September 27, 2011

Bertrand Russel's Ten Commandments


Though I had heard of Bertrand Russel, I had never heard of these before.  (I found them over at the 22 words blog.)  Though I clearly do not agree with everything that he says here, I definitely found much of this to be thought stimulating and actually quite agreeable.  So, I share them with you to see what you think.

In his own words,
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 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 is from your family, endeavour to overcome it with 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 is happiness.
My key disagreement is related to a difference of authority and certainty.  Though I agree with his idea of not feeling absolutely certain, I do believe that certainty can and should increase throughout your life.  In conjunction with that, not only do I believe that authority exists, I believe in the reality of absolute authority.

Anyway, chew on this and let me know what you think.