A quote by Feynman on flowers, illustrated with photos by me.

Richard P. Feynman
“I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

2 thoughts on “A quote by Feynman on flowers, illustrated with photos by me.

  1. Interesting thoughts let me poke a spoke in. We know that the flower is created over millions of years of effort by a blindwatch maker ( Richard Dawkins). Natural selection is a blind purposeless force. How can we have awe when there is no creator. Surely much more awe is deserved for The Moonlight Sonata which had a creator.

    • This is a list of some synonyms for awe:
      wonder, fear, respect, reverence, admiration, amazement, astonishment, veneration

      The creator of the Moonlight Sonata would inspire feelings of respect and admiration.
      The fact that the blind purposeless force of natural selection could produce something as beautiful as a flower could inspire feelings of amazement and astonishment.
      But to agree with your assertion, the process of natural selection would not likely inspire feelings of reverence or veneration, or of fear.

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