Bertrand Russell Quotes

Bertrand Russell Quotes 366

Russian aristocrats, until the middle of the nineteenth century, tended to regard their serfs as of no account, not so much because they had a different conception of the good from that of the opponents of serfdom, as because they believed that serfs did not have the same capacity for emotion as their masters. Turgenev’s Sportsman's Sketches, with all the art of a great novelist, gave a sympathetic portrait of the serfs' joys and sorrows, thereby arousing sensibility a la Rousseau in liberal-minded landowners. ... , when men could no longer deny that the oppressed had the same capacity for joy and sorrow as their oppressors, the oppressive institution was abolished. The controversy between its enemies and its defenders was not therefore, really a controversy as to ends, but as to the facts of human beings’ emotions.
Source: Bertrand Russell: Human Society in Ethics and Politics, (1954), chapter 8:Ethical Controversy
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* a brief comment: original text in Japanese, translated with (free version)

Perhaps some people felt uncomfortable with the expression ``facts about emotions.'' Isn't there a difference between factual issues and emotional issues? There are some emotions that are not very favorable and some that are favorable. It is also a fact that we have certain emotions, no matter what they are.
In the past, even intellectually inferior aristocrats were able to believe that they had ``noble'' or ``refined'' feelings, unlike ordinary people. If you are a modern person who was born and raised in a democratic country, it is possible to imagine that if you were born into the imperial family, you would (or could) have the same feelings as the members of the imperial family. .