I selected this video a long time ago. For many reasons, mostly my own life pushing me to concentrate on other things, I have left it on the backburner all this time. Yet, it is not something to be kept there. It is a thoroughly enjoyable conversation with a man that possessed one of the most robust minds of the late 19th and 20th centuries.
He says the chat, which he tried to title as if it was a lecture (I think out of an excess of formality) should be called “80 years of changing beliefs and unchanging hopes”. A lovely title.
Another little detail which I find fascinating, because it mostly talks indirectly about how WE live our lives, is the fact that he recalls that his grandfather -the man who actually raised him- was born in the early years of the French revolution and lived through the reign of Napoleon.
Today, we see these facts as ancient history, yet we are watching an interview with someone who acts, momentarily, as a visible connector between what many consider the distant past, and our present time. An era so dedicated to looking at the future. To reaffirm this feeling, he talks with such modernity that, beyond his old fashion tone, he seems so much in the present.
I also say that it is a call to arms for our present time, not only because of the importance of applying the experience learned from the lessons lived (the French Revolution, Napoleon, Bismarck, Hitler, and so on), but also because we seem to gloss over so many facts that have so much power to enlighten us, and by treating them as being so ancient, we buy into the notion that these social tests of history may no longer apply.
Yet, here he is, talking about them as a lived experience. And it is the simple fact that we see him talking about them, the one that puts everything squarely in the now and make us think about how important all these lessons are, as well as how sad it is that we, as a culture, do not rely a bit more in our collective experience as a civilization. The constant repetition of mistakes should have sounded the alert long ago, and yet, here we are…muddling through similar turmoil as before.
One more thing that I find close to my heart is the lovely connection that he makes between mathematics and philosophy. I studied both and I always felt that philosophy, and particularly logic, was the expression of mathematics in words. The nice thing -at least for me- was that words, did not necessarily need to add up in the same way as numbers do, so I always found them more relaxing!
But enough contemplation, let´s watch Lord Russell and enjoy seeing him “think live”.
Until next time
©2021 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera