18th November 2012

“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.”

Albert Einstein1879 – 1955

6 Responses to “18th November 2012”

  1. Dan Says:

    You can’t have religiousness without deities however, so here Einstein was misusing the term “religious.”

  2. R J Says:

    dan…….

    the quote is meant to be ironic. he really wasnt a religious person

    in the sense of regular praise and worship. but he did occasionally

    (( and mainly for verbal shorthand )) use the term ”god” in his observations.

    i think he very much suspected the existence of the supernatural….

    but accepted it as an unproveable mystery.

    in fact there is another quote of his that i think is a little more

    ”telling” .

    in reference to the myriad of facets in the observable world and universe

    he once said,” i would like to know god’s thoughts……everything

    else is just details.”

  3. The Heretic Says:

    Einstein had a spiritual sense of awe when coming up against the wonders of science and the unknown. I feel that on occasion when looking down upon a beautiful landscape and feeling nature around me. I don’t know that he misused the word religious, but probably could have substituted spiritual instead. At any rate, I will take his version of religiosity over most others.

  4. Dan Says:

    RJ,
    I realized that it was meant to be ironic. And I doubt that he suspected the truth in the supernatural – it seems to me more that he just liked the use of metaphor, in the Spinozan sense. But my issue with Einstein – and Spinoza – is that while metaphors are nice, it’s usually better to say what you actually mean.

    IOW, Scientists should leave the use of metaphor to those who work in literature.

  5. Dan Says:

    TH,
    Agreed, I would have much less objection to this Einstein quote had he used the word “spiritual” instead.

  6. Kittie Says:

    I have had way better emotions than the “mysterious”… some of them – there are no words to describe – and they are fleeting but extremely pleasant.

    Sometimes I think it is the memory or residue of these emotions that allows one to stay married… or not sell the kids to a band of roving gypsies.

    Watch your child sleeping….let yourself be overwelmed by the emotions that one can bring.

    But I guess he is right – it is the thing with no simple explanation or description that is there behind it all.. the tease that there is an answer to every question you could ever think of.. and it is always just a breath away.