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Katlin Profile
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Richard Feynman


It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil — which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.

Statement (1959), quoted by James Gleick in Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992)

You say you are a nameless man. You are not to your wife and to your child. You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office. You are not nameless to me. Do not remain nameless to yourself — it is too sad a way to be. Know your place in the world and evaluate yourself fairly, not in terms of the naïve ideals of your own youth, nor in terms of what you erroneously imagine your teacher's ideals are.

Letter from Feynman to Koichi Mano (3 February 1966); published in Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track : The Letters of Richard P. Feynman (2005); also quoted by Freeman Dyson in "Wise Man", New York Review of Books (20 October 2005)

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing — that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
 
"What is Science?", presented at the fifteenth annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, in New York City (1966) published in The Physics Teacher Vol. 7, issue 6 (1969)

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Feb/25/2013, 9:27 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Richard Feynman


In scientists such as Feynman, and in poets such as Goethe, I'm at home in the interstice between the two. That is natural enough, since, science grew out of poetry.

Tere
Feb/25/2013, 7:35 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
vkp Profile
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Re: Richard Feynman


I'm not so good at remembering, but who was it who basically said that writers strive to do the impossible? To capture with words the very things that elude capture? But it's worth the try....

I sometimes think about what it’s like for a baby. A child, before he can name things, experiences the world physically and sensorily. The experience is rich and exciting… and new, of course, at least in his current lifetime. Almost immediately his receptive language develops, so that he knows what words mean, but can’t yet speak. A bright dog has a receptive vocabulary, too, and knows “walk” and “car” and “dinner” or whatever. But so back to the baby human. He has a sort of a grasp on the abstract concept of language, of things having names, and maybe even of the “feeling” of words like “love” or “gentle” or “naughty” or whatever. But he is still not using words himself. Then one day, the switch flicks on and he makes words. He uses his voice to form language. He can speak. He can use words to get what he wants, communicate his ideas and feelings etc. He is on his way to being able to write poetry, teach, sing, say “I love you” and “thank you” and “this is what I believe”…. It must be magical – too bad none of us can remember that moment. But how does his experience of the world change now that it can be named? Does this small human lose as much as he gains in that moment?

I guess I would have to say no. I love words and language too much and depend on them not just to survive in the world but to make sense of myself. I guess most of us do…. But Kat, your thread got me to thinking ‘bout all this. Thanks.
vkp
Mar/22/2013, 7:15 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 


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