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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let us reject power from our hearts
While the essays on physics are rather outdated, Russell's sarcastic comments on the philosophy of Bergson, education, ethics or vegetarianism are still well worth reading.

Bergson
Bergson's crucial idea of `durée' is an error: `Since the past has effects now, it must still exist in some sense. The mistake in this maxim consists in the supposition...
Published on October 14, 2009 by Luc REYNAERT

versus
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing Pages
I have not read all of the essays in this book yet, but the lead essay "Mysticism and Logic" has pages missing. There is a gap of probably two pages between the bottom of the first page in print, and the next page in print, which is numbered "4." Then pages 6 and 7 are missing. The rest of this essay appears to be present.

This book is printed from a scan of...
Published on June 16, 2012 by Daniel H. Reigle


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let us reject power from our hearts, October 14, 2009
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
While the essays on physics are rather outdated, Russell's sarcastic comments on the philosophy of Bergson, education, ethics or vegetarianism are still well worth reading.

Bergson
Bergson's crucial idea of `durée' is an error: `Since the past has effects now, it must still exist in some sense. The mistake in this maxim consists in the supposition that causes `operate'. The belief that causes `operate', results from assimilating them to volitions.'

Ethics
For B. Russell, `ethics is essentially a product of the gregarious instinct, that is to say, of the instinct to co-operate with those who are to form our own group against those who belong to other groups. Those who belong to our own group are good; those who belong to hostile groups are wicked,'

Education
`The endeavor to teach virtue has led to the production of stunted and contorted hypocrites instead of full-grown human beings"

Vegetarians
`Even vegetarians do not hesitate to save the life of a man in a fever, although in doing so they destroy the lives of many millions of microbes.'

Philosophy and man's place in the universe
`No heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system. All these things are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.'

These almost `lyrical' essays are a must read for all fans of the superb free mind of Bertrand Russell.
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42 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A contradictory sort of fellow, December 21, 2000
By 
Daniel Myers (Greenville, SC USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Mysticism and Logic (Paperback)
Will Durant, in his congenial The Story of Philosophy, describes Bertrand Russell as "...resolved to be hard-headed because he knows he can not be."-This is a bit unfair, as it doesn't really take into account Russell's philosophy, merely the man. But the two are so hard to separate!-Basically, Russell believes that mysticism "is the inspirer of what is best in man." But that it is absolutely muddle-headed and has lead mankind down numerous philosophic blind alleys in the past thousand or so years (I think anyone who has read Kant or Hegel can't help but come to this conclusion).-University professors (especially those of Philosophy) are excepted from the previous parenthetical remark! -But I don't guess Russell (a Nobel prize winner in literature, by the way) matters so much anymore: This book I'm reviewing is out of print, nobody else has reviewed it and I haven't heard his name mentioned in highbrow discussions for many a year. He was a mathematical genius, wrote prose that could cut like a razor blade concerning the most abstruse subjects in a manner understandable to most laymen, and was a profound skeptic in re matters religious. This latter got him into all kinds of trouble with women's societies and the like back in the earlier part of the century and actually got him fired from the City College of New York. So he packed his bags and went to teach at Harvard.-You see, he was a British aristocrat (an Earl) and all this rabble rousing by the hoi polloi was really a non-issue for him. In his autobiography, he recounts how his mother always told him, "Never follow a crowd to do Evil." Russell never followed a crowd to do anything!-All this biographical elaboration is to help readers understand the man who wrote this book which, in a nutshell, praises the mystical impulse in its pure, unadulterated form while deploring the aforementioned philosophical muddles to which it leads, and, on the other hand, glorifies (justly) the English schools of empirical logic and the scientific progress to which they have lead. One can hardly look at this computer screen and deny this claim. All this in a lucid and thoroughly enjoyable prose. Yes, Russell has seen his days of celebrity come and go (as well as his days in general, one might add,) but if you chance by a wizened looking professor loaded down with heavyweight tomes on metaphysical systems, you might get a rather surprising response if you mention Bertie Russell. - In his day, Russell was the Mick Jagger of Philosophy, and coeds used to quarrel over who got to bed down with him that night when he came to lecture that the stuff a good proportion of their professors were teaching was, quite literally, nonsense.-And just think, he got away with it all! What fun!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing Pages, June 16, 2012
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I have not read all of the essays in this book yet, but the lead essay "Mysticism and Logic" has pages missing. There is a gap of probably two pages between the bottom of the first page in print, and the next page in print, which is numbered "4." Then pages 6 and 7 are missing. The rest of this essay appears to be present.

This book is printed from a scan of the copy in the Cornell University Library. I found an online copy of this book on Internet Archive, and it is missing the same pages in this essay. So the problem may be in the scan of the original in the Cornell library. Internet Archive has two other scans from different sources that appear to be complete.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, December 8, 2014
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This is a compendium of essays which touches on different topics including mysticism, intuition, the study of mathematics, causality and other topics. The author's analysis is, indeed, profound, but perhaps to challenging for the average reader. Perhaps a more astute reader with more of a background in these areas would benefit more from this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight from Russell on life and math, July 19, 2013
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Very deep essays on the human being, being human with essay I. "Mysticism and Logic" the most popular, but don't stop reading at the end of that essay. My favorite that resonated the most with me was III. "A Free Man's Worship" in which Russell struggles with finding meaning in life through helping fellow travelers along the journey through life. A life changing read for sure! One of the most compassionate authors for sure. A true foul to the writings of authors such as Rand and Friedman's pro Capitalism stances.

