Marriage and Morals
FROM one point of view I approach the subject of this chapter with pleasure: because it is one on which I believe Russell was wrong. The attentive reader may have been pained to discover that on most questions I think (sometimes regretfully) that Russell was right. I know that this is a pity, and that in a book of this kind it is advisable to throw in occasionally a few superior words of criticism and disparagement, to create an impression of impartial aloofness. I am sorry not to oblige in this respect, but I cannot help it. It is unfortunately the case that, on most points, nobody has yet controverted Russell's conclusions, and most of his critics are merely silly. But, when I come to sex and marriage, my views and his are diametrically opposed: I think his ideas are based on two fundamental mistakes.
His writings on sex relations and 'Female Emancipation' form only one small segment of his work, and one at the opposite extreme to his greatest achievements in thought. But nothing he wrote attracted more attention among the general public, or had more immediate influence. More than anyone else, he changed the outlook on sex morality of a whole new generation; and during his lifetime he saw the cause of Women's Rights, once regarded as a crank's crusade, end up as an established part of the laws and customs of the land. A few years ago I was discussing with Gilbert Murray the various progressive causes for which he and Russell had worked in the early part of the twentieth century, ranging from internationalism and Free Trade to the temperance movement; and Dr Murray reached the regretful conclusion that the only one of these causes which had triumphed was Women's Rights.
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Publication information: Book title: Bertrand Russell the Passionate Skeptic:A Biography. Contributors: Alan Wood - Author. Publisher: Simon and Schuster. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1958. Page number: 166.
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