opinions different from their own.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Although we are taught the Copernican astronomy in our textbooks, it has not yet penetrated to our religion or our morals, and has not even succeeded in destroying belief in astrology. People still think that the Divine Plan has special reference to human beings, and that a special Providence not only looks after the good, but also punishes the wicked.
I am sometimes shocked by the blasphemies of those who think themselves pious — for instance, the nuns who never take a bath without wearing a bathrobe all the time. When asked why, since no man can see them, they reply: “Oh, but you forget the good God.” Apparently they conceive of the Deity as a peeping Tom, whose omnipotence enables Him to see through bathroom walls, but who is foiled by bathrobes. This view strikes me as curious.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how  they are held; instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way they are held in theology.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

 When we pass in review the opinions of former times which are now recognized as absurd, it will be found that in nine cases out of ten, they were such as to justify the infliction of suffering. Take for instance medical practice. When anesthetics were invented, they were thought to be wicked as being an attempt to thwart God’s will. Insanity was thought to be diabolic possession and it was believed that demons inhabiting a madman could be driven out by inflicting pain on him, and so making them uncomfortable. In pursuit of this opinion, lunatics were treated with systematic and conscientious brutality. I cannot think of any instance of an erroneous medical treatment that was agreeable rather than disagreeable to the patient.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Dogmatists the world over believe that although the truth is known to them, others will be led into false beliefs provided they are allowed to hear the arguments of both sides. This is a view which leads to one or another of two misfortunes: either one set of dogmatists conquers the world and prohibits all new ideas, or, what is worse, rival dogmatists conquer different regions and preach the gospel of hate against each other, the former of these evils existing in the middle ages, the latter during the wars of religion, and again in the present day.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

It is commonly urged that, in a war between liberals and fanatics, the fanatics are sure to win, owing to their more unshakable belief in the righteousness of their cause. This belief dies hard, although all history, including that of the last few years, is against it. Fanatics have failed over and over again, because they have attempted the impossible, or because, even when they aimed at what was possible, they were too unscientific to adopt the right means; they have failed also because they roused the hostility of those whom they wished to coerce. In every important war since 1700 the more democratic side has been victorious. This is partly because democracy and empiricism (which are intimately connected) do not demand a distortion of facts in the interests of theory.
    ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

In Lisbon, where heretics were publicly burned, it sometimes happened that one of them, by particularly edifying recantation, would be granted a boon of being strangled before being put into the flames. This would make the spectators so furious, that the authorities had a great difficulty preventing them from lynching the penitent and burning him on their own account.
The spectacle of writhing torments of the victims was, in fact, one of the principal pleasures to which the populace looked forward to enliven a somewhat drab existence. I cannot doubt that pleasure greatly contributed to the general belief that burning of heretics was a righteous act.
The same sort of thing applies to war. People who are vigorous and brutal often find war enjoyable, provided that it is a victorious war, and that there is not too much interference with rape and plunder. This is a great help in persuading people that wars are righteous.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

It was geology, Darwin and the doctrine of evolution, that first upset the faith of British men of science. If man was evolved by insensible gradations from lower forms of life, a number of things became very difficult to understand. At what moment in evolution did our ancestors acquire free will? At what stage in the long journey from the amoeba did they begin to have immortal souls? When did they first become capable of the kinds of wickedness that would justify a benevolent Creator in sending them into eternal torment? Most people felt that such punishment would be hard on monkeys, in spite of their propensity for throwing coconuts at the heads of Europeans. But how about Pithecanthropus Erectus? Was it really he who ate the apple? Or was it Homo Pekiniensis?
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Some “advanced thinkers” are of the opinion that anyone who differs from the conventional opinion must be in the right. This is a delusion; if it were not, truth would be easier to come by than it is. There are infinite possibilities of error, and more cranks take up unfashionable errors than unfashionable truths.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Nature, it is true, still sees to it that we are mortal, but with the progress in medicine it will become more and more common for people to live until they have had their fill of life. We are supposed to wish to live forever, and to look forward to the unending joys of heaven, of which, by miracle, the monotony will never grow stale. But in fact, if you question any candid person who is no longer young, he is very likely to tell you that, having tasted life in this world, he has no wish to begin again as a “new boy” in another.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

The commonest objection to birth control is that it is against “nature.” (For some reason we are not allowed to say that celibacy is against nature; the only reason I can think of is that it is not new.) Malthus saw only three ways of keeping down the population: moral restraint, vice and misery. Moral restraint, he admitted, was not likely to be practiced on a large scale. “Vice,” i.e., birth control, he, as a clergyman, viewed with abhorrence.
There remained misery. In his comfortable parsonage he contemplated the misery of the great majority of mankind with equanimity, and pointed out the fallacies of the reformers who hoped to alleviate it.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

