20th-century Philosopher Quotes
It should be pointed out for our own guidance in the West that the continual signing of manifestoes and protests is one of the surest ways of undermining the efficacy and dignity of the intellectual. There exists a permanent blackmail that we all know and that we must have the often solitary courage to resist.
There is a pressing need to understand our technological destiny from principles more comprehensive than its own. This need lifts us up to ask about the great western experiment in a more than piecemeal way. It pushes us to try to understand its meaning in terms of some openness to the whole which is not simply sustenance for the further realisation of that experiment. But the exigency of our need for understanding must not blind us to the tightening circle in which we find ourselves. We are called to understand technological civilisation just when its very realisation has radically put in question the possibility that there could be any such understanding.
Russell's prose has been compared by T.S. Eliot to that of David Hume's. I would rank it higher, for it had more color, juice, and humor. But to be lucid, exciting and profound in the main body of one's work is a combination of virtues given to few philosophers. Bertrand Russell has achieved immortality by his philosophical writings.
The machine is a slave which serves to make other slaves. Such a domineering and enslaving drive may go together with the quest for human freedom. But it is difficult to liberate oneself by transferring slavery to other beings, men, animals, or machines; to rule over a population of machines subjecting the whole world means still to rule, and all rule implies acceptance of schemata of subjection.
I think there is at least one moral theory of respectable lineage and good independent credentials that can accommodate such fairly minimal intuitions about us and animals. This is the theory Hume offers us. I do not consider Hume a forerunner of utilitarianism, and therefore what I shall go on to say in defense of Hume is not intended as a defense of any version of utilitarianism. I see Hume to be much closer to Aristotle than to Mill, to be offering us a theory about human virtues, not a theory about utility maximization and the duties that might involve.