"Fuck You" money is an illusion that keeps you working. The mind loves to believe that having enough of some external thing will give us control, safety, or whatever we most fear the lack of. It isn't true. A man with with excess money is absorbed in concerns of what to do with it and is hardly free. He might be able to say "fuck you" to people, but he can't say "fuck you" to money.
Freedom is measured by the scarcity of our concerns. And happiness, perhaps, by closeness with people to whom we need never say "fuck you" because we love them and accept them fully.
I'm down. We should be massively ramping up the amount of leisure time in our society so that we, as a society, never miss out on a potential Darwin or Lincoln or Jesus or whomever. How many world-changing, mental giants have we missed out on because they couldn't free their minds from working 40+ hours a week?
It's the details of his activities in the New Testament and various Gospels that are hotly debated.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus (use this as a starting point for further citations..)
/pedant mode off.
Only the powerful and rich can really change this reality, and it's clearly not aligned with their interests.
If you tell a bunch of rich people they've got a good chance of financing the next Leonardo DaVinci or Thomas Edison by providing the living essentials to 5,000 people, you could probably get a few to take you up on it. Just make sure you're cutting them in on the profits.
Maybe one day... but even with companies that come from that culture, normally after reaching a certain point of greatness, many stop helping the solution and give in to the system in pursuit of more and more profits.
I'm very skeptical when it comes to changes in society. I really don't think it'll change anytime soon. At least not for better.
> His work has had a considerable influence on logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science (see type theory and type system), and philosophy, especially philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics.
Plus he won the Nobel Prize in Literature!
For a very approachable overview of Russell's complex life, I highly recommend the graphic novel "Logicomix"
Then you will certainly find yourself wanting to learn more about this amazing person.
My personal favourite so far has been 'Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays' with 'Analysis of Mind' currently at the top of my reading queue. Not everything he did was like reading 'Principia Mathematica' and his writing is very open, readable and eloquent.
"Proposed Roads to Freedom" is my pick for number one.
I got all this from William Poundstone's book on the Prisoner's Dilemma. It's been years since I read it, so corrections on details are welcome.
That is the climate that was satirized in Dr Strangelove.
It was sordid on Russell's part to agitate for nuclear strikes, but everyone makes mistakes and everyone is subject to social climate. What is arguably worse is that once the insanity had passed, he refused to own up to it fair and square and just say "we were mad, and thank goodness it didn't happen". Perhaps that is what a world reputation as a moral authority does to the ego. I remember doing a double-take when I first read about this and wondering why it is so little known. If Barry Bonds deserves an asterisk beside his name in the record books then surely so does Bertie.
 Contemporary analogs left as an exercise to the reader.
After that he went on found the Pugwash conferences, be the first president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, etc., so he can hardly be painted as a nuclear warmonger generally. As you say, "everyone makes mistakes and everyone is subject to social climate".
Could you be more explicit about how he "refused to own up to it"? I mean, did he deny saying the actual words he's documented as having said, or did he disagree with someone else's interpretation of them, or what?
I'm afraid I don't remember the sources I read (other than Poundstone's book) and don't have time to dig into it just now, though given what I posted I suppose I should. FWIW, my memory is that he was asked about it more than once in the 1960s, denied that he'd said what he'd said, and then responded evasively when presented with evidence of it. On the other hand, my memory is that he'd advocated for a nuclear strike in print; and given the debate you linked to, that seems unlikely.
Edit: My conscience wouldn't sit still until I did dig around a bit. The question is more controversial than Poundstone's book made it seem, so I definitely shouldn't have said "definitely". When will I learn :) On the other hand, there's a lot more material than that Economist article made it seem (the editor of Russell's letters who was defending Russell in that piece really comes across as disingenuous for not mentioning this), and some of it is pretty unpleasant.
The consensus seems to be that Russell advocated threatening the USSR with nuclear strikes to force them to change their policies. Whether he advocated pre-emptive war itself is controversial. He made many comments about this in the 40s and 50s. From a BBC interview in 1959:
BBC: "Is it true or untrue that in recent years you advocated that a preventive war might be made against communism, against Soviet Russia?”
Russell: “It’s entirely true, and I don’t repent of it.”
