Best quotes by the British Philosopher Bertrand Russell

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
  • life

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
  • Time

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

We call a man irrational when he acts in a passion, when he cuts off his nose to spite his face.
  • passion



War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
  • War

One of the signs of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
  • Health

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
  • Fools

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.
  • funny

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  • accepted

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
  • Love

Anything you're good at contributes to happiness.
  • Happiness

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

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.
  • cabbage

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.
  • Happiness

Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?
  • Propaganda

Drunkenness is temporary suicide.
  • AlcoholAlcoholism

One must care about a world one will not see.
  • Responsibility

Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.
  • adopt

Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery.
  • Hope

Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.
  • Ignorance

Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame.
  • blame

One of the most interesting and harmful delusions to which men and nations can be subjected is that of imagining themselves special instruments of the Divine Will.
  • Ego

The good life is one inspired by life and guided by knowledge.
  • Life

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
  • wisdom

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.
  • Consumerism

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.
  • Facts

The fundamental defect with fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them.
  • Father

Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.
  • Happiness

The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.
  • Help

A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.
  • Ignorance


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Bertrand Russell Quotes About

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Bertrand Russell science quotes

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Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.
  • adopt

Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.
  • philosophy

Science is what you know, philosophy what you don't know.
  • Science

Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted.
  • Science

In science men have discovered an activity of the very highest value in which they are no longer, as in art, dependent for progress upon the appearance of continually greater genius, for in science the successors stand upon the shoulders of their predecessors; where one man of supreme genius has invented a method, a thousand lesser men can apply it.
  • Science

Can a society in which thought and technique are scientific persist for a long period, as, for example, ancient Egypt persisted, or does it necessarily contain within itself forces which must bring either decay or explosion?
  • Science

Religion and Science are two aspects of social life, of which the former has been important as far back as we know anything of man
  • Science

Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attributable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.
  • achieved

We know very little, and yet it is astonishing that we know so much, and still more astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power.
  • science

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 spaces have a splendor of their own.
  • science

Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attibutable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.
  • philosophy

La Ciencia en ningún momento está totalmente en lo cierto, pero rara vez está completamente equivocada y tiene en general mayores posibilidades de estar en lo cierto que las teorías no científicas.
  • science

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Bertrand Russell happiness quotes

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Anything you're good at contributes to happiness.
  • Happiness

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.
  • Happiness

Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.
  • Happiness

Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.
  • Happiness

Happiness is not best achieved by those who seek it directly.
  • Happiness

The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy; I mean that if you are happy you will be good.
  • Happiness

Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.
  • happiness

Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people's.
  • happiness

To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life slowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future.
  • Happiness

The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.
  • Happiness

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.
  • Happiness

I've made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I'm convinced of the opposite.
  • nature

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Bertrand Russell love quotes

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The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
  • life

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
  • Love

Religions that teach brotherly love have been used as an excuse for persecution, and our profoundest scientific insight is made into a means of mass destruction.
  • brotherly

Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.
  • disguised

Suddenly the ground seemed to give way beneath me,and I found myself in quite another region.Within five minutes I went throughsome such reflections as the following:the loneliness of the human soul is unendurable;nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensityof the sort of love that religious teachers have preached;whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful,or at best useless;it follows that war is wrong,that a public school education is abominable,that the use of force is to be deprecated,and that in human relations one should penetrateto the core of loneliness in each person and speak to that.
  • Love

Many people when they fall in love look for a little haven of refuge from the world, where they can be sure of being admired when they are not admirable, and praised when they are not praiseworthy.
  • Love

The root of the matter the thing I mean is love, Christian love, or compassion. If you feel this, you have a motive for existence, a guide for action, a reason for courage, an imperative necessity for intellectual honesty.
  • Love

I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe - because, like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return.
  • accidental

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.
  • governed

Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.
  • first

Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.
  • afflicts

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already 3-parts dead.
  • life

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Bertrand Russell philosophy quotes

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Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.
  • philosophy

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
  • Philosophy

Bad philosophers may have a certain influence; good philosophers, never.
  • Philosophy

The theoretical understanding of the world, which is the aim of philosophy, is not a matter of great practical importance to animals, or to savages, or even to most civilised men.
  • aim

Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.
  • absolute

I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.
  • believe

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

Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attibutable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.
  • philosophy

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.
  • philosophy

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Bertrand Russell people quotes

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Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame.
  • blame

Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.
  • convention

Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.
  • die

I believe in using words, not fists. I believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street. I believe in honesty. I believe in a good time. I believe in good food. I believe in sex.
  • believe

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
  • certain

I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.
  • believe

Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.
  • die

Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other matter; second, telling other people to do so.
  • altering

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More quotes by Bertrand Russell

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A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it.
  • Illusion

There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.
  • Knowledge

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.
  • Patriotism

I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
  • christian



Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.
  • philosophy

The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.
  • Argument

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.
  • Caution

Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
  • Crime

All human activity is prompted by desire.
  • Desires

No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor, but honest.
  • Animals

Most people would rather die than think: many do.
  • Death

No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.
  • Gossip

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
  • Philosophy

The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.
  • ours

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
  • funny

I am paid by the word, so I always write the shortest words possible.
  • Authors

What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.
  • Belief

Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
  • Boredom

What men want is not knowledge, but certainty.
  • Certainty

We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one that we preach, but do not practice, and another that we practice, but seldom preach.
  • Morals

Do not fear to be excentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  • Opinion

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.
  • Passion

Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken.
  • Professionalism

There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.
  • Reading

Our instinctive emotions are those that we have inherited from a much more dangerous world, and contain, therefore, a larger portion of fear than they should.
  • Worry

Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.
  • Happiness

The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts- the less you know the hotter you get.
  • Knowledge

Reason is a harmonizing, controlling force rather than a creative one.
  • Reason

Folly is perennial, yet the human race has survived.
  • Fools

Obscenity is whatever happens to shock some elderly and ignorant magistrate.
  • Profanity

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.
  • Questions

Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, the chief glory of man.
  • Thought

Religions that teach brotherly love have been used as an excuse for persecution, and our profoundest scientific insight is made into a means of mass destruction.
  • brotherly

Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.
  • activities

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.
  • become

Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.
  • real

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.
  • doubt

Indignation is a submission of our thoughts, but not of our desires.
  • Anger

Why should I allow that same God to tell me how to raise my kids, who had to drown His own?
  • Atheism

If all our happiness is bound up entirely in our personal circumstances it is difficult not to demand of life more than it has to give.
  • Chance

Freedom comes only to those who no longer ask of life that it shall yield them any of those personal goods that are subject to the mutations of time.
  • Consumerism

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
  • Doubt

A sense of duty is useful in work but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not to be endured with patient resignation.
  • Duty

We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.
  • Emotions

Happiness is not best achieved by those who seek it directly.
  • Happiness

The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy; I mean that if you are happy you will be good.
  • Happiness

Mathematics, rightly viewed, posses not only truth, but supreme beauty a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.
  • Mathematics

Mathematics takes us into the region of absolute necessity, to which not only the actual word, but every possible word, must conform.
  • Mathematics

It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living.
  • Opinion

A process which led from the amoebae to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress -- though whether the amoebae would agree with this opinion is not known.
  • Progress

Change is one thing, progress is another. Change is scientific, progress is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy.
  • Progress

Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic.
  • Religion

Science is what you know, philosophy what you don't know.
  • Science

Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.
  • Thought

Against my will, in the course of my travels, the belief that everything worth knowing was known at Cambridge gradually wore off.
  • Travel

Many a man will have the courage to die gallantly, but will not have the courage to say, or even to think, that the cause for which he is asked to die is an unworthy one.
  • asked

To understand a name you must be acquainted with the particular of which it is a name.
  • acquainted

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
  • approaching

Sin is geographical.
  • geographical

Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.
  • convention

Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.
  • happiness

Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.
  • disguised

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
  • anything

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
  • far

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
  • animal

Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.
  • act

A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.
  • adventure

Really high-minded people are indifferent to happiness, especially other people's.
  • happiness

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth -- more than ruin, more even 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 of 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.
  • courage

Freedom in general may be defined as the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires.
  • freedom

When the intensity of emotional conviction subsides, a man who is in the habit of reasoning will search for logical grounds in favor of the belief which he finds in himself.
  • Belief

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
  • Belief

Unless one is taught what to do with success after getting it, achievement of it must inevitably leave him prey to boredom.
  • Boredom

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.
  • Capitalism

There will still be things that machines cannot do. They will not produce great art or great literature or great philosophy; they will not be able to discover the secret springs of happiness in the human heart; they will know nothing of love and friendship.
  • Computers

The most valuable things in life are not measured in monetary terms. The really important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real state, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith.
  • Contentment

To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy.
  • Conversation

There is no need to worry about mere size. We do not necessarily respect a fat man more than a thin man. Sir Isaac Newton was very much smaller than a hippopotamus, but we do not on that account value him less.
  • Diets

