ABC of Relativity by Bertrand Russell

By Bertrand Russell

First released in 1925, Bertrand Russell’s ABC of Relativity was once thought of a masterwork of its time, contributing considerably to the mass popularisation of technological know-how. Authoritative and available, it offers a extraordinary introductory consultant to Einstein’s concept of Relativity for a common readership. probably the most definitive reference courses of its type, and written through one of many 20th century’s so much influential philosophers, ABC of Relativity remains to be as proper at the present time because it used to be on first publication.

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It 36 / History and Morality begins, rather, with the gradual recognition that life on earth is intimately connected to the history of the world itself, and thus needs to be understood historically. But it also requires fundamentally rethinking the previously heretical idea that knowledge, especially non-biblical knowledge, is good. The compromise effected (principally in England) by theorizing geology and biology, while simultaneously maintaining that this was not a threat to the established social and moral order, came to be known as natural theology.

That is not to say that Galileo should not have been persecuted for his radical ideas, and Bonnet should have been, but rather that the significant issue concerns institutions with the authority and power to persecute, not rightness and wrongness as judged in hindsight. Hindsight, after all, is an optical illusion. Even in ancient times they knew that histories differed according to the viewpoint and 34 / History and Morality interests of the writer. To the victors, a wartime triumph tends to seem inevitable, the result of superior forces, superior cunning, or superior natures.

Confronted with the task of trying to convince European readers that they were genealogically connected to apes, in the absence of a fossil record documenting that transition, the earliest Darwinians—most notably Ernst Haeckel—advanced an ingenious argument. The evidence of connection to the apes would come only partially from paleontologists of the future; for the present, that connection was established by the non-European races. Haeckel illustrated the point with a series of grotesque facial caricatures.

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