Russell, Bertrand Arthur William (1872–1970) By Davis, Michael T.
Bertrand Russell, FRS, OM, and third earl Russell, was a mathematician, philosopher, social critic, political activist, writer, and Nobel laureate in literature. Russell was born into an aristocratic family. He was elected to the exclusive Cambridge society known as the Apostles and developed a complicated friendship with fellow Apostle G. E. Moore (1873–1958). This connection with the society, as well as Russell’s intense relationship with Lady Ottoline Morrell, would later link him to the Bloomsbury Group. Together with Alfred North Whitehead, Russell co-authored the Principia Mathematica (1910, 1912, 1913), an attempt to reduce the whole of mathematics to a logical system. While it failed to accomplish this, it stimulated the development of British analytical philosophy, which took inspiration from and in turn influenced the Vienna Circle of logicians and philosophers. Russell himself would not always be sympathetic to developments in later analytic philosophy, and developed a difficult but productive relationship with Wittgenstein in particular. Though not wholly a pacifist, Russell objected to World War I, emerging as a public intellectual engaged in moral, social, and political issues. Imprisoned for his opposition to the war, Russell later dedicated much time to writing popular philosophical and scientific books. In 1950 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.