There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts.
  • Earth

It will be said that the joy of mental adventure must be rare, that there are few who can appreciate it, and that ordinary education can take no account of so aristocratic a good. I do not believe this. The joy of mental adventure is far commoner in the young than in grown men and women. ...It is rare in later life because everything is done to kill it during education.
  • Education

In America everybody is of opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.
  • Equality

Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself.
  • Ethics

Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance.
  • Evolution

An extra-terrestrial philosopher, who had watched a single youth up to the age of twenty-one and had never come across any other human being, might conclude that it is the nature of human beings to grow continually taller and wiser in an indefinite progress towards perfection; and this generalization would be just as well founded as the generalization which evolutionists base upon the previous history of this planet.
  • Evolution

In the revolt against idealism, the ambiguities of the word experience have been perceived, with the result that realists have more and more avoided the word.
  • Experience

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

The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. ... But so long as men are not trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues.
  • Facts

With the introduction of agriculture mankind entered upon a long period of meanness, misery, and madness, from which they are only now being freed by the beneficent operation of the machine.
  • Farming

Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure.
  • Freedom

One should respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
  • Freedom

The difficulty is old, but none the less real. An omnipotent being who created a world containing evil not due to sin must Himself be at least partially evil.
  • God

There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate government action.
  • Government

To be happy in this world, especially when youth is past, it is necessary to feel oneself not merely an isolated individual whose day will soon be over, but part of the stream of life slowing on from the first germ to the remote and unknown future.
  • Happiness

The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.
  • Happiness

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.
  • Happiness

Hatred of enemies is easier and more intense than love of friends. But from men who are more anxious to injure opponents than to benefit the world at large no great good is to be expected.
  • Hate

If any philosopher had been asked for a definition of infinity, he might have produced some unintelligible rigmarole, but he would certainly not have been able to give a definition that had any meaning at all.
  • Infinity

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.
  • Liberalism

The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long.
  • Life

What else is there to make life tolerable? We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night and to emptiness. Sometimes a voice of one drowning, and in a moment the silence returns. The world seems to me quite dreadful, the unhappiness of many people is very great, and I often wonder how they all endure it. It is usually the central thing around which their lives are built, and I suppose if they did not live most of their lives in the things of the moment, they would not be able to go on.
  • Life

Suddenly the ground seemed to give way beneath me,and I found myself in quite another region.Within five minutes I went throughsome such reflections as the following:the loneliness of the human soul is unendurable;nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensityof the sort of love that religious teachers have preached;whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful,or at best useless;it follows that war is wrong,that a public school education is abominable,that the use of force is to be deprecated,and that in human relations one should penetrateto the core of loneliness in each person and speak to that.
  • Love

Many people when they fall in love look for a little haven of refuge from the world, where they can be sure of being admired when they are not admirable, and praised when they are not praiseworthy.
  • Love

The root of the matter the thing I mean is love, Christian love, or compassion. If you feel this, you have a motive for existence, a guide for action, a reason for courage, an imperative necessity for intellectual honesty.
  • Love

Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous and loathed because they impose slavery.
  • Machines

Marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.
  • Marriage

Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
  • Mathematics

The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.
  • Mathematics

The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.
  • Opinion

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
  • Opinion

This idea of weapons of mass exterminations utterly horrible and is something which no one with one spark of humanity can tolerate. I will not pretend to obey a government which is organizing a mass massacre of mankind.
  • Peace

Bad philosophers may have a certain influence; good philosophers, never.
  • Philosophy

The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others.
  • Pleasure

Nine-tenths of the appeal of pornography is due to the indecent feelings concerning sex which moralists inculcate in the young; the other tenth is physiological, and will occur in one way or another whatever the state of the law may be.
  • Pornography

Real life is, to most men, a long second-best, a perpetual compromise between the ideal and the possible; but the world of pure reason ;knows no compromise, no practical limitations, no barrier to the creative activity.
  • Potential

The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.
  • Power

An individual human existence should be like a river
  • Rivers

Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted.
  • Science

In science men have discovered an activity of the very highest value in which they are no longer, as in art, dependent for progress upon the appearance of continually greater genius, for in science the successors stand upon the shoulders of their predecessors; where one man of supreme genius has invented a method, a thousand lesser men can apply it.
  • Science

Can a society in which thought and technique are scientific persist for a long period, as, for example, ancient Egypt persisted, or does it necessarily contain within itself forces which must bring either decay or explosion?
  • Science

Religion and Science are two aspects of social life, of which the former has been important as far back as we know anything of man
  • Science


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