Eminent Men I have Known Summary & Analysis: Bertrand Russell

Read below our complete notes on the essay “Eminent Men I have Known” by Bertrand Russell.

 Eminent Men I have Known Summary:

Bertrand Russell is a well-known British philosopher and a symbolic character in the analytic movement in Anglo-American philosophy. He is also known as a logician and social reformer, and a Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1950. He wrote numerous books and huge numbers of articles. His subject matters include social, political and moral issues. He is preeminently known as a promoter of peace.

Eminent Men I have known, by Bertrand Russell, is the 1st person narrative essay in which the writer penned the imprints that he made of certain eminent men with whom he comes into interaction. Among the eminent men comprises poets, philosophers, scientists, and politician.  This is essay is extracted from the Bertrand book of unpopular essays.

The poet starts the essay by pointing out his interaction with Queen Victoria at the age of two. Russell claims that he doesn’t remember the meeting though what he heard from his elders is only that he was quite respectable to her. Russell points out various eminent men like poets, philosophers etc. stepwise in preceding paragraphs.

  • Poets

Among the poets, Russell mentions Robert Browning first. Russell discovers him to be pleasing and a kind gentleman but never commanding reverence. To him, browning is found very much at tea-parties and lacks divine fire that is usually found in poets. On the other hand, Tennyson, to him, always act as a poet. Russell, for Tennyson, established an outlook of scorn.

He also met Ernest toiler. For Russell, the capacity of intense impersonal suffering makes him unforgettable. Rupert Brooke hit Russell by way of “beautiful and vital”, however, the entire impression remained blemished by a touch of Byronic hypocrisy in the man.

  • Philosophers:

Among the philosophers, Russell found William James as the most impressive personality. To Russell, James is completely at liberty from any kind of consciousness of being a great man. Similarly, he mentions his ethics teacher Henry Sidgwick as the man having personality having a quality of intellectual honesty.

  • Scientists:

Among the scientists, the most eminent man Russell mentions is Einstein. He called him to be a man of intellect in a combination of childlike simplicity. By simplicity, he means the habit of thinking impersonally without any worldly advantage.

  • Politicians:

Among politicians, Russell is acquainted with seven Prime Ministers. Russell mentions Mr. Gladstone as the most unforgettable figure. Moving ahead he points out Lenin, The Russian PM as the only other man I public life as much as impressive as Mr. Gladstone. To Russell, Gladstone remained an epithet of Victorianism, while Lenin as an epithet of Marxian formulas. He draws the comparison between both the leaders. Lenin, to him, is a kind of cruel while Gladstone was not; likewise, Lenin has no admiration for Traditions, and for Gladstone, Traditions have a greats deal. Lenin deliberated all means appropriate for acquiring the success of his party, however for Gladstone politics is a game with certain rules that must be perceived. To Russell, both leaders derived their peculiar force from a secure principle of their own Rigidity.

  • A Gardener:

By the conclusion, Russell references a man who inspired him a great deal however who is not eminent. He speaks about a gardener who can neither write nor can read, however a perfect example of simple goodness is. For Russell, this man is not forgetful because of the purity of mind he owns. These men are often deprived of worldly success but inspire plenty of people who know them. This man is E. ID. Morel.

Eminent Men I have Known Analysis:

Russell’s essay Eminent Men I have Known is one of the essays from his Unpopular Essays book. This essay is envisioned to contest, in some way, the development of dogmatisms that has described the century nowadays. This essay is inspired for a serious purpose.

The notions communicated in this essay own a widespread plea. This essay is written in a style that is straightforwardly comprehensible even to the layman. In addition, this essay has been made thought-provoking and entertaining by Russell’s exceptional handling of the subject selected by him, through his ironical and satirical wit. The thoughtful tenacity of this essay can be interrogated.

This essay reveals a many-sided genius of Russell. In this essay we see Russell as a philosopher, a scientist, an educationist, and a moralist.

In this essay, Russell highlighted various moral and ethical subject of society by using different people having particular qualities that have inspired him.