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By late accounts from Rotterdam, that city seems to be in a high state of philosophical excitement. Indeed, phenomena have there occurred of a nature so completely unexpected--so entirely novel--so utterly at variance with preconceived opinions--as to leave no doubt on my mind that long ere this all Europe is in an uproar, all physics in a ferment, all reason and astronomy together by the ears.
The highest wisdom is established, not on reason alone, not on those worldly sciences, physics, history, chemistry, and the like, on which intellectual knowledge stumbles. The highest wisdom is one. The highest wisdom has one science, the science of the All, the universal science which explains all creation, and the place which man occupies in it.
I believe that all those to whom God has given the use of reason are bound to use it mainly to know Him and to know themselves. This is where I endeavored to begin my own research, and I can say that I would have been unable to find the foundation of physics had I not sought after them in this way In William R. Shea
First you must have faith in an eternal world independent of you; then you must have faith in your ability to perceive it, and finally you must try to explain it by means of concepts or mathematical constructions. But don't always accept traditional concepts without reexamining them. Even overthrow my relativity theory, if you find a better one.... You must believe that the world was created as a unified whole which is comprehensible to man. Of course, it's going to take an infinitely long time to investigate this unified creation. But to me that is the highest and most sacred duty—unifying physics. Simplicity is the criterion of the universe.
I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was 'It won the fight!'
M. Desargues puts me under obligations on account of the pains that it has pleased him to have in me, in that he shows that he is sorry that I do not wish to study more in geometry, but I have resolved to quit only abstract geometry, that is to say, the consideration of questions which serve only to exercise the mind, and this, in order to study another kind of geometry, which has for its object the explanation of the phenomena of nature... You know that all my physics is nothing else than geometry.
Our experience hitherto justifies us in trusting that nature is the realization of the simplest that is mathematically conceivable. I am convinced that purely mathematical construction enables us to find those concepts and those lawlike connections between them that provide the key to the understanding of natural phenomena. Useful mathematical concepts may well be suggested by experience, but in no way can they be derived from it. Experience naturally remains the sole criterion of the usefulness of a mathematical construction for physics. But the actual creative principle lies in mathematics. Thus, in a certain sense, I take it to be true that pure thought can grasp the real, as the ancients had dreamed.
The axioms of physics translate the laws of ethics. Thus, "the whole is greater than its part;" "reaction is equal to action;" "the smallest weight may be made to lift the greatest, the difference of weight being compensated by time;" and many the like propositions, which have an ethical as well as physical sense. These propositions have a much more extensive and universal sense when applied to human life, than when confined to technical use.