Wollstonecraft addresses M. Talleyrand-Périgord, a French diplomat and former bishop. She read his pamphlet on education in France and now dedicates her own volume to him. Her regard for the human race has induced her to write about women's rights and duties and how their station should advance, not retard, the progress of the principles that give morality its substance.
In France the presence of salons made social intercourse between the sexes more frequent and knowledge more diffused. However, the French character has perpetrated a "hunting of sincerity out of society" and has heavily insulted modesty and decency. Instead, women should seek to improve the morals of their fellow citizens by teaching men that modesty is valuable, demonstrating it through their own appropriate conduct.
Wollstonecraft avers that her main argument is based on the simple principle that if woman is not educated to be the equal of man, the progress of knowledge and truth will be thwarted. Women must know why they are to be virtuous, and they must know the value of patriotism in order to instill such values in their children. Chastity ought to prevail, and women must move beyond merely being the objects of idolatry and desire.
Furthermore, if women possess reason just as men do, why are men the exclusive judges of freedom and happiness? Just as tyrants characteristically attempt to crush reason, men who would keep women ignorant are acting tyrannically. Tyranny will "undermine morality."
Wollstonecraft's idea is to "let there be no coercion established in society, and the common law of gravity prevailing, the sexes will fall into their proper places." Fathers will not visit brothels, and mothers will not neglect their children. Yet, when such legitimate rights are prohibited to women, will they grasp, perhaps illicitly, at any small power they might discover.
In the Advertisement, Wollstonecraft explains that she had initially divided the volume into three parts but now presents the first part to the public and hopes the second will be published later.
In the Introduction, Wollstonecraft muses that she is pessimistic about the effects of a neglected education upon women, her fellow creatures, seeing how that neglect is responsible for woman's great misery because women are made "weak and wretched" by it. Most of the women she observes do not have healthy minds, for they are falsely taught to cultivate and rely upon their beauty alone and above all "inspire love, when they ought to cherish a nobler ambition and by their abilities and virtues exact respect."
Instructional books written by men have propagated this false refinement and treat women as a subordinate species, not part of the human species. Wollstonecraft concedes that she knows men are physically more powerful and superior according to the law of nature, but men are not content with this; they "endeavor to sink us lower, merely to render us alluring objects for a moment," a situation to which women fall prey and believe is their life's ambition. Society inveighs against "masculine women," but what does that mean? If it only entails "the attainment of those talents and virtues, the exercise of which ennobles the human character," and not silly things like hunting and gambling, then all should endeavor to attain such masculinity.
Wollstonecraft asserts that she wants to avoid addressing her work to ladies in particular but instead desires to appeal to the middle class because they are the most educable. Rich women, for example, are too weak, enfeebled, and artificial as a result of the strictures of their upbringing.
She hopes that her own sex will forgive her for addressing them as rational beings, not flattering their beauty and charm. Her goal is to "persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness." Her perspective is that "elegance is inferior to virtue" and that regardless of one's sex, he or she should above all seek to increase in character as a human being. Wollstonecraft warns that she will not use flowery language; she will adhere to the truth.
It seems to her that women's education is fitful and oriented toward perfecting their beauty and trying to get married, which produces silly women unfit for their family. She again admits that women, due to their smaller bodily stature, will never fully lose their dependence on men. Yet, some women who are viewed as infantile actually turn to cunning and tyranny in their households, so perhaps men ought to grow more chaste and modest. Overall, whether it comes from men or women, "intellect will always govern."
It is both intriguing and significant that Mary Wollstonecraft chose to dedicate her work on the rights of women to Charles Maurice Talleyrand-Périgord, a rather infamous man who worked successfully as a diplomat through the French Revolution, the Napoleonic years, and the restoration of the monarchy. Once the bishop of Autun, Talleyrand (as he is most commonly referred) gave up the post because of his political activities and was officially excommunicated by the Catholic Church in 1791. Some historians view him as a traitor to all of the regimes/personages he worked for, although his enterprising, adaptable, and intuitive nature can easily be lauded.
