Brain Pickings

Love Is Wise, Hatred Is Foolish: Bertrand Russell on Rationality and Tolerance, 1959


What the cult of fact has to do with the essential condition for the survival of the human race.

One need only look to British philosopher, mathematician, and sociocultural critic Bertrand Russell’s 10 commandments of teaching to understand his profound grasp on culture and the human condition. In this equally inspiring and timeless excerpt from BBC’s 1959 Face to Face interview, Russell articulates in just under two minutes one of the most important and admirable aspirations we could hope to live up to, both individually and as a society — a beautiful complement to Einstein’s wisdom on kindness and our shared humanity.

I should like to say two things, one intellectual and one moral.

The intellectual thing I should want to say to them is this: When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts. That is the intellectual thing that I should wish to say.

The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple: I should say, 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 — and 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.

Catch the full BBC interview, very much worth the watch in its entirety, here:

Thanks, Neil

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

Share on Tumblr