In this passage Bertrand Russell gives us some “suggestion” about “how to grow old and eventually die”:
“But in an old man who has known human joys and sorrows, and has done whatever work it was in him to do, the fear of death is somewhat ignoble. The best way to overcome it- al least it seems to me- is to make your interest gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly part of the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the water flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become part of the sea, and painless lose their individual being. The man who , in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the loss of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will not be unwelcome”.
B. Russell, How to grow old, from New Hopes for a Changing World, Only Connect Maps, Zanichelli 1997
What kind of imagery does Russell use to describe human life?
Find all the words in the text which outline the stages of human existence. What kind of feelings do they suggest?
How would you define Russell’s view of life? Explain why. (optimistic-pessimistic-melancholic-materialistic…)