The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, 1903-1959
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A compilation of nearly 100 works by this great thinker, and includes a chronological list.
forces acting on any one at any time, the motives pro and con, the constitution of his brain at any time, then we could tell exactly what he would do.’ Until the age of eighteen I continued to believe in a Deist’s God, because the First-Cause argument seemed to me irrefutable. Then in John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography I found that James Mill had taught him the refutation of that argument—namely, that it gives no answer to the question ‘Who made God?’ It is curious that Mill should have had
greatest of all the evils of our time. We are oppressed also by the great impersonal forces that govern our daily life, making us still slaves of circumstance though no longer slaves in law. This need not be the case. It has come about through the worship of false gods. Energetic men have worshipped power rather than simple happiness and friendliness; men of less energy have acquiesced, or have been deceived by a wrong diagnosis of the sources of sorrow. Ever since mankind invented
pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On the way home he was shipwrecked and died of exhaustion. For centuries after this time, medical students at the Papal University in Rome were only allowed to operate on lay figures, from which the sexual parts were omitted. The sacredness of corpses is a widespread belief. It was carried furthest by the Egyptians, among whom it led to the practice of mummification. It still exists in full force in China. A French surgeon who was employed by the 50 t h e b a
cannot s c i e n c e a n d h u m a n l i f e 707 profitably take account of this fact since the effects are impossible to foresee. We cannot blame Columbus because the discovery of the Western Hemisphere spread throughout the Eastern Hemisphere an appallingly devas- tating plague. Nor can we blame James Watt for the Dust Bowl, although if there had been no steam engines and no railways the West would not have been so carelessly or so quickly cultivated. To see that knowledge is wisely
necessary stimulus to abstraction, but abstraction must be possible, at least as regards similarity. And if possible in regard to similarity, it seems pointless to deny it elsewhere. To say that we understand the word ‘before’ is to say that, when we perceive two events A and B in a time-sequence, we know whether to say ‘A is before B’ or ‘B is before A’, and concerning one of these we know that it describes what we perceive. (3) ‘A gives a book to B.’ This means: ‘there is an x such that