Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists

By S. T. Joshi | Go to book overview

Bertrand Russell

Keith M. Parsons


BIOGRAPHY

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, son of aristocratic freethinkers (and free spirits) Lord and Lady Amberley, was born May 18, 1872. Orphaned prior to his fourth birthday, Russell was given a cold and traditionally pious upbringing in the home of his grandfather, eminent Victorian statesman Lord John Russell, and his grandmother, Countess Russell, a straitlaced Scottish Presbyterian. In 1890 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he immediately distinguished himself academically, taking first-class honors in mathematics in 1893 and in moral science (philosophy) in 1894. In 1895 he was elected a fellow of Trinity College and, with his colleague G. E. Moore, was soon leading a rebellion against the Kantian and Hegelian style of philosophy then dominant in British universities. In collaboration with Alfred North Whitehead he wrote Principia Mathematica, a seminal work of mathematical logic, publishing the third and final volume in 1913.

Always notable for his social activism and engagement in public affairs, Russell opposed British involvement in World War I and was jailed in 1918 for published comments deemed injurious to the war effort. In 1931, upon the death of his older brother, he became Third Earl Russell, a distinction that as an opponent of the British class system, he always treated wryly. Russell won many high honors during a long, varied, and extremely productive academic and literary career, including election to the Royal Society in 1908 and the Order of Merit in 1949. He held many distinguished lectureships and professorships and produced a prodigious quantity of written work, including seventyone books, twenty thousand letters, and innumerable articles and essays. All his writings, which cover an astonishing variety of subjects, are notable for their intellectual adroitness and scintillating style. As a professional philosopher, he

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Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1
  • Charles Bradlaugh 9
  • Richard Dawkins 27
  • Daniel C. Dennett 39
  • John Dewey 51
  • Albert Einstein 67
  • The Existentialists 79
  • The Founding Fathers 97
  • Sigmund Freud 125
  • Sam Harris 141
  • Thomas Henry Huxley 153
  • Robert G. Ingersoll 175
  • Paul Kurtz 193
  • Corliss Lamont 211
  • H. P. Lovecraft 223
  • H. L. Mencken 241
  • John Stuart Mill 261
  • Kai Nielsen 279
  • Friedrich Nietzsche 297
  • Madalyn Murray O’Hair 319
  • The Philosophes 335
  • Bertrand Russell 357
  • Carl Sagan 379
  • Leslie Stephen 389
  • Mark Twain 401
  • Gore Vidal 415
  • Voltaire 427
  • General Bibliography 443
  • About the Contributors 449
  • Index 455
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