Ideas from 'An Outline of Philosophy' by Bertrand Russell [1927], by Theme Structure

[found in 'An Outline of Philosophy' by Russell,Bertrand [Routledge 1979,0-415-14117-6]].

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22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / f. Love
Unlike hate, all desires can be satisfied by love
                        Full Idea: If harmonious desires are what we should seek, love is better than hate, since, when two people love each other, both can be satisfied, whereas when they hate each other one at most can achieve the object of his desire.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch 22)
                        A reaction: A wonderful example of cool philosophical objectivity! Of course it is not true, because the fact that two people love one another doesn't not prevent them from having some incompatible desires, as every couple knows.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / b. Types of good
Goodness is a combination of love and knowledge
                        Full Idea: The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch 22)
                        A reaction: Forty years later, Russell's famous filmed message to posteriority said exactly this. In decision making, get the facts; in relationships, show love and tolerance. I find both parts inspiring.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
In wartime, happiness is hating the enemy, because it gives the war a purpose
                        Full Idea: During and immediately after the war [14-18], those who hated the Germans were happier than those who still regarded them as human beings, because they could feel that what was being done served a good purpose.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch 22)
                        A reaction: A striking remark. There are lots of situations where hatred seems to increase happiness. Russell is roughly defending consequentialism.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / d. Ethical theory
I doubt whether ethics is part of philosophy
                        Full Idea: I hardly think myself that ethics ought to be included in the domain of philosophy.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch.22)
                        A reaction: He declines to give his reasons. The implication of the chapter is that ethics is essentially a social and political matter, so that individual ethical guidelines are unimportant. Maybe the woolliness of ethics was also an impediment.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / h. Expressivism
'You ought to do p' primarily has emotional content, expressing approval
                        Full Idea: A sentence like 'You ought to do so-and-so' primarily has an emotional content. It means ' this is the act towards which I feel the emotion of approval'.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch 22)
                        A reaction: I don't understand how I can say 'you ought to do p', and very clearly mean that the situation would be altogether better if p, only to be told by some philosopher that what I thought was a sensible judgement is actually an emotional outburst.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
Originally virtue was obedience, to gods, government, or custom
                        Full Idea: Historically, virtue consisted at first of obedience to authority, whether that of the gods, the government, or custom.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch 22)
                        A reaction: Russell proceeds to demolish such a theory, which he finds it fairly easy to do. In Nietzsche's terms, he is only describing slave virtue. Each role in the world has its own virtues (and functions). Which gods are the most virtuous?
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
Act so as to produce harmonious rather than discordant desires
                        Full Idea: The supreme moral rule should be: Act so as to produce harmonious rather than discordant desires.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch 22)
                        A reaction: Russell makes no reference to Kant, but this is obviously intended to rebut the more rationalist Kantian view of what is imperative. The use of 'harmonious' chimes in best with Plato's account of the soul in 'Republic'.
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 3. Punishment / d. Reform of offenders
Legally curbing people's desires is inferior to improving their desires
                        Full Idea: To force a man to curb his desires, as we do by the criminal law, is not nearly so satisfactory as to cause him genuinely to feel the desires which promote socially harmonious conduct.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927], Ch 22)
                        A reaction: It is hard to disagree, but improving the desires of selfish and even vicious people is a rather challenging task.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 3. Parts of Time / e. Present moment
We could be aware of time if senses briefly vibrated, extending their experience of movement
                        Full Idea: Russell suggested, in defence of an empiricist theory of time-awareness, that a sense organ goes on vibrating, like a piano string, for while after the stimulation. Thus we can see the movement of a second hand, seen in several places at once.
                        From: report of Bertrand Russell (An Outline of Philosophy [1927]) by Adrian Bardon - Brief History of the Philosophy of Time 2 'Realism'
                        A reaction: Hm. If they were vibrating the last experience, they couldn't pick up the new one. When something fast happens the brain resonates fortissimo! If your eyes are moving it will be different neurons that get fired at each instant.