Essential teachings, brilliant musings, and provocative theories from three of history’s greatest thinkers.
The Road to Inner Freedom: The seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza views the ability to experience rational love of God as the key to mastering the contradictory and violent human emotions.
The Art of Philosophizing: These groundbreaking essays by Bertrand Russell deal with “the art of reckoning” in the fields of mathematics, logic, and philosophy. With great clarity and simple exposition, Russell gets to the core of philosophical inquiry and analysis.
Pilgrimage to Humanity: Albert Schweitzer discusses his philosophy of culture, the course of his life, his ministry to human needs in Africa, the idea of reverence for life, the ideal of world peace, the significance of liberal Christianity, and the lives, world-views, and contributions of Johann Goethe, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Jesus of Nazareth.
About the author
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social reformer, and pacifist. Although he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born in Wales, where he also died. Russell led the British “revolt against Idealism” in the early twentieth century and is one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his protégé Wittgenstein and his elder Frege. He co-authored, with A. N. Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, an attempt to ground mathematics on logic. His philosophical essay “On Denoting” has been considered a “paradigm of philosophy.” Both works have had a considerable influence on logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics and analytic philosophy. He was a prominent anti-war activist, championing free trade between nations and anti-imperialism. Russell was imprisoned for his pacifist activism during World War I, campaigned against Adolf Hitler, for nuclear disarmament. He criticized Soviet totalitarianism and the United States of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1950, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.”
Albert Schweitzer, OM (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was a German—and later French—theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary in Africa, also known for his interpretive life of Jesus. He was born in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire. He considered himself French and wrote in French. Schweitzer, a Lutheran, challenged both the secular view of Jesus as depicted by historical-critical methodology current at his time in certain academic circles, as well as the traditional Christian view.
He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life”, expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa). As a music scholar and organist, he studied the music of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach and influenced the Organ reform movement (Orgelbewegung).
Baruch or Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Born Benedito de Espinosa; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677, in Amsterdam, the son of Portuguese Jewish refugees who had fled from the persecution of the Spanish Inquisition. Although reared in the Jewish community, he rebelled against its religious views and practices, and at the age of 24 was formally excommunicated from the Portuguese-Spanish Synagogue of Amsterdam. He was thus effectively cast out of the Jewish world and joined a group of nonconfessional Christians (although he never became a Christian), the Collegiants, who professed no creeds or practices but shared a spiritual brotherhood. He was also involved with the Quaker mission in Amsterdam. Spinoza eventually settled in The Hague, where he lived quietly, studying philosophy, science, and theology, discussing his ideas with a small circle of independent thinkers, and earning his living as a lens grinder. He corresponded with some of the leading philosophers and scientists of his time and was visited by Leibniz and many others. He is said to have refused offers to teach at Heidelberg or to be court philosopher for the Prince of Conde. During his lifetime he published only two works, The Principles of Descartes’ Philosophy (1666) and the Theological Political Tractatus (1670). In the first his own theory began to emerge as the consistent consequence of that of Descartes. In the second, he gave his reasons for rejecting the claims of religious knowledge and elaborated his theory of the independence of the state from all religious factions. It was only after his death (probably caused by consumption resulting from glass dust), that his major work, the Ethics, appeared in his Opera Posthuma. This work, in which he opposed Descartes’ mind-body dualism, presented the full metaphysical basis of his pantheistic view. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism. Spinoza’s influence on the Enlightenment, on the Romantic Age, and on modern secularism has been of extreme importance. Dr. Dagobert D. Runes, the founder of the Philosophical Library, and Albert Einstein were not only close friends and colleagues; they both regarded Spinoza as the greatest of modern philosophers.
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