I would say not very much has changed, however it is very clear that women had a certain ‘place’ in society at the time e.g. if they got married they were expected to leave work and bear children. Bertrand is rather forward thinking for the time as he expresses the view that he doesn’t think that is at all necessary. He states that a child of nine months can very easily be passed on to someone that specializes in child care allowing the mother to pursue her career and other hobbies.
I will probably write a few blogs this year related to this book but in advance of that below are a few of my favorite Bertrand thoughts, I paraphrase in most cases:
- Animals are happy provided they are healthy and have enough to eat and human beings Russell feels ought to be but generally are not. You can’t argue with that.
- With reference to material wellbeing Bertrand Russell states: “…but what is the use of making everybody rich if the rich themselves are miserable?”
- I personally have always felt a certain pity for people that are not only born into excessive wealth but have the unfortunate situation of having parents that give them everything that they ask such that they never have to strive to achieve anything themselves. On this, Mr Russell states that
If something comes so easily the pleasure, I find, is less intense and fleets by quite rapidly. “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.” It gives you something to work towards, it gives you a reason to wake up in the morning.
Please note that the kindle versions below are a "modern-day interpretation". The actual book is not currently available on the kindle store.
- “A businessman who has been ruined is better off so far as material comforts are concerned than a man who has never been rich enough to have the chance of being ruined.”
That said, this statement can be applied quite effectively to less developed countries where credit does remain scarce and hard to come by.
- Mr Russell and I are also on the same page in terms of our reasons for desiring wealth: “For my part, the thing that I would wish to obtain from money would be leisure with security. But what the typical modern man desires to get with it is more money, with a view to ostentation, splendor, and the outshining of those who have hither to been his equals.” Word, word and word! I dare someone to argue against this point.
The only annoying thing about this book is that it is only available as a paper copy and as all my friends will know, I read all my books on my phone nowadays. It’s much more convenient because it’s portable, it’s quick and easy to find definitions or to highlight interesting words and phrases. In summary: buy.
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