Richard Feynman

I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything. There are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask “Why are we here?” I might think about it a little bit, and if I can’t figure it out then I go on to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose — which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell. Possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.

4 thoughts on “Richard Feynman

  1. shinichi Post author

    All Goals in Life Are Problematic — Except One

    by Zat Rana

    Feynman embodied this, but he also once said something that captures what it is that differentiates such a pursuit from mere goals and certainties:

    I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives… In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.”

    Goals, incorrectly, assume that we already know what it is that we want. Interestingness is more humble. It makes up its mind as it moves, slowly blowing from one thing to another, until it eventually grasps something that lies beyond prediction.

  2. shinichi Post author

    I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.


    Is the “ques­tions that can’t be an­swered over an­swers that can’t be ques­tioned” quote by Feynman authentic?

    I have my doubts, although Feynman like many others expressed similar sentiments. Dennett in the first chapter of Breaking the Spell (2006) writes:”Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned”. He attributes the quote to Anonymous, and does not mention Feynman. It appears that the quote’s author, Feynman or not, prefers philosophy to religion in this allusion.


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