I just watched an amazing video by an American physicist called Richard Feynman. In it he lets you know about how he sees the world and how he as a physicist and a scientist sees beauty. It is inspirational and it shows you the wonderment and the drive that can propel man into the exploration of his universe. I have attached a link to the YouTube video at the bottom of this article so you can watch it.
In this first video made about a series of talks that Feynman gave in order to promote scientific literacy, he talks about beauty. He compares himself to an artist friend and he compares how they both see the beauty of a flower. It is a very constructive speech advocating the need for inquiry instead of settling for grandiose views that explain the universe away in incredibly simplistic terms. He asks the viewer to question belief systems that create simple answers to what he believes to be highly complex questions.
Essentially though what he is saying is that the beliefs of non-scientists about the universe are almost always simplistic and wrong, while his beliefs (which he calls facts) and science are right. In many ways of course I do agree with him, in that I also believe that many of these worldviews that are held generally are very simplistic in nature and tend to quell that natural curiosity that everyone should have about the universe around them. I wonder though how well Mr. Feynman is able to conceptualize the fact that he is arguing one set of beliefs against another. And more importantly that these beliefs color his conceptualizations of the universe as much as the beliefs of others color theirs. I wonder if he even considered the possibility that his beliefs are in no way better than the beliefs of others, that while he may stand in what he believes to be unshakable ground, many of those that hold different beliefs, the beliefs that he questions, also believe themselves to be on unshakable ground.
While he does say that he does not wish to argue a point but only give his point, he does tell us that his appreciation of the flower is greater than the appreciation that his artist friend has for that same flower. He says that this is so because he can conceptualize ideas about cell structure, biological growth, and how this flower fits into the universe. A universe that is incredibly vast and diverse, that he is able to conceptualize as a physicist but that his artistic friend could never understand since he is not a physicist himself.
Is it not possible though that his friend the artist can also conceptualize on a greater scale? That he too can see that there are perhaps things within this flower that make it amazing? When an artist paints on a canvas, he sometimes does not paint exactly what he sees; abstract representations often capture glimpses of the inner knowing that is within each person. Science and scientists do not hold a higher level of understanding than the inner creative drive that is in all people. Mr. Feynman says that he can’t believe the simplistic ideas about life because they all seem to make the Earth the center of the universe but aren’t we all the center of the universe since the universe essentially revolves around us? And isn’t there an infinite universe within the flower, made up of atoms and infinitely small particles that we are barely beginning to understand?
This set of statements is very telling, because it lets us know that while Mr Feynman does try to maintain scientific perspective, he does take the final step towards believing that he is in a far better position than the artist. Without further proof or study, he takes it for granted that he is more aware, because he is a scientist, while his friend the artist is far less aware. Mr. Feynman should not forget though that the scientific method takes it for granted that ‘all theory’ is possible and as such that all theory must be experimented upon to be able to see if this theory is worthy of further scrutiny. This experimentation needs to be ‘impartial’ and the forms of acquisition of data need to always be improved upon. As a physicist Mr. Feynman should be well aware of the fact that many of the physical theories and proofs that he holds to be fact, cannot be measured by a ruler.
As I said I very much agree with Mr. Feynman’s thoughts on simplistic belief systems. I do believe also that you should not settle for some simplistic belief or idea just because it explains the world in a cozy manner that makes you feel better. You must always question beliefs, especially ones that would curtail your natural desire to discover on your own the possibilities of the world around you. Any time that you are taking a belief for granted, without questioning it or your reasons for believing it, you are essentially hurting yourself. You are stopping the expansion of your own consciousness which is one of the greatest things that you can do for yourself and for the rest of the people on this planet.
Mr. Feynman expressed some of his conceptualizations when he looked at a flower. He spoke of his understanding of the cells that make up the flower, and of biological growth in general. He could make these perceptions because of his training as a scientist. As such I would like to let you know of my conceptualizations when I look at a flower as a neophyte mystic of sorts. When I look at a flower I can see the exterior of it just like Mr. Feynman and his artist friend. I also like to use a method which I referred to as ‘empathy’, I have spoken about this method in other articles (Empathy). What I do is I take a part of myself that I project it into that flower and through imaginative conceptualization I begin to feel myself as a part of that flower. This imaginative construction eventually turns into real feelings about the flower in general, which are as real and as pertinent to me as are any of the feelings and beliefs that Mr. Feynman has about the flower that he sees.
Through my methods I do not see these fine cellular constructions like you might see in the video but I do see something that is just as magnificent and in my opinion is far more descriptive of the living thing that I am experiencing through my senses. I see for example fine geometrical shapes that flow and combine into different visual data. This data combines with internal feelings that make me feel certain of the fact that these are the inner constructive forms that create this flower. Modern science calls them cells and since I am a modern person I can identify them as such. I can see these fine inner geometric forms though in a way that is far more vivid and powerful than even the beautiful video that I just witnessed. If I did not know about cells, I would call them living geometry or shapes that work and act together in an incredibly complex union to from the flower. They speak to each other and are individual, yet they are also united in a way that allows them to be one and many at the same time.
Through my internal perceptions I am able to see many incredibly refined colors and interrelation that show me how each part of the flower acts in conjunction with order parts to create a life form that has its own drive and its own inner meaning. If I expand these feelings I am able to see its connection to the ground beneath it and understand in a more direct fashion how it receives life and energy from the earth and from the Sun above it. I can understand these energies as different shades of feeling having to do with love and pleasure. If I expand these feelings even further I can see this flower and its relation to the greater universe around us, this comparison is very similar to seeing the flower as an atom and the world as the flower itself. In this way and through the exploration of my feelings I am able to conceptualize the flowers place in the universe, following its own laws and shaping the universe from its central point. My perceptions becoming an infinite swirl of greater understanding. Beyond this I usually cannot perceive very long because the amount of awe that I feel can be overpowering.
If scientists were to follow true scientific principles, they would allow themselves to also investigate these personal feelings that all humans can experience if they know how. Scientists would try to develop methods in order to try and understand these internal human perceptions, developing new types of objective techniques to be able to further develop this sensual data and also to be able to experiment and create their own proofs with this data. Science does not do this because the scientists that practice it do not believe that this kind of sensual experience is real. Their belief is that humanity cannot perceive in this way, they would trust the ruler far more than they could ever trust themselves. This belief is the underlying belief that allows Mr. Feynman to believe that he conceptualizes the world in a far better way than his artistic friend.
As I said I am but a neophyte, and there are those that can perceive things in a far richer way than I ever could. I am also not as experienced in years as Mr. Feynman is in his years of dedication to science and to his ‘art’. I too believe that unsophisticated belief systems that see the world as a simple black and white reality are an injustice and that we should all strive to continually question our beliefs and expand our awareness. This questioning though should also question scientists that believe that they have all the answers. You should always question any person or groups of people that tell you that they know more than you because they somehow have the right approach. You should definitely question anyone that would tell you that your own internal perceptions are less important than perceptions created through the use of external implements.
My belief is that man needs to combine scientific principle with internal understanding. That he truly is in a place where he must let go of those old beliefs that would tell him that the world is a simple place. That we should all question, noble or not so noble, stories where there is no room for shades of gray. I also believe though that man needs to take the next step and question mechanistic beliefs that can in many ways be just a shallow as old mystical ones. Man needs to expand his awareness and realize that for the most part there is no truth, and that no particular group holds the complete truth, or the right way. There is no real truth, there is only belief. With this guiding principle and using scientific technique in the proper manner, I believe that we can truly begin to discover the infinitude of the universe and our amazing place in it.
Video link here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRmbwczTC6E