Monday, June 19, 2006

Some prophetic words from the 3rd Earl Russell

Bertrand Russell, who was far from being the religious type, finished the penultimate chapter of his History of Western Philosophy with the following words:

...I feel a grave danger, the danger of what might be called cosmic impiety. The concept of 'truth' as something dependent upon facts largely outside human control has been one of the ways in which philosophy hitherto has inculcated the necessary element of humility. When this check upon pride is removed, a further step is taken on the road towards a certain kind of madness - the intoxication of power which invaded philosophy with Fichte, and to which modern men, whether philosophers or not, are prone. I am persuaded that this intoxication is the greatest danger of our time, and that any philosophy which, however unintentionally, contributes to it is increasing the danger of vast social disaster.

Although I disagree with him about where humanity's impiety is directed, he seems to have predicted the late 20th and early 21st centuries pretty well.


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