Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Bertrand Arthur William Russell died on 2 February 1970, almost thirty-four years ago. He was ninety-seven. Russell's godfather, believe it or not, was John Stuart Mill. Russell was born in 1872. Mill died in 1873. In 1957 (the year of my birth), when Russell was eighty-five years old, he wrote a preface to a collection of his essays being edited by Paul Edwards. Here is the beginning of the second paragraph of the preface:

There has been a rumor in recent years to the effect that I have become less opposed to religious orthodoxy than I formerly was. This rumor is totally without foundation. I think all the great religions of the world--Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Communism--both untrue and harmful.

(Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, ed. Paul Edwards [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957], v)

If you'd like to read Russell's 1927 essay "Why I Am Not a Christian," click here. If you'd like to read the entry on Russell in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (by A. D. Irvine), click here. If you'd like to take a virtual tour of The Bertrand Russell Archives at McMaster University, click here. If you'd like to see some images of Russell, click here.

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