Bertrand RussellBertrand Russell, [Bertrand Arthur William Russell] (1872-1970) Philosopher, educator

Bertrand Russell Quote

“The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being viewed dogmatically, they are held tentatively, with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”

Bertrand RussellBertrand Russell
~ Bertrand Russell

Unpopular Essays, 1950

Ratings and Comments

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Sounds like open mindedness to me. As opposed to last weeks quotes about conviction. I suggest that it is this tentativness, willingness to listen, learn and change is what bothers the convicted "conservative" person. Emerson said that the sign of a genius is the willingness to change his mind. Engineering is the art of repeatedly trying new ways to do something until you get it right. Edison was a genius because he kept accepting new evidence and discarding old dogma.

jim k, austin

Liberals never change their views no matter how much evidence to the contrary.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

Well said, reads also like a description of a scientist... JimK on the other hand confuses an unwillingness to turn one's back on human kindness and concern for a dogma of how to best help people... how dogmatic.

  • Reply
RobertSRQ    6/16/08

Perfect - the essence of a liberal attitude. Unfortunately it's the attitude of indifference and theocratic dogma that leads to hate and intransigence.

E Archer, NYC

This is more a definition of 'classical liberalism' as opposed to the 'progressive socialism' that 'liberal' implies today. I believe we should be liberal with what we expect from others and open minded about different points of view. I also believe there are some things that are absolute and that simply changing one's outlook does not change the truth. I am open minded as to what is true but unwilling to commit to pleasant delusions. When a liberal's good idea is forced upon someone else against their will, it is no longer liberalism -- it is authoritarianism.

Paul, Union, WA

Sounds good, but few live it out. Most will defend their positions to the death because it often is to give up their income and power, all they have lived for and believed for so long, to admit they are wrong. Example: many religious leaders, and the entire evolutionist academia establishment, who will not allow any challenge or question to their own orthodoxy (see Ben Stein's "Expelled"). This, on top of all the politico's who are entrenched in their own nonsensical beliefs and acts, many of whom quietly admit the folly. I would reply to Russell he is dreaming to think liberals are any different than conservatives or anyone else human in this matter.

Dave Wilbur, St. Louis

Two of the world's greatest problems: The impossibility of anyone searching the truth on any subject when they believe that they already have it and the great zeal with which deceived people defend their deception. The most repeated lie is that government spends money. They cannot get money frtom you when all that you have in banks is numbers and they have no need for money when all of us will risk or even lose our lives for more numbers.

Ken, Allyn, WA

By this definition it would seem that Al "the science is settled" Gore is not a liberal nor are any of the global warmingistas. They are all about dogma. Like Archer said, this is a good definition of CLASSICAL liberalism, not what passes for liberalism today.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Ken the problem is that the global warming naysayers are simply reactionary Johnny come latelys who have to have soemthing to say for political reasons. Their approach is purely political not scientific. Some call it a fraud. What does anyone have to gain in such a fraud. You turn the new knowledge of global warming on its head and say that it is "old dogma" so that reactionary status quo (the old way folks) folks can say that they have "new" knowledge. Everyone wants to be the liberal open minded inquisitive person. The problem is sorting out the liars and deceivers.

E Archer, NYC

Waffler, you are speaking about yourself. You are neither a scientist nor do I believe you even know the data used to prove or disprove man-made global warming. Yet you try to sound like you are an expert. The nay-sayers say that the data does not prove global warming is caused by man nor are they confident about government's ability to control the weather -- or even if they should have such power. The global warming alarmists say the debate is over (talk about politics). The fact is that the Earth's temperature has dropped for the last 6 years in a row -- how does that fit into the equation, hmm? Don't ignore the fact that the politicos that are promoting CO2 taxes will be reaping billions in new funds -- and as is typical with government, the contracts will go to good ol' boys with lots of skimming along the way. Also, we get the people to surrender more of their rights (to breathe, for one) to an almighty authority. Take a break from dogma, and do some REAL research. A healthy skepticism of government propaganda is a good thing.

Ken, Milford Pa

The wise man will doubt himself and change his mind often, for he knows his limitations. The fool will not doubt himself, and will never change his mind, for in his heart he knows all things. The only thing he is unaware of, is his own ignorance. Ancient book of wisdom. (Unto Thee I Grant) Rosicrucian Archives. Author believed to be Akhnaton, Egyptian Pharaoh

warren, olathe

Sounds like a conservative mindset. Definitely not today’s liberal mindset. The left is certainly close minded.

warren, olathe

Waffler you make yourself out an idiot every time you start on your global warming propaganda crap. A naysayer is simply some one with an open mind that can think for himself with out being sucked in to every popular alarmist bit of propaganda that comes along.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Waffler, I have been a professional scientist for more than twenty years. I have degrees in chemistry and geology and I know how data ought to be treated. I also know how data can be and are manipulated to "prove" any hypothesis one wants simply by cherry picking. Data that has been used to support anthropogenic global warming has been tortuously manipulated to fit the theory, while data that is contrary has been suppressed. Those are apparent to anyone willing to actually read the data and treat it with objectivity as any honest scientist should.

Me Again
  • Reply
    Me Again    6/18/08

    Our government leaders would be wise to heed these words. Flexibility Is a characteristic of our Constitution. Our Founding Fathers saw to that but our present leaders seem to be out of touch with the implications and wisdom of the documents that founded our nation. THAT is Truly Sad and Criminal.

    warren, olathe

    Anyone that looks at the data, or watches Al's movie should gather that man-made global warming is a hoax with out any need for a degree.

    vedapushpa, Bengaluru India

    This indeed is the qualifying factor of any 'good' science, art or philosophy.


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