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photograph portrait of Bertrand Russell

10 Principles to Lead a Life at Peace with Difference, According to Bertrand Russell


One of the most influential analytical philosophers of the past century shared with the world his 10 rules for living in peace with divergent opinions.

Bertrand Russell, mathematician, winner of a Literature Nobel Prize and one of the most important analytic philosophers of recent times was completely convinced that the practice of liberalism was the only way — at least the most civilised — to emancipate ourselves from the two most toxic political regimes: tyranny and anarchy.

Russell believed that in order to reach a social state of functionality and health it is fundamental to have rules that are truly indispensable within the practice of people’s freedom. At the same time, these rules should guarantee social benefits while avoiding imbalances. An example of the latter is revealed in his phrase: “But the liberal attitude does not say that you should oppose authority. It says only that you should be free to oppose authority”.

This versatile Brit also believed that in order to live in complete freedom it is essential to become free from fanatical beliefs —he affirmed that even liberals should refuse to be “blind” believers of this doctrine.

The Nobel Prize winner advocated that in order to live in a society whose foundations are cemented in the principles of freedom, we must follow 10 important pieces of advice which, additionally, enrich a democratic life. The list of advice reads as follows:

1: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2: Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief 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 when 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.


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