Monday, August 01, 2011

Love and Knowledge

Although both love and knowledge are necessary, love is in a sense more fundamental, since it will lead intelligent people to seek knowledge, in order to find out how to benefit those whom they love. But if people are not intelligent, they will be content to believe what they have been told and may do harm in spite of the most genuine benevolence.

Bertrand Russell, "The Good Life," in What I Believe (and reprinted in Why I Am Not a Christian). As he famously also says in the essay,"Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love, can produce a good life," and "The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge." A very traditional notion, that, although his accounts both of love and knowledge in the essay (which was written for popular consumption) have some dubious features, stemming from Russell's very limited and dubious conception of what is involved in ethics.

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