Wednesday , July 26 2017
Home / Roger Farmer's Economic Window / The Liberal Conscience (Bertrand Russell Edition)

The Liberal Conscience (Bertrand Russell Edition)

Summary:
One of my favorite blogs is the eclectic site, Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova. Maria has a post  here on the British Philosopher Bertrand Russell. I first came across Russell as a first year undergraduate where his History of Western Philosophy was essential reading. Later, I started reading Introduction to Mathematical Philosphy, still one of ...

Topics:
Roger Farmer considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Minda Dentler writes Helping the Heroines of Polio Eradication

Lucy P. Marcus writes Donald Trump, CEO

Brahma Chellaney writes China’s Weaponization of Trade

Miles Kimball writes Noah Smith: Seeking the Cure for American Economic Sclerosis

One of my favorite blogs is the eclectic site, Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova. Maria has a post  here on the British Philosopher Bertrand Russell. I first came across Russell as a first year undergraduate where his History of Western Philosophy was essential reading. Later, I started reading Introduction to Mathematical Philosphy, still one of the clearest expositions of the roots of mathematics ever written. Maria reminds us that Russell was also a proponent of English liberalism, a philosophy that he summed up in ten principles to guide us all as educators. It first appeared in the December 16, 1951, issue of The New York Times Magazine, at the end of the article “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism.”

"Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed 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 if the 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."

Liberalism, as understood by Russell, is a long way from its current use in the modern American political discourse. As educators, have we lost sight of Russell's guiding principles?  

Roger Farmer
ROGER E. A. FARMER is a Distinguished Professor of Economics at UCLA and served as Department Chair from July 2008 through December 2012. He was the Senior Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, January-December 2013.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *