Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe?
Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe? This value of science remains unsung by singersyou are reduced to hearing not a song or poembut an evening lecture about it.
This is not yet a scientific age. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.
The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt.
Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain. Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know.
If we take everything into account — not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn't know — then I think that we must frankly admit that we do not know.
But, in admitting this, we have probably found the open channel. This is not a new idea; this is the idea of the age of reason. This is the philosophy that guided the men who made the democracy that we live under. The idea that no one really knew how to run a government led to the idea that we should arrange a system by which new ideas could be developed, tried out, and tossed out if necessary, with more new ideas brought in — a trial and error system.
This method was a result of the fact that science was already showing itself to be a successful venture at the end of the eighteenth century.
Even then it was clear to socially minded people that the openness of possibilities was an opportunity, and that doubt and discussion were essential to progress into the unknown. If we want to solve a problem that we have never solved before, we must leave the door to the unknown ajar.
We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.
It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time.
This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are. If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming "This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!
It has been done so many times before. It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics [ edit ] Stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it.
Far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined!
Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? There in wine is found the great generalization: It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge what energy is. Although we humans cut nature up in different ways, and we have different courses in different departments, such compartmentalization is really artificial.
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