Born OTD in 1872, British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, & Nobel laureate, Bertrand Russell. “Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying ‘Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.’ Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told & acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, & that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.”

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Intolerance and bigotry lie at the heart of all human suffering. So claims Bertrand Russell at the outset of In Praise of Idleness, a collection of essays in which he espouses the virtues of cool reflection and free enquiry; a voice of calm in a world of maddening unreason. From a devastating critique of the ancestry of fascism to a vehement defence of ‘useless’ knowledge, with consideration given to everything from insect pests to the human soul, this is a tour de force that only Bertrand Russell could perform.

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