Russell’s Mysticism

Suddenly the ground seemed to give way beneath me, and I found myself in quite another region… At the end of those five minutes, I had become a completely different person. For a time, a sort of mystic illumination possessed me… Having been an imperialist, I became during those five minutes a pro-Boer and a pacifist.

Bertrand Russell, 1901, aged 28

It’s amazing that a man who would say that we should follow reason, not tradition or religious experience, should have changed his beliefs so radically in a mystical experience.

Quite why pro-Boer means pacifist, given they fought to defend their land, I’m not sure – except it was an anti-(British)Imperialist position



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