Bertrand Russell: A Political Life

Overview

Bertrand Russell was one of the greatest logicians since Aristotle, and one of the most important philosophers of the past two hundred years. In this thorough examination, Alan Ryan tells the story of Russell's "other life" as social critic, polemical journalist, antiwar activist, sage and gadfly, dissenting from Russell's insistence that there was no connection between his philosophical interests and his political allegiances. Taking readers on an entertaining journey through a career that included two spells in...

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Overview

Bertrand Russell was one of the greatest logicians since Aristotle, and one of the most important philosophers of the past two hundred years. In this thorough examination, Alan Ryan tells the story of Russell's "other life" as social critic, polemical journalist, antiwar activist, sage and gadfly, dissenting from Russell's insistence that there was no connection between his philosophical interests and his political allegiances. Taking readers on an entertaining journey through a career that included two spells in jail, Ryan discusses Russell's most visible campaigns—against traditional religion, against the First World War, against nuclear weapons, and against the Vietnam War, as well as his lifelong defence of liberalism in education, politics, and relations between the sexes. Throughout he emphasizes the high spirits, the aristocratic fearlessness, and the wonderful combination of wit and intelligence that Russell brought to his political writing and actions. The result is a stimulating reconsideration of one of the great intellectual radicals of our time, a remarkable man who refused to grow old, calm down, and become respectable.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This book is a critical evaluation of Russell's thought on politics and society and, above all, on war and peace. Sweeping over the full gamut of Russell's political thought, from his earliest book (on Marxism) in 1896 to his often hysterical criticisms of America during the Vietnam war, the narrative touches on religion, ethics, sex, marriage, child rearing, education, liberalism, socialism, nuclear disarmament, and world government. The writing is balanced and highly informedRyan is a professor of political science at Princetonrevealing how, despite some excesses, sympathy with the plight of mankind was always Russell's prime motivation. For general as well as academic collections. Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, D.C.
Booknews
Ryan (politics, Princeton U.) concentrates on Russell's activities as a polemicist, agitator, educator and popularizer, tracing the evolution of his moral philosophy beginning with his fervid opposition to WWI. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374528201
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 12/28/1988
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author
Alan Ryan is Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including Social Explanation, Justice, and Essays on Thomas Hobbes, all published by Oxford.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
1 A Liberal Upbringing 1
2 Religion, Ethics, and Liberal Politics 21
3 At War with War 55
4 An Ambivalent Socialist 81
5 Education for Utopia 103
6 Peace, Power and Democracy 124
7 The New Voltaire? 156
8 War and Peace in the Nuclear Age 172
Notes 207
A Note on Sources and References 218
Index 223
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