People I Admire

I admire a few public figures intensely. Among those who are still around, the physicist Murray Gell-Mann makes that short list. Among the dear departed physicists are Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman. Politicians mostly make it to my list of “Most Intensely Disliked” list but there is one exception: Lee Kuan Yew makes it to “Most Intensely Admired” list. My list “Economists I Admire the Most” has the usual suspects like Adam Smith, Friedrich August von Hayek, Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman — and James M Buchanan,Jr.

Buchanan passed away only recently in Jan 2013. To get a quick sense of who he was, read the NY Times obituary of Buchanan by Robert McFadden (an economist)

Buchanan is my guide to my current study of constitutional public choice. Once I have a decent handle on the topic, I am sure to write about it on this blog.

Moving on, among people whose concern are matters spiritual, I hold Matthieu Ricard in the highest esteem. He is the only one whom I have met in person and chatted with. Here’s a recent video of his that I recommend.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/matthieu_ricard_how_to_let_altruism_be_your_guide.html

In this TED talk, Matthieu touches on the topic of climate change. That’s a topic that I have not expressed an opinion about but I do have a very definite — and unpopular — opinion. I think what is generally (but not by all) recommended is a bunch of hogwash.

Moving on to philosophers: by nature my thinking is most consonant with Advaita Vedanta. Since it was developed centuries ago by the ancients in India, not as much as known about those who developed them. You don’t see them on YouTube or TED talks unlike the modern philosophers. (Just btw, I consider those economists I mentioned as “worldly philosophers”.) My list of philosophers includes Adi Sankara (Hindu) and Nagarjuna (Buddhist.)

I will have to write a more comprehensive list one of these days.

8 thoughts on “People I Admire

  1. Gell-Man is considered vile among the physics fraternity for his denial of recognition to George Sudarshan by blatant omission about the origin of the first theory on the weak nuclear force. He and Feynman went on to hog the glory for their publication, although, Feynman was the bigger man and tried to rectify the egregious error by stating that that theory was first formulated by Sudarshan-Marshak and published by Feynman-Gell-Man.

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      1. There is quite a lot of information about this controversy on the interwebs, One such article with some historical perspective presented here:

        http://www.ias.ac.in/resonance/Volumes/16/09/0801-0820.pdf

        I’m sure you’ll enjoy the other trivia about Feynman and others

        In “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” Feynman himself included information on this and acknowledged the seminal work of George Sudarshan and Marshak. I can’t confirm this, but apparently the first publication of the book didn’t have this and was a later addition.

        Life’s indeed not fair and the Nobel committees over the years doubly so. As Feynman stated, these prizes were indeed A Nobel’s other great mistake.

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      2. Thanks for the link to the “Hiding in the Mirror” article by Krauss. I glanced at it and will read it later. (There’s a grammatical error in the first paragraph which the editors of the book missed. Krauss wrote “turned every particle physicists’ world upside down”. It should be ” turned every particle physicist’s world upside down” since “every” is singular.)

        Talking of Feynman’s SYJMF, I recommend his “Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track.”

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  2. I have been reader of this blog for more than 6 years. I have been introduced to some interesting and inspiring people through your writings whom I have started admiring. Here is the short list:

    Charlie Munger
    Richard Dawkins
    Christopher Hitchens
    Sam Harris

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    1. Good to know that my blog was in some small measure helpful to you. Thanks for your comment. I too admire those you mentioned. I feel most acutely the absence of Hitchens. He was one of a kind. I am fortunate to have met him a couple of times, although briefly.

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  3. Thanks fro sharing Atanu. Knowing the people you admire is a good start to understand the thinking that drives those people. Looking forward to more of why you admire them and what we can learn from them.

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