Bertrand Russell’s “Ten Commandments”

Bertrand Russell was famous for thinking about thinking. Ok, more like, writing about thinking. But writing about thinking about thinking and… you get it. His thoughts on the World Wars (in real time!) are still fascinating, and his working of logic alongside philosophy is downright inspiring.

I ran across his “Ten Commandments” somewhere online this week.

Keep in mind this is of another generation, but really think for a moment after you read each of these.

How it feels to accept no certainty.

How it feels to let questions sit.

Why our actions and posturing, especially when it comes to authority, is always just an act.

This is what intellectual humility sounds like. He always had a thoughtful take, even when he was later proven wrong. And that’s something worth striving for.

What would yours look like?

Here’s my Ten Creator Commandments. A little different, but still. And,

Here’s Mr. Russell’s Ten Commandments:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed 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, endeavor 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 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 it is happiness.