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Sceptical Essays By Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Bertrand Russell (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872–1970) was a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy.

Sceptical Essays By Bertrand Russell

With respect to both skills and dispositions, for example, russell does stress impartiality, but he is acutely aware of, and emphasizes, the problems which readily frustrate the realization of this ideal. Urbana university of illinois press, 1975 204-20 howard woodhouse, the concept of growth in bertrand russells educational thought, 17, 1, 1983 12-22 philip stander, bertrand russell on the aims of education, (2) relevant papers include the place of science in a liberal education (1913), free thought and official propaganda (1922), the value of free thought (1944), education for democracy (1939), the functions of a teacher (1940), how to become a philosopher (1942), philosophy for laymen (1946), and freedom and the philosopher (1951). He maintains that expert opinion, when unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as to be right than the opposite opinion.

I shall take up the idea of a certain outlook subsequently. Russells concern is that with modern methods of education and propaganda it has become possible to indoctrinate a whole population with a philosophy which there is no rational ground to suppose true, hence his emphasis on thinking for oneself. Far from having an uncritical belief in rationality, he was even prepared to say, somewhat facetiously, that philosophy was an unusually ingenious attempt to think fallaciously! The mere possession of critical skills is insufficient to make one a critical thinker.

Believing that one central purpose of education is to prepare students to be able to form a reasonable judgment on controversial questions in regard to which they are likely to have to act, russell maintains that in addition to having access to impartial supplies of knowledge, education needs to offer training in judicial habits of thought. A widening of sympathy is at least as important. With respect to impartiality, thinking for oneself, the importance of feelings and relational skills, the connection with action, and the problem of generalizability, russell shows a deep understanding of problems and issues which have been at the forefront of recent debate.

Russell defends an outlook midway between complete scepticism and complete dogmatism in which one has a strong desire to know combined with great caution in believing that one knows. Hence his notion of critical undogmatic receptiveness which rejects certainty (the russell describes critical undogmatic receptiveness as the true attitude of science, and often speaks of the scientific outlook, the scientific spirit, the scientific temper, a scientific habit of mind and so on, but russell does not believe that critical thinking is only, or invariably, displayed in science. One of his famous principles is that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be regarded as certain.

To be ready to act, or react, in these ways suggests both an awareness that the habits in question are appropriate and a principled commitment to their exercise. Learning not to be taken in by eloquence is part of learning to recognize who speaks with real authority. In russells conception, beyond the skills and dispositions outlined above, a certain set of characterizes the outlook of a critical person.

Ennis, a taxonomy of critical thinking dispositions and abilities, in joan boykoff baron and robert j. Sometimes, russell simply uses the notion of intelligence, by contrast with information alone, to indicate the whole set of critical abilities he has in mind. He advocates living from ones own centre, but warns against subjective. Logic and mathematics are the alphabet of the book of nature, not the book itself. He emphasizes the need to teach the skill of marshalling evidence if a critical habit of mind is to be fostered, and suggests that one of the most important, yet neglected, aspects of education is learning how to reach true conclusions on insufficient data.


Bertrand Russell on Critical Thinking


ABSTRACT: The ideal of critical thinking is a central one in Russell's philosophy, though this is not yet generally recognized in the literature on critical thinking. For Russell, the ideal is embedded in the fabric of philosophy, science, liberalism and rationality, and this paper reconstructs ...

Sceptical Essays By Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell's philosophical views - Wikipedia
The aspects of Bertrand Russell views on philosophy cover the changing viewpoints of philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), from his early writings in 1896 until his death in February 1970.
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  • Bertrand Russell - Wikiquote


    The kind of detachment he favours is from those emotions (hatred, envy, anger and so on) which interfere with intellectual honesty and which prevent the emergence of kindly feeling. By the critical attitude, russell means a temper of mind central to which is a certain stance with respect to knowledge and opinion which involves (i) , a sense of the uncertainty of many things commonly regarded as indubitable, bringing with it humility with respect to our beliefs, an inward readiness to give weight to the other side, where every question is regarded as open and where it is recognized that what passes for knowledge is sure to require correction a refusal to think that our own desires and wishes provide a key to understanding the world without falling into a lazy scepticism (or dogmatic doubt), but holding ones beliefs with the degree of conviction warranted by the evidence. We need, russell says, to learn to live without certainty, yet without being paralyzed by hesitation. Urbana university of illinois press, 1975 204-20 howard woodhouse, the concept of growth in bertrand russells educational thought, 17, 1, 1983 12-22 philip stander, bertrand russell on the aims of education, (2) relevant papers include the place of science in a liberal education (1913), free thought and official propaganda (1922), the value of free thought (1944), education for democracy (1939), the functions of a teacher (1940), how to become a philosopher (1942), philosophy for laymen (1946), and freedom and the philosopher (1951). Moreover, russell is not nearly as dismissive of informal logic as some recent critics clear logical thinking has a definite part to play.

    As with his conviction about the attainability of knowledge, and unlike many contemporary sceptics, russell defends the ideal of impartiality and offers practical advice to anyone who takes this elusive ideal seriously. Russell describes education as the formation, by means of instruction, of certain mental habits and a certain outlook on life and the world. Learning not to be taken in by eloquence is part of learning to recognize who speaks with real authority. Russells account anticipates many of the insights to be found in the recent critical thinking literature, and his views on critical thinking are of enormous importance in understanding the nature of educational aims. No one can view the world with complete impartiality, russell notes, but a continual approach is possible.

    Russell admits that his account of the critical attitude may seem nothing more than a trite truism, but keeping it in mind, and adhering to it, especially as far as our own biases are concerned, is not at all easy. Critical judgment means that one has to , with the result that skill demands wisdom. Far from having an uncritical belief in rationality, he was even prepared to say, somewhat facetiously, that philosophy was an unusually ingenious attempt to think fallaciously! The mere possession of critical skills is insufficient to make one a critical thinker. Complete rationality, he observes, is an unattainable ideal rationality is a matter of degree. Russell attaches considerable importance to forming ones own opinions, and this might seem to betray an unwarranted confidence in an individuals ability to avoid dependence on expert knowledge, an issue which recent discussions concerning trust in knowledge have brought to the fore. His comments on critical thinking are scattered throughout numerous writings, never systematized into a comprehensive account nor did russell tend to use the now dominant terminology of critical thinking. Russells concern is that with modern methods of education and propaganda it has become possible to indoctrinate a whole population with a philosophy which there is no rational ground to suppose true, hence his emphasis on thinking for oneself. There remains some scope, however, for ones own critical judgment even with respect to expert, or supposed expert, pronouncements. Some factors, perhaps, obscure a ready appreciation of russells contribution. With respect to both skills and dispositions, for example, russell does stress impartiality, but he is acutely aware of, and emphasizes, the problems which readily frustrate the realization of this ideal.

    My whole religion is this: do every duty, and expect no reward for it, either here or hereafter.

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