[Previous] Feynman the Popperian | Home | [Next] Hayek on Burke

More Feynman

I highly recommend you read this book.

_The Meaning of It All_ page 44
I think that science and moral questions are independent. The common human problem, the big question, always is "Should I do this?" It is a question of action. "What should I do? Should I do this?"
That's exactly what I say about morality. I say the question is "How to live?" or "How should I make decisions?" or "What decisions should I make?" or "How should I choose?" Feynman's question is the same one.

_The Meaning of It All_ pages 49-50
The government of the United States was developed under the idea that nobody knew how to make a government, or how to govern. The result is to invent a system to govern when you don't know how. And the way to arrange it is to permit a system, like we have, wherein new ideas can be developed and tried out and thrown away. The writers of the Constitution knew the value of doubt ... The government of the United States is not very good, but it, with the possible exception of the government of England, is the greatest government on the earth today, is the most satisfactory, the most modern, but not very good.
That's what I think about the US government too. And this is more evidence that Feynman read Popper. He's making a main point from The Open Society and Its Enemies. Also, today, I heard Feynman's sister on youtube saying that Feynman read a lot of books.

Elliot Temple on December 25, 2008

Comments (2)

very Popperian

I was amazed to find the Popperian tone, especially when it is widely known that he had something close to contempt for philosophy and also the soft social sciences.

Anonymous at 7:42 PM on December 28, 2008 | #1717
Feynman's son Karl majored in philosophy when he first went to college. Feynman didn't think this was a good idea, but remained nice. But after trying philosophy for some time, Karl changed his major (to electrical engineering or something) and said that he saw the error of his ways.

I suspect Feynman disliked mainstream philosophy because he saw that it is largely bad ideas made to sound impressive, and backed up by authority. In other words, he was right! But that wouldn't stop him from reading nd enjoying Popper, which I'm pretty convinced he did.

BTW you mention Feynman's contempt for the soft social sciences. I have a quote on this topic I was thinking of typing in. I'll post it now.

- Elliot

Anonymous at 7:59 PM on December 28, 2008 | #1718

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)