I Wanna Be Literated! 102

I Wanna Be Literated! 102

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A critical evaluation of Human Society in Ethics and Politics by Bertrand Russell.

Above all, one has always been able to count on Betrand Russell to speak his mind no matter what the consequences may be, historically. While he sometimes wrote on very specific topics like education or western philosophy, on other occasions he covered much broader subjects like in this book, Human Society in Ethics and Politics.

I suppose this tendency to speak freely had gained him a reputation for being a curmudgeon of sorts throughout the years, because this book’s aim was to change people’s opinion of Russell, and at its core lies the idea that human nature is good and should be allowed to develop without restrictions.

What are the origins of our morals and ethics? It’s hard to say because our views on them have changed so much over the years. For example, what was once considered immoral (such is working in the Bible) is now considered virtuous. So here Russell tries to find some common ground for these highly subjective ideas. He comes to some interesting conclusions.
Ethics are fueled by emotions, while science is fueled by precepts (sort of like laws of nature). If you take away God or a World Spirit, ethics become hard to justify. What is just is what causes the least amount of discontent. And something is good when it is valued for its own sake and right when it promotes the general good. It can be said that when someone tries to satisfy their own desires, this is considered good. And wrong? Wrong can be defined as something that can be satisfied by thwarting other desires.

This is where law comes in: to mitigate these desires. Using the law, we try to apply morals which are there to promote behavior that serves the interest of the group. Obedience, sin, competition and are all interpreted based on these criteria, and lots of times they are contradictory like power and politics which serve to give some an undue share of goods, and traditions which are based on superstition and have no practical use in modern society.

It’s both common sense and complicated at the same time, and Russell helps us digest these ideas and does so gracefully. [OLLIE OTTOMAN]



Human Society in Ethics and Politics is available now. Buy it here on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Society-Ethics-Politics-Routledge-Classics/dp/0415487374?ie=UTF8&keywords=Bertrand%20Russell%20-%20Human%20Society%20in%20Ethics%20and%20Politics&qid=1459262484&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

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