Nine-tenths of the activities of a modern Government are harmful; therefore the worse they are performed, the better.

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

Profession: Philosopher
Nationality: British

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Boredom is essentially a thwarted desire for events, not necessarily pleasant ones, but just occurrences such as will enable the victim of ennui to know one day from another. The opposite of boredom, in a word, is not pleasure, but excitement.

To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.

I consider the official Catholic attitude on divorce, birth control, and censorship exceedingly dangerous to mankind.

Order, unity, and continuity are human inventions, just as truly as catalogues and encyclopedias.

The danger is one which democracy by itself does not suffice to avert. A democracy in which the majority exercises its power without restraint may be almost as tyrannical as a dictatorship. Toleration of minorities is an essential part of wise democracy, but a part which is not always sufficiently remembered.

Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it?

You would think ill of a soldier who refused to fight unless victory was certain. The person who needs religion to bolster up his own purposes is a timorous person, and I cannot think as well of him as of the man who takes his chances, while admitting that defeat is not impossible.

Consequently people fight for and against quite irrelevant measures, while the few who have a rational opinion are not listened to because they do not minister to any one's passions.

Your writing is never as good as you hoped; but never as bad as you feared.

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure, and the intelligent are full of doubt.

Even if (as I myself believe) almost all Hegel's doctrines are false, he still retains an importance which is not merely historical, as the best representative of a certain kind of philosophy which, in others, is less coherent and less comprehensive.

To discover a system for the avoidance of war is a vital need of our civilization; but no such system has a chance while men are so unhappy that mutual extermination seems to them less dreadful than continued endurance of the light of day.

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.

Following Locke's doctrine that the mind is a tabula rasa, Helvetius considered the differences between individuals entirely due to differences of education: in every individual, his talents and his virtues are the effect of his instruction.