Bertrand Russell: The Passionate Sceptic
By Alan Wood
Published November 20th 2012 by Routledge – 224 pages
‘Fascinating’, ‘brilliant’, ‘oddly moving’, ‘a warm human picture’ – this biography was enthusiastically received when it came out in 1957. And no wonder. It is not only the lively story of a distinguished man but a lucid account of his work and its significance. The author, who was himself a philosopher and journalist, has followed the bright thread of Russell’s personality with affectionate insight, from the three-day-old baby who looked about him ‘in a very energetic way’, and the boy who jibbed at taking Euclid on trust, through the many turns of his life, to the undimmed octogenarian, still questioning and still deeply concerned. The subject is a great one and the biographer has matched it.
Preface 1. The Boy in the Garden 2. ‘He was Always Talking’ 3. Berlin and Marxism 4. The Work of Genius 5. Mathematics and Philosophy 6. The Theory of Descriptions 7. Reviews and Politics 8. ‘A Quiet Life’ 9. Cambridge and Harvard 10. First World War 11. The Prisoner of Brixton 12. The Analysis of Mind 13. A Visit to Bolshevism 14. ‘China is Delightful’ 15. Chelsea Candidate and American Lecturer 16. Russell and Relativity 17. Beacon Hill School 18. Marriage and Morals 19. The Indefatigable Author 20. Pacifism and the Second World War 21. An Outcast in America 22. The Rebel becomes Revered 23. Australia Felix 24. The Unfinished Philosophy 25. ‘While Still at Work’ 26. The Young Octogenarian