Bertrand Russell’s Subtle Humor
The works of the philosopher, logician, and mathematician Bertrand Russell are always a pleasant reading. Be it because of the appeal of the topic, eloquent style, profound treatment… or his occasional kind jest.
But as to what they meant by continuity and discreteness, they preserved a discreet and continuous silence.
— Bertrand Russell, The Principles of Mathematics, 1903
The method of “postulating” what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil.
— Bertrand Russell, Introduction To Mathematical Philosophy, 1919
The definitions of continuity which we have been considering, namely, those of Dedekind and Cantor, do not correspond very closely to the vague idea which is associated with the word in the mind of the man in the street or the philosopher. They conceive continuity rather as absence of separateness, the sort of general obliteration of distinctions which characterises a thick fog. A fog gives an impression of vastness without definite multiplicity or division. It is this sort of thing that a metaphysician means by “continuity,” declaring it, very truly, to be characteristic of his mental life and of that of children and animals.
— Bertrand Russell, Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, 1919