Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Kindness, Beauty, and Truth

"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -- this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts -- possessions, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible."

These words were written by Albert Einstein, who ironically also said: "This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor... This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!"

You can read a larger portion of his essay here. Also read a fascinating essay, entitled Einstein's Third Paradise, by Gerald Holton (Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics and Research Professor of History of Science at Harvard University), a study of Einstein's journey as a scientist through the analysis of his spirituality. The essay is part of an exhibit on Einstein from the American Institute of Physics.

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