A LIBERAL DECALOGUE
By Bertrand Russell
Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new
decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The
Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set
forth as follows:
- Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
- Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the
evidence is sure to come to light.
- Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
- When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or
your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a
victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
- Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always
contrary authorities to be found.
- Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do
the opinions will suppress you.
- Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was
- Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent that in passive agreement, for,
if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement
than the latter.
- Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is
more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
- Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's
paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness."
"A Liberal Decalogue" is from The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, Vol. 3:
1944-1969, pp. 71-2.