Richard Feynman - The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out
I consider Feynman to be as much of an artist as he is a scientist. Only people that view their trade as beautiful, elegant, flawed and wonderful can talk about it the way he does. It’s not just what he’s learning, but why it exists as it does. It needs to fit into what he knows of some bigger picture. He likes to pull ideas apart and put them back together in other ways to see if they’re still consistent and he did so relentlessly.
He delights in his understanding of things in the world and tells stories about being a little naughty or learning something new or exploring an idea for the joy of seeing where it takes him. He talks as though the truth doesn’t care about what people think, so he tries to adapt how he thinks to what the truth, as shown by experiment, says instead.
By embracing a scientific curiosity, he is also comfortable with what he doesn’t know. If something can be discovered, he’ll work to do it, but there’s no harm in not knowing something. It’s actually the norm, until you intentionally try to learn something.
This particular section of the video captures his view of knowledge, and the journey of acquiring knowledge, eloquently.
If you are interested in the ultimate character of the physical world, or the complete world, and at the present time our only way to understand that is through a mathematical type of reasoning, then I don’t think a person can fully appreciate, or in fact can appreciate much of, these particular aspects of the world, the great depth of character of the universality of the laws, the relationships of things, without an understanding of mathematics. I don’t know any other way to do it, we don’t know any other way to describe it accurately … or to see the interrelationships without it. So I don’t think a person who hasn’t developed some mathematical sense is capable of fully appreciating this aspect of the world – don’t misunderstand me, there are many, many aspects of the world that mathematics is unnecessary for, such as love, which are very delightful and wonderful to appreciate and to feel awed and mysterious about; and I don’t mean to say that the only thing in the world is physics, but you were talking about physics and if that’s what you’re talking about, then to not know mathematics is a severe limitation in understanding the world.