'Imagination is more important than Knowledge' (Einstein)


You can find the earlier Einstein Postings here:

  - Einstein - Part 1
  - Einstein - Part 2



--| Einstein on Nature and Religous Feeling (Part 3) |--- 

"The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a
little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings
with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have
written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the
languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in
the arrangement of the books---a mysterious order which it does not
comprehend, but only dimly suspects."

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own
reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the
mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is
enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.
Never lose a holy curiosity."

"What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only
very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of
"humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do
with mysticism"

"The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein
lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling
is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of
fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenatrable for us really exists
and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty,
whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this
knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious
sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself amoung
profoundly religious men."


--| On Widening Circles of Compassion |--- 

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a part
limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and
feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion
of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting
us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles
of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its
beauty."

(Albert Einstein, What I Believe, 1930) 
http://stripe.colorado.edu/~judy/einstein/universe.html

-- 



compare with steiner in 1895:

  MAN IS A LIMITED BEING. FIRST OF ALL, HE IS A BEING AMONG OTHER
  BEINGS. HIS EXISTENCE BELONGS TO SPACE AND TIME. THUS, ONLY A LIMITED
  PART OF THE TOTAL UNIVERSE THAT CAN BE GIVEN HIM AT ANY ONE TIME. THIS
  LIMITED PART, HOWEVER, IS LINKED UP WITH OTHER PARTS IN ALL DIRECTIONS
  BOTH IN TIME AND IN SPACE. If our existence were so linked up with the
  things that every occurrence in the world were at the same time also
  an occurrence in us, the distinction between ourselves and the things
  would not exist. But then there would be no separate things at all for
  us. All occurrences would pass continuously one into the other. The
  cosmos would be a unity and a whole, complete in itself. The stream of
  events would nowhere be interrupted. It is owing to our limitations
  that a thing appears to us as single and separate when in truth they
  it is not a separate thing at all... Nowhere, for example, is the single
  quality "red" to be found by itself in isolation. It is surrounded on
  all sides by other qualities to which it belongs, and without which it
  could not subsist. For us, however, it is necessary to isolate certain
  sections of the world and to consider them by themselves. Our eye can
  grasp only single colours one after another out of a manifold totality
  of colour, and our understanding, can grasp only single concepts out
  of a connected conceptual system. This separating off is a subjective
  act, which is due to the fact that we are not identical with the world
  process, but are a single being among other beings.
  
  The all important thing now is to determine how the being that we
  ourselves are is related to the other entities. This determination
  must be distinguished from merely becoming conscious of ourselves. For
  this latter self-awareness we depend on perceiving just as we do for
  our awareness of any other thing. The perception of myself reveals to
  me a number of qualities which I combine into my personality as a
  whole, just as I combine the qualities yellow, metallic, hard, etc.,
  in the unity "gold." The perception of myself does not take me beyond
  the sphere of what belongs to me. This perceiving of myself must be
  distinguished from determining myself by means of thinking. Just as,
  by means of thinking, I fit any single external percept into the whole
  world context, so by means of thinking I integrate into the world
  process the percepts I have made of myself.  My self-perception
  confines me within certain limits, but my thinking is not concerned
  with these limits. In this sense I am a two-sided being. I am enclosed
  within the sphere which I perceive as that of my personality, but I am
  also the bearer of an activity which, from a higher sphere, defines my
  limited existence. OUR THINKING IS NOT INDIVIDUAL LIKE OUR SENSING AND
  FEELING; IT IS UNIVERSAL. IT RECEIVES AN INDIVIDUAL STAMP IN EACH
  SEPARATE HUMAN BEING ONLY BECAUSE IT COMES TO BE RELATED TO HIS
  INDIVIDUAL FEELINGS AND SENSATIONS. BY MEANS OF THESE PARTICULAR
  COLOURINGS OF THE UNIVERSAL THINKING, INDIVIDUAL MEN DIFFERENTIATE
  THEMSELVES FROM ONE ANOTHER. THERE IS ONLY ONE SINGLE CONCEPT OF
  "TRIANGLE". IT IS QUITE IMMATERIAL FOR THE CONTENT OF THIS CONCEPT
  WHETHER IT IS GRASPED IN A'S CONSCIOUSNESS OR IN B'S. IT WILL,
  HOWEVER, BE GRASPED BY EACH OF THE TWO IN HIS OWN INDIVIDUAL WAY.

  THIS THOUGHT IS OPPOSED BY A COMMON PREJUDICE VERY HARD TO OVERCOME.
  THIS PREJUDICE PREVENTS ONE FROM SEEING THAT THE CONCEPT OF A TRIANGLE
  THAT MY HEAD GRASPS IS THE SAME AS THE CONCEPT THAT MY NEIGHBOR'S HEAD
  GRASPS. THE NAIVE MAN BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE THE CREATOR OF HIS
  CONCEPTS. HENCE HE BELIEVES THAT EACH PERSON HAS HIS OWN CONCEPTS. IT
  IS A FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT OF PHILOSOPHIC THINKING THAT IT SHOULD
  OVERCOME THIS PREJUDICE. THE ONE UNIFORM CONCEPT OF "TRIANGLE" DOES
  NOT BECOME A MULTIPLICITY BECAUSE IT IS THOUGHT BY MANY PERSONS. FOR
  THE THINKING OF THE MANY IS ITSELF A UNITY.
  
  IN THINKING, WE HAVE THAT ELEMENT GIVEN US WHICH WELDS OUR SEPARATE
  INDIVIDUALITY INTO ONE WHOLE WITH THE COSMOS.

  (Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom, Chapter 5, 1895)


  Human consciousness is the stage upon which concept and observation
  meet and become linked to one another. In saying this we have in fact
  characterized this (human) consciousness. It is the mediator between
  thinking and observation. In as far as we observe a thing it appears
  to us as given; in as far as we think, we appear to aurselves as being
  active. We regard the thing as object and ourselves as thinking
  subject. Because we direct our thinking upon our observation, we have
  consciousness of objects; because we direct it upon ourselves, we have
  consciousness of ourselves, or self-consciousness. Human consciousness
  must of necessity be at the same time self-consciousness because it is
  a consciousness which thinks. For WHEN THINKING CONTEMPLATES ITS OWN
  ACTIVITY, IT MAKES ITS OWN ESSENTIAL BEING, AS SUBJECT, INTO A THING,
  AS OBJECT.
  
  It must, however, not be overlooked that only with the help of
  thinking am I able to determine myself as subject and contrast myself
  with objects. Therefore thinking must never be regarded as a merely
  subjective activity. Thinking lies beyond subject and object. It
  produces these two concepts just as it produces all others. When,
  therefore, I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we
  must not regard this reference as something purely subjective. It is
  not the subject that makes the reference, but thinking. The subject
  does not think because it is a subject; rather it appears to itself as
  subject because it can think. The activity exercised by man as a
  thinking being is thus not merely subjective.
  
  (Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom, Chapter 4, 1895)
  http://www.elib.com/Steiner/Books/GA004/TPOF/

-- 





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updated: july 24, 2001