Einstein…some of his thoughts on being human

The Spring edition of “Discover” is dedicated to Einstein. In this edition there is an essay he published in 1931 and was republished as part of this series on his thoughts on humanity and explanations on his theories, his faux pas, the theories resulting from his works, and the unanswered questions he left behind.

Of all that he said these following caught my attention which resonates in my life, daily rounds of work, play, and family life. You may not understand physics and its laws (my middle daughter gets it like drinking water!) and many may not be “all into philosophy” (the jury with me is still out), but his words hit certain “bottoms” in the endless pit and landscape of reason we try to grapple with every day of our existence:

“How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn, for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes senses it….

“I regard class distinctions as unjustified and, in the last resort, based on force…

“Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying ‘A man can do what he wants but not want what he wants’ has been a very real inspiration to me since my youth…this realization mercifully mitigates the easily paralyzing sense of responsibility and prevents us from taking ourselves and other people all too seriously; it is conducive to a view of life which, in particular, gives humor its due…

“…one becomes sharply aware, without regret,  of the limits of mutual understanding and consonance with other people. No doubt such a person loses some of his innocence and unconcern; on the other hand, he is largely independent of the opinions, habits, and judgments of his fellows and avoids the temptation to build his inner equilibrium upon such insecure foundations…

“Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized….

“The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state but the creative, sentient individual; it alone creates the noble and sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling…

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eye are dimmed…

“I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”

Distilled from his writings and his works, the authors articulate these key life lessons from this worldly philosopher:

  1. Even a genius is only human
  2. Pacifism is not for sissies
  3. The smart money’s on genius
  4. Choose your friends carefully
  5. Being right can feel so wrong
  6. When you fail, fail big
  7. Keep it simple, stupid 
  8. The best answers lead to better questions
  9. Never give in -never, never, never give in
  10. Procrastination will never get you anywhere
  11. The devil is in the details
  12. Life imitates art – especially sci-fi

For those of us who have heard or have had to study it in part, here is the most simplest explanation on the Laws of Relativity…”Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity!” -Einstein.


9 Responses to “Einstein…some of his thoughts on being human”

  1. 1 Chiara
    May 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Great topic and post!

    My favourite Einstein quote is:
    “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
    It has helped me in both directions, to survive the mediocre and to not be in opposition to a better idea.

    My second favourite Einstein quote is:
    “Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

    • 2 INAL
      May 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks Chiara! When I read about him, for a moment I wish I could have met the man and sat fireside to chat and hear all that may have spewed from such a mind… Maybe a Jules Verne “Time Machine” would do the trick… But what interesting things they would be indeed…

      • 3 Chiara
        May 14, 2009 at 8:39 am

        I think he was so wise about humanity and in his fight against nuclear arms such a great humanitarian.

      • 4 INAL
        May 15, 2009 at 9:01 am

        Indeed he was Chiara… in college all us geeks had his poster on our walls. In many ways maybe it helped keep us more human too… we would band together especially in Calculus class; we had a tough cookie of a professor who we swore to by spray paint to freeze his explanations of derivatives. We would even sit facing different cardinal points of the room because he would go around the whole class writing and literally mumbling as he went… and our biggest support phrase was “Look if Einstein failed Trig- and we didn’t we can do this!” Whether that was true or not, I really don’t know, but it helped calm the jitters on exam days for sure!

      • 5 Chiara
        May 16, 2009 at 10:38 am

        I ofen think I should re-hang my “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds.” poster.
        I never suffered the evils of a university calculus professor but my sister did. Hers was given to saying to the whole class “You don’t need a professor, you need a psychiatrist!” (read with your best Austrian accent).
        I’m not sure about the trig part but his late language expression (age 4) has comforted many a parent (unfortunately falsely for the truly Autistic, which I don’t believe he was).
        I hope you are recovering nicely, and the loopy meds are behaving well!

      • 6 INAL
        May 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

        Thanks Chiara, but meds are not being effective…dosge upped on one; another replaced… Downtime increased… As long as I can get the energy to get to work everyday; I don’t mind disconnecting the plug once I step out of the building- which was my problem via the blackberry! LOL And my boss keeps telling me, from his home since he is again out, to leave on time everyday and unplug! So I am following two doctor’s orders! :))

        So your sister would definitely understand… our’s had a heavy Yiddish accent!… and it seems many groups have used his life as a source of “comfort” support; if only he knew of his influence…- And hang it up! There are a few people that would benefit from those words… 🙂

  2. 7 Chiara
    May 20, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Hi! I’ve been wondering where you were and how you were doing! Finally thought to check back here.

    Excellent advice from your boss-Dr! I’m sorry the loopy meds are not behaving–hate when that happens! Surgical options? I promise to check more frequently or send me an email.

    As all good Drs should obey their medical administrators, will find Einstein poster and re-hang on a prominent office wall!!! 😀

    • 8 INAL
      May 21, 2009 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks Chiara, been out lately… the surgical option is not open at the moment, I am just taking it a day at a time. And its always a pleasure to see you here!
      And thank you also for your comment in Suroor’s page 🙂

      Oh yes, obedience to their medical administrators is a must, never absolutely followed sometimes though 😦

      • 9 Chiara
        May 22, 2009 at 10:20 pm

        Okay, then. Well enough to be out–that’s good! You’re welcome about the comment on Suroor’s post.

        I always obey my hospital administrators 😛 😀
        Take care

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