Life Without Fear. Bertrand Russell Essay. Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.


Life Without Fear. Bertrand Russell. Essay. Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 8th Oct 2012.  Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Essays

Fear is an ancient feeling of human beings, the right application of which saved mankind from taking too many risks and helped facilitate the continued existence of mankind. Actually fear is the essential pre-requisite to courage. But in the modern day world which is not as danger-prone as the ancient primitive world had been, man fears to even release his breath. World famous philosopher Bertrand Russell analyzes the operation of fear.

Fear can be avoided through the right kind of education.

Bertrand Russell was a British philosopher who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. Principia Mathematica, History Of Western Philosophy, and Marriage And Morals are a few of his famous writings. ‘Life Without Fear’ is an extract from his book ‘New Hopes For A Changing World.’ He is discussing how human life is ruled by fear and how fear can be got rid of. He says, fear prevails over man’s dealings with nature, with other men and with himself. Russell is of the opinion that fear can be avoided in human life through the right kind of education.

Fear is entirely different from the rational apprehension of danger.

Fear of danger, fear of no food, fear of death, fear of destitution and fear of other human beings are natural to all men. Fear is a natural basic reaction which is common to all men and animals. But, Russell says, it has no ground. Fear is a kind of foolishness which makes man unwise in his dealings with nature, with other men and with his self. Fear has no rational basis. Fear and the feeling of danger are different. Feeling of danger is logical when a danger really exists. It enables man to think out what kind of action can be taken against the possible danger. Therefore, feeling of danger is desirable. But unreasonable fear prevents people from admitting danger and taking wise precaution against it. A pre-knowledge of danger enables man to adopt different kinds of treatment for different kinds of dangers.

The limitations imposed by nature on man causing fear also can be bypassed.

Nature imposes certain limitations on man which also cause fear. Short supply of food and raw materials and the unavoidable death are fearsome limitations imposed on man by nature. Even Arch Bishops someday thought that drought and excessive rain could be prayed against. People were urged to gather to pray against Plague which only helped to spread the disease. But the days of superstitions are gone. The limitations imposed by nature on man also can be bypassed which are what history is made with. Mankind did not end with recurring floods or the ice age. It continued its march onward, conquering natural obstacles on the way. Discovery of fire and fur and fat helped harness the ice ages. Inventing row-boats helped survive floods. Even natural limitations can be effectively dealt with by science. By more labour, more food can be produced. By better methods, the use of raw materials can be economized. By wise living, death can be postponed. The scientific attitude has the two-fold merit of helping not only understanding the evil but also providing the intelligence to eradicate it.

A man’s fear of other human beings is logical and reasonable.

Fear of other human beings is reasonable and somewhat logical. Aggressiveness has only increased in this world. We all fear, someone will do things harmful to us. We bark at our neighbour for fear that he will attack us, and he barks at us back for the same reason. In such situations, a display of friendliness will do wonders and oil the wheels of life to make them run smoothly.

‘Saying thank you here and there
Saves a lot of strife,
Saying thank you as you go on
Oils the wheels of life.’

There, non-resistance diminishes the aggressive impulses in the other. But in some other circumstances it would be showing courage that would be wiser for the occasion. We cannot flee from facing real dangers. When they come one after another, we conquer them one after the other.

[First prepared in 2004]

Dear Reader,
If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:

To read about the life and people of Kerala, the author’s native land, visit KERALA COMMENTARY here.

For more articles of this kind, visit SAHYADRI BOOKS here or BLOOM BOOKS, TRIVANDRUM.


Basic Reactions, Bertrand Russell, Bloom Books Trivandrum, British Philosophers, Curing Aggressiveness, Fear Of Man, Fear Of Nature, Feeling Of Danger, Life Without Fear, Limitations Of Man, Merits Of Scientific Attitude, Oiling The Wheels Of Life, P S Remesh Chandran, Reasonable Fears, Reintroduced Literature, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, The Forewarning Of Fear, The Rule Of Fear

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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. 

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rama devi nina
1st Jan 2013 (#)

Interesting exploration of fear …

8th Jan 2013 (#)

Fear not, dear Rama Devi Nina,
Fear isn’t going any where,
It is one ancient primitive bird
Flitting across man’s mortal sky.

