Bertrand Russell

01 Aug 2012

The first book of his that I read was one called “Silhouettes in Satire”. It wasn’t really ‘his’ book in the sense that he’d never written it - was only a compilation some of his wittier social comments. At 10 bucks it seemed a bargain and so began my journey into philosophy.

The first few times I read the book, it was the humor that kept me interested. Only afterwards did I realise that some of the wit actually meant more. I’d been so engrossed by what I found funny that I’d ignored the lessons he was trying to teach.

A friend then gave me ‘Unpopular Essays’. The name has an interesting origin. A previous collection named ‘Popular Essays’ (I think) that he’d published had been put down by critics. The reasons they’d cited were that the essays were too complex to be understood by the general public and so could never be ‘popular’. Hence the title of this book. He claimed in the introduction of this one that the essays were very complex and only children who’d studied beyond the 4th std would be able to understand :).

A mathematician, his brand of philosophy is probably my favourite since it is never boring and mostly logical. I am distrustful of every swami there exists today. Every time there is a lecture by one on television, I sit and try to be objective about his/her discourse. At the end of the program, am usually laughing hysterically or pissed off at the chap’s audacity at passing off utter crap as ‘life-changing’ advice.

BR’s books on the other hand….well, they make sense. Every conclusion is arrived at on the basis of other deductions which themselves are based on facts. He often breaks off midway to consider something altogether different and proves why this alternative is not as preferable to the first. There is no preaching of morals or ethics…. it is……..almost coldly logical.

Am now reading ‘The Conquest Of Happiness’. Like the others, it has been interesting. K and I used to talk about such things when she was here and its weird how some of the questions we had are answered by the book. I suppose every one has the same questions. Some articulate them, some contemplate…some just don’t realise that they do and some don’t have the luxury to. In any case, it is a book I don’t regret buying.

Except for the cover :). Its got bananas!! Now that doesn’t seem like too much to worry about…unless you have friends like R. Sat through lunch yesterday while she and her friends analysed the reason for the ‘banana cover’. Men don’t blush - its not a manly thing to do :). Also, the title made them come to the conclusion that the only reason one would want to read the book is because he/she is unhappy.