It has been said that man is a rational animal.
(From “Introduction: On the Value of Scepticism”, Sceptical Essays [London: Allen & Unwin, 1928])
Yesterday was Bertrand Russell's birthday. In my opinion Russell was one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. His writings encompassed nearly every facet of philosophy and he approached philosophy with little regard for the ridicule he recieved in response to many of his views. In fact, he was imprisoned for his anti-war stance during WWI. As well as being a great philosopher Russell was a master mathematician, a Nobel Laureate in Literature (he never wrote fiction but the story is they wanted to recognize him for his contributions in academia as well as his extensive humanitarian efforts), and a great humanitarian. I attribute my own passion for philosophy, in great part, to reading Russell early on in my academic career.
Russell had a very clear, elegant, and understandable writing style and I encourage anyone interested to read his work (given the broad range of topics covered by his writings I can almost guarantee you will find something that suits your own personal interests). Agree with him or not, Russell's ideas are always well stated and always thought provoking.