The Meaning Of It All

The Meaning Of It All - Richard P. Feynman Here we have 3 lectures generally entitled "A Scientist looks at Society", transcribed verbatim, apparently. I can hear, even picture Feynman when reading it; he had a distinctive way of speaking that was very natural and not polished at all, including hesitations, corrections and minor mistakes of language. Not often did he memorise a speech.

Here, Feynman wades a long way beyond his own territory to examine the relationship of science to politics, religion and other aspects of wider Western civilisation. He repeatedly points out that he is no authority, he could be wrong in his conclusions and so forth, which leads one towards examining his arguments on their merits rather than the celebrity or reputation of Feynman himself...which is exactly what Feynman wanted to achieve, I suspect: Don't take my word for it, question, examine and test for yourself - or put another way, take a more scientific approach to questions that are amenable to that approach.

If you want to know how to do that, well this book is a reasonable starting point. Other works by Feynman could help, too. It does no harm for practising scientists to be reminded of some basic principles, too. Various people have been insisting that I should respect Argument from Authority, recently and it is literally depressing me that they cannot see that if scientists took such an approach we would still have Plato's world-view.