February 21, 2013 Repository 55: Bertrand Russell’s 10 Very Relevant Commandments Posted In: bon mots, education, perspective, philosophy


Image of Bertrand Russell courtesy Rex Features

Below is a short text from my hero Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). I was first inspired by him years ago when I was at Hamilton College as an undergrad. He’s brilliant on many levels – his philosophy on life and learning has inspired me over the years.

I was just re-reading his 10 commandments on teaching and realized you might be able to take some of these nuggets as you embark on teaching yourself new paths, teaching new tricks to old dogs at work, and most definitely applying to any creative practice you may immerse yourself in. I hope you enjoy as much as I do:

“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:

Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

• Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

• Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

• 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.

• Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

• Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

• Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

• 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.

• Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

• 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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  1. theguywiththeeye • February 22, 2013

    Yeah! I can get pumped up about Bertrand Russell. Reply

  2. theguywiththeeye • February 22, 2013

    Ok ... searched Bertrand Russell again ... not a whole lot turned up, so I'm going to pretend like I haven't seen this one yet ...

    Great post! Bertrand Russell taught me how to read. Reply

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