The work to which Wollstonecraft refers to was the Rapport sur L'instruction Publique, fait au nom du Comité de Constitution (1791), a report to the French National Assembly. Wollstonecraft had met Talleyrand when he journeyed to London in February of 1792 as part of the Constituent Assembly attempting to stave off war between Britain and France; she dedicated the second edition of Vindication to him. As her letter explains, she read his treatise on education that suggested women should only receive a domestic education and stay out of political affairs, and had choice words to say on the subject of French women and the flaws in the French constitution regarding the inequality between men and women. In response, Wollstonecraft has much to say.
In the Advertisement Wollstonecraft explains that she initially expected to write three parts, but as she was writing the first part she was frequently inspired to write more on the principles expressed there and eventually just published it alone. Although she states that a second volume will be forthcoming, her papers suggest that she never started a second part.
Wollstonecraft's introduction is a succinct summary of her goals and intent in writing this Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She excoriates the current state of education which, for women, is concerned primarily with finding primary value in their beauty and marriageable characteristics. This does favors for neither men nor women, as ill-educated women may seek illicit outlets for their repression or, perhaps more importantly, become badly equipped to raise their children to be moral, patriotic, and virtuous. Thus, both men and women would profit from female education. There is no benefit to convincing women that their meekness, delicacy of sentiment, softness, and reliance upon physical beauty are anything other than forms of subjugation.
Wollstonecraft addresses a few points that readers might bring against her, demonstrating her keen intellect and awareness of the progressive contents of her treatise. First, she explains that there is no reason to believe that "masculine women" are threatening when the term "masculine" only suggests the highest talents and virtues of mankind. She acknowledges that men are larger and stronger by nature, giving them certain natural advantages, yet the virtues of the mind do not seem to rely on physical prowess or other concerns with the body. Indeed, there is no reason to fear that women will attain so much courage and fortitude that they will not need to depend on men at all; "their apparent inferiority with respect to bodily strength, must render them, in some degree, dependent on men in the various relations of life" (11). Finally, she makes it clear that her text will not be cluttered with superficialities or given an artificial gloss of style. She does not plan to "waste [her] time in rounding periods, or in fabricating the turgid bombast of artificial feelings" (10). The argumentative reason in this treatise will showcase the intellectual heights she believes women can reach without having to rely on their beauty and charms. In this way, the style of the book mirrors its substance.
In general, Wollstonecraft seeks to prove to her readers that women, like she has done, can become thoughtful and educated. Readers should start tracking the quality of her arguments and should recognize how Wollstonecraft demonstrates knowledge of current events and close familiarity with the arguments of the great writers of her time and of earlier ages. Is Wollstonecraft an unusual example of what a woman might achieve, or is she pointing the way for most women to achieve a similar level of educational achievement? Her arguments suggest the latter.
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She felt that women should not be educated in isolation from men. Women should be afforded the same education as men and have access to many professions dominated by men. She felt that what women were being taught was gender specific. She felt.
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This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Class Matters by The New York Times.
Class Matters proves that class does matter. Sometimes it’s a rather sticky and uncomfortable issue but it’s there. As much as most people want to claim a homogenous American culture, there are the traditional classes of the upper, upper-middle, middle and low or working class. However, the wealthy who inhabited such exclusive places in the nation like Nantucket Island off the coast of Cape Cod were the descendants of the Rockefellers, du Ponts, Vanderbilts and other such wealthy iconic families.
Nowadays the Island is being invaded by what is referred to as the hyper-rich. This new class represents the nouveau-riche, those individuals who make a killing on Wall Street or whose innovative concepts result in wealth beyond anyone’s imagination. The new rich are outdistancing the old rich. If they aren’t accepted into an private country club on the island, they build their own and make it more exclusive and opulent than the one that refused them. Old money is proud of their 45-foot yachts even though 200-foot yachts of the new money sail past them.
While everyone is fascinated by the rich and famous, most Americans are not in that elite class and know they never will be. It doesn’t disturb most people; all they want is the chance for a slice of the pie albeit a smaller one. Most Americans believe they are in the middle class although they aspire to climb a few rungs higher up the ladder. They also have the hope that their children will have more success than they do. Upper and middle class parents go to great lengths to make sure that their children receive the best education possible within their means. The upper class has no problem with tuition costs but the middle class have learned to be practical about aspirations for their children’s education.