We read in the Old Testament that it was a religious duty to exterminate conquered races completely, and that to spare even their cattle and sheep was an impiety. Dark terrors and misfortunes in the life to come oppressed the Egyptians and Etruscans, but never reached their full development until the victory of Christianity. Gloomy saints who abstained from all pleasures of sense, who lived in solitude in the desert, denying themselves meat and wine and the society of women, were, nevertheless, not obliged to abstain from all pleasures. The pleasures of the mind were considered to be superior to those of the body, and a high place among the pleasures of the mind was assigned to the contemplation of the eternal tortures to which the pagans and heretics would hereafter be subjected.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Christ said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” and when asked, “Who is thy neighbor?” went on to the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you wish to understand this parable as it was understood by His hearers, you should substitute “German” or “Japanese” for “Samaritan.” I fear many present-day Christians would resent such a substitution, because it would compel them to realize how far they have departed from the teaching of the Founder of their religion.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Men, quite ordinary men, will compel children to look on while their mothers are raped. In pursuit of political aims men will submit their opponents to long years of unspeakable anguish. We know what the Nazis did to Jews as Auschwitz. In mass cruelty, the expulsions of Germans ordered by Russians fall not very far short of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis.
And how about our noble selves? We would not do such deeds. Oh, no! But we enjoy our juicy steaks and our hot rolls while German children die of hunger because our governments dare not face our indignation if they asked us to forego some part of our pleasures. If there were a Last Judgment as Christians believe, how do you think our excuses would sound before that final tribunal?
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Stalin could neither understand nor respect the point of view which led Churchill to allow himself to be peaceably dispossessed as a result of a popular vote. I am a firm believer in democratic representative government as the best form for those who have the tolerance and self-restraint that is required to make it work.
But its advocates make a mistake if they suppose that it can be at once introduced into countries where the average citizen has hitherto lacked all training in the give-and-take that it requires. In a Balkan country, not so many years ago, a party which had been beaten by a narrow margin in a general election retrieved its fortune by shooting a sufficient number of the representatives of the other side to give it a majority. People in the West thought this characteristic of the Balkans, forgetting that Cromwell and Robespierre had acted likewise.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

The whole conception of “sin” is one I find very puzzling, doubtless owing to my sinful nature. If “sin” consisted in causing needless suffering, I could understand, but on the contrary, sin often consists in avoiding needless suffering.
Some years ago, in the English House of Lords, a bill was introduced to legalize euthanasia in cases of painful and incurable disease. The patient’s consent was to be necessary, as well as several medical certificates.
To me, in my simplicity, it would seem natural to require the patient’s consent, but the late Archbishop of Canterbury, the English official expert on sin, explained the erroneousness of such a view. The patient’s consent turns euthanasia into suicide, and suicide is sin. Their Lordships listened to the voice of authority and rejected the bill.
Consequently, to please the Archbishop — and his God, if he reports truly — victims of cancer still have to endure months of wholly useless agony, unless their doctors or nurses are willing to risk a charge of murder.
I find difficulty in the conception of a God who gets pleasure from contemplating such tortures; and if there were such a God capable of wanton cruelty, I should certainly not think Him worthy of worship. But that only proves how sunk I am in moral depravity.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Has civilization taught us to be more friendly towards one another? The answer is easy. Robins (the English, not the American species) peck an elderly robin to death, whereas men (the English, not the American species) give an elderly man an old-age pension. Within the herd, we are more friendly to each other than are many species of animals, but in our attitude towards those outside the herd, in spite of all that has been done by moralists and religious teachers, our emotions are as ferocious as those of any animal, and our intelligence enables us to give them a scope which is denied to even the most savage beast. It may be hoped, though not very confidently, that the more humane attitude will in time come to prevail, but so far the omens are not very propitious.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our trouble. Whose authority? The Old Testament? The New Testament? The Koran? In practice, people choose the book considered sacred by the community in which they were born, and out of that book they choose the parts they like, ignoring the others. At one time, the most influential text in the Bible was: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Nowadays people pass over this text, in silence if possible; if not, with an apology. And so, even when we have a sacred book, we still choose as truth whatever suits our own prejudices. No Catholic, for instance, takes seriously the text which says that a Bishop should be the husband of one wife.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

On the contrary, when a man tortures himself he feels that it gives him a right to torture others, and inclines him to accept any system of dogma by which this right is fortified.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

It is necessary … to learn to act upon the best hypothesis without dogmatically believing in it.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic, there is knowledge, but in theology, there is only opinion.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

It is a fair prophecy that if you tell a man he is a knave and a fool he will not love you, and it is a fair prophecy that if you say the same to seventy million people they will not love you. It is safe to assume that cut-throat competition will not produce a feeling of good fellowship between the competitors. It is highly probable that if two states equipped with modern armament face each other across a frontier, and if their leading statesmen devote themselves to mutual insults, the population of each side will in time become nervous, and one side will attack for fear of the other doing so. Such generalizations are not difficult …
       ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

