Commandments from a Philosopher

By Bertrand Russell

from “The Best Answer to Fanaticism: Liberalism”, in The New York Times Magazine, 1951.

  • Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  • Do not think it worthwhile to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  • Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  • When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  • Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  • Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  • Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  • Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  • Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  • Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Must Reads…according to mr. A

So I was asked about philosophical “must reads”. I immediately wanted to jump to an answer, but I thought I would slow down. There are quite a few great philosophical works, but for high school students? Do I really want to recommend anything by Hegel or Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason? You should read those authors, but maybe you should get your feet wet with something a little lighter first. So I asked myself, ‘what were the philosophical works that got me interested in philosophy?’ Some ideas came to mind. I’ll add to this list as I go along.

  • Mortimer Adler: Ten Philosophical Mistakes
  • Mortimer Adler: Six Great Ideas
  • Bertrand Russell (Everything he ever wrote, but…) Problems of Philosophy
  • Voltaire: Candide
  • Voltaire: “Treatise on Tolerance”
  • John Stuart Mill: On Liberty
  • Henry David Thoreau: On Civil Disobedience
  • George Orwell: “Politics and the English Language”
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau: The Social Contract
  • Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land (Okay. This isn’t a philosophy book, it’s a science fiction, but it will blow your mind)



Free Texts

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Classics of Western Philosophy


Theme 1 Epistemology

Socratic Method: What is It and How Can You Use It

Socrates and the Socratic Method: I Know that I Know Nothing or the Socratic Paradox

Before you get into what you think is a discussion, you might want to find out if the other person understands what a discussion is.

The Toulmin Method of Argumentation Link 1: This is a standard argumentation form in most fields of the humanities.

The Toulmin Method of Argumentation Link 2:

A good summary of the Toulmin Method
Being contrary is not the same as arguing. This class is about arguing.
Avoid these Logical Fallacies: We all make them all the time.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies

Be aware of your cognitive biases and account for them in your thinking.

Know Thy Cognitive Biases

Fighting the Faking Fakers who Fake the News!

Washington Post Fact Checker




Media Bias Fact Check

Andoscia’s Rule: All sources are biased and/or limited in some way. It’s your job to figure out the biases and the limitations.

Question 1: ARe Human beings, by nature, warlike?

Question 2: What does it mean to be free?

For a full examination of this box see A Philosopher’s Take Blog

Do We Have Free Will?

Axiology or Value Theory


The Trolley Problem

Testing Moral Premises

The Veil of Ignorance is an example of a test for moral premises
The plotline of The Good Place was literally about testing morality. They drew a great deal from T. M. Scanlon What we Owe to Each Other

Free Philosophy Book: T. M. Scanlon What We Owe to Each Other


Who are you?

What Makes You You?