Who said: "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."

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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872-1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social reformist and pacifist (for which he was imprisoned during WWI). Along with G.E. Moore, Russell is generally recognized as one of the founders of analytic philosophy. He is also often credited with being one of the two most important logicians (a person who studies logic) of the twentieth century. In addition, Russell made significant contributions to a broad range of subjects including education, history, political theory and religious studies.

After a life marked by controversy, he was awarded the Order of Merit in 1949 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought." He is noted for his many anti-war and anti-nuclear protests and as a champion of free trade and anti-imperialism; for example, he campaigned against Hitler and for nuclear disarmament, and criticized Soviet totalitarianism and the USA's involvement in Vietnam.

Most bibliographies cite 80 or more works written by him, but that is a mere fraction of his total output. In 1983 McMaster University began publishing The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell. The collection is currently up to16 volumes with much more to come.  Apparently, an additional three volumes are devoted to simply cataloguing his bibliography (the Russell archives at McMaster University hold more than 30,000 letters written by him). Of all his works, he is perhaps best remembered for his History of Western Philosophy (1945).

More quotes from Bertrand Russell:

  • Collective fear stimulates herd instinct.
  • We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.
  • There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.
  • There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.

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