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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Bertrand Russell Quotes > Achievement

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Bertrand Russell
(18 May 1872 - 2 Feb 1970)

Welsh mathematician, logician and philosopher known for his work in mathematical logic, but was also active in social and political campaigns, advocating pacifism and nuclear disarmament.



In science men have discovered an activity of the very highest value in which they are no longer, as in art, dependent for progress upon the appearance of continually greater genius, for in science the successors stand upon the shoulders of their predecessors; where one man of supreme genius has invented a method, a thousand lesser men can apply it. … In art nothing worth doing can be done without genius; in science even a very moderate capacity can contribute to a supreme achievement.
— Bertrand Russell
Essay, 'The Place Of Science In A Liberal Education.' In Mysticism and Logic: and Other Essays (1919), 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (180)  |  Activity (210)  |  Appearance (140)  |  Application (242)  |  Apply (160)  |  Art (657)  |  Capacity (100)  |  Discover (553)  |  Doing (280)  |  Genius (285)  |  Greater (288)  |  Invention (377)  |  Man (2249)  |  Method (506)  |  Moderate (6)  |  Nothing (969)  |  Predecessor (29)  |  Progress (468)  |  Science (3880)  |  Shoulder (33)  |  Stand (274)  |  Successor (14)  |  Supreme (71)  |  Thousand (331)  |  Value (368)  |  Worth (169)

Science, by itself, cannot supply us with an ethic. It can show us how to achieve a given end, and it may show us that some ends cannot be achieved. But among ends that can be achieved our choice must be decided by other than purely scientific considerations. If a man were to say, “I hate the human race, and I think it would be a good thing if it were exterminated,” we could say, “Well, my dear sir, let us begin the process with you.” But this is hardly argument, and no amount of science could prove such a man mistaken.
— Bertrand Russell
'The Science to Save us from Science', New York Times Magazine (19 Mar 1950). Collected in M. Gardner (ed.), Great Essays in Science (1950), 396-397.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (180)  |  Amount (151)  |  Argument (138)  |  Begin (260)  |  Choice (110)  |  Consideration (139)  |  Decision (91)  |  End (590)  |  Ethic (40)  |  Extermination (14)  |  Good (889)  |  Hate (64)  |  Hatred (21)  |  Human (1470)  |  Human Race (103)  |  Man (2249)  |  Mistake (170)  |  Must (1526)  |  Other (2236)  |  Process (423)  |  Prove (252)  |  Purely (110)  |  Race (268)  |  Say (984)  |  Science (3880)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Show (346)  |  Supply (93)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Think (1086)

The more we realize our minuteness and our impotence in the face of cosmic forces, the more amazing becomes what human beings have achieved.
— Bertrand Russell
New Hopes for a Changing World (1952), 187.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (180)  |  Amazing (35)  |  Become (815)  |  Being (1278)  |  Cosmic (72)  |  Face (212)  |  Force (488)  |  Human (1470)  |  Human Being (176)  |  Human Beings (117)  |  Impotence (8)  |  Minuteness (8)  |  More (2559)  |  Realize (147)

The solution of the difficulties which formerly surrounded the mathematical infinite is probably the greatest achievement of which our age has to boast.
— Bertrand Russell
In 'The Study of Mathematics', Philosophical Essays (1910), 77.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (180)  |  Age (499)  |  Boast (22)  |  Difficulty (198)  |  Formerly (5)  |  Great (1575)  |  Greatest (329)  |  Infinite (233)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Modern Mathematics (50)  |  Probably (49)  |  Solution (269)  |  Surround (30)

[Man] … 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 labour 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…
— Bertrand Russell
From 'A Free Man's Worship', Independent Review (Dec 1903). Collected in Mysticism and Logic: And Other Essays (1918), 47-48.
Science quotes on:  |  Accidental (27)  |  Achievement (180)  |  Age (499)  |  All (4107)  |  Atom (358)  |  Belief (578)  |  Beneath (64)  |  Beyond (308)  |  Brightness (12)  |  Death (391)  |  Destined (42)  |  Devotion (35)  |  Extinction (74)  |  Fear (199)  |  Feeling (252)  |  Fire (189)  |  Genius (285)  |  Grave (52)  |  Growth (188)  |  Hope (299)  |  Human (1470)  |  Individual (404)  |  Inspiration (76)  |  Intensity (34)  |  Labour (98)  |  Life (1799)  |  Love (309)  |  Man (2249)  |  Must (1526)  |  Origin (241)  |  Preserve (83)  |  Ruin (42)  |  Solar System (78)  |  System (537)  |  Temple (42)  |  Thought (954)  |  Universe (861)  |  Vast (178)  |  Whole (738)


See also:
  • 18 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Russell's birth.
  • Bertrand Russell - context of quote “A process which led from the amoeba to man” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Bertrand Russell - context of quote “A process which led from the amoeba to man” - Large image (800 x 600 px)

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



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