A democrat need not believe that the majority will always decide wisely; what he must believe is that the decision of the majority, whether wise or unwise, must be accepted until such time as the majority decides otherwise. And this he believes not from any mystic conception of the wisdom of the plain man, but as the best practical device for putting the reign of law in place of the reign of arbitrary force.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely nor think sanely under the influence of a great fear. And for this reason poltroons are more prone to cruelty than brave men, and are also more prone to superstition.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

There are logical difficulties in the notion of Sin. We are told that Sin consists in acting contrary to God’s commands, but we are also told that God is omnipotent. If He is, nothing contrary to His will can occur; therefore when the sinner disobeys His commands, He must have intended this to happen. St. Augustine boldly accepts this view, and asserts that men are led to sin by a blindness with which God afflicts them. But most theologians in modern times have felt that, if God causes men to sin, it is not fair to sent them to Hell for what they cannot help. We are told that sin consists in acting contrary to God’s will. This, however, does not get rid of the difficulty.
Those who, like Spinoza, take God’s omnipotence seriously, deduce there can be no such thing as Sin. This leads to frightful results. What! said Spinoza’s contemporaries, was it not wicked of Nero to murder his mother? Was it not wicked of Adam to eat the apple? Is one action just as good as another? Spinoza wriggles, but does not find any satisfactory answer. If everything happens in accordance with God’s will, God must have wanted Nero to murder his mother; therefore, since God is good, the murder must have been a good thing. From this argument there is no escape.
        ==Unpopular Essays, 1950

Vanity is a motive of immense potency. Anyone who has much to do with children knows how they are constantly performing some antic, and saying: “Look at me.”
“Look at me” is one of the fundamental desires of the human heart. It can take innumerable forms, from buffoonery to the pursuit of posthumous fame.
There was a Renaissance Italian princeling who was asked by a priest on his death-bed if he had anything to repent of. “Yes,” he said, “there is one thing. On one occasion, I had a visit from the Emperor and the Pope simultaneously. I took them to the top of my tower to see the view and I neglected the opportunity to throw them both down, which would have given me immortal fame.” History does not relate whether the priest gave him absolution.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

I once befriended two little girls from Estonia, who had narrowly escaped death from starvation in a famine. They lived in my family, and of course had plenty to eat. But they spent all their leisure visiting neighboring farms and stealing potatoes, which they hoarded. Rockefeller, who in his infancy had experienced great poverty, spent his adult life in a similar manner.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

Human beings show their superiority to the brutes by their capacity for boredom, though I have sometimes thought in examining the apes at the zoo, that they, perhaps, have the rudiments of this tiresome emotion.
However that may be, experience shows that escape from boredom is one of the really powerful desires of almost all human beings. When white men first effect contact with some unspoiled race of savages, they offer them all kinds of benefits, from the light of the gospel to pumpkin pie. These, however, much as we may regret it, most savages receive with indifference.
What they really value among the gifts we bring to them is intoxicating liquor, which enables them to have the illusion, for a  few brief moments, that it is better to be alive than dead.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

The completely untraveled person will view all foreigners as the savage regards the members of another herd. But the man who has traveled, or who has studied international politics, will have discovered that, if he had to prosper, it must, to some degree, become amalgamated with other herds.
If you are English and someone says to you, “The French are your brothers,” your instinctive feeling will be “Nonsense, they shrug their shoulders and talk French. And I am even told they eat frogs.” If he explains to you that one may have to fight the Russians, that, if so, it will be desirable to defend the line of the Rhine, and that, if the line of the Rhine is to be defended, the help of the French is essential, you will begin to see what he means when he says the French are our brothers.
But if some fellow-traveler were to go on and say that the Russians are also your brothers, he would be unable to persuade you, unless he could show that we are in danger from the Martians. We love those who hate our enemies, and if we had no enemies, there would be very few people whom we should love.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

What vanity needs for its satisfaction is glory, and it is easy to have glory without power. The people who enjoy the greatest glory in the United States are film stars, but they can be put in their place by the committee for un-American activities, which enjoys no glory whatsoever.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

When the British government very unwisely allowed the Kaiser to be present at a naval review at Spithead, the thought which arose in his mind was not the one which we had intended. What he thought was: “I must have a navy as good as Grandmama’s.” And from this thought have sprung all our subsequent troubles. The world would be a happier place if acquisitiveness were always stronger than rivalry. But in fact, a great many men will cheerfully face impoverishment if they can thereby secure complete ruin for their rivals. Hence the present level of the income tax.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

Civilized life has altogether grown too tame, and, if it is to be stable, it must provide harmless outlets for the impulses which our remote ancestors satisfied in hunting.
In Australia, where people are few and rabbits are many, I watched the whole populace satisfying the primitive impulse in the primitive manner by the skillful slaughter of many thousands of rabbits. But, in London or New York, where people are many and rabbits are few, some other means must be found to gratify primitive impulse.
I think every big town should contain artificial waterfalls that people can descend in very fragile canoes, and they should contain bathing pools full of mechanical sharks. Any person found advocating a preventive war should be condemned to two hours a day with these ingenious creatures.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

