Bertrand Russell

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The Earl Russell
Russell in 1949
Bertrand Arthur William Russell

(1872-05-18)18 May 1872
Died2 February 1970(1970-02-02) (aged 97)
Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionethshire, Wales
EducationTrinity College, Cambridge (BA, 1893)
  • (m. 1894; div. 1921)
  • (m. 1921; div. 1935)
  • (m. 1936; div. 1952)
  • (m. 1952)
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
InstitutionsTrinity College, Cambridge, London School of Economics, University of Chicago, University of California, Los Angeles
Academic advisorsJames Ward[1]
A. N. Whitehead
Doctoral studentsLudwig Wittgenstein
Other notable studentsRaphael Demos
Main interests
Notable ideas
Member of the House of Lords
In office
4 March 1931 – 2 February 1970
Hereditary peerage
Preceded byThe 2nd Earl Russell
Succeeded byThe 4th Earl Russell
Personal details
Political partyLabour (1922–1965)
Other political
Liberal (1907–1922)

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS[7] (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British mathematician, logician, philosopher, and public intellectual. He had influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, and various areas of analytic philosophy.[8]

He was one of the early 20th century's prominent logicians[8] and a founder of analytic philosophy, along with his predecessor Gottlob Frege, his friend and colleague G. E. Moore, and his student and protégé Ludwig Wittgenstein. Russell with Moore led the British "revolt against idealism".[b] Together with his former teacher A. N. Whitehead, Russell wrote Principia Mathematica, a milestone in the development of classical logic and a major attempt to reduce the whole of mathematics to logic (see Logicism). Russell's article "On Denoting" has been considered a "paradigm of philosophy".[10]

Russell was a pacifist who championed anti-imperialism and chaired the India League.[11][12][13] He went to prison for his pacifism during World War I,[14] and initially supported appeasement against Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, before changing his view in 1943, describing war as a necessary "lesser of two evils". In the wake of World War II, he welcomed American global hegemony in preference to either Soviet hegemony or no (or ineffective) world leadership, even if it were to come at the cost of using their nuclear weapons.[15] He would later criticise Stalinist totalitarianism, condemn the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, and become an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament.[16]

In 1950, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought".[17][18] He was also the recipient of the De Morgan Medal (1932), Sylvester Medal (1934), Kalinga Prize (1957), and Jerusalem Prize (1963).



Early life and background


Bertrand Arthur William Russell was born at Ravenscroft, a country house in Trellech, Monmouthshire,[a] on 18 May 1872, into an influential and liberal family of the British aristocracy.[19][20] His parents were Viscount and Viscountess Amberley. Lord Amberley consented to his wife's affair with their children's tutor,[21][22] the biologist Douglas Spalding. Both were early advocates of birth control at a time when this was considered scandalous.[23] Lord Amberley was a deist, and even asked the philosopher John Stuart Mill to act as Russell's secular godfather.[24] Mill died the year after Russell's birth, but his writings later influenced Russell's life.

Russell as a 4-year-old

His paternal grandfather, Lord John Russell, later 1st Earl Russell (1792–1878), had twice been prime minister in the 1840s and 1860s.[25] A member of Parliament since the early 1810s, he met with Napoleon Bonaparte in Elba.[26] The Russells had been prominent in England for several centuries before this, coming to power and the peerage with the rise of the Tudor dynasty (see: Duke of Bedford). They established themselves as one of the leading Whig families and participated in political events from the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536–1540 to the Glorious Revolution in 1688–1689 and the Great Reform Act in 1832.[25][27]

Lady Amberley was the daughter of Lord and Lady Stanley of Alderley.[16] Russell often feared the ridicule of his maternal grandmother,[28] one of the campaigners for education of women.[29]

Childhood and adolescence


Russell had two siblings: brother Frank (seven years older), and sister Rachel (four years older). In June 1874, Russell's mother died of diphtheria, followed shortly by Rachel's death. In January 1876, his father died of bronchitis[30] after a long period of depression.[31]: 14  Frank and Bertrand were placed in the care of Victorian paternal grandparents, who lived at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park. His grandfather, former Prime Minister Earl Russell, died in 1878, and was remembered by Russell as a kind old man in a wheelchair. His grandmother, the Countess Russell (née Lady Frances Elliot), was the central family figure for the rest of Russell's childhood and youth.[16][23]

The Countess was from a Scottish Presbyterian family and petitioned the Court of Chancery to set aside a provision in Amberley's will requiring the children to be raised as agnostics. Despite her religious conservatism, she held progressive views in other areas (accepting Darwinism and supporting Irish Home Rule), and her influence on Bertrand Russell's outlook on social justice and standing up for principle remained with him throughout his life. Her favourite Bible verse, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil",[32] became his motto. The atmosphere at Pembroke Lodge was one of frequent prayer, emotional repression and formality; Frank reacted to this with open rebellion, but the young Bertrand learned to hide his feelings.

Childhood home, Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, London

Russell's adolescence was lonely and he contemplated suicide. He remarked in his autobiography that his interests in "nature and books and (later) mathematics saved me from complete despondency;"[33] only his wish to know more mathematics kept him from suicide.[34] He was educated at home by a series of tutors.[35] When Russell was eleven years old, his brother Frank introduced him to the work of Euclid, which he described in his autobiography as "one of the great events of my life, as dazzling as first love".[36][37]

During these formative years he also discovered the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Russell wrote: "I spent all my spare time reading him, and learning him by heart, knowing no one to whom I could speak of what I thought or felt, I used to reflect how wonderful it would have been to know Shelley, and to wonder whether I should meet any live human being with whom I should feel so much sympathy."[38] Russell claimed that beginning at age 15, he spent considerable time thinking about the validity of Christian religious dogma, which he found unconvincing.[39] At this age, he came to the conclusion that there is no free will and, two years later, that there is no life after death. Finally, at the age of 18, after reading Mill's Autobiography, he abandoned the "First Cause" argument and became an atheist.[40][41]

He travelled to the continent in 1890 with an American friend, Edward FitzGerald, and with FitzGerald's family he visited the Paris Exhibition of 1889 and climbed the Eiffel Tower soon after it was completed.[42]


Russell at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1893

Russell won a scholarship to read for the Mathematical Tripos at Trinity College, Cambridge, and began his studies there in 1890,[43] taking as coach Robert Rumsey Webb. He became acquainted with the younger George Edward Moore and came under the influence of Alfred North Whitehead, who recommended him to the Cambridge Apostles. He distinguished himself in mathematics and philosophy, graduating as seventh Wrangler in the former in 1893 and becoming a Fellow in the latter in 1895.[44][45]

Early career


Russell began his published work in 1896 with German Social Democracy, a study in politics that was an early indication of his interest in political and social theory. In 1896 he taught German social democracy at the London School of Economics.[46] He was a member of the Coefficients dining club of social reformers set up in 1902 by the Fabian campaigners Sidney and Beatrice Webb.[47]