Other comments were ambiguous (he thought it necessary to "bully the Russians" with the threat of bombing them but hoped it would not lead to war, etc.) Later, he claimed that he had simply "entirely forgotten" that he had ever advocated this. At least two serious biographers, Ronald Clark and Ray Monk, do not find this credible. Here's Clark:
[Russell's] explanation that he had simply forgotten what he had said [...] would be more acceptable if applied to one speech rather than to a long series of articles and statements [...] It might be possible to argue that his disavowal of advocating preventive war was based on the most academic interpretation of the term: that advocating the threat of war unless a potential enemy submitted, even though being prepared to have your bluff called, was not advocacy of a preventive war. But even this questionable escape-route is blocked by Russell’s own statement to [the BBC] and [by] his earlier suggestion that “a casus belli would not be difficult to find".
This paper (a long and convoluted defense of Russell) shows up in Google and contains the salient quotes: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?articl...
My conclusion is that what I wrote wasn't far off, but it was unfair to lump Russell in with von Neumann, Lemay, and the rest of the Dr. Strangelove set who were advocating for nuclear war outright.
His treatment of his first wife should have ruled out any idea he was a moral authority.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Russell were the classic intellectual type with strong affections for humanity in the abstract and the people around him not so much. Champions of causes are often this way. There are incredibly striking and tragic cases of this, such as what happened between Gandhi and his oldest son. But one should especially hesitate to condemn in matters of the heart.
(I've got a particular bias against Gandhi for what that so-called "moral paragon" famously said about the Holocaust.)
"“Hitler,” Gandhi solemnly affirmed, “killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. I believe in hara-kiri. I do not believe in its militaristic connotations, but it is a heroic method.”
“You think,” I said, “that the Jews should have committed collective suicide?”
“Yes,” Gandhi agreed,” that would have been heroism. It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to the evils of Hitler’s violence, especially in 1938, before the war. As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”"
Edit: It's questionable whether this was something specific he had against Jews or not. Frankly, I'm not even sure whether an anti-Semite or an anti-humanist is morally superior.
There is a big difference between "It would be a noble and also an effective thing for group X to sacrifice themselves" and "Other people should sacrifice group X", and it seems very clear that Gandhi was saying the first of those and not the second, and that he was advocating that they should do the same kind of thing as he did himself.
Now, for the avoidance of doubt, I think (1) he was wrong about this and (2) there's still something a bit indecent about saying "those people should have sacrificed themselves". But I don't see anything anti-Semitic, or anti-humanistic, in this, nor do I think he was saying that Jewish lives were worth little in absolute terms or relative to others. He was saying that in the face of a powerful oppressor self-sacrifice is both an effective tool and a noble thing to do.
I mean, for that matter, compare how many Holocaust victims did fight back versus those who didn't. Since the vast majority didn't fight back, what could they have done to make their deaths into an effective "martyrdom"?
I'm normally the introverted "stay at home and relax" type, at least during the week. I frequently want to get home from work as early as possible to play video games, play music, or read. The only problem I've had lately is I've had little motivation to do the creative parts (e.g. creating music or programming something).
But last night I went to the gym after work, making me get home an hour later than usual. Then I went out to an open mic with some music friends and had food and beers. Then I came back home and played video games for an hour or so. Then I managed to actually write music for another hour and a half.
It was weird, because normally I'd feel like I had a huge block of time in front of me (in theory, "relaxing"), so I could do whatever I wanted. But the catch was that I actually wouldn't do them! I'd procrastinate, and feel like I wasn't using the time "best" way. Last night was so different, and I felt really energized this morning.
What's the takeaway? I don't know yet. Maybe I'll try to do more. It was fun.
Things cause stress. Stress hormones float around in your brain "motivating" you. This isn't real motivation, it's stress-based motivation.
Exercise in my experience is the best cure to this stress condition. Unfortunately exercise tends to leave you tired. The other things that can help it pass are pleasurable, simple things. Video games, TV, reading a book you've read before, socializing in a comfortable environment. The exercise seems to remove that stress, while the rest just helps you not accumulate it while you take your mind off of other things.
It's not until that stress has passed that you get the clear head that lets you want to do something creative.
In the future, maybe when you feel that you aren't being creative, instead of trying to do more, just try to exercise, have a glass of wine, play some video games, and see if it happens again. Maybe go to bed early.
The more time you "I'll do it later" on something, the easier it becomes, etc.
The book "Art of War" while some "hippie'esque"'ness breaks down "resistance" to getting to creative pursuits.
I've experienced this quite often myself. I remember a period when I was particularly productive and creative, but also very busy two bachelors and three side-jobs.
Sure, I could just get up and go make lunch when I'm hungry. But I could also just refresh HN first. I think it takes a second, it actually takes 10 minutes. Especially if I reply to something.
