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Russell Analysis With Wav

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An analysis of Bertrand Russell's famous essay, "A Free Man's Worship."

An analysis of Bertrand Russell's famous essay, "A Free Man's Worship."

Published in: Education, Spiritual

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  • 1. Bertrand Russell A Free Man’s Worship
    • That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins--all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built. Bertrand Russell
  • 2. What is the Philosopher’s World View?
    • Russell is a Naturalist
      • The world is “purposeless” & “void of meaning”
      • Science allegedly presents us with this kind of world
      • Begs the ?: Is Nature really a meaningless chaos?
    • Religion reflects “a cruel thirst for worship”
      • Such impulses reflect a misuse of “instincts”
      • How could Θ intend harmony to come out of chaos?
      • Begs the ?: Does religion really reflect a “cruel thirst”?
  • 3. What is the Philosopher’s World View?
    • Nature is “omnipotent but blind”
      • Mankind mistakenly deifies the powers of Nature
      • Religion is “the cringing submission of the slave”
      • Religion—for Russell—violates autonomous freedom
    • A cruel Θ or Nature deserves no adulation
      • Traditional religion is the “religion of Moloch”
      • Moloch: A Canaanite deity requiring human sacrifice
      • Religion—for Russell—requires submission to cruelty
  • 4. Sources of Truth & Evidence as Proof
    • The “world of fact . . . is not good”
      • Russell assumes that the cosmos is all there is
      • If Nature is evil, then Nature’s Creator is also evil
      • This assumes a standard of Good & Evil above Θ
    • The dignity of man = freeing himself from Power
      • Shall we worship “Force” or (our own) “Goodness”
      • Russell opts for worshipping his own Goodness
      • But for the Naturalist, the “Goodness” is conventional
  • 5. Sources of Truth & Evidence as Proof
    • Russell’s Teleological Disproof of God
      • “ Begs the Question” or assumes what must be proved
      • Θ can’t exist based on Russell’s conventional standard
      • How can conventional goodness prove or disprove Θ ?
    • Does Russell prove that Nature is Purposeless?
      • No, he assumes an uncreated world by a definition
      • He defines goodness & by that def Θ doesn’t exist
      • Natural evils supposedly prove Nature is purposeless
  • 6. Sources of Truth & Evidence as Proof
    • A closer view of Russell’s reasoning process
      • All I see is Nature, so Nature is all that exists
      • Nature looks cruel, so Nature is likely all that exists
      • Nature’s Θ would be cruel, deserving no worship
    • Russell sees what he expects to see
      • Are there real things I don’t see? E.g. logic, morals
      • Is Nature cruel only, or is it benevolent and harsh?
      • Could a good Θ create an imperfect world? Yes!
  • 7. Elements of Reductionism/Personalism
    • Russell reduces nature to blind, physical laws
      • He absolutizes the first five modalities
      • These are not illusory, as in Pantheism—they rule!
      • Physical laws are impersonal, so Nature is blind
    • Russell absolutizes the ethical modality
      • He reflects Personalism by dogmatic moralizing
      • He appeals throughout to “the moral sense”
      • The “moral sense” reduces to physical laws, so . . . ?
  • 8. Elements of Reductionism/Personalism
    • Russell absolutizes the logical modality
      • He reflects Personalism by a dogmatic use of logic
      • He reasons (logic) on the basis of “goodness” (ethics)
      • The logical sense reduces to physical laws, so . . . ?
    • Logic + Moral Sense = No Θ + a Free Man
      • Convention + Convention ≠ Absolute + Absolute
      • Conventional logic doesn’t explain Θ or freedom
      • Conventional morality doesn’t explain Θ or freedom
  • 9. Do You Agree or Disagree? Why?
    • I disagree with Russell’s entire approach
      • His method is internally inconsistent
      • He uses conventional tools to affirm absolute truths
      • Conventional tools yield conventional results
    • Russell’s Naturalism undercuts reason & morality
      • Why trust the conclusions of merely adaptive tools?
      • Logic and morality reduce to psychology & biology
      • If my psychobiology differs from yours, then . . . ?
  • 10. Do You Agree or Disagree? Why?
    • Russell trusts his own use of reason—why?
      • Most do not conclude atheism from Nature
      • Most see a Designer, despite Nature’s harshness
      • There are many justifications for Θ and evil
    • The Theist sees Nature as good & imperfect
      • Nature’s marvelous design promotes life
      • Nature’s marvelous design points beyond itself
      • Nature’s imperfection shows it’s not our final home
  • 11. Do You Agree or Disagree? Why?
    • Russell trusts his own moral sense—why?
      • He has no standard but his own feelings
      • As a Naturalist, the sensitive aspect governs the rest
      • Both logic & morality are relativized by Naturalism
    • There is no real good or evil in Naturalism
      • There is only pleasure & pain, not good & evil
      • Judgments of good/evil require a moral law-structure
      • If Nature is purposeless/meaningless, it is not moral
  • 12. Do You Agree or Disagree? Why?
    • Russell can talk only about what he likes/dislikes
      • He can say nothing about ultimate truth or morality
      • Naturalism disqualifies all absolute judgments
      • Naturalists often blow hot & cold on morality
    • What is a free man’s worship?
      • Man’s worship of his own “goodness”
      • Man’s worship of his own autonomous freedom
      • Russell’s own freedom & morality is the standard
  • 13. Do You Agree or Disagree? Why?
    • Russell’s central contradiction
      • Nature is meaningless and purposeless
      • Therefore, mankind—as part of nature—is too
      • Yet, my own morality and freedom are meaningful
    • Russell’s contradictory religion
      • “Unyielding despair” is the foundation of the soul
      • Sacredness, wisdom, charity & liberty have meaning
      • Man as a part of Nature is likely determined, not free