Favorite quote:
“The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish form our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair.”
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Russell, June 5, 2014
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I love his writings and find myself laughing at times (even when it's not supposed to be funny). I think he would have been a great dinner guest, he would be fun and make everyone laugh with his off the wall ideas, but the thing is...somewhere in those crazy ideas exists genius that you begin to see after a time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars AN ILLUMINATING COLLECTION OF RUSSELL'S ESSAYS, October 2, 2014
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This review is from: Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays (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, etc. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to a 234-page hardcover edition from 1959.]

He wrote in the Preface, "The following essays have been written and published at various times... The essay on `Mysticism and Logic' appeared in ... 1914... In theoretical ethics, the position advocated in `The Free Man's Worship' is not quite identical with that which I hold now: I feel less convinced than I did then of the objectivity of good and evil. But the general attitude towards life which is suggested in that essay still seems to me, in the main, the one which must be adopted in times of stress and difficulty by those who have no dogmatic religious beliefs, if inward defeat is to be avoided."

Those inquiring about this book in hopes of finding one of Russell's famous and witty critiques of religion [e.g., Why I am Not a Christian, Religion and Science] will be much disappointed by the opening essay. Russell states, "The mystic insight begins with the sense of a mystery unveiled, of a hidden wisdom now suddenly become certain beyond the possibility of a doubt. The sense of certainty of revelation comes earlier than any definite belief. the definite beliefs at which mystics arrive are the result of reflection upon the inarticulate experience gained in the moment of insight." (Pg. 9)

He goes on, "I believe that, by sufficient restraint, there is an element of wisdom to be learned from the mystical way of feeling, which does not seem to be attainable in any other manner. If this is the truth, mysticism is to be commended as an attitude towards life, not as a creed about the world." (Pg. 11) He adds, "Of the reality or unreality of the mystic's world I know nothing. I have no wish to deny it, nor even to declare that the insight which reveals it is not a genuine insight." (Pg. 12) And finally, "In religion, and in every deeply serious view of the world and of human destiny, there is an element of submission, a realisation of the limits of human power, which is somewhat lacking in the modern world, with its quick material successes and its insolent belief in the boundless possibilities of progress. `He that loveth his life shall lose it'; and there is danger lest, through a too confident love of life, life itself should lose much of what gives it its highest worth. The submission which religion inculcates in action is essentially the same in spirit as that which science teaches in thought; and the ethical neutrality by which its victories have been achieved is the outcome of that submission." (Pg. 31)

Of course, his 1903 essay on the "Free Man's Worship" is the best-known in this collection; and particularly its statement, "That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought or feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath debris of a universe in ruins¯all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built." (Pg. 48)

But note that even in this essay (written when he was profoundly depressed; he said in his 1956 book, Portraits from Memory, that the essay was "a work of which I do not now think well"), said that man's true freedom lay in "determination to worship only the God created by our own love of the good, to respect only the heaven which inspires the insight of our best moments" (pg. 50), and that Christianity's preaching of the necessity of renunciation showed "a wisdom exceeding that of the Promethean philosophy of rebellion." (Pg. 51) [For more information about this period, and Russell's ideas about religion at this time, see my own essay, "The Religion of Bertrand Russell" in my book, Saved by Philosophy.]

Russell was at his lyrical best in these essays; we fans of his work will find much to enjoy in this collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Russell the Skeptic, April 19, 2014
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There is something strange about Russell’s writing. Although he often adopts a formal, even stilted, style, and tackles the most abstruse logical problems, his personality is always floating in the background, barely out of sight. The feeling is like Russell is there, in the room with you, reading aloud from his work. His ability to adopt this warm, personal style while appearing not to do so is why I think he is a fantastic writer.

This is related to another persistent feature of his writing. When he is laying forth a theory or an argument, I often feel that Russell is trying just as hard to convince himself as his audience. He was a man skeptical to the core, and I get the feeling that he was only capable of wholeheartedly of believing in things—even logical theories—in short, passionate bursts; and that, after reflection, he would find flaws in every one of his former opinions. The vacillation of his ideas throughout his career shows this in full evidence.

This vacillation is apparent in the first essay, “Mysticism and Logic.” Russell starts off in praising philosophers who have successfully combined the two notions, and expresses his wish that the mystical impulse be given its due respect. And then he proceeds to demolish every doctrine or idea posited by mystical thinkers. By the end of the essay, the reader is more averse to mysticism than before he started. (For a more productive attempt to combine the two, see Wittgenstein’s Tractatus .)

Then there’s his masterpiece of prose, “A Free Man’s Worship.” That is a piece of writing more passionate that I could have ever thought possible from polite, civilized Bertrand. And yet, in the back of the reader’s mind is Russell’s cordial warning in the preface that he later came to find the sentiments expressed somewhat naïve. As I said, an incorrigible skeptic.

It is getting to be something of a cliché to say this, but I find it valuable to read through this philosophy even if you don’t believe it. Even the late Bertrand Russell himself didn’t believe it. But his mind was cast in a unique mold. Russell was capable—or at least as nearly capable as can be achieved—of contemplation without sentimentality or dogmatism. He questioned everything: an exercise incomparably valuable, if not ultimately productive.

What’s more, Russell’s ability to get to the very heart of a question, to probe it with his logical pincers until every strand of the thing is clearly laid out on the dissection table, is always astounding. Merely following the train of his thought is worthwhile, even if the train leads until blind alleys. Plus, what’s so bad about blind alleys?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage stuff from the polymath of the 20th century., June 16, 2013
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Vintage stuff from one of the great minds of all time,
One really needs to read russel to realize how far ahead he was -
anyone who wants to think of themselves as
educated should sart here. Sure, he missed a very
few, but his grasp and his humanity leaves you
wishing for more like him. Alas, minds like this come along
all too rarely.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, November 8, 2014
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If you like analytic philosophy you'll like this book.
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Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays
Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays by Bertrand Russell (Paperback - August 5, 2012)
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