"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."—Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, was one of the foremost philosophers, mathematicians and logicians of the 20th century, famous for being the co-author (along with Alfred Whitehead) of the Principia Mathematica, one of history's most important and seminal works in mathematical logic.
Equally impressive is Russell's legacy as an essayist and social critic. He was imprisoned for his involvement in pacifist activities during World War I, and won the 1950 Nobel Prize in literature for "his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought".
Incidentally, the grandson of the Earl Russell, Prime Minister 1846-52 and 1865-66; the title Bertrand inherited was created for his grandfather. His grandfather, being a prominent liberal but a devout Presbyterian, would probably have had mixed feelings at worst about Bertrand's politics, which have been passed down to his descendants, the 4th-6th (current) Earls Russell--all have been left-wing Labour/disarmament advocates of some note, making them oddballs among the British aristocracy.
Bertrand Russell is associated with the following tropes:
- Blue Blood: The Russells were old British aristocracy, tracing themselves back at least to the time of Henry VIII, and are cousins of the Dukes of Bedford.
- Deadpan Snarker: "In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying."
- Raised by Grandparents: His father and mother died young, leaving him to be raised by his grandfather--the aforementioned Earl Russell (whom Bertrand remembered as "a kindly old man in a wheelchair")--and grandmother Frances, Countess Russell at the age of four. The Earl died two years later--leaving the title to Bertrand's older brother Frank--and his grandmother took charge of the boys. The Countess was substantially more conservative than his parents--but given that his parents were very radical for their time, this merely meant that the same dose of freethought would be allowed in secular affairs, while still being indoctrinated as Presbyterians.