Russell Now!

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In lieu of an abstract, here are the editorial's first two paragraphs:

One of the most quoted phrases in current popular culture is “six degrees of separation.” It expresses the idea that, on average, any human being is connected with any other human being by at most six acquaintances. While there is much debate as to whether this is literally true, it is an interesting thought-experiment, as well as the basis for many fun parlor games. One of these is entitled ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’, in which film fans try to connect the aforementioned actor with any other movie star with as few links as possible.

I have been thinking of launching a similar parlor game called ‘Six Degrees of Bertrand Russell’, in which any figure from the past 200 years or so could be connected with Russell in as few steps as possible. Why Russell rather than, say, Ludwig Wittgenstein (who after all had a stated interest in games)? For two reasons: first, Russell lived to the ripe old age of ninety-seven, and thus had the time to interact with a wide variety of people; and second, he was for most of that long life a celebrity, who rubbed elbows with all manner of individuals, many of whom were either celebrities themselves at the time or came to be celebrated later. Russell’s list of acquaintances stretched from Lenin (V.I.) to Lennon (John), from the Bloomsbury Set of the 1920s to the Doomsday Prophets of the 1960s, from William Gladstone to Harold Wilson.


Editorial originally published in Philosophy Now, Issue 120, June/July 2017, Page 4: https://philosophynow.org/issues/120/Russell_Now.

Tim Madigan was the Special Guest Editor for this issue.

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