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The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (Routledge Classics) 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415472388
ISBN-10: 0415472385
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) was one of the most formidable thinkers of the modern era. A philosopher, mathematician, educational innovator, champion of intellectual, social and sexual freedom, and a campaigner for peace and human rights, he was also a prolific writer of popular and influential books, essays and lectures on an extensive range of subjects.

Considered to be one of the most controversial figures of the twentieth century, Bertrand Russell is widely renowned for his provocative writings. These definitive works offer profound insights and forward-thinking perspectives on a changing western society progressively shaped, most significantly, by two world wars, the decline of British imperialism and an evolving moral landscape.

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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Classics
  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415472385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415472388
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alexander Arsov on July 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
My first introduction to Bertrand Russell was somewhat odd. It actually consisted of one sentence which I came across while browsing a catalogue for chemicals (I forgot the company) which its compilers had sought to enliven by including here and there aphorisms and epigrams from great people, mostly but not only scientists. Many of these made strong enough an impression on me as to jot them down, and the words of Lord Russell are among the ones I most often recall:

"Most people would rather die than think; in fact they do so."
Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)

Then I said to myself that this fellow must be worth checking out. Years passed. Now and then I happened to read an essay by Lord Russell - online or in Somerset Maugham's anthology "Traveller's Library" - that confirmed my initial impression that he is indeed worth reading, but it was not until this volume that my real introduction to Bertrand Russell commenced. It's been a stimulating and transforming experience such as I have not had for quite some time. For now I can safely say that I will be reading Lord Russell again; I can already even put him in the list of my favourite writers without the slightest hesitation because I am fully convinced that his huge oeuvre is worthy of a much closer scrutiny. Obviously, I am the last man who could tell whether the selection of Messrs Egner and Denonn was well done or not; on the other hand, I am one of first to judge whether it is useful to the perfect newcomer to Bertrand Russell. I venture to suggest that for a perfect dilettante in the field of philosophy, such as a myself, this book seems to be an excellent place to start the exploration of a world of frightening complexity and scope.
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Format: Paperback
Bertrand Russell is an exceptionally deep and multifaceted thinker. Having written comprehensively on a rich number of subjects and having added new and profound thoughts to so many well known topics, Russell never disappoints critical thinkers with an open mind.

This work consists of several of Russell's writings on a number of topics. Ranging from thoughts on life, language, mathematics, politics, economics, and world affairs, there is something for every intellectual in this collection. There is no way for a mere reviewer to competently convey the essence of Russell's thoughts. I can only add that if you enjoy philosophy, if you respect the deep thinkers of our times, and if you read with an open mind, you will enjoy The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell.
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This book served as an excellent refresher course on Bertrand Russell and his pure, crystalline prose style which so enthralled me when I discovered him in my late adolescence. In the Preface to my edition of this collection, he states, "Philosophical progress seems to me analogous to the gradually increasing clarity of the outline of a mountain approached through mist, which is vaguely visible at first, but even at last remains somewhat indistinct. What I have never been able to accept is that the mist itself conveys a valuable element of truth." To hone his razor-sharp prose style which enabled him to slice through the fogs of prose that passed for philosophy until, on an historical scale, very recently, he writes herein that, "I read, before I went to Cambridge, Mill's Logic and Political Economy, and made elaborate notes in which I practised the art of expressing the gist of each paragraph in a single sentence." And how well this task to which he put himself served him, and the general readership at large, is glowingly evident in these essays.

I don't think it particularly useful in this review to go into the particular subjects of these wide-ranging essays (e.g., Dewey's Instrumentalism, so-called universals, essence as attribute, Hegelian and Marxist muddle etc.) for two reasons: 1.) It would make what is meant to be a short review into a wearisome dissertation of sorts. 2. Save for a few throwbacks and cranks, nobody believes them anymore, due in no small degree to philosophers of Logical Analysis, such as Russell, completely discrediting them.

What I would like to stress here is Russell's urbane and erudite lucidity which make almost all of these essays a joy to read for anyone who treasures witty, perspicuous prose. Chapter 34 on St.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book by pure happenstance from a friends book collection and have found it to be entertaining and enlightening. I have long been trying to figure out my view of the world and my philosophical standpoint in general and this is the first book I have really been able to connect with. Many sections of the book deal with Russell's search for his own understanding of the world and I especially connected with his time at University. I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone either looking for understanding of their own life or interested in one of the greatest modern philosophers.
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It's not often that you find someone (writer, philosopher, politician, etc) with whom you agree on almost every point. For me Russell is one of those people. For someone who delved into pretty much every area of study available to him and to then be able to write coherently and succinctly about it is really amazing. This was one smart fella.

About the book itself: it is pretty big and there's a lot of material here. It's easy to read, too. Definitely a good start.
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