Bertrand Russell's ten principles for creating and communicating new ideas

blogEntryThumbnailHere's another gem from Brainpickings weekly. I've mentioned Bertrand Russell recently, with regard to the excellent graphic novel Logicomix that centres around Russell and other mathematicians' search for logical truth. Here he is again with a profound list of recommendations for anyone wanting to investigate the world and explain what they've found; it's from the December 16, 1951 issue of The New York Times Magazine, at the end of the article “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism.”. You can find the brainpickings article here. Personally, I found the line 'Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric' particularly appealing. ;)



"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, endeavour 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."
Great stuff.