He now started a study of the foundations of mathematics at Trinity. In 1897, he wrote An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry (submitted at the Fellowship Examination of Trinity College) which discussed the Cayley–Klein metrics used for non-Euclidean geometry.[48] He attended the first International Congress of Philosophy in Paris in 1900 where he met Giuseppe Peano and Alessandro Padoa. The Italians had responded to Georg Cantor, making a science of set theory; they gave Russell their literature including the Formulario mathematico. Russell was impressed by the precision of Peano's arguments at the Congress, read the literature upon returning to England, and came upon Russell's paradox. In 1903 he published The Principles of Mathematics, a work on foundations of mathematics. It advanced a thesis of logicism, that mathematics and logic are one and the same.[49]

At the age of 29, in February 1901, Russell underwent what he called a "sort of mystic illumination", after witnessing Whitehead's wife's suffering in an angina attack. "I found myself filled with semi-mystical feelings about beauty and with a desire almost as profound as that of the Buddha to find some philosophy which should make human life endurable", Russell would later recall. "At the end of those five minutes, I had become a completely different person."[50]

In 1905, he wrote the essay "On Denoting", which was published in the philosophical journal Mind. Russell was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1908.[7][16] The three-volume Principia Mathematica, written with Whitehead, was published between 1910 and 1913. This, along with the earlier The Principles of Mathematics, soon made Russell world-famous in his field. Russell's first political activity was as the Independent Liberal candidate in the 1907 by-election for the Wimbledon constituency, where he was not elected.[51]

In 1910, he became a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Trinity College, where he had studied. He was considered for a fellowship, which would give him a vote in the college government and protect him from being fired for his opinions, but was passed over because he was "anti-clerical", because he was agnostic. He was approached by the Austrian engineering student Ludwig Wittgenstein, who became his PhD student. Russell viewed Wittgenstein as a successor who would continue his work on logic. He spent hours dealing with Wittgenstein's various phobias and his bouts of despair. This was a drain on Russell's energy, but Russell continued to be fascinated by him and encouraged his academic development, including the publication of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1922.[52] Russell delivered his lectures on logical atomism, his version of these ideas, in 1918, before the end of World War I. Wittgenstein was, at that time, serving in the Austrian Army and subsequently spent nine months in an Italian prisoner of war camp at the end of the conflict.

First World War

Russell served on the National Committee of the No-Conscription Fellowship, shown here in May 1916 (back right).[53]

During World War I, Russell was one of the few people to engage in active pacifist activities. In 1916, because of his lack of a fellowship, he was dismissed from Trinity College following his conviction under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914.[54] He later described this, in Free Thought and Official Propaganda, as an illegitimate means the state used to violate freedom of expression. Russell championed the case of Eric Chappelow, a poet jailed and abused as a conscientious objector.[55] Russell played a part in the Leeds Convention in June 1917, a historic event which saw well over a thousand "anti-war socialists" gather; many being delegates from the Independent Labour Party and the Socialist Party, united in their pacifist beliefs and advocating a peace settlement.[56] The international press reported that Russell appeared with a number of Labour Members of Parliament (MPs), including Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden, as well as former Liberal MP and anti-conscription campaigner, Professor Arnold Lupton. After the event, Russell told Lady Ottoline Morrell that, "to my surprise, when I got up to speak, I was given the greatest ovation that was possible to give anybody".[57][58]

His conviction in 1916 resulted in Russell being fined £100 (equivalent to £7,100 in 2023), which he refused to pay in hope that he would be sent to prison, but his books were sold at auction to raise the money. The books were bought by friends; he later treasured his copy of the King James Bible that was stamped "Confiscated by Cambridge Police".

A later conviction for publicly lecturing against inviting the United States to enter the war on the United Kingdom's side resulted in six months' imprisonment in Brixton Prison (see Bertrand Russell's political views) in 1918 (he was prosecuted under the Defence of the Realm Act[59])[60] He later said of his imprisonment:

I found prison in many ways quite agreeable. I had no engagements, no difficult decisions to make, no fear of callers, no interruptions to my work. I read enormously; I wrote a book, "Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy"... and began the work for "The Analysis of Mind". I was rather interested in my fellow-prisoners, who seemed to me in no way morally inferior to the rest of the population, though they were on the whole slightly below the usual level of intelligence as was shown by their having been caught.[61]

While he was reading Strachey's Eminent Victorians chapter about Gordon he laughed out loud in his cell prompting the warder to intervene and reminding him that "prison was a place of punishment".[62]

Russell was reinstated to Trinity in 1919, resigned in 1920, was Tarner Lecturer in 1926 and became a Fellow again in 1944 until 1949.[63]

In 1924, Russell again gained press attention when attending a "banquet" in the House of Commons with well-known campaigners, including Arnold Lupton, who had been an MP and had also endured imprisonment for "passive resistance to military or naval service".[64]

G. H. Hardy on the Trinity controversy


In 1941, G. H. Hardy wrote a 61-page pamphlet titled Bertrand Russell and Trinity – published later as a book by Cambridge University Press with a foreword by C. D. Broad—in which he gave an authoritative account of Russell's 1916 dismissal from Trinity College, explaining that a reconciliation between the college and Russell had later taken place and gave details about Russell's personal life. Hardy writes that Russell's dismissal had created a scandal since the vast majority of the Fellows of the College opposed the decision. The ensuing pressure from the Fellows induced the Council to reinstate Russell. In January 1920, it was announced that Russell had accepted the reinstatement offer from Trinity and would begin lecturing from October. In July 1920, Russell applied for a one year leave of absence; this was approved. He spent the year giving lectures in China and Japan. In January 1921, it was announced by Trinity that Russell had resigned and his resignation had been accepted. This resignation, Hardy explains, was voluntary and was not the result of another altercation.

The reason for the resignation, according to Hardy, was that Russell was going through a tumultuous time in his personal life with a divorce and subsequent remarriage. Russell contemplated asking Trinity for another one-year leave of absence but decided against it, since this would have been an "unusual application" and the situation had the potential to snowball into another controversy. Although Russell did the right thing, in Hardy's opinion, the reputation of the College suffered with Russell's resignation, since the 'world of learning' knew about Russell's altercation with Trinity but not that the rift had healed. In 1925, Russell was asked by the Council of Trinity College to give the Tarner Lectures on the Philosophy of the Sciences; these would later be the basis for one of Russell's best-received books according to Hardy: The Analysis of Matter, published in 1927.[65] In the preface to the Trinity pamphlet, Hardy wrote:

I wish to make it plain that Russell himself is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for the writing of the pamphlet.... I wrote it without his knowledge and, when I sent him the typescript and asked for his permission to print it, I suggested that, unless it contained misstatement of fact, he should make no comment on it. He agreed to this... no word has been changed as the result of any suggestion from him.

