(本館へ)  (トップへ)  (初心者のページへ)

Portal Site for Russellian in Japan


Bertrand Russell's Best; Silhouettes in Satire,
selected and introduced by Robert E. Egner.
(London; Allen & Unwin, 1958. 113 p. 20 cm.)
An essay introducing the section 'Psychology'

A number of the selections in this chapter are taken from Lord Russell's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, delivered at Stockholm in 1950. In this lecture his keen observation and sharp wit are focused on human passions and their effect upon mankind. Such topics as vanity, power, and the love of excitement are stripped of their customary trappings and laid out in the nude to lie in state.
Few modern thinkers dare be as candid in the expression of unwelcomed thoughts as Lord Russell. His attitude is uncompromising: he is not afraid to run the risk of discussing 'sacred' matters in spite of the fact that his free views have exposed him to repeated attacks by bigots and obscurantists. Those who fear the embarrassment of having their noble facade dismantled quite naturally rebel against anyone who suggests a critical examination of their motives and beliefs.
Human nature has changed little since the time of primitive man. Our understanding of the forces which control behaviour, however, has increased immeasurably with the development of scientific methods of inquiry in the field of psychology. Only a century ago psychology was completely unscientific; now psychology is an independent science, the latest discipline to be separated from philosophy. Lord Russell maintains, however, that our knowledge of psychology has not been used to its fullest advantage in solving the ancient problem of how men can live together in peace.
In his Nobel Prize lecture Lord Russell says the fundamental motives that appeal to most men are 'aquisitiveness,' 'vanity,' 'rivalry,' and 'love of power.' In politics, for example, the springs of human action are derived from these basic drives. The political leader who can convince the populace that he can satisfy these desires can sway masses of men to believe that two and two are five and that his authority is divinely sanctioned. The political leader who ignores these basic motives is usually destitute of popular support. The psychology of mob dynamics is an essential part in the education of successful political leaders.
The study of scientific psychology affords an indispensable tool for helping men solve some of their gravest problems in creating a better world. If Lord Russell's wit brings them out in the open, it will have served its purpose.