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RUSSELL, Bertrand



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Incidentally, I (Leonard LYONS ) once asked Russell if he was willing to die for his beliefs. “Of course not,” he replied . “After all, I may be wrong . . .”

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Autobiography
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Parental feeling, as I have experienced it, is very complex. There is, first and foremost, sheer animal affection, and delight in watching what is charming in the ways of the young. Next, there is the sense of inescapable responsibility, providing a purpose for daily activities which skepticism does not easily question. Then there is an egoistic element, which is very dangerous: the hope that one's children may succeed where one has failed, that they may carry on one's work when death or senility puts an end to one's own efforts, and, in any case, that they will supply a biological escape from death, making one's own life part of the whole stream, and not a mere stagnant puddle without any overflow into the future. All this I experienced, and for some years it filled my life with happiness and peace.
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Human Society in Ethics and Politics

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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 either 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 defencelessness of immature minds. Unfortunately it is practiced in greater or less degree in the schools of every civilised country.

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We may define "faith" as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where 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. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups substitute different emotions.

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Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits

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C. Truth

I come now to the definition of “truth” and “falsehood.” Certain things are evident. Truth is a property of beliefs, and derivatively of sentences which express beliefs. Truth consists in a certain relation between a belief and one or more facts other than the belief. When this relation is absent, the belief is false. A sentence may be called “true” or “false” even if no one believes it, provided that, if it were believed, the belief would be true or false as the case may be.

So much, I say, is evident. But what is not evident is the nature of the relation between belief and fact that is involved, or the definition of the possible fact that will make a given belief true, or the meaning of “possible” in this phrase. Until these questions are answered we have no adequate definition of “truth

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