Lower class, or the more politically correct term – the working class, does not have the same options as the middle class. Many work long hours or two jobs just to make it. They don’t have time to help their children with homework; their children are often in sub-standard schools in which the system lets its students down. The idea of college is just a fleeting dream in the minds of these parents. Providing the basics, food and shelter, is the focus.
The immigrant class, especially those who are undocumented from Mexico and South America, have the least chance of achieving the American dream. They live in the shadows, fearing exposure will result in deportation. They flounder around from one menial job to another, don’t learn English and have carved out their own world within a world with their fellow countrymen. They have the least chance to enjoy the classic story of the immigrant who achieves his dreams and climbs up from the ladder’s lowest rung.
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Anti-Matter Summary- Introduction Ordinary matter has negatively charged electrons circling a positively charged nuclei. Anti-matter has positively charged electrons - positrons - orbiting a nuclei with a negative charge - anti-protons. Only anti-protons and positrons are able to be produced at this time, but scientists in Switzerland have begun a series of experiments which they believe will lead to the creation of the first anti-matter element -- Anti-Hydrogen. The Research Early scientists often made two mistakes about anti-matter. Some thought it had a negative mass, and would thus feel gravity as a push rather than a pull. If this were so, the antiproton's negative mass/energy would cancel the proton's when they met and nothing would remain ;in reality, two extremely high-energy gamma photons are produced. Today's theories of the universe say that there is no such thing as a negative mass. The second and more subtle mistake is the idea that anti-water would only annihilate with ordinary water, and could safety be kept in (say) an iron container. This is not so: it is the subatomic particles that react so destructively, and their arrangement makes no difference. Scientists at CERN in Geneva are working on a device called the LEAR (low energy anti-proton ring) in an attempt to slow the velocity of the anti-protons to a billionth of their normal speeds. The slowing of the anti-protons and positrons, which normally travel at a velocity of that near the speed of light, is neccesary so that they have a chance of meeting and combining into anti-hydrogen. The problems with research in the field of anti-matter is that when the anti-matter elements touch matter elements they annihilate each other. The total combined mass of both elements are released in a spectacular blast of energy. Electrons and positrons come together and vanish into high-energy gamma rays (plus a certain number of harmless neutrinos, which pass through whole planets without effect). Hitting ordinary matter, 1 kg of anti-matter explodes with the force of up to 43 million tons of TNT - as though several thousand Hiroshima bombs were detonated at once. So how can anti-matter be stored? Space seems the only place, both for storage and for large-scale production. On Earth, gravity will sooner or later pull any anti-matter into disastrous contact with matter. Anti-matter has the opposite effect of gravity on it, the anti-matter is 'pushed away' by the gravitational force due to its opposite nature to that of matter. A way around the gravity problem appears at CERN, where fast moving anti-protons can be held in a 'storage ring' around which they constantly move - and kept away from the walls of the vacuum chamber - by magnetic fields. However, this only works for charged particles, it does not work for anti-neutrons, for example. The Unanswerable Question Though anti-matter can be manufactured, slowly, natural anti-matter has never been found. In theory, we should expect equal amounts of matter and anti-matter to be formed at the beginning of the universe - perhaps some far off galaxies are the made of anti-matter that somehow became separated from matter long ago. A problem with the theory is that cosmic rays that reach Earth from far-off parts are often made up of protons or even nuclei, never of anti-protons or antinuclei. There may be no natural anti-matter anywhere. In that case, what happened to it? The most obvious answer is that, as predicted by theory, all the matter and anti-matter underwent mutual annihilation in the first seconds of creation ;but why there do we still have matter? It seems unlikely that more matter than anti-matter should be formed. In this scenario, the matter would have to exceed the anti-matter by one part in 1000 million. An alternative theory is
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The Author’s Intention to Combat Dogmatism
The book called Unpopular Essays is a collection of ten essays on various subjects, a chapter containing Russell’s impressions of some of the eminent men with whom he had come in contact, and a piece called “Obituary”, in which Russell anticipates his own death and expresses briefly his own view of his character and his achievement.
