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History Corner






Bertrand Russell On Christian Love


Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

(New York: Simon and Schuster; 1945), p. 579.


 ‘If you follow Christ’s teaching, you will say [of persecutors] “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I have known Quakers who could have said this sincerely and profoundly, and who I admired because they could.

But before giving admiration one must be very sure that the misfortune is felt as deeply as it should be.

One cannot accept the attitude of some among the Stoics, who said, “What does it matter to me if my family suffer?

I can still be virtuous.” The Christian principle, “Love your enemies,” is good, but the Stoic principle, “Be indifferent to your friends,” is bad.


 And the Christian principle does not inculcate calm, but an ardent love even towards the worst of men.

There is nothing to be said against it except that it is too difficult for most of us to practise sincerely.’