Ideas That Have Helped Mankind Summary and Analysis

Ideas That Have Helped Mankind

Bertrand Arthur William Russell was a Nobel laureate British philosopher. In addition, he was a writer, logician, mathematician, historian, social critic and political activist. His genius mind had the capacity to write articles and essays on formal topics such as “Ideas That Have Helped Mankind”. In most of his essays, he presented a philosophy of his own. In this essay too, he talks about philosophical ideas very impressively. He refers to those goals which are not only helpful for his own nation but also for other nations of the world. 

His philosophy is not limited to any religion. In fact, he ignores every religion and raised his voice for the welfare of whole humanity. Thus, there is an element of universality in his work. Many of his essays are suggestive in nature. In his essays, he gives the best piece of advice and compels the world through reasonable arguments to follow it for the sake of peace.

Summary and Critical Analysis of Ideas That Have Helped Mankind

This essay is not different from other essays of the writer. Bertrand Russell thinks that there are some ideas that have helped mankind and they are worth mentioning. He does not only talk about their benefits but also appreciates their importance. These ideas have helped humanity and are still helping.

Bertrand Russell knows that the people of the Greeks were educated. He remembers their hard work. He is of the view that their efforts did not go to waste. At the time of the Renaissance, it was the literature of the Greeks and their ideas that helped not only writers but the whole of mankind. Some ideas are scientific, some are related to politics whereas the remaining are based on math, philosophy and logic.

Prehistoric Ideas that have Helped Mankind

Pre-historic age was the age of knowledge and technique. In those days, technical ideas have come into the minds of people, which helped mankind and increased their knowledge. Those ideas were not only helpful for them but also for the upcoming generations. It is not wrong to say that those ideas are the need of the hour. Those innovative ideas are much helpful for the modern world.

Bertrand Russell creates a list of those ideas that are related to knowledge and technique. These ideas changed the lifestyle of humankind. 

Evolution of Language

Language helped humanity in many ways. Strong communication is only possible through language whether it is verbal or physical. It is the only language, through which people are transmitting information, gaining knowledge, and expressing their feelings and emotions. It is also a cultural identity for many nations. Thus, the idea of the evolution of language has definitely helped mankind.

Discovery of Fire and its Use

Fire is, indeed, one of the best innovations in the world. It is helping people in many ways. Though it has many drawbacks as nations are using it as weapons, it is helpful, if used for positive purposes. It is a source of warmth and comfort. Moreover, cooking, electricity and all type of machines are dependent on fire. So, in one way or the other, the ideas of fire and its uses have helped mankind and are still helping them.

Art of Writing

Writing was the first way of distant communication. The idea of writing helped people in communicating, learning and gaining knowledge. It has also helped people store information related to history. If Greek literature is read even today then it is possible only because of “writing invention”.

Domestication of Animals

Animals were not the source of pleasure before taming. They were harming people and the only way to survive along with animals was to domesticate them. No doubt, the ideas related to taming of animals have also helped mankind.

Agricultural Inventions

With the passage of time, people realized that hard work was not enough; therefore, smart work was necessary. Many agricultural inventions helped people in producing more crops while doing less hard work.

Historical Ideas

In historic times, people made progress in the field of mathematics, astronomy and science. Although the term “astronomy” appeared in historic times yet Bertrand Russell is of the view that Greeks predefined astronomy and mathematics; therefore, their role in defining important scientific terms helped humankind; especially during the period of the Renaissance. Hence, these ideas belonged to pre-historic times but they were enhanced in historic times; therefore, they are included in the second category.

In addition, Bertrand Russell talks about morality, politics and science in this essay. He knows the importance of knowledge; therefore, he promotes ideas related to it.

Law of Inertia by Galileo

The law of inertia is the base of modern scientific inventions. Newton has presented three laws of motion but they are based on the law of inertia. In Russell’s eyes, this law is much helpful and laid the foundation of modern physics.

