Richard Phillips Feynman (1918 – 1988) Spinoza’s philosophy is to laugh


Feynman was een charismatisch Amerikaans natuurkundige, aldus de Nederlandse Wiki. Feynman groeide op in New York behaalde z’n doctorsbull in Princeton, waarna hij professoraten kreeg in Cornell en het California Institute of Technology. In 1965 ontving hij de Nobelprijs voor z’n werk op het gebied van de quantum electrodynamica.

VoorkantRichard P. Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman verscheen postuum in 1999 en kreeg een herdruk in 2005 bij Basic Books, waarbij het deze typering meekreeg: “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out is a magnificent treasury of the best short works of Richard P. Feynman—from interviews and speeches to lectures and printed articles. A sweeping, wide-ranging collection, it presents an intimate and fascinating view of a life in science-a life like no other. From his ruminations on science in our culture to his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, this book will fascinate anyone interested in the world of ideas.”

In het hoofdstuk "The smartest man in the world" werd het interview uit 1979 in Omni magazin opgenomen. Daarin ging het over waar hij het meest van hield (fysica) en waarvan het minst (filosofie): "Philosophers should learn to laugh at themselves." Welnu, in dat interview in die ‘magnificent treasury’ vinden we op p. 195 deze opmerking over Spinoza:

"My son is taking a course in philosophy, and last night we were looking at something by Spinoza – and there was the most childish reasoning! There were all these Attributes, and Substances, and all this meaningless chewing around, and we started to laugh. Now, how could we do that? Here's this great Dutch philosopher, and we're laughing at him. It's because there's no excuse for it! In the same period there was Newton, there was Harvey studying the circulation of the blood, there were people with methods of analysis by which progress was being made! You can take every one of Spinoza's propositions, and take the contrary propositions, and look at the world – and you can't tell which is right. Sure, people were awed because he had the courage tot take on these great questions, but it doesn’t do any good to have the courage if you can’t get anywhere with the question." [cf in]