One of the troubles about vanity is that it grows with what it feeds on. The more you are talked about, the more you will wish to be talked about. The condemned murderer, I am told — I have no personal experience — who is allowed to see the account of his trial in the Press is indignant if he finds a newspaper which has reported it inadequately. And the more he finds about himself in other newspapers, the more indignant he will be with the one whose reports are meager.
Politicians and literary men are in the same case. And the more famous they become, the more difficult the press cutting agency finds it to satisfy them. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the influence of vanity throughout the range of human life from the child of three to the potentate at whose frown the world trembles. Mankind have even committed the impiety of attributing similar desires to the Deity, whom they imagine avid for continual praise.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

… The main thing needed to make the world happy is intelligence. And this, after all, is an optimistic conclusion, because intelligence is a thing that can be fostered by known methods of education.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

If politics is to become scientific, and if the event is not to be constantly surprising, it is imperative that our political thinking should penetrate more deeply into the springs of human action. What is the influence of hunger upon slogans? How does their effectiveness fluctuate with the number of calories in your diet? If one man offers you democracy and another offers you a bag of grain, at what stage of starvation will you prefer the grain to the vote?
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

There are two ways of coping with fear: one is to diminish the external danger, and the other is to cultivate Stoic endurance. The latter can be reinforced, except where immediate action is necessary, by turning our thoughts away from the cause of fear.
The conquest of fear is of very great importance. Fear is itself degrading; it easily becomes an obsession; it produces hate of that which is feared, and it leads headlong to excesses of cruelty. Nothing has so beneficent an effect on human beings as security.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

… On the one hand, there are few occasions upon which large bodies of men, such as politics is concerned with, can rise above selfishness, while, on the other hand, there are a very great many circumstances in which populations will fall below selfishness, if selfishness is defined as enlightened self-interest. … Most that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.
        ==Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950

There is no greater reason for children to honor parents than for parents to honor children except, that while the children are young, the parents are stronger than the children. The same thing, of course, happened in the relations of men and women. It was the duty of wives to submit to husband, not of husbands to submit to wives. The only basis for this view that that if wives could be induced to accept it, it saved trouble for their husbands.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

Some astronomers try to cheer us up in moments of depression by assuring us that one fine day the sun will explode, and in the twinkling of an eye we shall all be turned into gas. I do not know whether this is going to happen, nor when it will happen if it does happen, but I think it’s safe to say that if it does it will be a matter outside human control, and even the best astronomers will be unable to prevent it.
This is an extreme example and one which is useless to think about, because there is no way in which human behavior can be adapted to it. It does, however, serve one purpose, which is to remind us that we are not gods.
You may exclaim indignantly, “but I never thought we were!” No doubt, dear reader, you are not one of those who suffer from the most extreme follies of our age, for it you were, you would not be one of my readers. But if you consider the Politburo or the American technocrats, you will see that there are those who escape atheism by impiously imagining themselves on the throne of the Almighty.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

The criminal law has, from the point of view of thwarted virtue, the merit of allowing an outlet for those impulses of aggression which cowardice, disguised as morality, restrains in their more spontaneous forms. War has the same merit. You must not kill your neighbor, whom perhaps you genuinely hate, but by a little propaganda this hate can be transferred to some foreign nation, against whom all your murderous impulses become patriotic heroism.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

If you ask a modern anti-Semite why he dislikes Jews, he will tell you they are unscrupulous and sharp in business, and merciless to their debtors; he will tell you they are always on the make, always intriguing, almost supporting each other against gentile competitors.
If you say you have sometimes found similar characteristics among Christians, the anti-Semite will say: “Oh, of course, I do not deny there are ruffians who are not Jews. And I have some very good friends among Jews. But I am speaking of the average.”
If you question him when he is off his guard, you will find that whenever a Jew engages in a bit of sharp practice, he says, “How like a Jew,” but when a gentile does likewise he says “and, you know, the astounding thing is that he is not a Jew.” This is not a scientific method of arriving at averages.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

How long will it be before the accessible oil in the world is exhausted? Will all the arable land be turned into dustbowls as it has been in large parts of the United States? Will the population increase to the point where men again, like their remote ancestors, have no leisure to think of anything but the food supply? Such questions are not to be decided by general philosophical reflections. Communists think there will be plenty of oil, if there are no capitalists. Some religious people think there will be plenty of good if we trust in Providence. Such ideas are superficial, even when they are called scientific, as they are by the Communists.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

We all know that the price of coal goes up, but most of us attribute this to the wickedness of the Government. If we live under a progressive Government, it makes us reactionary; if we live under a reactionary Government, it turns us into Socialists. Both these reactions are superficial and frivolous. All Governments, whatever their political complexion, are at present willy-nilly in the grip of natural forces which can only be dealt with by a degree of intelligence of which mankind hitherto has shown little evidence.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