Sure I could just get home from exercise and start working. But I can also check out imgur and twitter first. I feel liek it takes 5 minutes, but it's actually half an hour.
I have all this leisure time that I am being leisurely, but it doesn't feel leisurely. It feels like a rush to quickly pack more stuff in between work.
This happens to me too.
I wonder its because we are using the same tools for work and leisure. I would describe leisure as going out and playing a sport, or playing a musical instrument, or <add non computer hobby here>.
I am now thinking we are confused between leisure and procrastination.
It's even simpler than that. We're addicted to the instant gratification of easily digestible information packets. Humans like to be informed and we innately think this is valuable, even when it isn't.
Advertising and sites that sell user data attain value through eyeballs. It doesn't matter whether those eyeballs are glazed over, sad, and lonely.
this phrase gets you an upvote. thank you! :-)
What is "obvious" to Bertrand Russell is bad economics.
When the peasant puts his money in a stocking, he causes a slight deflation, so prices decrease, which increases the value of everyone else's money. So everyone else effectively has more to spend, if they want to.
However, everyone else would be prudent to assume that the peasant will eventually spend his money, which will correspondingly cause prices to rise again.
It might seem that an earlier gain is offset by a later loss.
But, those who benefit from the slight deflation can choose to invest the increased value of their monetary holdings into industry. At a later time, when the peasant decides to spend his money, the products of that industry will be ready for purchase.
Thus, with nothing more than surplus cash and a stocking, the peasant has driven investment in industry, productive employment, and long-term growth in the wealth of society, the benefits of which he has foregone since he chose not to seek a return of interest on his savings.
If you just look at accelerators like YCombinator, you'll see that two successful startups (Dropbox and AirBnb) are by-and-large paying for the investment of the other several hundred startups several times over.
So when will we see it going to the next level? Gather a bunch of people together, using whatever criteria you see fit, and tell them to do whatever they want. Pay for their room and board, and see what is produced from their complete leisure time. If the produce of that investment was one of the individuals simply having an idea on the scale of something like "Democracy" or "Altruism", wouldn't it be completely worth it if the other individuals never did anything more than eat, sleep, and play video games?
Another interesting example is the Institute for Advanced Studies nearby Princeton, I think. You might want to examine whats been produced there.
I read it some time ago and if I remember correctly he believed that there isn't/wasn't any need to work more than 3 hours a day because of the technological advances of the time (and to think this was in 1883!)
After a quick search I found it is available online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/
Result: most of the great products of Chinese culture are a direct consequence of this forced idleness.
How much of the rest of the Bible came out of obeying that law, I wonder?
Notwithstanding that small matter of formally defining the logical foundations of all mathematics.
"Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid."
I've always liked that quote.
When I look at the end results of work, I come to the same conclusion that indeed it ultimately consists of reconfiguring matter. That's what we need to do to reach whatever goals we have. Maybe the conceptspace work maps to the levels of intricacy of the end-result matter configuration, i.e. the more complex, precise thing you want to get, the more energy you need to expend on thinking rather than arranging atoms. It's easier to move a ton of bricks from one place to another than to design a microprocessor.
So I guess that ultimately I agree with your comment.
(disclaimer: writing this after two beers)
The output of a programmer is the output of their mind, not of their muscles. I've stacked boxes in a warehouse and that sort of work is altogether different from telling transistors when to output a high voltage instead of a low voltage, which is fundamentally what we are doing when we are programming.
You're right that some statements within a formal system are true or false.
However, the theorem does imply that the behavior of the "world out there" (and any explanation of it) is either contradictory or not following a fixed set of rules.
So yes, we can state something to be "objectively" true or false but only if we're willing to use a contradictory explanation - which we usually are in the name of usefulness, not in the name of "absolute objective truth".
Same clean and efficient style, same nakedness without any philosophical scaffolding, while being bullet tracing a straight line through many philosophical stand points.
Two very clairvoyant minds. Let's go back reading.
Reasons that are not ours, but for those who control us.
Humans aren't too happy with every one getting the same, even if that is sufficient for every one's sustenance. We inevitable use our time to buy things that distinguish us from other fellow humans.
The theme was also propagated in the novel 1984,concept of equality among humans was/is going to be a big disaster.
"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."
