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Unpopular Essays Paperback – June 1, 1950

ISBN-13: 978-0671202538 ISBN-10: 0671202537

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--This text refers to the Digital edition.

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Unpopular Essays + Sceptical Essays (Routledge Classics) + In Praise of Idleness: And Other Essays (Routledge Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Paper) (June 1950)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671202537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671202538
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,355,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'An intellectual treat...the delight of this book lies in that combination of wit with perception, and of width of view with ease of expression for which Russell made himself known.' - Financial Times 'Russell is incapable of being dull as he is of being shallow' - The Observer 'His writings reflect his crystalline, scintillating mind and rank him among the few masters of English style' - Sunday Times --This text refers to the Digital edition.

About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). The leading British Philosopher of the twentieth century, who made major contributions to the area of logic and epistemology. Politically active and habitually outspoken, his ethical principles twice lead to imprisonment. --This text refers to the Digital edition.

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."

Customer Reviews

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Read all you can.
D. Whalen
Nevertheless, he is considered by the great majority of philosophers a paragon of wisdom." So much for Aristotle.
Daniel Myers
To him, anyone spouting Dogma is an open target for ridicule.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on February 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here is a short and easy way of capturing the sparkle and pixie wit of Lord Russell. It is also a good way to keep yourself laughing continuously in impish delight for several hours as Russell skewers dogma after dogma. One is reminded of nothing so much as a lightweight master of the epee skipping through an army of Goliaths armed with heavy truncheons and running his sword through them, one after another, before they know what has happened.-Just one example, the philosophic Goliath known as Aristotle: "Aristotle, in spite of his reputation, is full of absurdities. He says that children should be conceived in the winter, when the wind is in the north, and that if people marry too young the children will be female. He tells us that the blood of the female is blacker than that of males...that women have fewer teeth than men and so on. Nevertheless, he is considered by the great majority of philosophers a paragon of wisdom." So much for Aristotle. He also never tires of skewering the clergy in general and their obscurantism. One of the most amusing sections is his account of the clergy's reaction to the invention of the lighning-rod: "When Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning-rod, the clergy, both in England and America, with the enthusiastic support of George III, condemned it as an impious attempt to defeat the will of God. For, as all right-thinking people were aware, lightning is sent by God to punish impiety or some other grave sin-the virtuous are never struck by lightning. Therefore if God wants to strike anyone, Benjamin ought not to defeat His design..." Finally, he wasn't above a little irony in his self-penned obituary by an imaginary Obit. writer, "...Read more ›
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Molon Labe on January 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Lord Russell sets the indicative tone for this collection of mostly polemical essays in his Preface, when he explains his choice of the adjective "Unpopular" in his title. "...There are several sentences in the present volume which some unusually stupid children of ten might find a little puzzling. On this ground I do not claim that the essays are popular; and if not popular, then 'unpopular.'" Russell says exactly what he thinks, has no patience for fools and does not hesitate to ridicule muddled thinking and wrong-headed beliefs wherever he may find them.
This work contains 10 essays written between 1935 and 1950, with the common theme being the pernicious impact of dogmatic, unsupportable beliefs. By and large, Russell is highly effective in making his case across a broad range of topics, from the debunking of philosophy's giants such as Plato ("That Plato's Republic should have been admired, on its political side, by decent people is perhaps the most astonishing example of literary snobbery in all history."), Aristotle ("Aristotle, in spite of his reputation, is full of absurdities.") and Hegel ("To anyone who still cherishes the hope that man is a more or less rational animal, the success of this farrago of nonsense must be astonishing.") to the fallacies of discrimination against women, xenophobia and our modern public education system.
His sharpest attacks are reserved for Man's superstitions and particularly for those of the religious variety. Russell is a well-known rationalist thinker and atheist and his views are driven by the common sense dictum that one should only believe that which has sufficient supporting, scientific evidence. This leads to the view that deism is unlikely and that modern revealed religions are pure folly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
There is something wonderfully light and quick about these essays. Russell is not afraid of 'sacred cows' and he takes apart in this way philosophical greats Plato, Aristotle , Hegel, and comprehensive all - encompassing programs for understanding and shaping reality.

He defends a kind of 'enlightened liberalism' an openness to the market of ideas, a sense that truth is not the sole possession of any single vision or system.

His natural bent and lifework move him to feel close to 'observational methods' to a scientific way of understanding the world. It is interesting that though Russell is generally identified as a radical leftist he takes apart the Marxian historical straightjacket, as well as the Hegelian one.

Russell writes so clearly and cleverly , seems to provide such ready and reasonable answers to any questions he raises that it is only through more reflective rereading that one begins to see, his prejudices also.

Our scientific, and technological universe has changed so dramatically in the years since this work was written that it would of course be instructive to know what Russell would think about ' Internet' and ' stem cell research' and a kind of ' post- modernism' which is one possible path that might come out of his own pluralism and liberalism.

It is interesting that in the small chapters towards the end where he writes about those he admires, the one philosopher who wins his praise as person is Pragmatism's, Truth- as - cash - value of our investigations' William James.

Russell often offends but also hits the mark palpably many times.

This work is a pleasure to read, but not for the answers it provides but for its open- minded way of questioning.a
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