Remarkably relevant, beautifully written, and filled with wit and wisdom, these three essays by Bertrand Russell allow the listener to test the concepts of the good life, morality, the existence of God, Christianity, and human nature. "What I Believe" was used prominently in the 1940 New York court proceedings in which Russell was judicially declared "unfit" to teach philosophy at City College of New York. "Why I Am Not a Christian" concludes that churches throughout history have retarded progress and states that we should instead "look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in." Finally, "A Free Man's Worship", perhaps the most famous single essay written by Russell, considers whether humans operate from free will.
"Russell is one of our time's brilliant spokesmen of rationality and humanity, a fearless champion of free speech and free thought." (The Swedish Academy, on awarding Bertrand Russell the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1950)
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
The content is as expected - brilliant Bertie, however the performance and style of reading are dreadful. So bad in fact that I'm not enjoying this audio book at all.
What didn’t you like about Terrence Hardiman’s performance?
Absolutely nothing. Dreadful reading style.
I'll be brief. Mr. Russell is brilliant and engaging. This is clear headed logic at it's best....what a great respite from status quo insanity.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
Russell lived and died long before I was on this earth, but I feel so close to him in philosophy after listening to his essays. He articulates what I have thought and felt since abandoning christianity, and theism in general. I can listen to Russell over and over.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Accessible, rational, interesting. Russell is the most insightful and sensible author I've come across. I desperately wish we could get more of him in audio form.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Bertrand Russell, a true defender of reason and a writer of the highest caliber. What a wonderful privilege to be able to consume his thoughts in this way. A sheer delight!
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
This recording covers works that are 90-50 years old. Amazing and dead on point for our modern "faith based" everything.
12 of 15 people found this review helpful
Incredibly good well written set of essays that flow together. If you are a human being and have your basic needs met and have time to reflect about yourself and the nature of being human, these essays should be required reading. 'Love with knowledge' is our guide for morality. The Euthyprho dilemma explained in terms of God's fiat is the first time I've ever really understood it.
I still hear the special pleading arguments which were outlined in this book used by people today even after they have been shot down in this book. 'Everything that is needs a cause, therefore God (or Bob or the Super AI) must exist'. Who created God (or Bob, or the Super AI)? We can just as easily say the universe has always existed or even more intelligently not make a statement on what we don't know beyond the best facts known. Oh, how I hate the argument that morality proves the existence of God and the other tired old tropes all of which are refuted in this book.
There was one argument that I found silly. Russell criticizes Jesus cursing the fig tree. Spinoza had dismissed that 250 years earlier, because as Spinoza had said it is obviously an allegory about the nation of Israel. I read other modern books by atheist that think as Russell did about that. I just find that silly and weak.
We, after our basic needs are met, will always want to know about our place in the universe and books like this one gives us more guidance than most.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is a fantastic audio book. It is well read and so incredibly-written. Bertrand Russel is essential reading. He is thoughtful and sensitive, and does not pull punches.
Which scene was your favorite?
"Good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge! Love without knowledge or knowledge without love are harmfull to humanity"... and history proved that.
"I say quite deliberately that Christian religion as organized in its churches has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world".
"Science can help us to overcome this craven fear imposed by religion".
Isn't he nice, isn't he smart! have always adored Russell, he was/is/ and will be my lighthouse in the ocean of knowledge and perfection pursuit.
I'm glad to think that Bertrand Russell lived until 1970 and therefore long enough to see some of the liberal reforms for which he argued, come to fruition. In these essays from the early part of the 20th Century, he is too coy even to use the word 'homosexuality', but makes oblique references as he argues for greater tolerance. In a way, these essays have dated because our society has (thankfully) moved on so much. In his day he would have been dynamite!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful