Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Freedom squandered...................................?

All scientific knowledge is uncertain.  This experience with doubt and uncertainty is important.  I believe that it is of very great value, and one that extends beyond the sciences.  I believe that to solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar.  You have to permit the possibility that you do not have it exactly right.  Otherwise, if you have made up your mind already, you might not solve it.

This freedom to doubt is an important matter in the science, and, I believe, in other fields.  It was born of a struggle.  It was a struggle to be permitted to doubt, to be unsure.  And I do not want us to forget the importance of the struggle and, by default, to let the thing fall away.  I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought.  I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings.  If you know you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation.  I want to demand this freedom for future generations.

-Richard P. Feynman, as excerpted from The Meaning Of It All:  Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist

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