[NB I find the natural antidote to this to be the speech from the end of The Great Dictator http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IvPIWzQcUY]
There is never ever going to be a period of time in the human history, there was none in the past, nor will there be in the future where we shall attain peaceful uniform equality among humans. The very concept is against our very internal wiring. Equality means, every one gets the same regardless of their efforts in getting it. This is a very strange concept, and the human understanding of motivation rejects it. Those who contribute more, always assume they need to get proportional to their effort(which is justice), those who contribute less or nothing at all feel they are entitled to get the same as everyone because they think equality is justice.
Net result? The hard working no longer feel motivated to contribute, or worse move else where where they feel they will better rewarded. The situation in the system worsens with no one building anything of real value, while expecting to get the same. That's how socialists and communists systems across the world have collapsed over time.
Secondly, war will be perpetual state in which humans will live for many ages to come. In fact this too was discussed in pretty detail in 1984. War is basically an activity that destroys human effort, so that there is room to create more and more of it. That will ultimately be the only way in which more goods can be created and consumed.
Unless of course in the far future we colonize universe to an extent there is far too much space for us to interfere. Just like the very very early humans on earth.
This is simply not true. Hunter-gatherer societies are typically egalitarian, and our species has subsisted by hunting and gathering for the vast majority of its existence.
Between tribes there was inequality of where to live, or living at all due to border clashes, raids etc
The best part about hunter-gather lifestyle was there was tons of free time.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"
My crystal ball is probably murkier than yours but I would disagree with the assertion that that humans will never achieve equality as you define it. All our current systems of economics and power are predicated on the belief that "resources" are limited and must therefore be allocated (owned, shared, distributed, exchanged) on the basis of scarcity. In such a system, the question of distribution becomes critical; the models been some combinations of "according to effort" or "according to need". However in a "post-scarcity" environment (free or cheap energy, for example) in which the belief is no longer true, other models of distribution become possible. It's far fetched, but I wouldn't bet against it. Just think of the various social, political, economic and technological changes over the past few hundred years.
Scarcity of which commodity? The western civilization is already at a point where food and clothes aren't even a problem. Yet the debates about rich and poor are common.
Problem isn't the lack of things. The problem is the people thinking that rewards must go in proportion to efforts. That will never change.
Tomorrow if every one were to get free food, clothes and a home to leave. There will still be arguments of inequality as to why its unfair the rich can drive a Ferrari while the poor can't.
Scarcity of materials and energy, mostly.
>>> The western civilization is already at a point where food and clothes aren't even a problem. Yet the debates about rich and poor are common.
You are correct that the segment of the population that does not need to worry about food and shelter is much higher than before, but we're not there yet: the "west" is generously about 15% of the world's population.
Unfortunately, discussions of possible futures tend to be rooted in current thinking and assumptions (mostly by necessity); by our current thinking, yes, people would get "free food, clothes and a home" but imagine if those things were as available as the air we breath. We neither talk about "free air" nor argue about its unequal distribution. In fact, we complain when our air is polluted.
Not at all. If you want to mention an anti-egalitarian novel, Harrison Bergeron is probably the one to pick.
Orwell was very definitely big on equality and socialism - In one of his essays, circa World War 2, he even proposed a maximum wage!
1984 was largely a critique of Stalinist totalitarianism (and post-war British austerity) rather than a criticism of socialism itself. In fact, one of his problems with Stalin (as well as the previously-mentioned totalitarianism) was that Stalin was a counterrevolutionary who crushed the egalitarian revolution going on in Spain during the Civil war - Orwell was fighting alongside a Trotskyite militia at the time and recounted his ideas in Homage to Catalonia. Orwell was to the left of Stalin, if anything.
Orwell's socialism is certainitely the main thread throughout all of his work, but unfortunately his two most famous works - Animal Farm and 1984 - because they happen to be attacks on the Soviet Communist Party, are often erroneously read as attacks on socialism.
Whether such "corruption" is inevitable or not... given his other writings, Orwell would have said no, but readers can have their own opinions.
IMHO this is cultural, not biological phenomenon. In developed countries, especially US, people are pretty much being brainwashed to 'think different and buy X'.
Yes, inequality is inevitable to some extent, however it is often artificially promoted for its own sake.
Russell agrees with you, through the medium of sarcasm and reductio ad absurdum:
>If this argument were valid, it would only be necessary for us all to be idle in order that we should all have our mouths full of bread.
He prefixes citing the argument with:
>Before advancing my own arguments for laziness, I must dispose of one which I cannot accept.
in case you don't get the sarcasm.
'Before advancing my own arguments for laziness, I must dispose of one which I cannot accept.'