Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A deathbed story I would tell

After reading this commentary about a book and story from R. Feynman's life, I realize that I do not fall into the group that agree with the commentator, and rather, fall with the scientists. But I think it is a little more than that. I disagree with the sentiment in the piece that scientists are not emotional. Just because a scientist may rely on observations and dismiss coincidence, does not mean that we do not still feel the emotional value of life's experiences.

In fact, I find it offensive and dishonest when people try to take something personal and meaningful, in this case the death of a spouse, and turn it around so that the focus isn't on the people and the real events anymore, but is on some supernatural poppycock. In doing so, I think the human experience is belittled. We are all here to occupy our small space and time, and I think we should spend that time focusing on our own experiences and those we care about, not whether "the Universe" or some other supernatural personification gives two cents about us.


EllenQ said...

I too came down on your side of this. I understand the urge to believe that you are special and the universe makes things happen just because you are happy/sad/grief-stricken. But I just can't do it and it seems a dangerous narcissism that allows you to believe that the "Signifier" treats you differently or cares about you more than others.

mathbionerd said...

I agree whole-heartedly. I'll digress a little to add that, I've always wondered why it's a miracle, attributable to some higher power, when one person out of a hundred survives a terrible accident, rather than realizing that the same higher power just let ninety-nine people die.