The Russian Government appears to think that Soviet decrees can change the laws of genetics; the Vatican apparently believes that ecclesiastical decrees could secure adequate nourishment for all even if there were only standing room on the planet. Such opinions, to my mind, represent a form of insane megalomania entirely alien to the scientific spirit.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

I do not think any reasonable person can doubt that in India, China and Japan, if the knowledge of birth control existed, the birth rate would fall very rapidly. In Africa the process might take longer, but there also it could be fairly easily achieved if Negro doctors, trained in the West, were given the funds to establish medical clinics in which every kind of medical information would be given.
I do not suppose that Americans would contribute to this beneficent work, because if either party favored it, that party would lose the Catholic vote in New York State, and therefore the Presidency. This obviously would be a greater disaster than the extermination of the human race by atomic war.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

Some opponents of Communism are attempting to produce an ideology for the Atlantic Powers, and for this purpose they have invented what they call “Western Values.” These are supposed to consist of toleration, respect for individual liberty and brotherly love.
I am afraid this view is grossly unhistorical. If we compare Europe with other continents, it is marked out as the persecuting continent.
Persecution only ceased after long and bitter experience of its futility; it continued as long as either Protestants or Catholics had any hope of exterminating the opposite party. The European record in this respect is far blacker than that of the Mohammedans, the Indians or the Chinese.
No, if the West has superiority in anything, it is not in moral values but in scientific technique.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

There is only too much reason to fear that Western civilization, if not the whole world, is likely in the near future to go through a period of immense sorrow and suffering and pain — a period during which, if we are not careful to remember them, the things that we are attempting to preserve may be forgotten in bitterness and poverty and disorder. Courage, hope and unshakable conviction will be necessary if we are to emerge from the dark time spiritually undamaged.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

In the West, we see man’s greatness in the individual life. A great society for us is one which is composed of individuals who, as far as is humanly possible, are happy, free and creative. We do not think that individuals should be alike. We conceive society as like an orchestra, in which the different performers have different parts to play and different instruments on which to perform, and in which cooperation results from a conscious common purpose. We believe that each individual should have his proper pride. He should have his personal conscience and his personal aims, which he should be free to develop except where they can be shown to cause injury to others. We attach importance to the diminution of suffering and poverty, to the increase of knowledge and the production of beauty and art. The State for us is a convenience, not an object of worship.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

The teaching of hatred, however socially harmful may be the class against whom the hatred is directed, always injects poison into the social system.
When the immediate purpose of hatred has been achieved, the emotion survives as a habit and looks for new victims.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be more stupid than nature made them.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

Those who live nobly, even if in their day they live obscurely, need not fear that they will have lived in vain.
        ==New Hopes for a Changing World, 1951

The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:
1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worthwhile to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that is happiness.
        ==The New York Times Magazine, 1951

Science, while it has enormously accelerated outward change, has not found any way of hastening psychological change, especially where the unconscious and subconscious are concerned. Few men’s unconscious feels at home except in conditions very similar to those which prevailed when they were children.
        ==The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

What Galileo and Newton had done for astronomy, Darwin did for biology. The adaptation of animals and plants to their environments were a favorite theme of pious naturalists in the eighteenths and early nineteenth centuries. These adaptations were explained by the Divine Purpose. … The explanation was sometimes a little odd. If rabbits were theologians, they might think the exquisite adaptation of weasels to the killing of rabbits was hardly a matter for thankfulness. And there was a conspiracy of silence about the tapeworm.
        ==The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

Fichte laid it down that education should aim at destroying free will, so that, after pupils have left school, they shall be incapable, throughout the rest of their lives, of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished. But in his day this was an unattainable ideal. What he regarded as the best system in existence produced Karl Marx.
In future such failures are not likely to occur where there is a dictatorship. Diet, injections and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.
        ==The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

The increase of organization has brought into existence new positions of power. Every body has to have executive officials, in whom, at any moment, its power is concentrated. It is true that officials are usually subject to control, but the control may be slow and distant. From the young lady who sells stamps in a post office all the way up to the Prime Minister, every official is invested, for the time being, with some part of the power of the state. You can complain of the young lady if her manners are bad, and you can vote against the Prime Minister at the next election if you disapprove of his policy. But both the young lady and the Prime Minister can have a very considerable run for their money before (if ever) your discontent has any effect.
This increase in the power of officials is a constant source of irritation to everyone else. In most countries they are much less polite than in England; the police, especially in America for instance, seem to think you must be a rare exception if you are not a criminal. This tyranny of officials is one of the worst results of increasing organization, and the one against which it is of the utmost importance to find safeguards if a scientific society is not to be intolerable to all but an insolent aristocracy of jacks-in-office.
        ==The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

It is not by prayer and humility that you cause things to go as you wish, but by acquiring a knowledge of natural laws.
        ==The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

