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Voices of Europe produced and recorded by Milton Mayer in cooperation with the University of Chicago under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. And now Milton Maier village of Penrith Oh I drive is a very very small pinpoint in northern Wales on the coast of Cardigan Bay about 10 miles of the town of barley outside the village of Pendarves Gras is the new home of a man who has moved there in his 80 seconds year in order he says to avoid disturbance. This man is one of the Senora minds of our age. Bertrand Russell. In the 60
years of active thinking and writing he has produced almost that number of books. First of all on the two fields in which he originally excelling and in which he is classic mathematics and logic or latterly on science said philosophy and philosophy as a whole on morals and manners and on politics. Bertrand Russell was born in 1872 married to four times won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. In his eighty third year Bertrand Russell is far from
retired and far from inactive. He simply wants to get a little more writing and thinking than he can in the early Burley around London from which he has removed himself just about as far as possible and still be in England. Bertrand Russell I want to find out what the worst mistakes of your life have been how you came to make them. I suppose I might begin by asking if you have ever been wrong with your life you will certainly have different opinions from those who challenge her. Now when I was pretty young I believe the fundamentals of where as if a broad Christianity and did regularly during adulation say ceased to and by the time the debut CD I
had ceased to believe any of them a door to the killing I was either wrong in youth or ever wrong now. Well Which was it later but I think naturally they did. I presume to be an Jouret you think I didn't actually told them. How did that change happen to take place simply by going into the argument a week into all the arguments to take it to be here David being advanced in favor of orthodoxy and they appeared to be your lover enough to hold water intellectually or they would mistake this argument. Your transition than you think was an intellectual war entirely. Every order been wrong philosophically. Oh yes certainly I have. When I use it game reaches an end to graduate I became a he and I remained so for a few years and
there I now think that he loves you he's just rubbish. He isn't sure he is the key believes in you need. He thinks that there are not a lot of separate things in the world. As I said somewhere the world is like a part of critical thinking here opinion it all hangs together. And I don't think that you need longer I think it's more like a heap of shot. They're not exactly like that. When you experience fear that they're going really don't. Ten years are now whether I think it's constituted by age Relations and he holds that everything in the world being related to everything else everything has a unique air which is partly compounded of what the other things are that he truly do and in that way you get in Unix people doing the old things in the world
like a tangled skein overlaid together. And there I do think that I think that I think can be just what it is and could be take the work he did even if it had no relationship at all. Has this pluralism of yours affected your view of the nature of the universe in the course of your life. Oh certainly yes I mean e in Eagles philosophy universes when seen in in fact it's the only thing you know all the rest is easy and real and divine Mind the universe is an artificial construction which we made up for our convenience and AJ needed to beach the chariot and which of the bit surreal. Oh well actually very large question and I don't know I only know the things today experience. Let me ask the question this way. How measurable are these little bits like us firsthand
measurable a dollar measure again one of these key Fischel mathematical constructions which go to really applied to you it seems you only apply conventionally. Where and in what way may I ask that your apostasy from a gazillion ism affect your view of logic and of mathematics and of truth as a whole. Oh reading profoundly because she held that every ship three piece of what we think is knowledge is not really quite true. The only proof is to whom the Whedon Hulu to go in here and even that isn't quite true and I see now and I have thought your vision shot through he and his and that there are a great many different truths each of them here and maybe
perfectly and completely true and doesn't she has to be so because there are others. Do you have any scientific evidence and please don't ask me sir what I mean by scientific evidence to support your position against Hiers. Oh here where I don't know half I won called it. If you consent if you can shoot your earlier question big AG who is being condemned to see the deer. Everything that comes change believe hsien he's morally she U.S. there are no separate dump each new chairs or tables no sun or moon or any of the new species in time. All of those things according to him in the need to use means and it seems to me that if it was a tree which allows you not to see that he she she knew much more coming to believe many of.