Between the wars


In August 1920, Russell travelled to Soviet Russia as part of an official delegation sent by the British government to investigate the effects of the Russian Revolution.[66] He wrote a four-part series of articles, titled "Soviet Russia—1920", for the magazine The Nation.[67][68] He met Vladimir Lenin and had an hour-long conversation with him. In his autobiography, he mentions that he found Lenin disappointing, sensing an "impish cruelty" in him and comparing him to "an opinionated professor". He cruised down the Volga on a steamship. His experiences destroyed his previous tentative support for the revolution. He subsequently wrote a book, The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism,[69] about his experiences on this trip, taken with a group of 24 others from the UK, all of whom came home thinking well of the Soviet regime, despite Russell's attempts to change their minds. For example, he told them that he had heard shots fired in the middle of the night and was sure that these were clandestine executions, but the others maintained that it was only cars backfiring.[citation needed]

Russell with his children, John and Kate

Russell's lover Dora Black, a British author, feminist and socialist campaigner, visited Soviet Russia independently at the same time; in contrast to his reaction, she was enthusiastic about the Bolshevik revolution.[69]

The following year, Russell, accompanied by Dora, visited Peking (as Beijing was then known outside of China) to lecture on philosophy for a year.[35] He went with optimism and hope, seeing China as then being on a new path.[70] Other scholars present in China at the time included John Dewey[71] and Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian Nobel-laureate poet.[35] Before leaving China, Russell became gravely ill with pneumonia, and incorrect reports of his death were published in the Japanese press.[71] When the couple visited Japan on their return journey, Dora took on the role of spurning the local press by handing out notices reading "Mr. Bertrand Russell, having died according to the Japanese press, is unable to give interviews to Japanese journalists".[72][73] Apparently they found this harsh and reacted resentfully.[citation needed][74][75] Russell supported his family during this time by writing popular books explaining matters of physics, ethics, and education to the layman.

Bertrand Russell in 1924

From 1922 to 1927 the Russells divided their time between London and Cornwall, spending summers in Porthcurno.[76] In the 1922 and 1923 general elections Russell stood as a Labour Party candidate in the Chelsea constituency, but only on the basis that he knew he was unlikely to be elected in such a safe Conservative seat, and he was unsuccessful on both occasions.

After the birth of his two children, he became interested in education, especially early childhood education. He was not satisfied with the old traditional education and thought that progressive education also had some flaws;[77] as a result, together with Dora, Russell founded the experimental Beacon Hill School in 1927. The school was run from a succession of different locations, including its original premises at the Russells' residence, Telegraph House, near Harting, West Sussex. During this time, he published On Education, Especially in Early Childhood. On 8 July 1930, Dora gave birth to her third child Harriet Ruth. After he left the school in 1932, Dora continued it until 1943.[78][79]

In 1927 Russell met Barry Fox (later Barry Stevens), who became known Gestalt therapist and writer in later years.[80] They developed an intense relationship, and in Fox's words: "... for three years we were very close."[81] Fox sent her daughter Judith to Beacon Hill School.[82] From 1927 to 1932 Russell wrote 34 letters to Fox.[83] Upon the death of his elder brother Frank, in 1931, Russell became the 3rd Earl Russell.

Russell's marriage to Dora grew tenuous, and it reached a breaking point over her having two children with an American journalist, Griffin Barry.[79] They separated in 1932 and finally divorced. On 18 January 1936, Russell married his third wife, an Oxford undergraduate named Patricia ("Peter") Spence, who had been his children's governess since 1930. Russell and Peter had one son, Conrad Sebastian Robert Russell, 5th Earl Russell, who became a historian and one of the leading figures in the Liberal Democrat party.[16]

Russell returned in 1937 to the London School of Economics to lecture on the science of power.[46] During the 1930s, Russell became a friend and collaborator of V. K. Krishna Menon, then President of the India League, the foremost lobby in the United Kingdom for Indian independence.[13] Russell chaired the India League from 1932 to 1939.[84]

Second World War


Russell's political views changed over time, mostly about war. He opposed rearmament against Nazi Germany. In 1937, he wrote in a personal letter: "If the Germans succeed in sending an invading army to England we should do best to treat them as visitors, give them quarters and invite the commander and chief to dine with the prime minister."[85] In 1940, he changed his appeasement view that avoiding a full-scale world war was more important than defeating Hitler. He concluded that Adolf Hitler taking over all of Europe would be a permanent threat to democracy. In 1943, he adopted a stance toward large-scale warfare called "relative political pacifism": "War was always a great evil, but in some particularly extreme circumstances, it may be the lesser of two evils."[86][87]

Before World War II, Russell taught at the University of Chicago, later moving on to Los Angeles to lecture at the UCLA Department of Philosophy.[88] He was appointed professor at the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1940, but after a public outcry the appointment was annulled by a court judgment that pronounced him "morally unfit" to teach at the college because of his opinions, especially those relating to sexual morality, detailed in Marriage and Morals (1929). The matter was taken to the New York Supreme Court by Jean Kay who was afraid that her daughter would be harmed by the appointment, though her daughter was not a student at CCNY.[88][89] Many intellectuals, led by John Dewey, protested at his treatment.[90] Albert Einstein's oft-quoted aphorism that "great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds" originated in his open letter, dated 19 March 1940, to Morris Raphael Cohen, a professor emeritus at CCNY, supporting Russell's appointment.[91] Dewey and Horace M. Kallen edited a collection of articles on the CCNY affair in The Bertrand Russell Case. Russell soon joined the Barnes Foundation, lecturing to a varied audience on the history of philosophy; these lectures formed the basis of A History of Western Philosophy. His relationship with the eccentric Albert C. Barnes soon soured, and he returned to the UK in 1944 to rejoin the faculty of Trinity College.[92]

Later life

Russell in 1954

Russell participated in many broadcasts over the BBC, particularly The Brains Trust and for the Third Programme, on various topical and philosophical subjects. By this time Russell was known outside academic circles, frequently the subject or author of magazine and newspaper articles, and was called upon to offer opinions on a variety of subjects, even mundane ones. En route to one of his lectures in Trondheim, Russell was one of 24 survivors (out of 43 passengers) of an aeroplane crash in Hommelvik in October 1948. He said he owed his life to smoking since the people who drowned were in the non-smoking part of the plane.[93][94] A History of Western Philosophy (1945) became a best-seller and provided Russell with a steady income for the remainder of his life.