Knowledge And Wisdom. Bertrand Russell Essay. Reintroduced By P.S.Remesh Chandran. Sahyadri Books, Trivandrum.


Knowledge And Wisdom. Bertrand Russell Essay. Reintroduced By P. S. Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 10th Feb 2012.  Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays


Bertrand Russell was a British philosopher who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. Roads To Freedom, Principia Mathematica, Marriage And Morals, The Conquest Of Happiness, etc, are a few of his famous writings. Here he distinguishes between and defines knowledge and wisdom. Life experiences of a person process his knowledge into wisdom. Knowledge, comprehensive vision, pursuit of purpose, emancipation or freedom and impartiality in opinions and views are what constitute wisdom.

Wisdom evolves from comprehensive vision and sense of proportion. Knowledge may sometimes lead to unwisdom.

Knowledge and wisdom are different things. Wisdom does not come immediately with knowledge. As Tennyson observed, ‘Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers.’ Knowledge may sometimes even lead to unwisdom to illustrate which Russell cites two excellent examples. When man attained enough knowledge to lower the death rate among infants, population increased, food supplies became short and standard of living declined. Thus lowering the death rate of children, in his opinion, was a mistake on the part of medical specialists. Military specialists also have landed in many such follies. When man invented the technique of splitting atom, everyone began to think that mountains could now be moved and the course of rivers and that of history could be changed. But instead of using this new gained knowledge for useful and beneficial purposes, man began to manufacture nuclear weapons. Even after witnessing the horrible mass genocides caused by them, even the advanced as well as the barbarian countries of the world still go on manufacturing them. One day they will wipe out the human race from the face of the earth. Wisdom does not come with knowledge. These are the evil effects of specialization in singular subjects. It is from a comprehensive vision and sense of proportion that wisdom evolves.

It is a distorted history that tells nothing about Mao’s deflowering dozens of girls each week and termination of revolutionaries in Lenin’s time.

A proper knowledge of human history also is needed to gain wisdom. Some history writings we see are distorted ones, fabricated with a view to inculcate some particular feelings or passions among people. People who wrote about Lenin were totally blind to the cruel political assassinations of his times, which gave rise to the ‘theory of revolutions eating out its own children’ evidenced by the death of Trotsky. Worshippers of Mao Tse Tung remained silent about the innocent peasant girls the chairman deflowered each week, as was revealed by the repentant personal physician. Had these acts also were recorded accurately by his historians along with the bold and unending marches of this revolutionary through the incessant rains, we sometimes may have even respected the man, out of the knowledge that he was not a god but only a man. It should be noted here that the greatest sins committed by Gandhi came to the world’s attention not by his opponents mentioning them but from his own autobiography which was rightly titled My Experiments With Truth. Gandhi never hesitated to tell the story of his stealing the gold bangle of his house servant to purchase liquor in his boyhood years. We only respect this people’s leader for the frankness and truthfulness with which he recorded his own follies. That is his greatness and India’s example. That is how and why it came to be written in India’s official seal ‘Truth Alone Will Triumph’ when India became independent. Great men were always truthful in recording their follies. Along with English economics and French socialism, German philosophy served as one of the three origins of Marxism. Hegel was the most followed in the field of German philosophy. Hegel wrote history to prove that the Germans were a master race from the time memorable. Such distorted recordings of history lead to unwisdom and destruction.

To set apart two quarrelling friends would be an act of wisdom. Fill your private life with such small acts of wisdom.

