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Sondra Eklund

Richard Feynman

The meaning of it all

'The meaning of it all' is based on three lectures which Richard Feynman gave in 1963, in which he discusses philosophical themes and questions of science, religion and politics. The lectures were given in the midst of the Cold War, and it is interesting to read his view on the USSR. Apart from that the lectures don't look particularly dated - indeed he points out that much of it could have easily been said in the seventeenth century. Feynman was a brilliant scientist, but this book requires no scientific background to follow the arguments - in fact I would recommend it to nonscientists in order to find out a scientist's view on these important questions.

It has to be said that Feynman had his doubts about the value of such philosophising - in 'Surely you're joking Mr Feynman' he calls it 'a disease of middle age'. But don't let that put you off, I feel that it means that he is wary about grand philosophical schemes, and in these lectures he always tries to get to the root of philosophical arguments. Hence he isn't just 'preaching to the converted' - generating lots of spurious arguments to support an idea - he is actually trying to get people to think about things. info
Paperback 144 pages  
ISBN: 0465023940
Salesrank: 124756
Published: 2005 Basic Books
Amazon price $14.99
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Paperback 144 pages  
ISBN: 0140276351
Salesrank: 871457
Weight:0.26 lbs
Published: 1999 Penguin
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Paperback 144 pages  
ISBN: 0465023940
Salesrank: 111461
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2005 Basic Books
Amazon price CDN$ 14.35
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Product Description
Many appreciate Richard P. Feynman's contributions to twentieth-century physics, but few realize how engaged he was with the world around him—how deeply and thoughtfully he considered the religious, political, and social issues of his day. Now, a wonderful book—based on a previously unpublished, three-part public lecture he gave at the University of Washington in 1963—shows us this other side of Feynman, as he expounds on the inherent conflict between science and religion, people's distrust of politicians, and our universal fascination with flying saucers, faith healing, and mental telepathy. Here we see Feynman in top form: nearly bursting into a Navajo war chant, then pressing for an overhaul of the English language (if you want to know why Johnny can't read, just look at the spelling of “friend”); and, finally, ruminating on the death of his first wife from tuberculosis. This is quintessential Feynman—reflective, amusing, and ever enlightening.