Books: The Meaning Of It All

The Meaning Of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist

I was a wee bit disappointed by this book. I think Richard P Feynman is brilliant, and therefore maybe I was expecting something utterly ground breaking. Maybe it’s important to remember that this book is actually a transcript of three John Danz lectures which professor Feynman delivered in April 1963 at the University of Washington. As a result, the book tends to be a little fragmentary, a few points are repeated, and a little unfocussed. Perhaps, had Feynman gone back to this and refined it, we would be left with a more comfortable and satisfying read. As it stands, it might benefit from you reading it aloud (as if you were giving it as a lecture, live).

That said, this small work does reflect on some important topics, mainly the use of science to society. What makes for good scientific practice? What is the true value of science? Can scientists really believe in God? And, my personal favourite, why is it, that with the advances of scientific research in the modern world, is there such widespread belief in flying saucers, homeopathy and astrology?

Feynman also discusses scepticism at length, and in the final lecture he explores how science has been abused. Whilst nothing strictly ground-breaking, Feynman is a hugely respected scientist but also a great teacher and philosopher. A nice quick read for anyone interested in science, philosophy, scepticism, and the philosophy of science.

And as another reviewer has pointed out: Yes, it rambles, but then so do scientists!

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One thought on “Books: The Meaning Of It All

  1. Pingback: Books: The 2010 Round-up « Unravelled

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