Laws of Motion (Newton’s)

The science of motion is the base of physics. Newton presented three laws of motion due to which, physics remembers him even today. Bertrand Russell may consider it an idea but it is a pure effort of Newton to demonstrate these laws. Obviously, these laws/ideas have helped mankind.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

Darwin’s theory of evolution shocked many religious scholars. A number of scientists believe that this theory is fictional. However, Russell sees it as a greater achievement in the field of science.

Psychology (The Science of Behavior and Mind)

Science proved that there is no concept of the soul in the human body and it functions on the basis of some principles. Similarly, animals, birds and other living creatures behave under various circumstances. Bertrand Russell considers that the science of behaviour and mind is also one of the cooperative ideas that have helped mankind.

Moral Principles

Many nations created weapons for the sake of security but unfortunately, they used them against each other. Weapons destroyed first humanity and then humans. Man is a mixture of both good and evil. In order to ensure goodness and for the welfare of humanity, moral principles were created. Brotherhood and the doctrine of unity are important in this context.  These ideas were necessary to save the world from destruction.

In history, this doctrine was adopted by Alexander the Great, who forced his fellowmen to marry women of different nations so as to create a single democratic nation. It is certainly a positive step and can be included in those better ideas that have helped and led mankind towards improvements and recreation.


Besides its negative aspects, people deem democracy as the best system. “Abraham Lincoln” once said: “democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people”. It gives people liberty and freedom whether it is religious or cultural. It also provides people with the freedom of speech. In Russell’s eyes, it is also one of the best ideas that have helped people along with other ideas.


With democracy, there comes freedom. People can easily purchase properties. They can do business and can enjoy religious freedom. They are free to speak even against the government. Thus, with democracy, freedom is also important.

Personal Liberty

Freedom of the whole nation is not enough until one has the liberty to accomplish his desires. People can adopt their desired religion and culture. They can pray, worship or celebrate religious or cultural festivals. Bertrand Russell likes personal freedom along with the freedom of the nation.

Bertrand Russell’s Criticism

Russell, on one hand, appreciates the ideas that have helped mankind but on the other hand, he criticizes the people who misuse them. For instance, he raises his voice against physical and moral corruption in democracy. He says that when a democratic country comes into power, it starts focusing on its private interests. Instead of doing something for the welfare of the motherland, people in power start promoting their private concerns. This misuse of power leads a nation towards destruction. The private interests of the people in power are fulfilled, subject to the risk and cost to the citizens. The writer considers that democracy is a safeguard against the worst abuses of power. People do not know what their selected persons are doing. 

Russell is also against war and wants peace for every nation as well as religion. He wants equality for everyone. His criticism is related to the misuse of power, and corruption of government and laws.

Russell’s Suggestions

At the end of the essay, Russell presents his own idea. He while demonstrating his own philosophy suggests that every country should adopt the doctrine of International Government. He supports his philosophy with subtle arguments and strong examples. The main suggestion of Bertrand Russell is for creating an International Government.

Russell’s Idea of International Government

The writer thinks that humanity has suffered a lot in both world wars. Despite too much destruction, people gained nothing. If counties and nations want survival then the international government is the only option.

When Russell wrote this essay, he was confident that if the idea of international government is not adopted then in upcoming years, the war would destroy everything. The United States of America and Russia were two major powers in those days.

Notwithstanding, The world had not adopted the idea of international government and fortunately, nothing happened.


In his suggestions, the writer talks about equality. He may be right but it is much more difficult to adopt his idea of International Government. Although International Government can fight against hunger and disease, yet many countries do not want equality. This idea goes in favour of poor countries, and rich countries do not want equality. They want more and more power. Moreover, in Russell’s days, only U.S.A and U.S.S.R were in power but nowadays China is also an established country. Thus, there is a boost in opposition.

Bertrand Russell in this essay first describes the benefits of useful ideas that have helped mankind and at the end demonstrates his own philosophical idea of international government. Russell’s philosophy is the philosophy of peace and equality. He supports his arguments and philosophy with historical examples. He has a vast knowledge of every field of life, which makes him a Nobel laureate.