Wisdom has a key role to play in the private life of a man. Man except on rare occasions fails to see his future in advance. He seldom knows what the future has in store for him. He has to live beneficial to the world. Since mankind is a collective reality, animosity among its members cannot help it achieve the benefits of living. By practicing universal brotherhood alone can man gain wisdom and live beneficial to the world and its inhabitants. So, to set apart two quarrelling friends would be an act of wisdom. ‘If you can do this, you will have instilled some fragment of wisdom’, writes Russell. Our private life should be filled with such little acts of wisdom. But millions of men, instead of going after this well defined objective in their lives, have searched for the philosophers’ stone and wasted their lives. No doubt, if they could have found them they would have conferred great benefits on mankind, but it was their lives that were wasted. Russell warns us that we should not waste our lives on such impossible philosophical feats; we should instead fill it with small acts of wisdom. As we grow older we will gain more impartiality. Our horizon will widen. Our thoughts and feelings will become less personal and more detached from our own physical state. It is that stage in human life, which Shakespeare in his poem The Seven Stages Of Man’s Life described as the stage in which man begins to think and act like a judge. Thus we gradually become freed of all selfish motives but begin to think more for the society than for ourselves. According to Russell, this emancipation or freedom from selfishness is the essence of wisdom.

Sunday schools cannot supply wisdom. They can only supplement wisdom if we already have some.

Wisdom can be taught like any other virtue. Even though we are born unwise which we cannot help, we can cultivate wisdom. Sunday schools are not supposed to supply wisdom; they can only supplement wisdom if we already have some. They can only make wise men wiser. Thus, moral instruction and the teaching of wisdom differ much. Wisdom should be planted and nursed in one’s own mind. We are living in a war-stricken world which needs wisdom as it never has needed before. Therefore wisdom should be taught by any means. We cannot al be good Samaritans to our neighbours, but we can certainly reduce our hatred to others. It should be noted here that even nations are now unable to reduce their hatred to other nations. The Russian communists find they are unable to remain good Samaritans to the American anti-communists. But in the midst of all this mayhem and national hatred, a single man can remain wise when the whole world goes unwise.

It is the music lovers and film goers that keep the nations going and standing, not short-living intolerant governments.

So, ‘Hate Hatred’ should be our slogan. It is indecent for a government to show hatred to other nations or to its people because this world and the humanity in it is built up based on the principles and forces of harmony. But the short-sighted puny little minds that are the governments in many countries cannot understand this as they are nowhere near the much dreamt about concept of Plato’s Philosopher Kings. In many sister nations, even if the people like each other in their hearts, their governments cultivate animosity and hatred. We can point out dozens of modern day examples. The governments of India and Pakistan shout at each other and conduct war rehearsals but the Indian music lovers worship Habib Wali Muhammed, Mirza Ghalib, Fareeda Khanum, Gul Bahar Bano, Iqbal Bano, Munni Begum, Roshan Ara Begum and Salman Alvi who are the luminaries among the Pakistani Ghazal singers, many of them the stars of the undivided India. And Indian film stars like Devanand, Sunil Dutt, Narghese, Raj Kapoor and Amitab Batchan are the favourites of Pakistani film goers. Both governments view these admirers and fans suspiciously, but in the long run, it is not these short-living governments but these admirers and fans of music, literature and films who keep these nations going and standing. That is the importance and relevance of a single man’s stand in the midst of national lunacy. It is when such singular wisdom happened to fuse uniquely with vigour of action that the world was saved several times from near peril.

Powerful personalities in history who combined vigour of action and wisdom and saved the world.

In history we see many examples of active vigour in fusion with wisdom, forming powerful personalities, saving the world. We see Moses in The Bible, professing the Ten Commandments before a people too seduced to be saved. Queen Elizabeth the First in England, King Henry the Fourth in France and Abraham Lincoln in America were very impressive personalities who fused vigour with wisdom and fought the evil. The world has had the luck to have many such personalities in among her people. Abraham Lincoln even conducted a civil war without ever departing from wisdom. It was his vigour of action and wisdom which helped him abolish slavery and prevent the Northern and the Southern states of America from separating in that civil war.

[Originally Prepared in 1995]

Dear Reader,
If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:

To read about the life and people of Kerala, the author’s native land, visit KERALA COMMENTARY here.

For more articles of this kind, visit SAHYADRI BOOKS here or BLOOM BOOKS, TRIVANDRUM.


Bertrand Russell, Boyhood Days Of Gandhi, British Philosophers, British Writers, Distorted History, English Essays, Falsified History, Frankness Of Leaders, Knowledge, Knowledge And Wisdom, P S Remesh Chandran, People Of India And Pakistan, Philosophical Writings, Political Killings In Lenins Time, Reintroduced Literature, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, The Death Of Trotsky, Threat Of Nuclear Weapons, Truth Alone Will Triumph, Truthfulness Of World Leaders, Virtues And Vices Of Mao, Wisdom

Meet the author

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Ranges.

