Bertrand russell on human nature

In the west, and particularly in the Puritan tradition, goodness has sometimes been conceived in exclusively moral terms, and the special goods of understanding and taste dismissed as inconsequential.

The main thrust of Santayana's criticism was that "good" cannot be totally independent of human interests and feelings; and that propositions about intrinsic goodness—if they can be called propositions at all—cannot be true or false in a manner in which propositions in physical sciences are, because they are not statements about certain objective state of affairs but are only expressions of "preferences we feel.

Therefore, his analysis of ethical terms is more appropriately described as optative than, for example, emotive Ayer, Stevenson or prescriptive Hare. We have seen that though it is one of the commonest words in the language, analysts are deeply divided about its import.

It is also what makes anything good.

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As he says in the preface of the Human Society, he originally intended to include the discussion of ethics in his book Human Knowledge, but he decided not to do so, because he was uncertain as to the sense in which ethics can be regarded as "knowledge. In the artisan's adjustment of means to ends, in the use of speech, in social tact, in citizenship, perfection remains indefinitely far away, do what we will. There are two ways of studying our processes of valuing things, an internal way and an external. The desire to know is the desire to see things as they are. In practice he will probably select one or the other as his principal business and try to keep the other alive in a secondary role. Such periods of self-examination are what we should expect. When a person says "this is good in itself," he seems to be making a statement like "this is square" or "this is sweet. But it is hard to see why for that reason we should have to call it better. For him philosophy pointed to a new and better way of life. But while we are endowing our super-cat with so much cunning, we might as well give it enough to see its own inconsequence in arguing from the lack of satisfaction in the Franciscan life to the worthlessness of that life for those who do find it satisfying. Desire is not the sort of experience that either has a definite object or does not exist at all. Tom Akehurst offers a fresh insight. So Russell offered a philosophy that, he hoped, would remedy this loss.

The second error is to infer that because the good must satisfy, its goodness varies with satisfaction or pleasure alone. Instinct, as McDougall insists, is a tendency to notice and feel as well as to act, and it invests some things with an aura of attractiveness that never has to be learned.

What we want is not only to know, but to understand, that is, lay hold of the connections among facts that make them intelligible. The notion that some super-cat might have the one without the other and hence find the experience worthless is thus not strictly thinkable.

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To be sure, the inference is not a compelling one. Disputants can only appeal to their own emotions, and employ rhetorical devices to rouse similar emotions in others. And yet one can hardly deny that there is an aesthetic impulse with its own special end, distinct from the cognitive.

The music and the appreciation of it are so blended that B would probably say that A could not have heard what he did without being stirred. Second, Russell's optative analysis of ethical terms applies mainly to "good" as an endwhich Russell regarded as the most fundamental ethical term.

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We know that in this period he talked of spiritual matters in a futile effort to find common ground with his lover, Ottoline Morrell.

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Bertrand Russell on The Value of Philosophy for Life