In 1959, Bertrand Russell, the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher, mathematician and peace activist was just short of his 87th birthday, when he gave wide-ranging interviews to the BBC and the CBC. Age hadn’t diminished Russell in the slightest. Quite the contrary, he remained witty and wise in equal parts. Today, we’re highlighting key moments from those interviews. They’ve been individually featured here before, but never brought together in such a way that you can appreciate the personality that was Russell’s.
We start above with Russell giving life lessons — lessons about critical thinking, love and tolerance — to a generation living 1,000 years in the future. Then we segue to Russell contemplating God and the afterlife, something that might well preoccupy a man approaching life’s end. (He died another 11 years later, it’s worth noting.) Finally, we arrive at Russell’s great anecdote where he explains how smoking saved his life on one ill-fated day in 1948. It’s quite the tale.
God and the Afterlife
How Smoking Saved Russell’s Life