I wonder if I might ask you to what extent there is such a thing as scientific evidence sort of put it another way. In what realm is truth absolute. Where you was distinguishing between truth and knowledge knowledge is never ever see you. I mean you never can be quite sure about anything you know to be more or less shit certain in varying degrees and there are truths I suppose might be absolute and only we don't get Davis you because you're no good and asked for evidence you God has signed. If you give me things for a whole Ross trail you only have scientific givens for this or that. Well you're assuming a certain amount of scientific evidence is a piecemeal affair but it does exist. Oh yes Sidney I mean you were granting a certain
election and believes you can have scientific evidence for this or that which follows from them. Well I might offer examples and all the yardstick because they are law. No you could never know that you would know that it was longer than a yard. Or you could know the deeper shorter than me. Could I know there without knowing what a yard away was. Yes because you see you'd have to define a ya ass in anything. It cannot be new news to be either longer or shorter than the standard yard which is kept a neat trick and it would be the only way you could define it by agreement lariats by agreement and it depending on the technique of measurement. Can you remember in your day. Now may I ask sir with reference to the remark you just made about the existence of truth in an absolute
form but it is the knowability to us are you prepared to confess that your acceptance of the existence of absolute truth is an article of faith or a prejudice on your part. No nor you are knowable right with an I mean age like this there are a great many things who can pretty sure prove it because I know it to be just a slight charge said that no biggie if they are true in their reps you do swear X you get nothing. Day and age as if you were to seek truth instead of false truth. A dozen dead easy in any belief which I hold. If you didn't mistake it is absolute truth. Only I'd never be quite sure in any given case that I've got there. Bertrand Russell I have these conjectures. These are these abstractions dignified of further
affectation. Your practical attitude your view of the things to be done and positions to be taken by a man in society or in private affairs. You need to do. I'm always being told it demo just be a relation would remain an abstraction I see in my practical philosophy which in my part I've even been able to see it day. She knew me to be long in Shipley Grimm's and I don't think that e.g. need lunch equal transmission from the one to the other by any valid argument then you or your abstract philosophy or your pure reasoning serves only the purpose I take it of enlarging knowledge itself without any reference to human conduct especially a limited edition reference which is not exactly DAYBREAK. There exists everywhere large
organized bodies having the purpose of persuading people of certain propositions are true and if you think that there is new evidence of the truth of these things you cannot but the booze the organized bodies which teach they are true just in that way you do get a practical effect. Have you ever been wrong all in your view of women or of what may or may not be related matters of love and of sex. Well I've never had any view of woman at all except that I don't see any difference between woman and man. I never have been able to discover any generalization that I thought was true about that. And I mean you know a great many women and they had a great variety of characters. I've never been able to generalize about it all.
And one of love and one of sexual morality are refusing to change. Yes when I was very young I was Yiddish a nice Puritan very very strict in my views and did it a good she's to be and I don't think that you're very rejects your morality makes for a happy community. And what was it that made a puritan of you in your you know education education you know. What changed your attitude in your adolescence or your adult life. Oh I think experience have you ever been wrong in your view of of the political organization of human society. Yes I think pretty good if you need a day now. There was a period in my 20s
when I was emerging shouldn't they. She knew where I was and did it is talk is it. Organize evasion and rigid mentation and things of that sort. If it could be very usefully employed then where the proper weapons for regenerating the world and I came to see that there was going to Misty the crowd was to care very very much more respect for the individual. And there I think I was wrong about that and it certainly effected me ifI for instance for a short time I favored the poor war and there in early in 99 one day it changed my views on a whole is a whole tangle of questions and came to simply go with an abomination.
Do you still think it was. Yes. Did you or were you wrong again about war or subsequently ever. Yes now I was wrong in exactly the opposite way I think it is over the war in Spain. I was getting matching Khris at the time of the civil war in Spain with the danger of a World War which was obviously a very grave danger and it happened and I thought it did. If the English in that range intervened in Spain against drink it was more likely to bring on the World War and therefore although I very much dislike Franco. I was opposed to intervention in the Spanish Civil War and now I think I was wrong I think it would have been better if we had intervened.
But that is because of all the war details and prior to the Spanish Civil War. Bertrand Russell there was a World War 1914 the 1918 where you are right or wrong about it. Oh I still think I was entirely right Dave booth tooth and nail. I think the war was a folly and a disaster I think of all parties to their war were in the wrong and I held there to blame and I still hoodie and I think it started the world going in this down he Luigi going it was in and after the Spanish Civil War there was a second world war where you are right or wrong about it. Well I think I was right I favored the second world war because I saw Hitler was really too much for me. He couldn't lick kid clear ramp about to doing the things she was doing. I didn't even know where the wall was not so bad as that and I think I was
right. That is subsequent events you think have upheld your your view letting him to shoot Kiki a country they positively have parity with their duty and the possibility of future war or the present conflict in the world with regard to communism. Have you been in the raw or in the right in the past in your attitude. I was lent for a short guy VCAT a C in the wrong in the wrong in the way the guy machine got out of the city. He'd be pretty really he that was at the time. The federal proposal for wind United States government I think with great generosity at a time when they had the monopoly of the atomic bomb. Yeah I'll read it to have a complete internationalized she and her dummy
power and the Russian government rejig keep the Russian government I think was very ill advised in doing so the key did and I was immensely embrace anybody must be with the whole NG thing that it could be if there was a nuclear war and I thought almost anything would be justifiable or to prevent you know war and I saw that if I hated America I had the monopoly still. Russia I was sure I do you mean Do this for a friend or we go to war. They probably would have been and I wish that they have to live there and I think they're here to stay. What would your attitude be toward the rectification of their mistake. A little literary he she goes you very much more complex question
