“Science is our way of describing — as best we can — how the world works.
- The world, it is presumed, works perfectly well without us.
- Our thinking about it makes no important difference.
- It is out there, being the world.
- We are locked in, busy in our minds.
And when our minds make a guess about what’s happening out there, if we put our guess to the test, and we don’t get the results we expect, as Feynman says, there can be only one conclusion: we’re wrong.
The world knows. Our minds guess. In any contest between the two, The World Out There wins. It doesn’t matter, Feynman tells the class, “how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is, if it disagrees with the experiment, it is wrong.”
This view is based on an almost sacred belief that the ways of the world are unshakeable, ordered by laws that have no moods, no variance, that what’s “Out There” has no mind. And that we, creatures of imagination, colored by our ability to tell stories, to predict, to empathize, to remember — that we are a separate domain, creatures different from the order around us.
We live, full of mind, in a mindless place. The world, says the great poet Wislawa Szymborska, is “inhuman.” It doesn’t work on hope, or beauty or dreams. It just…is.”