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Bertrand Russell’s Ten Commandments

Bertrand Russell's Ten Commandments

In 1951, writer Bertrand Russell published an article in The New York Times Magazine titled “The Best Answer to Fanaticism-Liberalism,” in which he argues that liberalism in “Its calm search for truth, viewed as dangerous in many places, remains the hope of humanity.” 

Russell concludes his New York Times piece by offering advice on how to live one’s life in the spirit of liberalism.

“The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows,” he says-Reproducing below Bertrand Russell’s Ten Commandments.

1: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2: Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief 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.

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 when 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.

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