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Bernard Shaw’s Inspiration His Own Life. Based on Bertrand Russell. Appreciation Study by P S Remesh Chandran.


Bernard Shaw’s Inspiration His Own Life. Based on Bertrand Russell. Appreciation Study by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 16th May 2011.  Short URL 

Posted in Wikinut  Essays


To know what inspired George Bernard Shaw, the strange and out of the way things in his life need only be just gone through. It is clear that it was his own life that inspired him. It is very interesting to watch the tiny ship of his life navigating the tumultuous seas. Bertrand Russell’s observations on Shaw are the base for this article which is aimed at only elucidating his observations.

Origin of the fine diction and musical rhythm in Shaw’s plays.

A portrait of George Bernard Shaw.

Finding her husband unable to provide for the family, his mother, with her children moved permanently to London. There she supported her family by giving music lessons and singing at concerts. She had a good singing voice and remarkable skills in music. Shaw was schooled in London and there he grew up as an extraordinarily independent intellectual. He gained his love of music from his mother and her friends, which secured for him his first job as a musical critic in a London evening newspaper. Then he became a critic of plays, the essays written during which period were of very high quality and are still being read and praised. A few years later when he began writing plays, his love of music made his sentences rhythmically easy and pleasant to speak and hear. Even the very long speeches in plays like Man and Superman hold our attention due to their musical rhythm and fine diction.

Good laws passed by a few do not make a good society but good people do make good societies.

Shaw’s Corner. He lived here from 1906 to 1950.

Henry George, the author of Progress and Poverty was a very influential American economist who argued that national revenue should be raised by a single tax on land revenues, instead of levying quite a number of taxes on a variety of things. One day Shaw happened to listen to his lecture in a London city hall and joined at once his Fabian Society. Fabians condemned the blood-thirsty revolutions envisioned by the communists and believed that socialism could be achieved only through slow, steady and gradual changes in the social set up. The Fabian Society was destined to powerfully influence the British society and politics during the next forty or fifty years. In the Fabian Society, Shaw came to be acquainted with Mrs. Annie Besant, an ardent supporter of the Indian Independence Movement. As a socialist, Shaw in the beginning believed that good laws could improve and increase human happiness. But as he grew older, he trusted less and less in the power of the Parliament. Good laws passed by a few do not necessarily make a good society, but good people certainly will make good laws. Good men and women are the first thing required in the making of a Good Society.

Equal admiration for St. Joan of Orleans and St. Joseph of Moscow.

A colour poster for Shaw’s play.

His contemporaries had many opportunities to observe Shaw as a controversialist and as a man of Victorian Vanity. According to them, Shaw had three phases in his life. First he was a musical critic, Fabian socialist and novelist. Then world saw him as a writer of comedies in which he intended to lead the world to seriousness through wits. During the third and last phase he appeared as a prophet, demanding equal admiration for ‘St. Joan ofOrleansand St. Joseph of Moscow’. By that time he had lost all distinction between a kind Christian and a cruel communist, which many of his contemporaries disliked.

Acerbity and sharpness, stamps of the personality of Shaw.

Inside Shaw’s movable hut.

Shaw led British Socialism away from Marx. Recent happenings in the Soviet Union prove that he was correct. He attacked the Victorian vanity and humbug with his own vanity and sharp wits. ‘Social Democrats considered him as an incarnation of Satan. He fanned the flames whenever there was a dispute’. In his verbal attacks he was merciless. In a lunch party given in honour of the French philosopher Bergson, he attacked the very theories of Bergson, saying that, “Oh, my dear fellow, I understand your philosophy much better than you do!” When the Czechoslovakian President Masaryk visited London, he asked to see Shaw out of respect for the man. Shaw went to him straight and lectured that the Czechoslovakian foreign policy was very wrong. And without waiting for an answer he stormed out of the dinner venue! He could not hide his vanity and hatred like the true Victorians. He found the effort of hiding vanity wearisome and gave it up when he first burst upon the world. Acerbity and sharpness were his stamps of personality.