In the preface to the book, Russell tells us that these essays were intended “to combat in one way or another, the growth of dogmatism whether of the Right or of the Left, which has hitherto characterized our tragic century”. Russell also tells us that these essays were inspired by a serious purpose, even though at times they seem flippant. He also explains, in the ironical manner so characteristic of him, why he has called this book “Unpopular Essays”. There are several sentences in this book, says Russell, which some unusually stupid children of the age of ten may find difficult to understand. That being so, he could not claim that the essays would be popular; and so, if not popular, then, unpopular.
The Popular Appeal of these Essays
In actual fact, however, these essays have proved to be far from unpopular. The ideas expressed in them possess a popular appeal, and they are written in a style which is easily intelligible even to the layman. Besides, these essays have been made interesting, and almost entertaining, by Russell’s unique treatment of the subjects chosen by him, and by his ironical and satirical wit. Nor can the serious purpose of these essays be questioned. A critic has made the following comment on the essays in this collection: “The frivolous wit on the surface almost disguises the serious task of mental slum-clearance to which they are addressed”.
Russell’s Many-sided Genius
These essays cover a fairly wide range of subjects. We here see Russell as a philosopher, as a political theorist, as a social scientist, as an educationist, as a moralist, as a propagandist, as a close observer, and as an analyst of human life and character. Indeed, these essays reveal Russell’s many-sided genius and his intellectual breadth.
The Contents of Russell’s Book
The following are the contents of this collection of essays: (1) “Philosophy and Politics”; (2) “Philosophy for Laymen”; (3) “The Future of Mankind”; (4) “Philosophy’s Ulterior Motives”; (5) “The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed”; (6) “On Being Modern-Minded”; (7) “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish”; (8) “The Functions of a Teacher”; (9) “Ideas That Have Helped Mankind”; (10) “Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind”; (11) “Eminent Men I Have Known”; and (12) “Obituary”. A brief synopsis of each of these chapters in this collection of essays is given below in order that the student may be able to have a bird’s eye-view of the book as a whole.
(1) “Philosophy and Politics”
The Disastrous Political Consequences of Hegel’s Philosophy
This essay is an attack on the political consequences of Hegel’s philosophy and a defence of Locke’s philosophy of empiricism. After briefly explaining Hegel’s belief in what Hegel called the Absolute Idea, Russell tells us that this philosophy had disastrous consequences in the political field. From Hegel’s metaphysic, it follows that true liberty consists in obedience to an arbitrary authority, that free speech is an evil, that absolute monarchy is good, that war is desirable, and that an international organization for the peaceful settlement of disputes would be a misfortune. A philosophy which leads to such consequences is evidently something obnoxious, and it is really surprising how at one time this philosophy held a sway over the minds of intellectuals not only in Germany but even in Britain and America.
The Merits of Locke’s Philosophy of Empiricism
Russell then brings out the merits in Locke’s philosophy of empiricism which, he tells us, offers a theoretical justification of democracy. Locke also preached religious toleration, representative institutions, and the limitations of governmental power by the system of checks and balances.
Russell concludes this essay by recommending empiricism not only on the ground of its greater truth but also on ethical grounds. Empiricist liberalism is the only philosophy that can serve mankind’s purposes in our times.
(2) “Philosophy for Laymen”
The Need of Teaching Philosophy to People
In this essay, Russell explains very briefly the uses of philosophy. Philosophy, he says, means a love of wisdom. Philosophy in this sense is what people must acquire if the new technical powers achieved by man are not to plunge mankind into the greatest conceivable disaster. However, the philosophy which the ordinary people should be taught is not the same thing as the philosophy of specialists.
The Theoretical Function of Philosophy
Philosophy has always had two different objects: to arrive at a theoretical understanding of the structure of the world; and to discover and propagate the best possible way of life. Philosophy has thus been closely related to science on the one hand and to religion on the other. On its theoretical side philosophy partly consists in the framing of large general hypotheses which science is not yet in a position to test. (When it becomes possible to test such hypotheses they become part of science, and no longer belong to philosophy,) There are a number of purely theoretical questions, of everlasting interest, which science is unable to answer at present. Do we survive after death? Can mind dominate matter, or does matter completely dominate mind? Does this universe have a purpose, or is it driven by blind necessity? To keep alive the interest in such questions is one of the functions of philosophy.
