What Has Philosopher, Bertrand Russell Lived For?

Bertrand Russell

The following quote has been an inspiration for me to embrace philosophy as guidance for my own self-improvement in life.  It has also influenced me to reflect on my own life with sincerity and frankness, whilst exploring deep down into my mind trying to find any sort of wisdom that I can learn from.

Being both resonant and moving, Bertrand Russell’s self-reflection of his life and insightful words has given me renewed optimism in the human spirit despite the ignorance scattered amongst humanity.

I can only hope that the next generation can put reason at the forefront of every world problem and be as wise as was old Bertrand.

What I Have Lived For – By Bertrand Russell

“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy — ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness — that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what — at last — I have found.

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 number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”

~ Bertrand Russell, written on the 25th July 1956, taken from Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

What have you lived for?

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