I do not pretend that birth control is the only way in which population can be kept from increasing. There are others, which, one must suppose, opponents of birth control would prefer. War … has hitherto been disappointing, but perhaps bacteriological war may prove more effective.
If a Black Death could be spread throughout the world once in every generation, survivors could procreate freely without making the world too full. There would be nothing in this to offend the consciences of the devout or to restrain the ambitions of nationalists. The state of affairs might be somewhat unpleasant, but what of that? Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people’s.
        ==The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

The root of the matter is a very simple and old-fashioned thing, a thing so simple that I am almost ashamed to mention it, for fear of the derisive smile with which wise cynics will greet my words. The thing I mean – please forgive me for mentioning it – is love, Christian love, or compassion. … If you feel this, you have all that anybody should need in the way of religion.
        ==The Impact of Science on Society, 1952

I observe that a very large portion of the human race does not believe in God and suffers no visible punishment in consequence. And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt his existence.
        ==“What Is an Agnostic?” Look, 1953

I do not understand where the “beauty” and “harmony” of nature are supposed to come from. Throughout the animal kingdom, animals ruthlessly prey on each  other. Most of them are either cruelly killed by other animals or slowly die of hunger. For my part, I am unable to see any great beauty or harmony in the tapeworm. Let it not be said that this creature is sent as a punishment for our sins, for it is more prevalent among animals than among humans. I suppose what is meant by this “beauty” and “harmony” are such things as the beauty of the starry heavens. But one should remember that the stars every now and again explode and reduce everything in the neighborhood to a vague mist.
        ==“What Is an Agnostic?” Look, 1953

The agnostic is not quite so certain as some Christians are as to what is good and what is evil. He does not hold, as most Christians in the past held, that people who disagree with the Government on abstruse points of theology ought to suffer a painful death. He is against persecution, and rather chary of moral condemnation. As for “sin,” he thinks it not a useful notion. He admits, of course, that some kinds of conduct are desirable and some undesirable, but he holds that the punishment of undesirable kinds is only to be commended when it is deterrent or reformatory, not when it is inflicted because it is thought a good thing on its own account that the wicked should suffer. It was this belief in vindictive punishment that made men accept hell. This is part of the harm done by the notion of “sin.”
        ==“What Is an Agnostic?” Look, 1953

Man, even if he does not commit suicide, will perish ultimately through the failure of water or air or warmth. It is difficult to believe that Omnipotence needed so vast a setting for so small and transitory a result.
        ==“The Faith of a Rationalist,” BBC broadcast, 1953

Cruel men believe in a cruel God and use their belief to excuse their cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly God and they would be kindly in any case.
        ==“The Faith of a Rationalist,” BBC broadcast, 1953

If your hopes and wishes are confined to yourself, or your family, or your nation, or your class, or the adherents of your creed, you will find that all your affections and all your kindly feelings are paralleled by dislikes and hostile sentiments. From such a duality in men’s feelings spring almost all the major evils in human life — cruelties, oppressions, persecutions and wars.
        ==“A Philosophy for Our Time,” 1953

I can respect the men who argue that religion is true and therefore ought to be believed, but I can only feel profound moral reprobation for those who say that religion ought to be believed because it is useful, and that to ask whether it be true is a waste of time.
        ==“Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?” 1954

Every isolated person is, in isolation, insane; sanity may be defined as synthesis of insanities. Every dominant passion generates a dominant fear, the fear of its non-fulfillment. Every dominant fear generates a nightmare, sometimes in the form of explicit and conscious fanaticism, sometimes in paralyzing timidity, sometimes in unconscious or subconscious terror which finds expression only in dreams. The man who wishes to preserve sanity in a dangerous world should summon in his own mind a parliament of fears, in which each in turn is voted absurd by all the others.
        ==Nightmares of Eminent Persons, 1954

“Professor,” the girl replied, “what you say is of course very impressive, but I have arrived at a view which I fear you may find shocking. I think that there are facts and fictions, there is truth and there are lies. I know that those who preach the doctrine of the Golden Mean, of which I suspect you are an adherent, consider one should observe the golden mean between truth and falsehood, as you so admirably did … But to my mind, facts are harsh and will not be denied.”
        ==Nightmares of Eminent Persons, 1954

If I were to travel by plane to New York, reason tells me that it is better to take a plane which is going to New York than one which is going to Constantinople. I suppose those who think me unduly rational, consider I ought to become so agitated at the airport as to jump into the first plane that I see, and when it lands me in Constantinople I ought to curse the people among whom I find myself for being Turks and not American. This would be a fine, full-blooded way of behaving, and would, I suppose, meet with the commendation of my critics.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

The standpoint of modern liberal theologians is well set forth by Dr. Tennant in his book, The Concept of Sin. To him sin consists of acts of will that are in conscious opposition to a known law, the moral law being known by revelation as God’s will. It follows that a man destitute of religion cannot sin.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

Christians hold that their faith does good, but other faiths do harm. At any rate, they hold this about the Communist faith. What I wish to maintain is that all faiths do harm.
We may define “faith” as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. When there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dare not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

