My point is, would you criticize Rand as harshly if you say a flaw in her thinking, or would you let her off the hook as I described, or would you do something all together different?
Yes, certainly. In fact I will now, having just identified an inconsistency today. In Romantic Manifesto, she says a persons sense-of-life (what most people think of as enthusiasm about living, morale) can be poisoned, damaging their ability to choose. Yet in Atlas Shrugged, she attacks the "monstrous absurdity" of *original sin*, because one can hardly be morally guilty for what one has no choice about.
The fact I'm here exercising my understanding of Objectivism, rather than chatting with Marxists or theists demonstrates I've found more of interest and less B.S. here. Or so I thought.
Feynman never tried to 'pacify' anyone, this was one of his most admirable traits.
About science, agreed. About politics and philosophy, I suspect he was a swell go-along-get-along kind of guy, not rigidly principled pissing people off like Rand. I really haven't read enough to say that with over 20% confidence, but there I go.
Maybe I should just number these.
1. Feynman was not writing a treatise on ethics. Let me ask you this, when you refer to someone as 'good', do you give them your philosophical treatise as to what you mean by that term orally, or do you have a written version prepared that you just hand out as a footnote to your use of a word?
His book was called "The Meaning of It All", dealing with science, philosophy and religion. Surely you'll concede that speech was rambling and vague, casual and easy going. Not crystalline precise.
2. Scientist, especially famous ones, are often asked to comment upon things that are outside their area of expertise. It is nothing but admirable that Feynman admits these things are outside his area of expertise. All too often scientists ARE willing to make pronouncements about things they know nothing about, and all too many people are willing to believe them as an authority figure.
Well now, that's a fine defense; he admits he's giving a speech about something he doesn't know about, and not only that, but writes a book about it too! LOL! You are trying to defend him, aren't you? LOL :-D
3. Feynman was right: physics has nothing to do with ethics, nor do any of the other 'hard' sciences. Rand would agree with this and say that the study of right vs. wrong behavior in the realm of human actions falls to philosophy, especially the branch which deals with ethics. As a matter of fact, the only times I have seen people try to delegate ethics to the realm of the hard sciences it has led to beliefs of determinism.
All right, I'm not going to fight over semantics and taxonomy. Perhaps Rand describes best in her book on writing non-fiction, that every branch of knowledge is interconnected and interelated, and a primary skill for a writer is choosing how to delimit, and what to leave out. I think she would agree with you about semantics, and me regarding the interdependence of science and philosophy that subsumes it.
4. This is redundant, but bears repeating. Feynman admitted what his expertise was and became quite agitated when people took it for granted that he would assume omniscience and pontificate upon any question they asked him. He honestly admitted he did not know--even when people asked him about other areas of physics that he did not consider himself expert enough in to make definitive statements. Feynman was a hero intellectually, and a damned admirable individual.
Weren't you freaking-out over religion, Jesus-worship? Yet now defend this defender of theistic sentimentality. Aren't you hero-worshiping him for his humble evasions to make the most of his extraordinary mind, so we congitive pigmys can bask in the resplendent glory of his magnificent intellect?
But I agreed with you regarding his technical achievement and character. I wish I had him for a professor, or drinking buddy. I wouldn't (couldn't) party with Rand or Peikoff, or anyone smarmier than I. Yet I can't help but think if Rand read what he wrote about the moral-neutrality of science to morality, of the impotence of reason to guide purposeful living, she'd bite his friggin head off. In fact, in AS she attacks the scientist (Steddler?) who builds the death-ray for the despot. Either she or Peikoff in VOR attacks scientists and encourages students to not do science for evil systems. Feynman wouldn't have objective, but rather his own sentiments to guide him in his choices.
Perhaps Feynman was a pragmatic politician that knew how to achieve authority by going along and getting along, and not offending the liberal government and academia that paid his salary.
It's crazy to suggest such a thing about Feynman. Pure, unfounded, offensive speculation. Totally off the mark.
When someone so affable and brilliant yet is so philosophically stupid, there must be something crazy going on which merits investigation, and perhaps some extreme explanation.
I am at an Objectivist forum, not the Richard Feynman fan club?