The Practical Aspect of Philosophy
On its practical side, philosophy can greatly increase a man’s value as a human being and as a citizen. It can give a habit of exact and careful thought. It can give an impressive breadth and scope to the conception of the aims of life. It can give to the individual a correct estimate of himself in relation to society, and of man in the present to man in the past and in the future. It can offer a cure, or at least a palliative, for the anxieties and the anguish which afflict mankind at present.
(3) “The Future of Mankind”
The Need of a World-Government
Here Russell visualizes the consequences of the next world war and expresses the view that only the establishment of a world-government can bring about lasting peace in the world. Russell would like the establishment of a world-government to take place under the leadership of America because there is greater respect in America for a civilized life than there is in Russia. By a civilized life, Russell means freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry, freedom of discussion, and humane feeling. If Russia dominates the world, all these freedoms will be crushed, and there will be a narrowing of science, philosophy, art, and literature. Only democracy and a free circulation of opinion can prevent a powerful government from establishing a servile State, with luxury for the few and overworked poverty for the many. Such a servile State has been established by the Soviet Government wherever it is in control.
Three Dangers to be Averted
Mankind has to guard against three dangers: (a) the extinction of the human race; (b) a going back to barbarism; and (c) the establishment of a universal servile State, involving misery for the vast majority, and the disappearance of all progress in knowledge and thought. The only way to guard against these dangers is the establishment of a world-government through peaceful means, if possible, and through war if necessary.
(4) “Philosophy’s Ulterior Motives”
The Distorting Influence of Desire Upon a Philosopher’s Reasoning
In this essay, Russell dwells upon the dangers and pitfalls faced by philosophers. It often happens that a philosopher is led by certain preconceived notions into a false reasoning, and in this way arrives at false conclusions. Russell takes the case of Descartes first. Descartes had a passionate desire for certainty, and so he started thinking out a new method of achieving certainty. He found that, while everything else could be doubted, he could not doubt his own existence. This became an excellent starting-point for him. He existed because he could see himself clearly and distinctly; and so he came to the conclusion that the things which he conceived very clearly and very distinctly were all true. He then began to conceive all sorts of things very clearly and very distinctly; for example, that an effect could not have more perfection than its cause. Since he could form an idea of God—that is, of a being more perfect than himself—this idea must have had a cause other than himself, which could only be God; therefore, God existed. Since God was good, He would not perpetually deceive Descartes; therefore the objects which Descartes saw when awake must really exist. And in this way Descartes went on throwing all intellectual caution to the winds. Everything that followed from this kind of reasoning was loose and slipshod and hasty. His method of reasoning thus showed the distorting influence of his own desire.
The Absurdities of the Reasoning of Some Other Well-known Philosophers
After showing us the absurdity of the conclusions which Descartes reached by his way of reasoning, Russell goes on to expose the absurdity of the reasoning and the conclusions arrived at by certain other philosophers. The other philosophers whom Russell considers here are Leibniz, Bishop Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, and finally Marx.
(5) “TheSuperiorVirtue of the Oppressed”
The Tendency to Discover Some Superior Virtue in the Oppressed Sections of Society
In this essay Russell illustrates his view that there is a tendency on the part of writers, especially moralists, to attribute some superior virtue to those classes of people who are oppressed. Russell gives us five examples of the classes of people who have been, or who are, oppressed and who therefore are thought to possess some superior virtue.
