Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Autonomy, Tolerance & Gems from Einstein

I've written here previously about Walter Isaacson's biography of Albert Einstein on the topic of Einstein's fierce independence and individual autonomy. In Einstein's words:

-"Blind respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." (p.67)

-"Long live impudence! It is my guardian angel in this world." (p.73)

-"[Some part of genius is due to a measure of] incorruptible skepticism and independence." (p. 83)

-“When teaching history, there should be extensive discussions of personalities who benefited mankind through independence of character and judgment.” (p.6)

-"It is important to foster individuality, for only the individual can produce the new ideas." (p.7)

Isaacson sums, "[Einstein's] success came from questioning conventional wisdom, challenging authority, and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals. Tyranny repulsed him, and he saw tolerance not only as a sweet virtue but as a necessary condition for a creative society." (p.7)