In 1942, Russell argued in favour of a moderate socialism, capable of overcoming its metaphysical principles. In an inquiry on dialectical materialism, launched by the Austrian artist and philosopher Wolfgang Paalen in his journal DYN, Russell said: "I think the metaphysics of both Hegel and Marx plain nonsense—Marx's claim to be 'science' is no more justified than Mary Baker Eddy's. This does not mean that I am opposed to socialism."[95]

In 1943, Russell expressed support for Zionism: "I have come gradually to see that, in a dangerous and largely hostile world, it is essential to Jews to have some country which is theirs, some region where they are not suspected aliens, some state which embodies what is distinctive in their culture".[96]

In a speech in 1948, Russell said that if the USSR's aggression continued, it would be morally worse to go to war after the USSR possessed an atomic bomb than before it possessed one, because if the USSR had no bomb the West's victory would come more swiftly and with fewer casualties than if there were atomic bombs on both sides.[97][98] At that time, only the United States possessed an atomic bomb, and the USSR was pursuing an aggressive policy towards the countries in Eastern Europe which were being absorbed into the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. Many understood Russell's comments to mean that Russell approved of a first strike in a war with the USSR, including Nigel Lawson, who was present when Russell spoke of such matters. Others, including Griffin, who obtained a transcript of the speech, have argued that he was explaining the usefulness of America's atomic arsenal in deterring the USSR from continuing its domination of Eastern Europe.[93]

Just after the atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Russell wrote letters, and published articles in newspapers from 1945 to 1948, stating clearly that it was morally justified and better to go to war against the USSR using atomic bombs while the United States possessed them and before the USSR did.[99] In September 1949, one week after the USSR tested its first A-bomb, but before this became known, Russell wrote that the USSR would be unable to develop nuclear weapons because following Stalin's purges only science based on Marxist principles would be practised in the Soviet Union.[100] After it became known that the USSR had carried out its nuclear bomb tests, Russell declared his position advocating the total abolition of atomic weapons.[99]

In 1948, Russell was invited by the BBC to deliver the inaugural Reith Lectures[101]—what was to become an annual series of lectures, still broadcast by the BBC. His series of six broadcasts, titled Authority and the Individual,[102] explored themes such as the role of individual initiative in the development of a community and the role of state control in a progressive society. Russell continued to write about philosophy. He wrote a foreword to Words and Things by Ernest Gellner, which was highly critical of the later thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein and of ordinary language philosophy. Gilbert Ryle refused to have the book reviewed in the philosophical journal Mind, which caused Russell to respond via The Times. The result was a month-long correspondence in The Times between the supporters and detractors of ordinary language philosophy, which was ended when the paper published an editorial critical of both sides but agreeing with the opponents of ordinary language philosophy.[103]

In the King's Birthday Honours of 9 June 1949, Russell was awarded the Order of Merit,[104] and the following year he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.[16][35] When he was given the Order of Merit, George VI was affable but embarrassed at decorating a former jailbird, saying, "You have sometimes behaved in a manner that would not do if generally adopted".[105] Russell merely smiled, but afterwards claimed that the reply "That's right, just like your brother" immediately came to mind.

In 1950, Russell attended the inaugural conference for the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA-funded anti-communist organisation committed to the deployment of culture as a weapon during the Cold War.[106] Russell was one of the known patrons of the Congress, until he resigned in 1956.[107]

In 1952, Russell was divorced by Spence, with whom he had been very unhappy.[citation needed] Conrad, Russell's son by Spence, did not see his father between the time of the divorce and 1968 (at which time his decision to meet his father caused a permanent breach with his mother). Russell married his fourth wife, Edith Finch, soon after the divorce, on 15 December 1952. They had known each other since 1925, and Edith had taught English at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, sharing a house for 20 years with Russell's old friend Lucy Donnelly. Edith remained with him until his death, and, by all accounts, their marriage was a happy, close, and loving one. Russell's eldest son John suffered from mental illness, which was the source of ongoing disputes between Russell and his former wife Dora.[citation needed]

In 1962 Russell played a public role in the Cuban Missile Crisis: in an exchange of telegrams with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev assured him that the Soviet government would not be reckless.[108][109] Russell sent this telegram to President Kennedy:


According to historian Peter Knight, after JFK's assassination, Russell, "prompted by the emerging work of the lawyer Mark Lane in the US ... rallied support from other noteworthy and left-leaning compatriots to form a Who Killed Kennedy Committee in June 1964, members of which included Michael Foot MP, Caroline Benn, the publisher Victor Gollancz, the writers John Arden and J. B. Priestley, and the Oxford history professor Hugh Trevor-Roper." Russell published a highly critical article weeks before the Warren Commission Report was published, setting forth 16 Questions on the Assassination and equating the Oswald case with the Dreyfus affair of late 19th-century France, in which the state convicted an innocent man. Russell also criticised the American press for failing to heed any voices critical of the official version.[111]

Political causes


Bertrand Russell was opposed to war from a young age; his opposition to World War I being used as grounds for his dismissal from Trinity College at Cambridge. This incident fused two of his controversial causes, as he had failed to be granted fellow status which would have protected him from firing, because he was not willing to either pretend to be a devout Christian, or at least avoid admitting he was agnostic.

He later described the resolution of these issues as essential to freedom of thought and expression, citing the incident in Free Thought and Official Propaganda, where he explained that the expression of any idea, even the most obviously "bad", must be protected not only from direct State intervention, but also economic leveraging and other means of being silenced:

The opinions which are still persecuted strike the majority as so monstrous and immoral that the general principle of toleration cannot be held to apply to them. But this is exactly the same view as that which made possible the tortures of the Inquisition.[112]

Russell spent the 1950s and 1960s engaged in political causes primarily related to nuclear disarmament and opposing the Vietnam War. The 1955 Russell–Einstein Manifesto was a document calling for nuclear disarmament and was signed by eleven of the most prominent nuclear physicists and intellectuals of the time.[113] In October 1960 "The Committee of 100" was formed with a declaration by Russell and Michael Scott, entitled "Act or Perish", which called for a "movement of nonviolent resistance to nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction".[114] In September 1961, at the age of 89, Russell was jailed for seven days in Brixton Prison for a "breach of the peace" after taking part in an anti-nuclear demonstration in London. The magistrate offered to exempt him from jail if he pledged himself to "good behaviour", to which Russell replied: "No, I won't."[115][116]

From 1966 to 1967, Russell worked with Jean-Paul Sartre and many other intellectual figures to form the Russell Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal to investigate the conduct of the United States in Vietnam. He wrote many letters to world leaders during this period.

Early in his life Russell supported eugenicist policies. In 1894, he proposed that the state issue certificates of health to prospective parents and withhold public benefits from those considered unfit.[117] In 1929, he wrote that people deemed "mentally defective" and "feebleminded" should be sexually sterilised because they "are apt to have enormous numbers of illegitimate children, all, as a rule, wholly useless to the community."[118] Russell was also an advocate of population control:[119][120]

The nations which at present increase rapidly should be encouraged to adopt the methods by which, in the West, the increase of population has been checked. Educational propaganda, with government help, could achieve this result in a generation. There are, however, two powerful forces opposed to such a policy: one is religion, the other is nationalism. I think it is the duty of all to proclaim that opposition to the spread of birth is appalling depth of misery and degradation, and that within another fifty years or so. I do not pretend that birth control is the only way in which population can be kept from increasing. There are others, which, one must suppose, opponents of birth control would prefer. War, as I remarked a moment ago, has hitherto been disappointing in this respect, but perhaps bacteriological war may prove more effective. If a Black Death could be spread throughout the whole world once in every generation survivors could procreate freely without making the world too full.