The Various Examples Offered by Russell to Prove his Thesis
The first example to illustrate the central idea of this essay is that of the poor people. The poor people were long regarded as morally better than the rich. The next example is that of nations which have been under foreign domination. Subject nations were believed to have possessed certain superior gifts and some special charm. However, as soon as the subject nations became independent, the belief in their superior gifts also disappeared. Then there is the case of the female sex. Women were believed to have a certain spiritual quality as long as they were dominated by men; but as soon as they achieved equality with men, their angelic qualities also vanished. Next is the example of children. Children were thought to be innocent and pure as long as parents could tyrannize over them; subsequently these superior qualities disappeared, and a new belief arose, namely that there was great wickedness in children in their unconscious minds. Lastly, a superior virtue has been found in the proletariat or the working-class, because this class has been oppressed for a long time. As soon as the proletariat attains its full rights, the superior virtue attributed to this class of people will also disappear. Stated in a nutshell, the thesis of this essay is that there is a tendency to glorify the oppressed class of people, the object behind such glorification being to continue the exploitation of that oppressed class,
(6) “On Being Modern-Minded”
Opinions Dominated By Fashion
It has become a general tendency nowadays, says Russell, to adopt opinions which are current, and to show a contempt for the past. When fashion alone dominates opinion, it becomes unnecessary for people to think for themselves. The result is that a man deliberately suppresses what is individual in himself in order to acquire the opinions which are popular. A mentally solitary life for an individual has become pointless nowadays, according to the modern standards.
The Value of Detachment and Objectivity
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.
(7) “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish”
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. 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. were purely superstitious.
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. 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.
A False Belief Regarding Human Nature and the Inevitability of Wars
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. One such rule is to base one’s beliefs on actual observation. 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.
(8) “The Functions of a Teacher”
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. 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.
(9) “Ideas That Have Helped Mankind”
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.
Darwin ’s Theory of Evolution
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. It was geology and Darwin ’s theory of evolution that first upset the irrational religious beliefs of scientists.
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.
(10) “Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind”
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. Men’s cruel impulses can do tremendous harm to them.
The Harm Done by Christian Asceticism and by Political Asceticism
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.
Cruelty Resulting from the Belief in Witchcraft
The feeling that much of our suffering is due to the ill-will of other people led to the belief in witchcraft, and this belief was responsible for much cruelty towards those who were accused of being witches.
Envy is one of the most powerful sources of false belief. In the international sphere, envy has led to he philosophy of economic nationalism. And this false belief becomes a cause of war.
The Suffering Caused by Pride
Another passion which gives rise to false beliefs that are politically harmful is pride—pride of nationality, pride of race, pride of sex, pride of class, and pride of creed. All these kinds of pride lead to tremendous injustice and suffering.
Yet another harmful belief results from the delusion which men and nations sometimes have that they are the special instruments of the divine will.
The Need of Tolerance and of an International Government
Russell closes this essay with some very useful advice. Both in public and in private life, says he, the important thing is tolerance and kindliness. Besides, the establishment of an international government has become very necessary for the survival of civilization and for the prevention of war. What the world needs today is (1) political, economic, and educational organization; and (2) certain moral qualities, especially charity and tolerance instead of some fanatical faith represented by an “ism”.
(11) “Eminent Men I Have Known”
Eminent Men in Different Fields
This essay is a brief record of the impressions that Russell formed of certain eminent personalities with whom he came into contact. These eminent personalities included poets, philosophers, scientists, and politicians.
Among the poets whom Russell met, he mentions Browning, Tennyson, and Rupert Brooke. Russell found Browning to be a pleasant and kindly gentleman, very much at home at tea-parties, but without the divine fire that is generally expected of a poet. For Tennyson, Russell developed an attitude of scorn. Rupert Brooke struck Russell as “beautiful and vital”, but the total impression was marred by a touch of Byronic insincerity in the man.
Philosophers and Scientists
As for philosophers, the most impressive in Russell’s opinion was William James whom he found to be completely free from all consciousness of being a great man. Russell found Henry Sidgwick to be impressive through his quality of intellectual honesty. Among the scientists, Einstein impressed Russell as combining a powerful intellect with a childlike simplicity.
Politicians: Lenin and Gladstone
As for politicians, Russell knew seven Prime Ministers of whom the most unforgettable was Mr. Gladstone. The only other man in public life as impressive as Mr. Gladstone was Lenin. Gladstone was an embodiment of Victorianism, and Lenin was an embodiment of Marxian formulas. Lenin was cruel while Gladstone was not. Lenin had no respect for tradition, while Gladstone had a great deal. Lenin considered all means legitimate for securing the victory of his party, whereas for Gladstone politics was a game with certain rules that must be observed. Both men derived their personal force from a firm conviction of their own Tightness.
