I have never had the pleasure of meeting Richard Feynman (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988). Reading the Wiki entry on Feynman is both humbling and delightful. What a prodigious brain, what a sensibility, what delight he takes in being alive and learning. But to get a better understanding of who he is, you need to watch an interview of his The Pleasure of Finding Out Things. It is 50 minutes long. I have spent too many hours watching that video. Here was a kindred spirit, I thought to myself, when I first saw that video on public television many years ago.
Watch that video. I am doing so right now as I write this. Here is a bookmark: around time-stamp 6:15, he talks about the distinction between knowing a thing and knowing the name of the thing, which his father taught him. That idea keeps bouncing around in my head. Much too often our education system concentrates on naming things and not so much on understanding the nature of the thing. Feynman was an absolutely amazing teacher because I think he was an absolutely amazing student. It was from his father that he learnt to observe and after observing, ask questions. Continue reading