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In Praise of Idleness: And Other Essays (Routledge Classics)

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415109246
ISBN-10: 0415109248
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Editorial Reviews


'A book full of rich, stimulative thought, with plenty of scope for disagreement.' - The Guardian

'Invariably intelligent, stimulating and lucid.' - The Listener

'There is not ... a page which does not provoke argument or thought.' - The Sunday Times



Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Classics
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (January 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415109248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415109246
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,671,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970). Philosopher, mathematician, educational and sexual reformer, pacifist, prolific letter writer, author and columnist, Bertrand Russell was one of the most influential and widely known intellectual figures of the twentieth century. In 1950 he was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature in 1950 for his extensive contributions to world literature and for his "rationality and humanity, as a fearless champion of free speech and free thought in the West."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By P. Schumacher on January 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Russell became famous as a mathematician and philosopher.
But when he won the Nobel Prize, it was for Literature. When you read this book of essays, you will see why.
It is beautifully written and has all of Russell's virtues: clarity, wit, humor, forcefulness, simplicity.
Even better, it is a brief education in itself. Most of the essays were written just as the Great Depression was beginning, and Russell gets right to the heart of a problem Capitalists and Socialists do not usually address: How much work is needed, and what is the ultimate point? He constantly stresses that we do too much work, and most of it is unneeded, and makes life grim. He never ceases to remind us that we should work to live, not live to work.
He addresses this point in many ways--through economics, through architecture, through the then-raging problems of Fascism and Communism. And though he treats serious problems seriously, he always has time for the breathtaking perspective and the ligtht touch--as with the essay, "Man Versus Insects."
A wonderful, even life-changing book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN PLETKO on November 4, 2003
Format: Paperback

Controversial philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Lord Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) has written fifteen scintillating essays on which to whet our intellectual appetites. These short essays were written between 1925 and 1935.

Russell writes in an elegant, readable, and understandable style. His arguments are well thought out.

These essays consider social questions not discussed in politics. The general theme that ties these essays together is that the world suffers from dogmatism and narrowness; what is needed is the willingness to question dogma.

These essays are a blend of philosophy with other disciplines such as psychology, economics, science, and history. All the essays are brutally honest and forthright. Each is packed with loads of wisdom. What's amazing is that these essays are as current today as when they were first written and their messages will probably remain relevant in the future.

My five favorite essays in this collection include the following:

(1) "In Praise of Idleness." Discusses work and the importance of leisure. In order to get an idea of Russell's insight that permeates this book, here's a sample sentence from this essay: "The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery."

(2) "'Useless' Knowledge." Points out that all knowledge is useful not only that which has a practical value.

(3) "The Case for Socialism." Russell gives many arguments in favor of socialism, most notably the need for preventing war.

(4) "Western Civilization." Discusses its characteristics.
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Format: Paperback
Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872-1970) was an influential British philosopher, logician, mathematician, and political activist. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, in recognition of his many books such as A History of Western Philosophy, The Problems of Philosophy, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, The Analysis of Mind, Our Knowledge of the External World, Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits, Mysticism and Logic, etc.

[NOTE: page numbers below refer to a 231-page paperback edition.]

He wrote in the Preface, “This book contains essays on such aspects of social questions as tend to be ignored in the clash of politics. It emphasizes the danger of too much organization in the realm of thought and too much strenuousness in action. It explains why I cannot agree with either Communism or Fascism, and wherein I dissent from what both have in common.
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