50 years ago today, at 97 years of age, Bertrand Arthur William Russell died. The Bertrand Russell Society wishes to take this occasion to mark and celebrate his legacy.
Russell was a Nobel Laureate, a peace activist strongly opposed to nuclear armaments and the Vietnam War, and deeply concerned with the plight of humankind. As he puts it in the prologue of his Autobiography:
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. […] Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
For all his active participation in political affairs – he exchanged telegrams with Kennedy and Kruschev during the Cuban Missile Crisis – Russell was also an insightful and brilliant philosopher. His works on the foundations of mathematics contributed a great deal to philosophy of that subject, and also induced a revolution into mathematically-inspired scientific philosophy, an approach to philosophizing that privileged piecemeal, careful, and collaborative work, which stressed taking patient stock of patent facts over the heroic systematic and a prioristic philosophizing of his contemporaries.
This forward-looking methodology, besides doing a great deal to inspire our own philosophical age, was equally applied by Russell in political and ethical philosophy, leading him to proposed roadmaps for humankind that, he believed, would alleviate the enormous suffering that pained him so much.
Today, 50 years since his death, we are very far from that utopia, but we think and feel that the clearest vision of that hopeful future appears in his works. And despite the shortcomings of the present age, we are delighted to celebrate his life and legacy today. These words from Russell’s Autobiography ring ever the more true because of the joy that reading Russell has brought to many of us:
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.
Finally, we will be updating this page today with Russell-related links from others, including their favorite Russell quotes and clips. Please feel free to share these in comments below, or tag us on Twitter so that we can add them.
Celebrations of Russell, 2nd February 1970 – 50 years since his death
Bertrand Russell—famed worldwide as a logician, philosopher, and peace advocate—passed away 50 years ago today. His loss was keenly felt. Here, a telegram of condolence from HM Queen Elizabeth to Russell’s widow Edith and a copy of his obituary from the New York Times. #onthisday pic.twitter.com/WhD2rbtxLu— McMaster Archives & Research Collections (@MacResColls) February 2, 2020
One of Bertie’s favourite pipes cleaned and ready for Tea with Bertie @FiveLeavesBooks, Independent Bookshop of the Year in @NottmCityOfLit #OnThisDay— Spokesman Books (@SpokesmanBooks) February 2, 2020
Bertrand Russell 1872-1970 pic.twitter.com/BfFapqj83w
“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”— Maria Popova (@brainpicker) February 2, 2020
Bertrand Russell died on this day in 1970, after 97 wise years, and bequeathed us his 10 timeless commandments of critical thinking: https://t.co/jEJYeRh6TZ
Our patron, Bertrand Russell, died #onthisday in 1970. If you do one thing today, listen to his short and powerful message to future generations and make sure others see it too. pic.twitter.com/fPFqEBwOlO— Humanists UK (@Humanists_UK) February 2, 2020
#BertrandRussell | ❝Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.❞— Independent Hand (@independenthand) February 2, 2020
“Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.”— Maria Popova (@brainpicker) February 2, 2020
Bertrand Russell died on this day in 1970, at 97, having learned how to grow old: https://t.co/jK1MOgACCH
#DiedOnThisDay 1970: Bertrand Russell. A philosopher, logician and mathematician, his “Principia Mathematica” (written with A.N.Whitehead) attempted to create a logical basis for mathematics. pic.twitter.com/ypkthmO7JS— Isaac Newton Institute (@NewtonInstitute) February 2, 2020
El Pais Brazil edition marks 50th anniversary of the death of Bertrand Russell https://t.co/j6KdQzem9o— Spokesman Books (@SpokesmanBooks) February 2, 2020
Welsh born Nobel Prize winning philosopher, socialist, and anti-war activist, Bertrand Russell, died on 2 February 1970 (aged 97). pic.twitter.com/oQz2X7Xs5I— Prof Frank McDonough (@FXMC1957) February 2, 2020
DOTD: 1970 – Bertrand Russell – A foremost philosopher of the 20th century, who revolted against British idealism & became a founding father of analytic philosophy. His work influenced maths, logic, set theory, linguistics, AI, cognitive science, computer science and philosophy. pic.twitter.com/VqqI5WQtOa— Jayne (@HellsHarlot420) February 2, 2020
🔶 BERTRAND RUSSELL— Paul Holdengraber (@holdengraber) February 2, 2020
Died on this day, in 1970
“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.“
📷 George Platt Lynes, c. 1945
thanks to @LiteraryVienna pic.twitter.com/aUsUjSlCEB
On the anniversary of the death of Bertrand Russell, here’s his letter to Oswald Mosley (the Nigel Farage of his day), rejecting Mosley’s invitation to dinner.#bertrandrussell #NigelFarage pic.twitter.com/EVCNWViktx— Paul (@ttocsluap) February 2, 2020
#OTD fifty years ago, the world has lost a brilliant mind and one of the greatest Western philosophers, Bertrand Russell. He was a unique thinker, and his works remain relevant today. E.g., he was against war & dogma, a combination which remain an imminent threat to humanity. pic.twitter.com/nitNqvR01i— Aziz Mahdi 🌍 (@AMAGuudcadde) February 2, 2020
Bugün 50. ölüm yıl dönümü olan Bertrand Russell’a gelecekte bu videoyu izleyeceklere söylemek istedikleri sorulur:— can gurses (@canitti) February 2, 2020
– Entelektüel olarak tek ölçü ‘gerçektir’; sizin veya toplumun duymak istediği değil
– Ahlak olarak; sevmek bilgelik, nefret ise aptallıktırpic.twitter.com/stKUAB5ku6
Hoy hace 50 años que nos dejó Bertrand Russell @BRussellSociety— Óscar Barberá Marco (@MTDentalFloss) February 2, 2020
“… most people would die sooner than think—in fact, they do so.”
Bertrand Russell, 1925. The ABC of Relativity, Chapter XI: Is the Universe Finite? Harper & Brothers, New York, p. 166. pic.twitter.com/SnD9cxydbG
Ein nicht selten zu beobachtendes Opfer des Verfolgungswahns ist eine gewisse Sorte von Menschenfreunden, die andern gegen deren eigenen Willen Guttaten aufdrängen und erstaunt und entsetzt sind, wenn sie ihm keine Dankbarkeit bezeigen.— Selbstleser (@Selbstleser) February 2, 2020
Bertrand Russell (✝︎ 2. Februar 1970) pic.twitter.com/hCZPgWUArv
“Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce.”— George Shiber (@GeorgeShiber) February 2, 2020
“Now and then, hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
“Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination.” https://t.co/K5aOapP9xs pic.twitter.com/v8dMqHpv6w