98+ Best Bertrand Russell Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. Profoundly inspirational Bertrand Russell quotes will make you look at life differently and help you live a meaningful life.

Famous Bertrand Russell Quotes

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

If you think your belief is based upon reason, you will support it by argument rather than by persecution, and will abandon it if the argument goes against you. But if your belief is based upon faith, you will realize that argument is useless, and will therefore resort to force either in the form of persecution or by stunting or distorting the minds of the young in what is called ‘education.’ – Bertrand Russell

There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge. – Bertrand Russell

We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think in fact they do so. – Bertrand Russell

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature has made them. – Bertrand Russell

Why repeat the old errors, if there are so many new errors to commit? – Bertrand Russell

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. – Bertrand Russell

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer. – Bertrand Russell

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. – Bertrand Russell

Extreme hopes are born of extreme misery, and in such a world hopes could only be irrational. – Bertrand Russell

If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. […] The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants. – Bertrand Russell

When two men of science disagree, they do not invoke the secular arm; they wait for further evidence to decide the issue, because, as men of science, they know that neither is infallible. But when two theologians differ, since there is no criteria to which either can appeal, there is nothing for it but mutual hatred and an open or covert appeal to force. – Bertrand Russell

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. – Bertrand Russell

Passive acceptance of the teacher’s wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favor of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position. – Bertrand Russell

The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history. – Bertrand Russell

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

It is likely that America will be more important during the next century or two, but after that it may well be the turn of China. – Bertrand Russell

Science tells us what we can know but what we can know is little and if we forget how much we cannot know we become insensitive of many things of very great importance. Theology, on the other hand induces a dogmatic belief that we have knowledge where in fact we have ignorance and by doing so generates a kind of impertinent insolence towards the universe. Uncertainty in the presence of vivid hopes and fears is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales. – Bertrand Russell

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. – Bertrand Russell

For love of domination we must substitute equality; for love of victory we must substitute justice; for brutality we must substitute intelligence; for competition we must substitute cooperation. We must learn to think of the human race as one family. – Bertrand Russell

The secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible. – Bertrand Russell

Faith: a firm belief for which there is no evidence. – Bertrand Russell

War does not determine who is right – only who is left. – Bertrand Russell

Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education. – Bertrand Russell

The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other. – Bertrand Russell

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. – Bertrand Russell

In the visible world, the Milky Way is a tiny fragment; within this fragment, the solar system is an infinitesimal speck, and of this speck our planet is a microscopic dot. On this dot, tiny lumps of impure carbon and water, of complicated structure, with somewhat unusual physical and chemical properties, crawl about for a few years, until they are dissolved again into the elements of which they are compounded. – Bertrand Russell

A man’s acts are partly determined by spontaneous impulse, partly by the conscious and unconscious effects of the various groups to which he belongs. – Bertrand Russell

Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power. – Bertrand Russell

No man treats a motorcar as foolishly as he treats another human being. When the car will not go, he does not attribute its annoying behavior to sin; he does not say, ‘You are a wicked motorcar, and I shall not give you any more petrol until you go.’ He attempts to find out what is wrong and to set it right. – Bertrand Russell

I think the subject which will be of most importance politically is Mass Psychology… Its importance has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. 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 are generated. – Bertrand Russell

Whenever one finds oneself inclined to bitterness, it is a sign of emotional failure. – Bertrand Russell

Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realize the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom. – Bertrand Russell

No great achievement is possible without persistent work. – Bertrand Russell

What makes a free thinker is not his beliefs, but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought, he finds a balance in their favor, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem. – Bertrand Russell

There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. – Bertrand Russell

If I were granted omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not think Man much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts. – Bertrand Russell

Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter. – Bertrand Russell

In the daily lives of most men and women, fear plays a greater part than hope: they are more filled with the thought of the possessions that others may take from them, than of the joy that they might create in their own lives and in the lives with which they come in contact. It is not so that life should be lived. – Bertrand Russell

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

To understand the actual world as it is, not as we should wish it to be, is the beginning of wisdom. – Bertrand Russell

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd. – Bertrand Russell

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. – Bertrand Russell

Belief systems provide a program which relieves the necessity of thought. – Bertrand Russell

Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false. – Bertrand Russell

From India to Spain, the brilliant civilization of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary. – Bertrand Russell

We are told that Sin consists in acting contrary to God’s commands, but we are also told that God is omnipotent. If He is, nothing contrary to His will can occur; therefore when the sinner disobeys His commands, He must have intended this to happen. – Bertrand Russell

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd. – Bertrand Russell

Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim. – Bertrand Russell

Herd pressure is to be judged by two things: first, its intensity, and second, its direction. – Bertrand Russell

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. – Bertrand Russell

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. – Bertrand Russell

Love is wise; hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet. – Bertrand Russell

Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure. – Bertrand Russell

Those who have never known the deep intimacy and the intense companionship of happy mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give. – Bertrand Russell

Fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves. – Bertrand Russell

Almost all education has a political motive: it aims at strengthening some group, national or religious or even social, in the competition with other groups. It is this motive, in the main, which determines the subjects taught, the knowledge offered and the knowledge withheld, and also decides what mental habits the pupils are expected to acquire. Hardly anything is done to foster the inward growth of mind and spirit; in fact, those who have had the most education are very often atrophied in their mental and spiritual life. – Bertrand Russell

Prison is a severe and terrible punishment; but for me, thanks to Arthur Balfour, this was not so. I was much cheered on my arrival by the warder at the gate, who had to take particulars about me. He asked my religion, and I replied ‘agnostic.’ He asked how to spell it, and remarked with a sigh: ‘Well, there are many religions, but I suppose they all worship the same God.’ This remark kept me cheerful for about a week. – Bertrand Russell

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. – Bertrand Russell

Organized people are just too lazy to look for things – Bertrand Russell

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness. – Bertrand Russell

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. – Bertrand Russell

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong. – Bertrand Russell

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. – Bertrand Russell

What the world needs is not dogma but an attitude of scientific inquiry combined with a belief that the torture of millions is not desirable, whether inflicted by Stalin or by a Deity imagined in the likeness of the believer – Bertrand Russell

Ignore fact and reason, live entirely in the world of your own fantastic and myth-producing passions; do this whole-heartedly and with conviction, and you will become one of the prophets of your age. – Bertrand Russell

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that’s fair. In these words he epitomized the history of the human race. – Bertrand Russell

Official morality has always been oppressive and negative: it has said thou shalt not, and has not troubled to investigate the effect of activities not forbidden by the code. – Bertrand Russell

Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of the world. – Bertrand Russell

One of the most powerful of all our passions is the desire to be admired and respected. – Bertrand Russell

Clergymen almost necessarily fail in two ways as teachers of morals. They condemn acts which do no harm and they condone acts which do great harm. – Bertrand Russell

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

When considering marriage one should ask oneself this question; ‘will I be able to talk with this person into old age?’ Everything else is transitory, the most time is spent in conversation. – Bertrand Russell

The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has and the less he is at the mercy of fate, since if he loses one thing he can fall back upon another. – Bertrand Russell

Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. – Bertrand Russell

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. – Bertrand Russell

The fact that a belief has a good moral effect upon a man is no evidence whatsoever in favor of its truth. I’m not contending in a dogmatic way that there is not a God. What I’m contending is that we don’t know that there is. I don’t like the word absolute. I don’t think there is anything absolute whatever. The moral law, for example, is always changing. At one period in the development of the human race, almost everybody thought cannibalism was a duty. – Bertrand Russell

A man who has once perceived, however temporarily and however briefly, what makes greatness of soul, can no longer be happy if he allows himself to be petty, self-seeking, troubled by trivial misfortunes, dreading what fate may have in store for him. The man capable of greatness of soul will open wide the windows of his mind, letting the winds blow freely upon it from every portion of the universe. – Bertrand Russell

God and Satan alike are essentially human figures, the one a projection of ourselves, the other of our enemies. – Bertrand Russell

Human nature is so constructed that it gives affection most readily to those who seem least to demand it. – Bertrand Russell

Gradually, by selective breeding, the congenital differences between rulers and ruled will increase until they become almost different species. A revolt of the plebs would become as unthinkable as an organized insurrection of sheep against the practice of eating mutton. – Bertrand Russell

If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. – Bertrand Russell

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons. – Bertrand Russell

A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand. – Bertrand Russell

When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That’s if you want to teach them to think. – Bertrand Russell

Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion; it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindliness in favor of systematic hatred. – Bertrand Russell

Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country. – Bertrand Russell

Drunkenness is temporary suicide: the happiness that it brings is merely negative, a momentary cessation of unhappiness. – Bertrand Russell

The Christian view that all intercourse outside marriage is immoral was, as we see in the above passages from St. Paul, based upon the view that all sexual intercourse, even within marriage, is regrettable. A view of this sort, which goes against biological facts, can only be regarded by sane people as a morbid aberration. The fact that it is embedded in Christian ethics has made Christianity throughout its whole history a force tending towards mental disorders and unwholesome views of life. – Bertrand Russell

If one man offers you democracy and another offers you a bag of grain, at what stage of starvation do you prefer the grain to the vote? – Bertrand Russell

The discipline in your life should be one determined by your own desires and your own needs, not put upon you by society or authority. – Bertrand Russell

The best life is the one in which the creative impulses play the largest part and the possessive impulses the smallest. – Bertrand Russell

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. – Bertrand Russell

Most human beings, though in varying degrees, desire to control, not only their own lives but also the lives of others – Bertrand Russell

The man who is unhappy will, as a rule, adopt an unhappy creed, while the man who is happy will adopt a happy creed; each may attribute his happiness or unhappiness to his beliefs, while the real causation is the other way round. – Bertrand Russell

All the important human advances that we know of since historical times began have been due to individuals of whom the majority faced virulent public opposition. – Bertrand Russell

When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything you are safe in inferring that he is an inexact man. – Bertrand Russell

It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion. – Bertrand Russell

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