Bertrand Russell

History of Western Philosophy

Much of what is greatest in human achievement involves some element of intoxication, some sweeping away of prudence by passion. Without the Bacchic element, life would be uninteresting; with it, it is dangerous. Prudence versus passion is a conflict that runs through history. It is not a conflict in which we ought to side wholly with either party. 16

Two things are to be remembered: that a man whose opinions and theories are worth studying may be presumed to have had some intelligence, but that no man is likely to have arrived at complete and final truth on any subject whatever. When an intelligent man expresses a new view which seems to us obviously absurd, we should not attempt to prove that it is somehow true, but we should try to understand how it came to seem true. 39

The pursuit of truth, when it is whole-hearted, must ignore moral considerations; we cannot know in advance that the truth will turn out to be what is thought edifying in a given society. 78

Logical errors are, I think, of greater practical importance than many people believe; they enable their perpetrators to whole the comfortable opinion on any subject in turn. Any logical coherent body of doctrine is sure to be in part painful and contrary to current prejudices. 93

In so far as the division of mind and body can be accepted, the worst pleasures, as well as the best, are mental--for example, envy, and many forms of cruelty and love of power. 135

Liberation from the tyranny of the body contributes to greatness, but just as much to greatness in sin as to greatness in virtue. 136

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