On 20 November 1948, in a public speech at Westminster School, addressing a gathering arranged by the New Commonwealth, Russell shocked some observers by suggesting that a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union was justified. Russell argued that war between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed inevitable, so it would be a humanitarian gesture to get it over with quickly and have the United States in the dominant position. Currently, Russell argued, humanity could survive such a war, whereas a full nuclear war after both sides had manufactured large stockpiles of more destructive weapons was likely to result in the extinction of the human race. Russell later relented from this stance, instead arguing for mutual disarmament by the nuclear powers.

In 1956, before and during the Suez Crisis, Russell expressed his opposition to European imperialism in the Middle East. He viewed the crisis as another reminder of the pressing need for an effective mechanism for international governance, and to restrict national sovereignty in places such as the Suez Canal area "where general interest is involved". At the same time the Suez Crisis was taking place, the world was also captivated by the Hungarian Revolution and the subsequent crushing of the revolt by intervening Soviet forces. Russell attracted criticism for speaking out fervently against the Suez war while ignoring Soviet repression in Hungary, to which he responded that he did not criticise the Soviets "because there was no need. Most of the so-called Western World was fulminating". Although he later feigned a lack of concern, at the time he was disgusted by the brutal Soviet response, and on 16 November 1956, he expressed approval for a declaration of support for Hungarian scholars which Michael Polanyi had cabled to the Soviet embassy in London twelve days previously, shortly after Soviet troops had entered Budapest.[121]

In November 1957 Russell wrote an article addressing US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, urging a summit to consider "the conditions of co-existence". Khrushchev responded that peace could be served by such a meeting. In January 1958 Russell elaborated his views in The Observer, proposing a cessation of all nuclear weapons production, with the UK taking the first step by unilaterally suspending its own nuclear-weapons program if necessary, and with Germany "freed from all alien armed forces and pledged to neutrality in any conflict between East and West". US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles replied for Eisenhower. The exchange of letters was published as The Vital Letters of Russell, Khrushchev, and Dulles.[122]

Russell was asked by The New Republic, a liberal American magazine, to elaborate his views on world peace. He urged that all nuclear weapons testing and flights by planes armed with nuclear weapons be halted immediately, and negotiations be opened for the destruction of all hydrogen bombs, with the number of conventional nuclear devices limited to ensure a balance of power. He proposed that Germany be reunified and accept the Oder-Neisse line as its border, and that a neutral zone be established in Central Europe, consisting at the minimum of Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, with each of these countries being free of foreign troops and influence, and prohibited from forming alliances with countries outside the zone. In the Middle East, Russell suggested that the West avoid opposing Arab nationalism, and proposed the creation of a United Nations peacekeeping force to guard Israel's frontiers to ensure that Israel was prevented from committing aggression and protected from it. He also suggested Western recognition of the People's Republic of China, and that it be admitted to the UN with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.[122]

He was in contact with Lionel Rogosin while the latter was filming his anti-war film Good Times, Wonderful Times in the 1960s. He became a hero to many of the youthful members of the New Left. In early 1963, Russell became increasingly vocal in his disapproval of the Vietnam War, and felt that the US government's policies there were near-genocidal. In 1963 he became the inaugural recipient of the Jerusalem Prize, an award for writers concerned with the freedom of the individual in society.[123] In 1964 he was one of eleven world figures who issued an appeal to Israel and the Arab countries to accept an arms embargo and international supervision of nuclear plants and rocket weaponry.[124] In October 1965 he tore up his Labour Party card because he suspected Harold Wilson's Labour government was going to send troops to support the United States in Vietnam.[16]

Final years, death and legacy

Plas Penrhyn in Penrhyndeudraeth
Russell on a 1972 stamp of India

In June 1955, Russell had leased Plas Penrhyn in Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionethshire, Wales and on 5 July of the following year it became his and Edith's principal residence.[125]

Bust of Russell in Red Lion Square

Russell published his three-volume autobiography in 1967, 1968, and 1969. He made a cameo appearance playing himself in the anti-war Hindi film Aman, by Mohan Kumar, which was released in India in 1967. This was Russell's only appearance in a feature film.[126]

On 23 November 1969, he wrote to The Times newspaper saying that the preparation for show trials in Czechoslovakia was "highly alarming". The same month, he appealed to Secretary General U Thant of the United Nations to support an international war crimes commission to investigate alleged torture and genocide by the United States in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The following month, he protested to Alexei Kosygin over the expulsion of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from the Soviet Union of Writers.

On 31 January 1970, Russell issued a statement condemning "Israel's aggression in the Middle East", and in particular, Israeli bombing raids being carried out deep in Egyptian territory as part of the War of Attrition, which he compared to German bombing raids in the Battle of Britain and the US bombing of Vietnam. He called for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-Six-Day War borders, stating "The aggression committed by Israel must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annexe foreign territory, but because every expansion is an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate."[127]. This was Russell's final political statement or act. It was read out at the International Conference of Parliamentarians in Cairo on 3 February 1970, the day after his death.[128]

Russell died of influenza, just after 8 pm on 2 February 1970 at his home in Penrhyndeudraeth, aged 97.[129] His body was cremated in Colwyn Bay on 5 February 1970 with five people present.[130] In accordance with his will, there was no religious ceremony but one minute's silence; his ashes were later scattered over the Welsh mountains.[131] Although he was born in Monmouthshire, and died in Penrhyndeudraeth in Wales, Russell identified as English.[132][133][134] Later in 1970, on 23 October, his will was published showing he had left an estate valued at £69,423 (equivalent to £1.4 million in 2023).[131] In 1980, a memorial to Russell was commissioned by a committee including the philosopher A. J. Ayer. It consists of a bust of Russell in Red Lion Square in London sculpted by Marcelle Quinton.[135]

Lady Katharine Jane Tait, Russell's daughter, founded the Bertrand Russell Society in 1974 to preserve and understand his work. It publishes the Bertrand Russell Society Bulletin, holds meetings and awards prizes for scholarship, including the Bertrand Russell Society Award.[136][137] She also authored several essays about her father; as well as a book, My Father, Bertrand Russell, which was published in 1975.[138] All members receive Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies.

For the sesquicentennial of his birth, in May 2022, McMaster University's Bertrand Russell Archive, the university's largest and most heavily used research collection, organised both a physical and virtual exhibition on Russell's anti-nuclear stance in the post-war era, Scientists for Peace: the Russell-Einstein Manifesto and the Pugwash Conference, which included the earliest version of the Russell–Einstein Manifesto.[139] The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation held a commemoration at Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, London, on 18 May, the anniversary of his birth.[140] For its part, on the same day, La Estrella de Panamá published a biographical sketch by Francisco Díaz Montilla, who commented that "[if he] had to characterize Russell's work in one sentence [he] would say: criticism and rejection of dogmatism."[141]

Bangladesh's first leader, Mujibur Rahman, named his youngest son Sheikh Russel in honour of Bertrand Russell.

