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

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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.



All that passes for knowledge can be arranged in a hierarchy of degrees of certainty, with arithmetic and the facts of perception at the top.
— Bertrand Russell
From 'Philosophy For Laymen', collected in Unpopular Essays (1950, 1996), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Arranged (4)  |  Certainty (174)  |  Degree (275)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Facts (553)  |  Hierarchy (17)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Perception (97)  |  Top (96)

Arithmetic must be discovered in just the same sense in which Columbus discovered the West Indies, and we no more create numbers than he created the Indians.
— Bertrand Russell
The Principles of Mathematics (1903), 451.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Christopher Columbus (16)  |  Create (235)  |  Creation (329)  |  Discover (553)  |  Discovery (785)  |  Indian (27)  |  More (2559)  |  Must (1526)  |  Number (701)  |  Sense (770)

Calculating machines do sums better than even the cleverest people… As arithmetic has grown easier, it has come to be less respected.
— Bertrand Russell
From An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1937, 1943), 5. Collected in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (2009), 46.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Better (488)  |  Calculator (9)  |  Do (1908)  |  Easier (53)  |  Easy (204)  |  Less (103)  |  Machine (259)  |  People (1005)  |  Respect (207)  |  Sum (102)

Man is a rational animal—so at least I have been told. … Aristotle, so far as I know, was the first man to proclaim explicitly that man is a rational animal. His reason for this view was … that some people can do sums. … It is in virtue of the intellect that man is a rational animal. The intellect is shown in various ways, but most emphatically by mastery of arithmetic. The Greek system of numerals was very bad, so that the multiplication table was quite difficult, and complicated calculations could only be made by very clever people.
— Bertrand Russell
From An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1937, 1943), 5. Collected in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (2009), 45.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Aristotle (173)  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Bad (180)  |  Calculation (128)  |  Clever (38)  |  Complicated (115)  |  Complication (29)  |  Difficult (247)  |  Difficulty (198)  |  Do (1908)  |  Emphatically (8)  |  First (1284)  |  Greece (8)  |  Greek (107)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Know (1519)  |  Man (2249)  |  Mastery (34)  |  Most (1729)  |  Multiplication (44)  |  Multiplication Table (16)  |  People (1005)  |  Proclaim (30)  |  Rational (91)  |  Reason (744)  |  Sum (102)  |  System (537)  |  Table (104)  |  Various (200)  |  View (488)  |  Virtue (109)  |  Way (1216)

Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard, you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants?
— Bertrand Russell
In An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1943), 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Anger (20)  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Belief (578)  |  Beyond (308)  |  Difference (337)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Examination (98)  |  Find (999)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Persecution (13)  |  Theology (53)  |  Warrant (8)  |  Whenever (81)  |  Will (2354)

Symbolism is useful because it makes things difficult. Now in the beginning everything is self-evident, and it is hard to see whether one self-evident proposition follows from another or not. Obviousness is always the enemy to correctness. Hence we must invent a new and difficult symbolism in which nothing is obvious. … Thus the whole of Arithmetic and Algebra has been shown to require three indefinable notions and five indemonstrable propositions.
— Bertrand Russell
In International Monthly (1901), 4, 85-86.
Science quotes on:  |  Algebra (114)  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Begin (260)  |  Beginning (305)  |  Correct (87)  |  Difficult (247)  |  Enemy (82)  |  Everything (476)  |  Evident (91)  |  Follow (379)  |  Hard (243)  |  Indefinable (5)  |  Invent (51)  |  Mathematics As A Language (20)  |  Must (1526)  |  New (1217)  |  Nothing (969)  |  Notion (113)  |  Obvious (126)  |  Obviousness (3)  |  Proposition (123)  |  Require (219)  |  See (1082)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Evident (21)  |  Show (346)  |  Symbolism (3)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Useful (250)  |  Whole (738)

The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic.
— Bertrand Russell
Unpopular Essays (1950, 2007), 104.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Controversy (29)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Good (889)  |  Matter (801)  |  Most (1729)  |  Persecution (13)  |  Science And God (5)  |  Theology (53)  |  Way (1216)

While the dogmatist is harmful, the sceptic is useless …; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or of ignorance. Knowledge is not so precise a concept as is commonly thought. Instead of saying ‘I know this’, we ought to say ‘I more or less know something more or less like this’. … Knowledge in practical affairs has not the certainty or the precision of arithmetic.
— Bertrand Russell
From 'Philosophy For Laymen', collected in Unpopular Essays (1950, 1996), 38-39.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (139)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certainty (174)  |  Concept (221)  |  Dissipate (8)  |  Dogmatism (15)  |  Harmful (12)  |  Ignorance (240)  |  Know (1519)  |  Knowing (137)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  More (2559)  |  More Or Less (68)  |  Other (2236)  |  Philosophy (382)  |  Practical (200)  |  Precise (68)  |  Precision (68)  |  Say (984)  |  Sceptic (5)  |  Something (719)  |  Thought (954)  |  Useless (33)


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
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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Bible
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 50 -
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- 40 -
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- 30 -
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- 20 -
Carl Sagan
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- 10 -
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