because everybody cares about them now and now one can only hope that the tension on both sides really grew gradually less that the argument that a nuclear war would be like a prison into the human race will be sufficient to meet people talk of war. I think that it's only an expedient in the moment. I think we've got to get to some international machinery before settling disputes between nations. Anyway someday somebody will lose his temper. The war will happen but we do have such international machinery don't we. No no we are no such an international community are you speaking of United Nations where if you think the United Nations in the Security Council you need unanimity and a unanimity means not having
government because if you had your unanimous you can be living without a government. The efficiency of government is it deep. There should be some way by which when there is not unanimity when shared should prevail in a Democratic version which they do with charity should prevail. But in any case there must be a means by which one party prevails rather than the other where there is disagreement and that you haven't got in this year. But this would require a binding form of international organization which would seem to be need to be nothing less than world government doing away with sovereignty what national sovereignty it could partially do away with it but not purely a you we have here in a country the federal government which leaves the sovereignty of the separate states to some degree they have 70 in certain respects and their cases sort of federal system that I think we have
to come to him in the alternative. We need to think of the human race. If you're going to have any kind of a world government to teach it we have to be a superposition of all the major weapons of war so that resistance to it will be impossible. Now I get to see that such a government could not be tyranny of governments all which are all Governments everywhere. And sure they certainly would be some tyranny. But again if you teach the only alternative to tubal extinction which took up with that is you do see some hope for the future or at least some immediate hope arising from terrorists self as a determined force. Yes I think recent events prove that an A in the last two years of show there has been a nice Coonerty great Did you know. Because I think all the great powers have realized that
it wouldn't do to have a war just wouldn't do would I think that realized on both sides of the aisle and could an equally and I think that gee a tremendous achievement and opens the way to development which I hope she read your body language should it be any tension and the heating on both sides and the idea that when side or the other must come that we readily fade away. Another question Bertrand Russell. Have you been wrong during the course of your career with reference to the economic organization of society. Very good question I've never been in here. I've never known enough economics to very much feast in my own views about economics but
I was a liberal when I was young and I became a socialist and it is not to great change in England as you could seem in America because liberals rush was just listing in England and they're everywhere in America and the socialist sorry on the whole rather mildly socialistic shooting was not so great as it might seem to an American but still I have made that change. You don't think there is any danger of your being wrong now. As regards being a socialist in the view of the developments the historical developments which ever occurred in our time in the name of socialism. Larry I've always made it quite clear that I don't need even Jewish religion if you teach democratic and it is he who come in East to establish everywhere a form of socialism which
is not democratic. And I'm in every day of seeing it the most breaches recently ever existed was king you oppose government of the Congo where he was the state and he had all the power and I don't think it was a good form of government. Indeed there is a reason which is not democratic I think is abominable but it is socialism which is democratic if you think is possible. Well you just would you like to see it exist elsewhere in America for instance. Yes I should like to see it existing in America. I think even the great corporations have more power than it's good for private people to have and I should like to see that. Have you ever been wrong in your wall career and your attitude toward the United States. Look you asked me if I have been wrong lawyer I mean. I want to
shave generally the key in all one's opinions when he's likely to be wrong and I don't like to shave. Hey I'm right now I can only say I'm different now. I changed my opinion because he's likely to be wrong if the other was I don't want to begin the day I know I'm right. Yes I think I know I've not changed much about United States. I've always thought it good United States was a bulwark of a great many things. A careful which probably wouldn't exist if it was dumped if you would at each stage and it's the same kind of course. There seems to be going pretty shaky step after I've asked a last question Bertrand Russell. I'm going to ask you still another question with reference to all of my questions. My last question in the order of right and wrong at this stage in the
rectification is whether you you think now that you are ever wrong about human nature is self or about human progress about your own A.J. yes. Where ever since 1914 and the increasing degree certainly until the last two years or so I have been in place by the fact that there is a great character crudity in ordinary people of the night so that was a good doctor each pic he is seen like the extermination of the Jews in air raids to be executed by a very nice guy to me as he was in and we need it surfacing didn't really surprise me and here here it was pretty depressing.
I mean I know I did feel if prudish towards the things I care for is a longer job than I had sold but it is going forward you know I think so yes. Would you say on the whole that you thought your way going to be the mistakes and thought your way out. I don't think you can say and mean. Actually I saw in the package shipped into the park as all caps and they are shipped out to them with 18000 legal questions and no room to call questions of value. He has a right to pay every day but you cannot treat the squishy purely intellectual. Did you always believe the feeling had a great heart. I think so yes. Thank you very much Barbara Russell.
Voices of Europe was produced and recorded in Europe by Milton Mayer in cooperation with the University of Chicago under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This program has been introduced by modern Prysner This is the end of the Radio Network.
Voices of Europe
Bertrand Russell
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features interviews with Bertrand Russell
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
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Interviewee: Russell, Bertrand, 1872-1970
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-7-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:43
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Bertrand Russell,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 8, 2023,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Bertrand Russell.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 8, 2023. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Bertrand Russell. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from