Reflection on the life of Bertrand Russell, Third Earl Russell, can be a little tiring. He seems to have crammed a lot of living into a life that was unusually long. He probably did more than anyone in the first decades of the 20th century to put philosophy on the course of logical analysis it generally still holds today. It equipped him with a method, and using it he came to large conclusions in the philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics and epistemology. Without doubt, he was a brilliant mathematician, and according to some sources his insights into set theory had more than a little to do with the development of computing.
You might conclude from this that Russell was a wild-haired, desiccated calculating machine, detached from practical matters, but you would be quite wrong. Not only was he presentable and socially graceful, but he was an excellent stylist – he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950 – and his many public writings, particularly his History of Western Philosophy and The Problems of Philosophy, more often than not manage the rare combination of rigour and readability. He was also a very public figure, campaigning for civil rights and protesting against war and nuclear weapons, spending time in prison for his efforts. The story of his private life is a little darker and perhaps less admirable.
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