Doubt

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’m reading some short works of Richard Feynman. This is the conclusion of his talk entitled “What Is and What Should Be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society” which was given to an audience of scientists in 1964.

What then is the meaning of the whole world? We do not know what the meaning of existence is. We say, as the result of studying all of the views that we have had before, we find that we do not know the meaning of existence; but in saying that we do not know the meaning of existence, we have probably found the open channel–if we will allow only that, as we progress, we leave open opportunities for alternatives, that we do not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth, but remain always uncertain–[that we] “hazard it”. The English, who have developed their government in this direction, call it “muddling through,” and although a rather silly, stupid sounding thing, it is the most scientific way of progressing. To decide upon the answer is not scientific. In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar–ajar only. We are only at the beginning of the development of the human race; of the development of the human mind, of intelligent life–we have years and years in the future. It is our responsibility not to give the answer today as to what it is all about, to drive everybody down in that direction and to say: “This is a solution to it all.” Because we will be chained then to the limits of our present imagination. We will only be able to do those things that we think today are the things to do. Whereas, if we leave always some room for doubt, some room for discussion, and proceed in a way analogous to the sciences, then this difficulty will not arise…”

This explains how I feel about any endeavour that attempts to give finite, unquestionable, permanent answers to anything. At times this is at odds with my dramatic nature and general desire to make bold statments.

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