This is my philosophy - Essay 1: Prologue or Epilogue, Bertrand Russell

I have started reading this book because I have always had an interest in philosophy and this seemed like a good place to start. In addition, this site has solidified my love of philosophy while at the same time demonstrating how little thought I had previously put in to my position on many things.

Therefore, because I have no one to discuss this with in person, you all get the opportunity to read my thoughts, such as they are, on the essays as I go through the book.
Essay 1: Prologue or Epilogue, Bertrand Russell
I know nothing about the individual save that his name rings a bell. I found his essay filled with more hope than I would have expected. While the title shows the essay will move between doom and hope I found that Russell’s final statement to be encouraging, “Those who are to lead the world out of its troubles will need courage, hope and love. Whether they will prevail, I do not know; but, beyond all reason, I am unconquerably persuaded that they will.”

Humanity’s progress is racing forward at an unprecedented pace. Last century, we developed the capacity to wipe out our very existence, yet somehow the advances in science have our species on the cusp of freeing us from the toil of survival and allowing us to proceed to develop and explore things never before imagined. Being the pessimist I am, I come down squarely on the side that believes that we have a better chance of returning to the Stone Age than moving into some kind of utopia.

He was a mathematician, quite possibly the greatest of the twentieth century. His most famous work was in formal symbolism, putting pretty much all of mathematics as it was then known on a rigorous footing (his magnum opus, the Principia Mathematica, famously proved that 1 + 1 = 2, after 63 pages chock full of arcane symbols). Perhaps not surprisingly, he ended up not entirely sane.

Thanks for the background Chronos.

Russell was a lot more than a mathematician. He was a philosopher, logician, novelist, Nobel Laureate, activist, and moralist. He published dozens of books over 70 years on ethics, politics, linguistics, science, religion, sociology, and epistemology (among other things).

If you’re interested in philospophy, I’d give Russell a shot.