Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Ten Commandments of Bertrand Russell

"I don't trust those who claim to only speak the truth" - Becca Addix

The philosopher Bertrand Russell came up with his own Ten Commandments, which was published in the December 16, 1951, issue of "The New York Times Magazine." He considered it his own answer to fanaticism.

1. "Do not feel absolutely certain of anything."

Notice he put that as Number One. The way I use that one is to remember the ideas in our heads are not reality. "The map is not the territory," as Alfred Korzybski put it.

The closer the ideas in our heads - or models of reality - conform to reality, the better they work and the better lives we have. If our model of reality tells us we can jump out of an airplane without a parachute and float like a soap bubble, that's a bad model of reality.

Politically, leftism and its variations are all bad models of reality.

Science is a model of reality. It is not about the Truth: it is about a search for the Truth. So when someone says, "Science says..." they don't know what they are talking about.

Since science is a search for the truth, its theories are always provisional, and can always be - and will always be - refined and made better. (You can say everything is a process and not a thing.)

A fanatic is someone who thinks the ideas in their heads are reality itself and since they are the Truth, cannot be changed. And when someone challenges them, they get hysterical, with their first defense being ad homenim attacks. Such people are natural slaves, since they get others to do their thinking for them, then they imitate those people and memorize their ideas.

2. "Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light."

3. "Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed."

4. "When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory."

I find it interesting he zeroed in on women here...who are known for being irrational.

5. "Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found."

6. "Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you."

7. "Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric."

8. "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."

9. "Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it."

10. "Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness."

My experience is those who pontificate as if they know they absolute truth are doing it for attention, fame, and money. And what they prescribe for others is not how they lead their own lives. Those are the ones who ideas should be taken with a boulder of salt.

"Natural slavery is term used by Aristotle in the Politics to express the belief that some people are slaves by nature." - Wikipedia

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