Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Bertrand Russell Quotes > Power

Thumbnail of Bertrand Russell (source)
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.



Gradually, … the aspect of science as knowledge is being thrust into the background by the aspect of science as the power of manipulating nature. It is because science gives us the power of manipulating nature that it has more social importance than art. Science as the pursuit of truth is the equal, but not the superior, of art. Science as a technique, though it may have little intrinsic value, has a practical importance to which art cannot aspire.
— Bertrand Russell
In The Scientific Outlook (1931, 2009), xxiv.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (657)  |  Aspect (124)  |  Aspire (13)  |  Background (43)  |  Being (1278)  |  Equal (84)  |  Gradually (102)  |  Importance (287)  |  Intrinsic (18)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Little (708)  |  Manipulate (10)  |  More (2559)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Power (747)  |  Practical (200)  |  Pursuit (121)  |  Science (3880)  |  Science And Art (186)  |  Social (252)  |  Superior (82)  |  Technique (80)  |  Technology (261)  |  Thrust (12)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Value (368)

I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups rather than to make men happy.
— Bertrand Russell
In Icarus, or the Future of Science (1924), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Compel (30)  |  Dominant (26)  |  Fear (199)  |  Group (78)  |  Happy (105)  |  Power (747)  |  Promote (29)  |  Science (3880)  |  Will (2354)

I do not believe that science per se is an adequate source of happiness, nor do I think that my own scientific outlook has contributed very greatly to my own happiness, which I attribute to defecating twice a day with unfailing regularity. Science in itself appears to me neutral, that is to say, it increases men’s power whether for good or for evil. An appreciation of the ends of life is something which must be superadded to science if it is to bring happiness, but only the kind of society to which science is apt to give rise. I am afraid you may be disappointed that I am not more of an apostle of science, but as I grow older, and no doubt—as a result of the decay of my tissues, I begin to see the good life more and more as a matter of balance and to dread all over-emphasis upon anyone ingredient.
— Bertrand Russell
Letter to W. W. Norton, Publisher (27 Jan 1931). In The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, 1914-1944 (1968), Vol. 2, 200.
Science quotes on:  |  Adequate (46)  |  Age (499)  |  All (4107)  |  Apostle (3)  |  Appreciation (34)  |  Attribute (61)  |  Balance (78)  |  Begin (260)  |  Belief (578)  |  Decay (53)  |  Disappoint (14)  |  Disappointment (17)  |  Do (1908)  |  Doubt (305)  |  Dread (13)  |  Emphasis (18)  |  End (590)  |  Evil (116)  |  Good (889)  |  Grow (238)  |  Happiness (116)  |  Increase (211)  |  Ingredient (15)  |  Kind (557)  |  Life (1799)  |  Mankind (340)  |  Matter (801)  |  More (2559)  |  Must (1526)  |  Neutral (13)  |  Outlook (30)  |  Power (747)  |  Regularity (40)  |  Result (678)  |  Rise (166)  |  Say (984)  |  Science (3880)  |  Scientific (940)  |  See (1082)  |  Society (325)  |  Something (719)  |  Source (93)  |  Think (1086)  |  Tissue (45)

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
— Bertrand Russell
In unpublished manuscript, 'Is There a God', (5 Mar 1952) written for the magazine, Illustrated. Collected in Bertrand Russell, John G. Slater (ed.) and Peter Kφllner (ed.) The Collected Papers of Bertran Russell: Volume II: Last Philosophical Testament: 1943-68 (1997), 547-548.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (499)  |  Ancient (191)  |  Attention (191)  |  Become (815)  |  Book (394)  |  Children (200)  |  China (23)  |  Disprove (24)  |  Doubt (305)  |  Earth (998)  |  Enlighten (29)  |  Enlightened (24)  |  Existence (460)  |  Hesitation (19)  |  Human (1470)  |  Inquisitor (6)  |  Mars (44)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Most (1729)  |  Nobody (104)  |  Nonsense (48)  |  Orbit (82)  |  Powerful (139)  |  Presumption (15)  |  Psychiatrist (15)  |  Reason (744)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Revealed (60)  |  Sacred (45)  |  Say (984)  |  School (220)  |  Science And Religion (310)  |  Small (479)  |  Sun (387)  |  Talking (76)  |  Teapot (3)  |  Telescope (99)  |  Thought (954)  |  Time (1877)  |  Truth (1062)

In the higher walks of politics the same sort of thing occurs. The statesman who has gradually concentrated all power within himself … may have had anything but a public motive… The phrases which are customary on the platform and in the Party Press have gradually come to him to seem to express truths, and he mistakes the rhetoric of partisanship for a genuine analysis of motives… He retires from the world after the world has retired from him.
— Bertrand Russell
In The Conquest of Happiness (1930, 2006), 79.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Analysis (234)  |  Customary (18)  |  Express (187)  |  Genuine (52)  |  Gradually (102)  |  Himself (461)  |  Mistake (170)  |  Motive (59)  |  Occur (150)  |  Party (18)  |  Phrase (61)  |  Platform (3)  |  Politics (112)  |  Power (747)  |  Press (21)  |  Public (96)  |  Retire (3)  |  Rhetoric (12)  |  Statesman (19)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Walk (124)  |  World (1778)

Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous and loathed because they impose slavery.
— Bertrand Russell
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Beautiful (259)  |  Confer (11)  |  Hate (64)  |  Hideous (5)  |  Impose (22)  |  Loathe (4)  |  Machine (259)  |  Power (747)  |  Slavery (13)  |  Value (368)  |  Worship (32)

Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power.
— Bertrand Russell
In Sceptical Essays (1928), 130.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquisition (45)  |  Consist (223)  |  Enjoy (40)  |  Generally (15)  |  Great (1575)  |  Greatest (329)  |  More (2559)  |  Next (236)  |  Other (2236)  |  Ourself (13)  |  Ourselves (245)  |  Pleasure (179)  |  Power (747)  |  Prevent (96)  |  Themselves (433)

The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.
— Bertrand Russell
Power: A New Social Analysis (1938), 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Concept (221)  |  Energy (346)  |  Fundamental (251)  |  Physic (516)  |  Physics (533)  |  Power (747)  |  Science (3880)  |  Sense (770)  |  Social (252)  |  Social Science (35)

To a mind of sufficient intellectual power, the whole of mathematics would appear trivial, as trivial as the statement that a four-footed animal is an animal. (1959)
— Bertrand Russell
My Philosophical Development (1995), 207.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Power (747)  |  Statement (142)  |  Sufficient (128)  |  Trivial (57)  |  Whole (738)

We know very little, and yet it is astonishing that we know so much, and still more astonishing that so little knowledge can give us so much power.
— Bertrand Russell
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Astonishing (27)  |  Give (202)  |  Know (1519)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Little (708)  |  More (2559)  |  Power (747)  |  Still (613)

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which numbers holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
— Bertrand Russell
In 'Prologue: What I Have Lived For', The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1969). 3-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Achieved (2)  |  Flux (21)  |  Heart (230)  |  Know (1519)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Little (708)  |  Man (2249)  |  Number (701)  |  Passion (114)  |  Power (747)  |  Seek (213)  |  Shine (46)  |  Star (430)  |  Stars (304)  |  Understand (607)  |  Why (491)  |  Wish (212)


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)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 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



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.