Remarking on the exceptional lucidity of Bertrand Russell’s prose, the philosopher Stuart Hampshire once described clarity of expression as almost a moral imperative:

It’s a question of never fudging the results, never using rhetoric to fill a gap, never using a phrase which conveniently straddles, as it were, two or three notes and which leaves it ambiguous which one you’re hitting… . [I]n Russell’s writing there’s always this extraordinary nakedness of clear assertion. His doctrines and arguments stand out in a hard, Greek light which allows no vagueness.

Whatever his defects, ideological and otherwise, Russell was a straight shooter, stoutly avoiding the obfuscations to which so many intellectuals, then and now, have been prone. The best representatives of the analytic tradition in philosophy have reflected the same exactitude as the school’s founder, the same...

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