The ABC of Armageddon (2001)

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An exploration of Bertrand Russell’s writings during the interwar years, a period when he advocated “the scientific outlook” to insure the survival of humanity in an age of potential self-destruction.

Peter H. Denton explores Bertrand Russell’s attempt to articulate the kind of world he thought possible and the world he feared in the aftermath of World War I. Two concerns were fundamental to Russell’s work between 1919 and 1938: the philosophical implications of discoveries in the physical sciences, particularly for the relationship between science and religion, and the grim prospects of an industrial civilization whose science and technology were held responsible for the devastation of the Great War. Placing Russell’s work in the context of Anglo-American contemporaries who also perceived this dual aspect of science and technology, Denton explores how, for Russell, the “scientific outlook” was of crucial importance if humanity was to survive in an age of potential technological destruction–themes that are still important today.

“Unlike today’s postmodernist thinkers, Russell was much less of a fence sitter on policy matters of his day; his lack of defining truth did not inhibit him from taking strong stands. This is a point that is too often overlooked in the contemporary intellectual scene, and Denton does his greatest service by reminding us of it.” — Steve Fuller, author of The Governance of Science: Ideology and the Future of the Open Society

Peter H. Denton is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Philosophy, History, and Religious Studies at the University of Winnipeg.

Table of Contents


1. Science and the New Civilization

2. The Individual and the Machine

3. Religion, Metaphysics, and Meaning

4. Physics and Philosophy

5. Science, Religion, and Reality

6. Science and Power