Morality is defined as being a good person, ethical, and of sound judgment. Let’s ask: are you a good person? If you think so, you may be far from being a good person. Before we disclose who a good person is, let’s debunk this misconception. Being religious doesn’t mean you’re a good person, although religion does have some moral values. Dear friends, here are the ten commandments to living a moral life, according to British philosopher Bertrand Russell.
Related media: Crash Course Philosophy: Morality
First, a crash course into the life of Bertrand Arthur William Russell. Born on May 18, 1872, in Trelleck, United Kingdom, he was also known as “3rd Earl Russell OM FRS” who worked in the academia of philosophy, mathematics, and logics.
He developed metaphysical theories, including his famous theory of logical atomism — a theory based on the concept that the world consists of a complex of logical atoms with their properties and relations. Russell will later go on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950.
This was “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.” Throughout his career, he was intrigued with morality, and sought to describe the concept with unorthodox means — by defying religious views on the topic.
Aforementioned, morality is simply being a good person, but Russell knew there was more to being moral than just being a good person.
The Ten Commandments Of Bertrand Russell
In his own words, Russell describes morality with these ten guidelines:
“The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:
#1. “Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.” Truth is never seen in certainty, but rather challenging every known belief is what’s going to lead you to the truth.
#2. “Do not think it worthwhile to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.” The absence of evidence is not the evidence for absence. If there’s good enough evidence to prove a point, why would you deny it?
#3. “Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.” We often tend to doubt whatever we know, thinking that our ideas might not be good enough. Truth is, everyone’s point is worth considering.
#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.” Be open to accept challenging ideas from everyone.
#5. “Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.” What this means is that not everyone fits to be a leader.
#6. “Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.” Respect every opinion, even if you deem it not worthy, its worth considering as mentioned earlier.
#7. “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” Every idea seems wrong unless proven.
#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.” Intelligence is not knowing everything without a doubt, but rather you doubt everything you think you know.
#9. “Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.” Sometimes the truth sounds like a lie, and a lie sounds like the truth. The truth is what you choose to believe.
#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.” We think, for this one, you have to live your life on your own terms. Don’t you think so?
Let us know if you strongly agree or disagree with Russell.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Wed, Mar 23, 2022.