Marriages and issue


In 1889, Russell at 17 years of age, met the family of Alys Pearsall Smith, an American Quaker five years older, who was a graduate of Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia.[142][31]: 37  He became a friend of the Pearsall Smith family. They knew him as "Lord John's grandson" and enjoyed showing him off.[31]: 48 

He fell in love with Alys, and contrary to his grandmother's wishes, married her on 13 December 1894. Their marriage began to fall apart in 1901 when it occurred to Russell, while cycling, that he no longer loved her.[143] She asked him if he loved her and he replied that he did not. Russell also disliked Alys's mother, finding her controlling and cruel. A lengthy period of separation began in 1911 with Russell's affair with Lady Ottoline Morrell,[144] and he and Alys finally divorced in 1921 to enable Russell to remarry.[145]

During his years of separation from Alys, Russell had affairs (often simultaneous) with a number of women, including Morrell and the actress Lady Constance Malleson.[146] Some have suggested that at this point he had an affair with Vivienne Haigh-Wood, the English governess and writer, and first wife of T. S. Eliot.[147]

In 1921, his second marriage was to Dora Winifred Black MBE (died 1986), daughter of Sir Frederick Black. Dora was six months pregnant when the couple returned to England.

This was dissolved in 1935, having produced two children:

Russell's third marriage was to Patricia Helen Spence (died 2004) in 1936, with the marriage producing one child:

Russell's third marriage ended in divorce in 1952. He married Edith Finch in the same year. Finch died in 1978.[148]

Titles, awards and honours


Upon his brother's death in 1931, Russell became the 3rd Earl Russell of Kingston Russell, and the subsidiary title of Viscount Amberley of Amberley and of Ardsalla.[149] He held both titles, and the accompanying seat in the House of Lords, until his death in 1970.

Honours and Awards

Country Date Award
 United Kingdom 1932 De Morgan Medal
 United Kingdom 1934 Sylvester Medal
 United Kingdom 1949 Order of Merit
 Sweden 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature
 United Nations 1957 Kalinga Prize
 Israel 1963 Jerusalem Prize


Date School/Association Award/Position
1893 Trinity College, Cambridge First Class Honours in Mathematics
1894 Trinity College, Cambridge First Class Honours in Philosophy[150]
1895 Trinity College, Cambridge Fellowship
1896 London School of Economics and Political Science Lecturer
1899, 1901, 1910, 1915 Trinity College, Cambridge Lecturer
1908 The Royal Society Fellowship
1911 Aristotelian Society President
1938 University of Chicago Visiting Professor of Philosophy
1939 University of California at Los Angeles Professor of Philosophy
1941-42 Barnes Foundation Lecturer
1944-49 Trinity College, Cambridge Fellowship
1949 Trinity College, Cambridge Lifetime Fellowship[151]





Russell is credited with being one of the founders of analytic philosophy. He was impressed by Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716), and wrote on major areas of philosophy except aesthetics. He was prolific in the fields of metaphysics, logic and the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of language, ethics and epistemology. When Brand Blanshard asked Russell why he did not write on aesthetics, Russell replied that he did not know anything about it, though he hastened to add "but that is not a very good excuse, for my friends tell me it has not deterred me from writing on other subjects".[152]

On ethics, Russell wrote that he was a utilitarian in his youth, yet he later distanced himself from this view.[153]

For the advancement of science and protection of liberty of expression, Russell advocated The Will to Doubt, the recognition that all human knowledge is at most a best guess, that one should always remember:

None of our beliefs are quite true; all have at least a penumbra of vagueness and error. The methods of increasing the degree of truth in our beliefs are well known; they consist in hearing all sides, trying to ascertain all the relevant facts, controlling our own bias by discussion with people who have the opposite bias, and cultivating a readiness to discard any hypothesis which has proved inadequate. These methods are practised in science, and have built up the body of scientific knowledge. Every man of science whose outlook is truly scientific is ready to admit that what passes for scientific knowledge at the moment is sure to require correction with the progress of discovery; nevertheless, it is near enough to the truth to serve for most practical purposes, though not for all. In science, where alone something approximating to genuine knowledge is to be found, men's attitude is tentative and full of doubt.[112]



Russell described himself in 1947 as an agnostic or an atheist: he found it difficult to determine which term to adopt, saying:

Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.[154]

For most of his adult life, Russell maintained religion to be little more than superstition and, despite any positive effects, largely harmful to people. He believed that religion and the religious outlook serve to impede knowledge and foster fear and dependency, and to be responsible for much of our world's wars, oppression, and misery. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the British Humanist Association and President of Cardiff Humanists until his death.[155]



Political and social activism occupied much of Russell's time for most of his life. Russell remained politically active almost to the end of his life, writing to and exhorting world leaders and lending his name to various causes. He was a prominent campaigner against Western intervention into the Vietnam War in the 1960s, writing essays, books, attending demonstrations, and even organising the Russell Tribunal in 1966 alongside other prominent philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, which fed into his 1967 book War Crimes in Vietnam.[156]

Russell argued for a "scientific society", where war would be abolished, population growth would be limited, and prosperity would be shared.[157] He suggested the establishment of a "single supreme world government" able to enforce peace,[158] claiming that "the only thing that will redeem mankind is co-operation".[159] He was one of the signatories of the agreement to convene a convention for drafting a world constitution.[160][161] As a result, for the first time in human history, a World Constituent Assembly convened to draft and adopt the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.[162] Russell also expressed support for guild socialism, and commented positively on several socialist thinkers and activists.[163] According to Jean Bricmont and Normand Baillargeon, "Russell was both a liberal and a socialist, a combination that was perfectly comprehensible in his time, but which has become almost unthinkable today. He was a liberal in that he opposed concentrations of power in all its manifestations, military, governmental, or religious, as well as the superstitious or nationalist ideas that usually serve as its justification. But he was also a socialist, even as an extension of his liberalism, because he was equally opposed to the concentrations of power stemming from the private ownership of the major means of production, which therefore needed to be put under social control (which does not mean state control)."[164]

Russell was an active supporter of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, being one of the signatories of A. E. Dyson's 1958 letter to The Times calling for a change in the law regarding male homosexual practices, which were partly legalised in 1967, when Russell was still alive.[165]

He expressed sympathy and support for the Palestinian people and was critical of Israel's actions. He wrote in 1960 that, "I think it was a mistake to establish a Jewish State in Palestine, but it would be a still greater mistake to try to get rid of it now that it exists."[166] In his final written document, read aloud in Cairo three days after his death on 31 January 1970, he condemned Israel as an aggressive imperialist power, which "wishes to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has already taken by violence. Every new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiation from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression." In regards to the Palestinian people and refugees, he wrote that, "No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East."[167]

