After seeing a whole mess of quotes from Russell today, I found myself unable to choose just one. These are the ones that hit me most strongly.
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.
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 paradise in a few years.
In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
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 favour 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.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy — I mean that if you are happy you will be good.
The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.
The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others.
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.
To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.
One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways.
To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.
It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it is true.
Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.