A Simple and Good Man, though not Eminent
At the end of this essay, Russell mentions a man who impressed him a good deal but who was not eminent in any sense. This man was a gardener who could neither read nor write, but who was a perfect type of simple goodness. Russell says that he could never forget this man because of his purity of mind. Worldly success seldom comes to such men, but they inspire love and admiration in those who know them.
(12) “Obituary” (1937)
An Obituary about Himself
Here Russell shows his sense of humour by writing his own obituary. An obituary is the announcement of a death made by the relatives or friends of a deceased person, Here Russell imagines that he would die on June 1, 1962 and writes his own obituary in anticipation of his death.
Mathematical and Philosophical Works
As an obituary is also expected to contain some of the important events of the life of a deceased person, Russell here mentions what he regards as some of the foremost incidents of his life. He tells us that in his youth he did work of importance in mathematical logic. He informs us that he did not enjoy the advantages of a public school education but that he was taught at home by tutors until the age of eighteen when he entered Trinity College. Cambridge. becoming seventh Wrangler in 1893 and a Fellow in 1895.
Among the books that he produced, Russell mentions The Foundations of Geometry, The Philosophy of Leibniz, The Principles of Mathematics, and Principia Mathematica (in collaboration with Dr. A.N. Whitehead).
His Pacifist Ideas
Russell also refers here to his pacifist ideas and his staunch opposition to war. His opposition to war was regarded by some people as eccentric. As a result of his campaign against war during the Great War of 1914-18, he lost his job as a Lecturer at Trinity College. and had to spend a few months in prison.
Then Russell talks of his visits to Russia and to China in 1920, and goes on to mention his advocacy of socialism, educational reform, and a less rigid code of morals as regards marriage. In World War II, Russell took no public part, having escaped to a neutral country just before its outbreak.
Russell as a Humanist: his Pacifism and his Championship of Democracy; His Moral Fervour
All these essays show Russell not only as a philosopher but also as a man of strong humanitarian views. He is opposed to war; and he is a great liberal and an ardent supporter of individual freedom and democracy. These essays also show his moral fervour which appears in his advocacy of such qualities as tolerance, kindliness, mutual helpfulness, and sympathy. Russell had a broad mind and an all-embracing outlook: as an internationalist he urges the establishment of a world-government because he finds that the continuance of sovereign states with their narrow, nationalistic outlook can no longer serve the common interest of mankind but are a divisive force. In short, Russell appears in these essays as a most progressive and enlightened thinker who has the good of mankind at heart.
The Style of these Essays
Russell is one of the great prose-stylists of the twentieth century. Although a philosopher, he does not write in a distorted or obscure manner even when writing about philosophy as we see in the very first essay called Philosophy and Politics, and in another essay called Philosophy’s Ulterior Motives. His style is characterized by intellectual brilliance, clarity and lucidity, and a catholicity of temper. In addition to these qualities his style also shows his use of irony and a gay wit. His writing exactly reflects his crystalline, scintillating mind. All these essays are illumined by the clarity and grace of expression which are the most striking virtues of his style. Russell also gives evidence here of his capacity for making condensed statements and generalizations having a ready appeal. Russell did not evolve a style according to any premeditated theory or doctrine. His style came to him naturally. In his case, as in the case of other great writers, it can be said with certitude that the style is the man. His is a style which makes use of all the resources of the English language, excluding nothing and attaching no undue importance to any particular ingredient. Parallelisms, antitheses, contrast, simile, metaphor, quotation, anecdote, simple words and difficult words, short sentences and long sentences—all these are utilized by him to express himself effectively. But there is nothing gaudy or ostentatious about this style. It uses no ornamental devices. It is a plain, unembellished style. It does not even employ rhetoric. In fact, we cannot use a simple formula for this style as we can, for instance, for Bacon’s style (concise and epigrammatic), for Carlyle’s style (erudite, cumbersome, eccentric), or for Ruskin’s style (musical prose). This is a style in which a perfect synthesis has been achieved between a multitude of different ingredients. In its own way it is a unique style.People who read this post also read :