If you think that your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument, rather than by persecution, and will abandon it if the argument goes against you.
But if your belief is based on faith, you will realize that argument is useless, and will therefore resort to force in the form of persecution or by stunting and distorting the minds of the young in what is called “education.”
This last is particularly dastardly since it takes advantage of the defenselessness of immature minds. Unfortunately it is practiced in a greater or less degree in the schools of every civilized country.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

In universities, mathematics is taught mainly to men who are going to teach mathematics to men who are going to teach mathematics to . . . .
Sometimes, it is true, there is an escape from this treadmill. Archimedes used mathematics to kill Romans, Galileo to improve the Grand Duke of Tuscany’s artillery, modern physicists (grown more ambitious) to exterminate the human race. It is usually on this account that the study of mathematics is commended to the general public as worthy of State support.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

The world that I would wish to see is one where emotions are strong, but not destructive, and where, because they are acknowledged, they lead to no deception either of oneself or of others. Such a world would include love and friendship and the pursuit of art and knowledge. I cannot hope to satisfy those who want something more tigerish.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

If we were really persuaded that pigs are happier than human beings, we should not on that account welcome the ministrations of Circe.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

Most stern moralists are in the habit of thinking of pleasure as only of the senses, and, when they eschew the pleasures of sense, they do not notice that the pleasures of power, which to men of their temperament are far more attractive, have not been brought within the ban of their ascetic self-denial. It is the prevalence of this type of psychology in forceful men which has made the notion of sin so popular, since it combines so perfectly humility towards heaven with self-assertion here on earth.
The concept of sin has not the hold on men’s imaginations that it had in the Middle Ages, but still dominates the thoughts of many clergymen, magistrates and schoolmasters. When the great Dr. Arnold walked on the shores of Lake Como, it was not the beauty of the scene that occupied his thoughts. He meditated, so he tells us, on moral evil.
I rather fear it was the moral evil of school-boys rather than schoolmasters that produced his melancholy reflections. However that may be, he was led to the unshakable belief that it is good for boys to be flogged. One of the great rewards that a belief in sin has always offered to the virtuous is the opportunity which it affords of inflicting pain without compunction.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

Those who first advocated religious toleration were thought wicked, and so were the early opponents of slavery. The Gospels tell how Christ opposed the stricter forms of the Sabbath tabu. It cannot, in view of such instances, be denied that some actions which we all think highly laudable consist in criticizing or infringing the moral code of one’s own community. Of course this applies only to past ages or to foreigners; nothing of the sort could occur among ourselves, since our moral code is perfect.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

Protestants tell us, or used to tell us, that it is contrary to the will of god to work on Sundays. But Jews say that it is on Saturdays that God objects to work. Disagreement on this point has persisted for nineteen centuries, and I know no method of putting an end to the disagreement except Hitler’s lethal chambers, which would not generally be regarded as a legitimate method in scientific controversy. Jews and Mohammedans assure us that God forbids pork, but Hindus say that it is beef that he forbids.
Disagreement on this point has caused hundreds of thousands to be massacred in recent years. It can hardly be said, therefore, that the Will of God gives a basis for an objective ethic.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

One critic takes me to task because I say that only evil passions prevent the realization of a better world, and goes on triumphantly to ask, “Are all human emotions necessarily evil?”
In the very book that leads my critic to this objection, I say that what the world needs is Christian love, or compassion. This, surely, is an emotion, and, in saying this is what the world needs, I am not suggesting reason as a driving force. I can only suppose that this emotion, because it is neither cruel nor destructive, is not attractive to the apostles of unreason.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

If men were activated by self-interest, which they are not — except in the case of a few saints — there would be no wars, no more armies, no move navies, no more atom bombs. There are few occasions upon which large bodies of men, such as politics is concerned with, can rise above selfishness, while on the other hand there are a great many circumstances in which populations will fall below selfishness, if selfishness is interpreted as enlightened self-interest.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

The sense of sin, and the fear of falling into sin, produce, when they are strong, an introspective and self-centered frame of mind, which interferes with spontaneous affection and breadth of outlook, and is apt to generate a timorous and somewhat disagreeable kind of humility. It is not by such a state of mind that the best lives are inspired.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

Most political leaders acquire their position by causing large numbers of people to believe that these leaders are actuated by altruistic desires. It is well understood that such a belief is more readily accepted under the influence of excitement. Brass bands, mob oratory, lynching, and war are stages in the development of the excitement. I suppose the advocates of unreason think that there is a better chance of profitably deceiving the populace if they keep it in a state of effervescence. Perhaps it is my dislike of this sort of process which leads people to say that I am unduly rational.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

In addition to the general argument against faith, there is something peculiarly odious in the contention that the principles of the Sermon on the Mount are to be adopted with a view to making atom bombs more effective. If I were a Christian, I would consider this the absolute extreme of blasphemy.
        ==Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

We have got to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties.
Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and West.
There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to other human beings:
Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.
        ==The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, 1955