Russell advocated – and was one of the first people in the UK to suggest[168] – a universal basic income.[169] In his 1918 book Roads to Freedom, Russell wrote that "Anarchism has the advantage as regards liberty, Socialism as regards the inducement to work.  Can we not find a method of combining these two advantages? It seems to me that we can. [...] Stated in more familiar terms, the plan we are advocating amounts essentially to this: that a certain small income, sufficient for necessaries, should be secured to all, whether they work or not, and that a larger income – as much larger as might be warranted by the total amount of commodities produced – should be given to those who are willing to engage in some work which the community recognizes as useful...When education is finished, no one should be compelled to work, and those who choose not to work should receive a bare livelihood and be left completely free."[170]

In "Reflections on My Eightieth Birthday" ("Postscript" in his Autobiography), Russell wrote: "I have lived in the pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times. Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them. These things I believe, and the world, for all its horrors, has left me unshaken".[171]

Freedom of opinion and expression


Russell supported freedom of opinion and was an opponent of both censorship and indoctrination. In 1928, he wrote: "The fundamental argument for freedom of opinion is the doubtfulness of all our belief... when the State intervenes to ensure the indoctrination of some doctrine, it does so because there is no conclusive evidence in favour of that doctrine ... It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions make it impossible to make a living".[172] In 1957, he wrote: "'Free thought' means thinking freely ... to be worthy of the name freethinker he must be free of two things: the force of tradition and the tyranny of his own passions."[173]



Russell has presented ideas on the possible means of control of education in case of scientific dictatorship governments, of the kind of this excerpt taken from Chapter II "General Effects of Scientific Technique" of "The Impact of Science on society":[174]

This subject will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship. Anaxagoras maintained that snow is black, but no one believed him. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity. But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark grey. Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen. As yet there is only one country which has succeeded in creating this politician's paradise. The social effects of scientific technique have already been many and important, and are likely to be even more noteworthy in the future. Some of these effects depend upon the political and economic character of the country concerned; others are inevitable, whatever this character may be.

He pushed his visionary scenarios even further into details, in the Chapter III "Scientific Technique in an Oligarchy" of the same book,[175] stating as an example:

In future such failures are not likely to occur where there is dictatorship. Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.

Selected works


Below are selected Russell's works in English, sorted by year of first publication:

  • 1896. German Social Democracy. London: Longmans, Green
  • 1897. An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry.[176] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • 1900. A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • 1903. The Principles of Mathematics.[177] Cambridge University Press
  • 1903. A Free man's worship, and other essays.[178]
  • 1905. On Denoting, Mind, Vol. 14. ISSN 0026-4423. Basil Blackwell
  • 1910. Philosophical Essays. London: Longmans, Green
  • 1910–1913. Principia Mathematica.[179] (with Alfred North Whitehead). 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • 1912. The Problems of Philosophy.[180] London: Williams and Norgate
  • 1914. Our Knowledge of the External World as a Field for Scientific Method in Philosophy.[181] Chicago and London: Open Court Publishing.[182]
  • 1916. Principles of Social Reconstruction.[183] London, George Allen and Unwin
  • 1916. Why Men Fight. New York: The Century Co
  • 1916. The Policy of the Entente, 1904–1914 : a reply to Professor Gilbert Murray.[184] Manchester: The National Labour Press
  • 1916. Justice in War-time. Chicago: Open Court
  • 1917. Political Ideals.[185] New York: The Century Co.
  • 1918. Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1918. Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism, and Syndicalism.[186] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1919. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.[187][188] London: George Allen & Unwin. (ISBN 0-415-09604-9 for Routledge paperback)[189]
  • 1920. The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism.[190] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1921. The Analysis of Mind.[191] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1922. The Problem of China.[192] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1922. Free Thought and Official Propaganda, delivered at South Place Institute[112]
  • 1923. The Prospects of Industrial Civilization, in collaboration with Dora Russell. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1923. The ABC of Atoms, London: Kegan Paul. Trench, Trubner
  • 1924. Icarus; or, The Future of Science. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner
  • 1925. The ABC of Relativity. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner (revised and edited by Felix Pirani)
  • 1925. What I Believe. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner
  • 1926. On Education, Especially in Early Childhood. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1927. The Analysis of Matter. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner
  • 1927. An Outline of Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1927. Why I Am Not a Christian.[193] London: Watts
  • 1927. Selected Papers of Bertrand Russell. New York: Modern Library
  • 1928. Sceptical Essays. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1929. Marriage and Morals. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1930. The Conquest of Happiness. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1931. The Scientific Outlook,[194] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1932. Education and the Social Order,[195] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1934. Freedom and Organization, 1814–1914. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1935. In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays.[196] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1935. Religion and Science. London: Thornton Butterworth
  • 1936. Which Way to Peace?. London: Jonathan Cape
  • 1937. The Amberley Papers: The Letters and Diaries of Lord and Lady Amberley, with Patricia Russell, 2 vols., London: Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press; reprinted (1966) as The Amberley Papers. Bertrand Russell's Family Background, 2 vols., London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1938. Power: A New Social Analysis. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1940. An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.[197]
  • 1945. The Bomb and Civilisation. Published in the Glasgow Forward on 18 August 1945
  • 1946. A History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day[198] New York: Simon and Schuster
  • 1948. Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1949. Authority and the Individual.[199] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1950. Unpopular Essays.[200] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1951. New Hopes for a Changing World. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1952. The Impact of Science on Society. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1953. Satan in the Suburbs and Other Stories. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1954. Human Society in Ethics and Politics. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1954. Nightmares of Eminent Persons and Other Stories.[201] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1956. Portraits from Memory and Other Essays.[202] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1956. Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901–1950, edited by Robert C. Marsh. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1957. Why I Am Not A Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, edited by Paul Edwards. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1958. Understanding History and Other Essays. New York: Philosophical Library
  • 1958. The Will to Doubt. New York: Philosophical Library
  • 1959. Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare.[203] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1959. My Philosophical Development.[204] London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1959. Wisdom of the West: A Historical Survey of Western Philosophy in Its Social and Political Setting, edited by Paul Foulkes. London: Macdonald
  • 1960. Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind, Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company
  • 1961. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, edited by R. E. Egner and L. E. Denonn. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1961. Fact and Fiction. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1961. Has Man a Future? London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1963. Essays in Skepticism. New York: Philosophical Library
  • 1963. Unarmed Victory. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1965. Legitimacy Versus Industrialism, 1814–1848. London: George Allen & Unwin (first published as Parts I and II of Freedom and Organization, 1814–1914, 1934)
  • 1965. On the Philosophy of Science, edited by Charles A. Fritz, Jr. Indianapolis: The Bobbs–Merrill Company
  • 1966. The ABC of Relativity. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1967. Russell's Peace Appeals, edited by Tsutomu Makino and Kazuteru Hitaka. Japan: Eichosha's New Current Books
  • 1967. War Crimes in Vietnam. London: George Allen & Unwin
  • 1951–1969. The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell,[205] 3 vols., London: George Allen & Unwin. Vol. 2, 1956[205]
  • 1969. Dear Bertrand Russell... A Selection of his Correspondence with the General Public 1950–1968, edited by Barry Feinberg and Ronald Kasrils. London: George Allen and Unwin