More Christian than the Christ.

A View of Bernard Shaw’s Study.

Shaw believed that churches have strayed far from the teachings of Christ. But many things in his character had the force of a religion. Reading the works of the famous English poet Shelley made him think that ‘animals are our fellow creatures, not to be slain for human food’. At twenty five he became a vegetarian. He had a strong sense of the sacredness of animal and human life. He had the purity of life and ate no flesh, drank no alcohol and smoked no tobacco. He was kind and generous to his fellows. He insisted that we have to leave the world a better place than we found it, and that the torch of life should be passed on to the future generations burning more brightly. In this sense he was more a Christian than the Christ.

The universal trio who were anti-scientific thinkers and strict vegetarians.

A scene from Doctor’s Dilemma acted on stage.

Like Gandhi, Shaw may be said to have been an anti scientific thinker. Like Count Leo Tolstoy, he believed that science can give no real account of Man. It is strange and universally known that this threesome remained vegetarians, hostile to vivisection, operation and modern medicine. Samuel Butler, the famous advocate of Creative Evolution was considered by Shaw as a sage. His words were gospels to him. Even Butler’s jokes were taken seriously by Shaw. Both cruelly opposed Darwin. In personal life Shaw was a perfect man who opposed tyranny, blood-shed and cruelty. But as a religious revolutionary he was fierce and abominable. An admirable, dual personality!

A solicitous wife, the luck of all unruly thinkers.

Pygmalion serialized in November 1914.

Shaw derived his great strength from vegetables. He was lucky in getting a very solicitous wife. We have the example of Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates before us who poured a pot of water over the useless and heated head of her husband, always arguing and finding nothing for the family! She was very kind and attentive to him, followed him like a shadow anxious about his health and prepared hearty vegetarian meals for him. Even she was not spared! The household and the neighborhood resounded with his sharp and witty comments about her ancestors.

The more he lived, the more was he inspired by his own life.

Malvern Theatres where Shaw’s many plays staged.

Politics and journalism occupied Shaw till he was forty two. But soon he learned that politics was poly-tricks and journalism was literature in a hurry. Therefore he gave them up and took to creative literature. His earlier works were all focused on genuine social evils such as prostitution, war and religious intolerance and revenge, which touched the lives of a very large number of people. Bernard Shaw did in English what Henrik Ibsen had been doing in the Norwegian. The rich landlords of Victorian vanity considered him as an enemy. The communists considered him as an incarnation of Satan. But the poor began to consider him as a leader and champion of new ways of thought and intellectual freedom. He regarded Ruling as the highest art of all, and in his eyes, most political leaders were blunderers, insufficiently educated in this art. His works were enjoyable to the spectator as well as to the reader. He stands second only to Shakespeare among the English playwrights. Yes, the more he lived, the more was he inspired by his life.

Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons


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Appreciations, Bertrand Russell, British Essayists And Journalists, British Writers, English Essays, English Literature, English Playwrights, Essays, George Bernard Shaw, Irish Literature, Irish Writers, Life Of Shaw, P S Remesh Chandran, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Studies

Meet the author

Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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rama devi nina
16th May 2011 (#)

What an informative and interesting post with excellent pictures, too. Well researched. Thanks for sharing.

16th May 2011 (#)

Wonderful appreciation study by PSRemeshChandra.

I enjoyed reading Pygmalion in 1985 but I didn’t get any chance to watch it on stage or screen.

16th May 2011 (#)

Dear Rama Devi Nina, Rathnashikamani,
I once had to teach Russell in a B.A. class when I noticed that Russell’s observations on Shaw were from a very close and intimate quarters, being one of his schoolmates I assume, but his presentation of those observations were not of a style that tempt readers to read more and more about Shaw. Therefore I decided then and there to simplify, update and develop his oration, which I gave as a lecture. I consider Shaw second only to Shakespeare, that too, only in conceiving elaborate themes and schemes. It is a pleasure to know that such literary adepts like you enjoyed the work. I will take more care in the future. Thank you both.

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