It might be objected that it is right to hate those who do harm. I do not think so. If you hate them, it is only too likely you will become equally hateful; and it is very unlikely that you will induce them to abandon their evil ways. Hatred of evil is itself a kind of bondage to evil. The way out is through understanding, not through hate. I am not advocating non-resistance. But I am saying that resistance, if it is to be effective in preventing the spread of evil, should be combined with the greatest degree of understanding and the smallest degree of force that is compatible with the survival of the good things we wish to preserve.
        ==Portraits from Memory, 1956

For over two thousand years it has been the custom among earnest moralists to decry happiness as something degraded and unworthy. The Stoics, for centuries, attacked Epicurus, who preached happiness; they said that his was a pig’s philosophy, and showed their superior virtue by inventing scandalous lies about him. One of them, Cleanthes, wanted Aristarchus persecuted for advocating the Copernican system of astronomy; another, Marcus Aurelius, persecuted the Christians; one of he most famous of them, Seneca, abetted Nero’s abominations, amassed a vast fortune and lent money to Boadicea at such an exorbitant rate of interest that she was driven into rebellion. So much for antiquity.
Skipping the next 2,000 years we come to the German professors who invented the disastrous theories that led Germany to its downfall and the rest of the world to its present perilous state; all these learned men despised happiness, as did their British imitator, Carlyle, who is never weary of telling us that we ought to eschew happiness in favor of blessedness. He found blessedness in rather odd places: Cromwell’s Irish massacres, Frederick the Great’s bloodthirsty perfidy, and Governor Eyre’s Jamaican brutality. In fact, contempt for happiness is usually contempt for other people’s happiness, and is an elegant disguise for hatred of the human race.
        ==Portraits from Memory, 1956

I will not praise armies of slaves because they can win battles.
        ==Portraits from Memory, 1956

It would now be technically possible to unify the world, abolish war and poverty altogether, if men desired their own happiness more than the misery of their enemies.
        ==Portraits From Memory, 1956

    The fundamental fallacy which is committed by almost everyone is this: “A and B hate each other, therefore one is good and the other is bad.”
        ==Letter to Sidney Hook, 1956

    In every violent conflict, party spirit produces a tendency to excuse or cover up the crimes committed by one’s own side. … It is no true service to any cause to support excesses committed in its name. … All I ask of you is that you should study the facts more carefully than you seem to have done, and that, while studying them, you should remember that the sins of others are a poor excuse for our own. Loyalty to facts should always outweigh loyalty to a party, and loyalty to facts entails, in those who make public pronouncements, willingness to ascertain the facts even when they are painful …
        ==Reply to open letter by Norman Thomas, 1957

    I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of ethical values, but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with human cruelty is that I don’t like it.
        ==Reply to critics, 1960

    … At all times, men who could either think or feel more deeply than most have found themselves in conflict with one or more of the beliefs prevalent in their society. And many of those who have been forced into such conflict have come to be regarded by future ages as among those who have excelled in wisdom or in human feeling.
    Every age admits this as regards the past.
    Every age denies it as regards the present.
        ==“Human Life Is in Danger,” 1960

    When we say, “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves,” our hearts swell with pride and we feel, although we do not explicitly say, that we should be slaves if we were not free at any moment to commit any crime against any other country.
        ==Has Man a Future?  1961

    I cannot believe — and I say this with all the emphasis of which I am capable — that there can ever be any good excuse for refusing to face the evidence in favor of something unwelcome. It is not by delusion, however exalted, that mankind canprosper but only by unswerving courage in the pursuit of truth.
        ==Fact and Fiction, 1961

The world is full of people who when they feel a sentiment that they themselves judge to be beautiful or noble are persuaded that it must find some echo in the cosmos. They suppose that what seems to them to be ethical sublimity cannot be causally unimportant. The indifference to human joys and sorrows which seems to characterize the physical world must, they believe, be an illusion; and they fancy that the painfulness of certain beliefs is evidence of their falsehood. This way of looking at things seemed in youth, and still seems to me, an unworthy evasion.
        ==Fact and Fiction, 1961

    ONLY PROTEST GIVES A HOPE OF LIFE.
        ==Broadsheet on the Cuban missile crisis, 1962

    Communists, Fascists and Nazis have successfully challenged all that I thought good, and in defeating them much of what their opponents have sought to preserve is being lost. Freedom has come to be thought weakness, and tolerance has been compelled to wear the garb of treachery. Old ideals are judged irrelevant, and no doctrine free of harshness commands respect.
    ==Autobiography, 1967

    I may have conceived theoretical truth wrongly, but I was not wrong in thinking there is such a thing and that it deserves our allegiance. I may have thought the road to a world of free and happy human beings shorter than it is proving to be, but I was not wrong in thinking such a world is possible, and that it is worth while to live with a view to bringing it nearer.
    I have lived in the pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle: to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times. Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them. These things I believe, and the world, for all its horrors, has left me unshaken.
        ==Autobiography, 1967