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27 pages (2007/1921); 180KB downloadWOWIO Books
; ISBN: WOWIO-00328
Bertrand Russell, in this lecture, defines "free thought" as the lack of legal penalties for expressions of opinions. But he notes that legal penalties are less of an obstacle than economic penalties and distortion of evidence.
Russell urges people to abandon "the will to believe" and embrace "the wish to find out" as part of cultivating a condition of rational doubt: "If it is admitted that a condition of rational doubt would be desirable, it becomes important to inquire how it comes about that there is so much irrational certainty in the world. A great deal of this is due to the inherent irrationality and credulity of average human nature. But this seed of intellectual original sin is nourished and fostered by other agencies, among which three play the chief part-namely, education, propaganda, and economic pressure." Russell notes:
* "We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.
* The objection to propaganda is not only its appeal to unreason, but still more the unfair advantage which it gives to the rich and powerful.
* From the standpoint of liberty, it makes no difference to a man whether his only possible employer is the State or a Trust."
Russell then advances two maxims: "(1) that jobs should be given to people on account of their fitness to perform them; (2) that one aim of education should be to cure people of the habit of believing propositions for which there is no evidence."
The spread of the scientific temper (reasoning based on the scientific method) and an enlightened public opinion are methods to propel these maxims, he argues.