Russell was the author of more than sixty books and over two thousand articles.[206][207] Additionally, he wrote many pamphlets, introductions, and letters to the editor. One pamphlet titled, I Appeal unto Caesar': The Case of the Conscientious Objectors, ghostwritten for Margaret Hobhouse, the mother of imprisoned peace activist Stephen Hobhouse, allegedly helped secure the release from prison of hundreds of conscientious objectors.[208]

His works can be found in anthologies and collections, including The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, which McMaster University began publishing in 1983. By March 2017 this collection of his shorter and previously unpublished works included 18 volumes,[209] and several more are in progress. A bibliography in three additional volumes catalogues his publications. The Russell Archives held by McMaster's William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections possess over 40,000 of his letters.[210]

See also



  1. ^ a b At the time of Russell's birth, some considered Monmouthshire to be part of Wales and some part of England. See Monmouthshire (historic)#Ambiguity over status.
  2. ^ Russell and G. E. Moore broke themselves free from British Idealism which, for nearly 90 years, had been dominating British philosophy. Russell would later recall that "with a sense of escaping from prison, we allowed ourselves to think that grass is green, that the sun and stars would exist if no one was aware of them ..."[9]




  1. ^ James Ward Archived 1 May 2020 at the Wayback Machine (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  2. ^ Wettstein, Howard, "Frege-Russell Semantics?", Dialectica 44(1–2), 1990, pp. 113–135, esp. 115: "Russell maintains that when one is acquainted with something, say, a present sense datum or oneself, one can refer to it without the mediation of anything like a Fregean sense. One can refer to it, as we might say, directly."
  3. ^ "Structural Realism" Archived 3 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine: entry by James Ladyman in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  4. ^ "Russellian Monism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. 2019.
  5. ^ Dowe, Phil (10 September 2007). "Causal Processes". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
  6. ^ Irvine, Andrew David (1 January 2015). "Bertrand Russell". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
  7. ^ a b Kreisel, G. (1973). "Bertrand Arthur William Russell, Earl Russell. 1872–1970". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 19: 583–620. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1973.0021. JSTOR 769574.
  8. ^ a b Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Bertrand Russell" Archived 9 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 1 May 2003.
  9. ^ Russell B, (1944) "My Mental Development", in, Paul Arthur Schilpp: The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, New York: Tudor, 1951, pp. 3–20.
  10. ^ Ludlow, Peter. "Descriptions, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)".
  11. ^ Rempel, Richard (1979). "From Imperialism to Free Trade: Couturat, Halevy and Russell's First Crusade". Journal of the History of Ideas. 40 (3). University of Pennsylvania Press: 423–443. doi:10.2307/2709246. JSTOR 2709246.
  12. ^ Russell, Bertrand (1988) [1917]. Political Ideals. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10907-8.
  13. ^ a b Nasta, Susheila, ed. (2013). India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858–1950. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-39271-7. OCLC 802321049.
  14. ^ Samoiloff, Louise Cripps. C .L. R. James: Memories and Commentaries, p. 19. Associated University Presses, 1997. ISBN 0-8453-4865-5
  15. ^ Russell, Bertrand (October 1946). "Atomic Weapon and the Prevention of War". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2/7–8, (1 October 1946). p. 20.
  16. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1950 — Bertrand Russell Archived 2 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 22 March 2013.
  17. ^ "British Nobel Prize Winners (1950)". 13 April 2014. Archived from the original on 23 November 2021 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ Hestler, Anna (2001). Wales. Marshall Cavendish. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-7614-1195-6.
  19. ^ Sidney Hook, "Lord Russell and the War Crimes Trial", Bertrand Russell: critical assessments, Vol. 1, edited by A. D. Irvine, New York 1999, p. 178.
  20. ^ "Bertrand Russell Is Dead; British Philosopher, 97". The New York Times. 3 February 1970. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  21. ^ "Douglas A. Spalding". Nature. 8 November 1877. ISSN 1476-4687. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  22. ^ a b Paul, Ashley. "Bertrand Russell: The Man and His Ideas". Archived from the original on 1 May 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  23. ^ Russell, Bertrand and Perkins, Ray (ed.) Yours faithfully, Bertrand Russell. Open Court Publishing, 2001, p. 4.
  24. ^ a b Bloy, Marjie. "Lord John Russell (1792–1878)". Retrieved 28 October 2007.
  25. ^ Life in the 1800s (23 April 2022), "My Grandfather Met Napoleon: Bertrand Russell Interview 1952 – Enhanced Video & Audio [60 fps]", YouTube, retrieved 2 May 2022
  26. ^ G. E. Cokayne; Vicary Gibbs, H. A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, eds. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed. 13 volumes in 14. 1910–1959. Reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, UK: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000.
  27. ^ Booth, Wayne C. (1974). Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-06572-3. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  28. ^ Crawford, Elizabeth. The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866–1928.
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General and cited sources


Primary sources

  • 1900, Sur la logique des relations avec des applications à la théorie des séries, Rivista di matematica 7: 115–148.
  • 1901, On the Notion of Order, Mind (n.s.) 10: 35–51.
  • 1902, (with Alfred North Whitehead), On Cardinal Numbers, American Journal of Mathematics 24: 367–384.
  • 1948, BBC Reith Lectures: Authority and the Individual A series of six radio lectures broadcast on the BBC Home Service in December 1948.

Secondary sources

  • John Newsome Crossley. A Note on Cantor's Theorem and Russell's Paradox, Australian Journal of Philosophy 51, 1973, 70–71.
  • Ivor Grattan-Guinness. The Search for Mathematical Roots 1870–1940. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
  • Alan Ryan. Bertrand Russell: A Political Life, New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Further reading


Books about Russell's philosophy

  • Alfred Julius Ayer. Russell, London: Fontana, 1972. ISBN 0-00-632965-9. A lucid summary exposition of Russell's thought.
  • Elizabeth Ramsden Eames. Bertrand Russell's Theory of Knowledge, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1969. OCLC 488496910. A clear description of Russell's philosophical development.
  • Celia Green. The Lost Cause: Causation and the Mind-Body Problem, Oxford: Oxford Forum, 2003. ISBN 0-9536772-1-4 Contains a sympathetic analysis of Russell's views on causality.
  • A. C. Grayling. Russell: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Nicholas Griffin. Russell's Idealist Apprenticeship, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • A. D. Irvine, ed. Bertrand Russell: Critical Assessments, 4 volumes, London: Routledge, 1999. Consists of essays on Russell's work by many distinguished philosophers.
  • Michael K. Potter. Bertrand Russell's Ethics, Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006. A clear and accessible explanation of Russell's moral philosophy.
  • P. A. Schilpp, ed. The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University, 1944.
  • John Slater. Bertrand Russell, Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1994.

Biographical books

Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Earl Russell
Succeeded by