“The 1927 Solvay Conference in Brussels, a gathering of the world’s top physicists.” Public Domain via Wikipedia

Channeling Einstein

Writing a story using other people’s words.

I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
(‘The Saturday Evening Post’ 1929)

I have no doubt that our thinking goes on for the most part without the use of signs (words), and, furthermore, largely unconsciously. For how, otherwise, should it happen that sometimes we “wonder” quite spontaneously about some experience? This “wondering” appears to occur when experience comes into conflict with a world of concepts that is already sufficiently fixed within us.
(‘Autobiographical Notes’ Schilpp, 1949, pp. 8–9)

These thoughts did not come in any verbal formulation. I rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterward.
(‘Productive Thinking’ Wertheimer, 1959, pp. 213; Pais, 1982)

A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. That means it is not reached by conscious logical conclusions. But think it through afterwards you can always discover the reasons which have lead you unconsciously to your guess and you will find a logical way to justify it. Intuition is nothing but the outcome of accumulated earlier intellectual experience.
(‘Einstein from ‘B’ to ‘Z’’ Stachel, 2001, pp. 89)

The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined… The above mentioned elements are, in my case, of visual and some of a muscular type… Conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the associative play already referred to is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will.
(‘The Mathematician’s Mind: The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field’ Hadamard, 1945, pp. 142–3)

Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking, and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science. If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, then it is science. If it is communicated through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively as meaningful, then we are engaged in art. Common to both is the loving devotion to that which transcends personal concerns and volition.
(‘Einstein from ‘B’ to ‘Z’’ Stachel, 2001, pp. 88)

Don’t listen to his words, examine his achievements. For to the discoverer in that field, the constructions of his imagination appear so necessary and so natural that he is apt to treat them not as the creations of his thoughts but as given realities.
[…]
The basic concepts and laws which are not logically further reducible constitute the indispensable and not rationally deducible part of the theory. It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.
The conception here outlined of the purely fictitious character of the basic principles of theory was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries still far from being the prevailing one. But it continues to gain more and more ground because of the ever-widening logical gap between the basic concepts and laws on the one side and the consequences to be correlated with our experiences on the other — a gap which widens progressively with the developing unification of the logical structure, that is with the reduction in the number of the logically independent conceptual elements required for the basis of the whole system.
(‘On the Method of Theoretical Physics’ Einstein, the Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford, 1933)

The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the power of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms — this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.
(‘The Merging of Spirit and Science’ Einstein)

This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.
This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
(‘Mein Weltbild’ Einstein)

Many persons have inquired concerning a recent message of mine that “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels.”
Often in evolutionary processes a species must adapt to new conditions in order to survive. Today the atomic bomb has altered profoundly the nature of the world as we knew it, and the human race consequently finds itself in a new habitat to which it must adapt its thinking.
In the light of new knowledge, a world authority and an eventual world state are not just desirable in the name of brotherhood, they are necessary for survival. In previous ages a nation’s life and culture could be protected to some extent by the growth of armies in national competition. Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars.
(‘The Real Problem is in the Hearts of Man’ Amrine, New York Times Magazine, 1946)

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.
(‘The New Quotable Einstein’ Calaprice , p. 206, dated February 12 1950)

Why does this magnificent applied science which saves work and makes life easier bring us so little happiness? The simple answer runs: Because we have not yet learned to make sensible use of it. In war it serves that we may poison and mutilate each other. In peace it has made our lives hurried and uncertain. Instead of freeing us in great measure from spiritually exhausting labor, it has made men into slaves of machinery, who for the most part complete their monotonous long day’s work with disgust and must continually tremble for their poor rations. … It is not enough that you should understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man’s blessings. Concern for the man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavours; concern for the great unsolved problems of the organization of labor and the distribution of goods in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.
(‘
Einstein Sees Lack in Applying Science’ Einstein, The New York Times, 1931)

The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much virtue of his individuality but rather as a member of a great human community.
(‘Society and Personality’ Einstein)

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.
(‘The World As I See It’ Einstein)

— Albert Einstein

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