Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy birthday, Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell
It is the birthday of British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (1872), whose work won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950. His career spanned 73 years and his substantial body of work includes books on mathematics, philosophy, politics, civilization, education, socialism and more. For much of his life he was an outspoken antiwar activist, serving time in prison twice for his opposition to Britain's involvement in World War I. He held a dim view of the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism. He initially opposed Britain's rearming to fight Nazi Germany but concluded that Hitler's rise to power wasn't conducive to peace in Europe and that fighting him was the lesser of two evils. He disagreed with the conclusions of the Warren Commission in the the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was railroaded. He believed many questions remained unanswered. He was a severe critic of the Vietnam War and accused the United States of committing war crimes. He was a self-avowed atheist who questioned whether religion actually harmed people. He was an anti-imperialist and supported free trade. He advocated nuclear disarmament and pacifism. On the home front, there was less tranquility. He was involved with numerous affairs, sometimes simultaneously. He was married four times, and had three bitter divorces.

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