Bertrand Russell

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Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872 - 1970), the third Earl Russell, was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, one of the most important logicians, and an important political liberals and popularizer of philosophy. Millions looked up to Russell as a sort of prophet of the creative and rational life. He was born in 1872, at the height of Britain's economic and political ascendancy, and died in 1970 when Britain's empire had all but vanished and her power had been drained in two victorious but debilitating world wars. At his death, however, his voice still carried moral authority, for he was one of the world's most influential critics of nuclear weapons and the American war in Vietnam.

Russell's philosophical and logical work

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Russell is best known among philosophers and mathematicians for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. His most influential contributions include his defense of logicism (the view that mathematics is in some important sense reducible to logic), and his theories of definite descriptions and logical atomism. Along with G. E. Moore, Russell is generally recognized as one of the founders of analytic philosophy. Along with Kurt Gödel, he is also often credited with being one of the two most important logicians of the twentieth century, in no small measure due to the enormous achievement represented by Russell's work with Alfred North Whitehead on Principia Mathematica. He originated Russell's paradox, which led directly to the creation of axiomatic set theory. In 1950, Russell was made Nobel Laureate in Literature.

Russell's life

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Russell first met the American Quaker, Alys Pearsall Smith, when he was seventeen years old. Russell fell in love with the puritanical, high-minded Alys, and married her in December 1894. Their marriage was ended by separation in 1911. In 1921 they divorced. Russell married Dora Russell in ???, and their children were John Russell and Katharine Russell. After Russell's marriage to Dora broke up, in 1936 he took as his third wife an attractive Oxford undergraduate, Patricia ("Peter") Spence. She had been his children's governess in the summer of 1930. Russell's fourth wife was Edith (Finch). They had known each other since 1925. Edith had lectured in English at Bryn Mawr College, near Philadelphia.

In Spring of 1939, Russell moved to Santa Barbara to take up a professorship at the University of California at Los Angeles.


Links to online writings

Links about Russell

Quotes

  • "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education."

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