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Posted by Raunak Mahajan on August 20, 2012

English: Richard P. Feynman

Richard P. Feynman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is an extract from Richard P. Feynman’s “Six Easy Pieces”. It is a text that creates wonderful harmony between  Gods, Philosophy and Science.

“What do we mean by “understanding” something? We can imagine that this complicated array of moving things which constitutes “the world” is something like a great chess game being played by the gods, and we are observers of the game. We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is to watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. The rules of the game are what we mean by fundamental physics. Even if we knew every rule, however, we might not be able to understand why a particular move is made in the game, merely because it is too complicated and our minds are limited. If you play chess you must know that it is easy to learn all the rules, and yet it is often very hard to select the best move or to understand why a player moves as he does. So it is in nature, only much more so; but we may be able at least to find all the rules. Actually, we do not have all the rules now. (Every once in a while something like castling is going on that we still do not understand.) Aside from not knowing all of the rules, what we really can explain in terms of those rules is very limited, because almost all situations are so enormously complicated that we cannot follow the plays of the game using the rules, much less tell what is going to happen next. We must, therefore, limit ourselves to the more basic question of the rules of the game. If we know the rules, we consider that we “understand” the world.”


4 Responses to “God.Philosophy.Science.Reconciled.”

  1. J. Palmer said

    But can/do the rules change? And if so, is that a rule in itself?

    It seems like scientifically the rules are always changing: flat world, geocentric universe, atom is the smallest thing on earth, etc.

    • Raunak said

      Hi JP! I think the real rules always remain the same. It is the perceived rule that changes. I see it this way: Perceived Rule is derived from Observation+Understanding. Observation and Understanding are dependent upon the limits of our senses and intelligence. And since these are not constant, nor is the perceived rule.
      Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. This is the first time I’ve ever read Feynman. Physics are the rules of this universe. I’ve heard this before and many agree because they’re observable–apparent. Euclid said the shortest point from A to B was a straight line and this too, is observable. But Einstein used non-Euclidean math to complete his theory of relativity.
    The only reason I mention this is because I think this ties into quantum physics. That is, the observer and the rules are really the same thing. I really think that if our observation capacity was strong enough we would have more effect on reality.
    Thank you for the post!!!

    • Raunak said

      Hi FC…you are right…We are limited by our observation capacity. The observer is governed by the very rule that he is trying to understand. What if there is a rule that says “Humans shall not understand” 🙂
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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