Great Moments with Bertrand Russell: The Philosopher on Love, Smoking and The Afterlife

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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bertrand Rus­sell & Oth­er Big Thinkers in BBC Lec­ture Series (Free)

How Bertrand Rus­sell Turned The Bea­t­les Against the Viet­nam War

Bertrand Russell’s ABC of Rel­a­tiv­i­ty: The Clas­sic Intro­duc­tion to Ein­stein (Free Audio)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.