Belief essay unpopular
After criticizing the present-day trend towards adopting ready-made current opinions, Russell concludes the essay by pointing out the value of detachment and objectivity. A certain degree of isolation both in space and in time is necessary for the most important intellectual work. We must not sacrifice the independence of our minds merely to win the admiration of the crowd by holding opinions which have become current. Irrational Beliefs Propagated By Priests.
This is an essay directed against irrationality. The ages of faith, says Russell, were ages of superstition, and so there was little evidence of rationality in the outlook of people. Priests have always propagated irrational beliefs.
INTRODUCTION – Inspiring Courage
The whole conception of sin in the past was merely a manifestation of the superstitious bent of mind. Similarly, the views relating to the resurrection of the body, the sacredness of human corpses, divorce, etc. False Ideas of National and Racial Superiority. As soon as we abandon our own reason, says Russell, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles. Human beliefs have various causes. There is, for instance, the belief which human beings have about their own excellence.
The Englishman, the Frenchman, the Russian— each thinks of the superiority of his own nation and his own superiority as a member of that nation. There is also the belief that man is the supreme creation of God, and that centuries of evolution have been guided by one great divine purpose, namely, the appearance of man. But when we realize that life on this planet is temporary, this belief in the importance of man loses its validity. A scientific view of the future of the solar system lends no support to the view that man is all-important.
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Then there is the belief in the racial superiority of the white man over the coloured people, while the scientific fact is that there is no difference between the blood of a negro and the blood of a white man. There is another wide-spread belief having no rational basis. It is that human nature cannot be changed, and that, for this reason, there will always be wars.
The actual fact is that a powerful government, by following certain psychological methods, can produce a population of sane and reasonable people who will discard war. Unfortunately most governments do not wish to achieve such a result, because sane and reasonable people would fail to admire the politicians who are at the head of these governments. Most governments now instill their own particular brands of political ideologies among their respective populations. This kind of thing leads to a bitter hostility among nations which have been fed upon conflicting ideologies.
Some Other Irrational Beliefs. Irrational beliefs hold a sway upon the minds of people with regard to birth control and with regard to the nature and disposition of the female sex. There are also irrational generalizations about national characteristics. Some Simple Rules of Conduct. Russell is of the opinion that by observing a few simple rules mankind can avoid the deplorable consequences which afflict human life because of irrational beliefs.
People must not be dogmatic; they must keep their minds open, and they must discuss their opinions with those whose views and opinions are different from their own.
The feeling of self-esteem should also not be allowed to play any part in the holding of beliefs. Another desirable course is for human beings to conquer fear, because fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. A Note of Frivolity.
Russell closes this essay on a frivolous note, saying that superstitions are not always dark and cruel but that often they add to the gaiety of life. The Need of Freedom for the Teacher. In this essay we see Russell as an educationist. Russell is opposed to the rigid manner in which the State nowadays enforces its own ideology through the education that is imparted to pupils. In countries like Russia , the system of education is such as to produce fanatical bigots who are ignorant of the world outside their own country and who are unaccustomed to free discussion.
As a result of the kind of education that is imparted to pupils in different countries, the spirit of cultural internationalism has received a severe setback. Russell pleads for the emancipation of the teacher from the intellectual bondage imposed upon him by the government of his country.
Education should never be dogmatic, and that is possible only if the teachers are free to teach what they please and in the manner they think to be the best. Teachers, the Guardians of Civilization.
Teachers are—more than any other class of people—the guardians of civilization. Civilization is a matter partly of knowledge and partly of emotion, and it is the duty of the teacher to impart the right kind of knowledge in an objective spirit, and similarly develop in the pupils the right kind of emotions. If democracy is to survive, the teacher should try to produce in his pupils the spirit of tolerance which will enable them to understand people who are different from themselves.
What Is This?
An attitude of intolerance, which results from ignorance, is the very opposite of a civilized outlook; and the teacher should not allow the spirit of intolerance to take roots in the minds of his pupils. If the teacher is to succeed in his purpose, he must be free: he should feel himself to be an individual directed by an inner creative impulse, and not an individual dominated and controlled by an outside authority.
The Advances Made in Pre-historic Times. In pre-historic times, mankind benefited greatly by the evolution, of language, the discovery of fire, the art of taming animals, the invention of agriculture, and the art of writing. The Progress in Mathematics and Astronomy. In historic times, the earliest important steps were taken in the spheres of mathematics and astronomy by the Babylonians and later by the Greeks.
In the seventeenth century, Galileo, Descartes, Newton , and Leibniz made great advances in the human understanding of Nature. Galileo unified the principles governing the earth and the heavens by his law of inertia. From the seventeenth century onwards, it has become increasingly clear that, in order to understand natural laws, we must get rid of every kind of ethical and aesthetic bias. The Idea of the Brotherhood of Man. Scientific progress without a corresponding moral and political progress may only increase the magnitude of the disaster that the misuse of scientific skill and technique may bring about.
Among moral ideas, the brotherhood of man is an ideal which owed its first force to political developments. Subsequently, this ideal received a great support from Buddhism and Christianity. The Ideas of Liberty and Democracy. The ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity have religious origins.
The concept of individual liberty within the State first entered practical politics in the form of religious toleration. Other ideas which have helped mankind in the sphere of politics are law and government. Democracy is a system of government which aims at reconciling government with liberty. The Need for an International Government. Orderly social life depends upon a balance of certain ideas and institutions which are: government, law, individual liberty, and democracy. But modern techniques have created a new crisis for mankind.
In order to face this crisis, people must recognize the need of an international government. If an international government of some kind is not established, the next world war will destroy all civilization. The Harm Done by Evil Passions. The misfortunes of human beings have their main source in evil passions rather than in ideas or beliefs.
People in the past enjoyed the spectacles of cruelty such as the burning of heretics, and many people even today find the brutalities of war to be enjoyable. As for ideas and beliefs, much harm has been done by religious superstitions. Even Christian saints, who practised asceticism, found pleasure in the thought that sinners would be subjected to great tortures in the next life. Nowadays Christian asceticism has given way to political asceticism. Communism, for instance, teaches its followers to sacrifice all pleasures and to live a life of hard work and toil because those who do not do so have to be either liquidated or put in concentration camps.