Bertrand Russell on Education

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Education in a scientific society may, I think, be best conceived after the analogy of the education provided by the Jesuits. The Jesuits provided one sort of education for the boys who were to become ordinary men of the world, and another for those who were to become members of the Society of Jesus. In like manner, the scientific rulers will provide one kind of education for ordinary men and women, and another for those who are to become holders of scientific power. Ordinary men and women will be expected to be docile, industrious, punctual, thoughtless, and contented. Of these qualities probably contentment will be considered the most important. In order to produce it, all the researches of psycho-analysis, behaviourism, and biochemistry will be brought into play.
- Bertrand Russell, 1931

I think this quote is a great example of the mentality of the elites. Keep the masses content so they will be docile, industrious, punctual and thoughtless. Meanwhile, reserve hidden knowledge for the chosen few.

In another Russell writing he discusses what should happen if one from the lower ranks were to be of high intelligence. He concludes that should this situation occur, that person should be invited into the elite circles. If they refuse, they should be killed, for if they continue to live in the lower ranks they will inspire others and cause civil unrest (presumably through revolution or uprising).

I can't remember the book which this horrific sentiment came from, but I think it's the same one where Russell discusses the need for children to be taught that snow is black, if only for the reason that it proves their utter obedience and loyalty (agreeing with something even though they know it isn't true).

Remember, this is coming from the same guy who proposed "preventative warfare" measures, i.e. nuking civilian areas as a way to scare the world into peace. And some people think this guy is a genius! Go figure.

Posted by Jonah Dempcy at 3:42 PM  


Slanderous nonsense. The quote from Russell that you have quoted in no way signifies that he is in favour of what he is describing.

Since you cannot back up the rest of your tendentious claims with any references I suggest we all take you to be ignorant of Russell and foolish enough to speak of things you know nothing about.

Russell was a devout liberal, early advocate of open relationships and pacifist and fiercely critical of the authoritarian regimes that existed across the world in his long lifetime that behaved in the oppressive way you described him as condoning.

Go and read his works. Much of them are written particularly so that the layman can understand them. Something that demanded considerable skill given the complexity of the subjects they concern. Here are some titles for you: A History of Western Philosophy, A Free Man's Worship, The conquest of Happiness, In Praise of Idleness ... the goes on, I leave you to it.

The best argument for the kind of educational authoritarianism you seem to dislike are people like yourself who get in the way of people who really know what they are doing by insisting you are heard.

I hope you change that and become part of moving human intelligence forward. We are all capable.

May 19, 2009 at 6:12 PM  

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