What I believe -- by Einstein (1930)

The following was originally published in October 1930 on FORUM, vol. LXXXIV, No.4. It has been a great inspiration to me, and I hope you enjoy reading it as well.

What I Believe Living Philosophies XIII by Albert Einstein

Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.

From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. My peace of mind is often troubled by the depressing sense that I have borrowed too heavily from the work of other men.

I do not believe we can have any freedom at all in the philosophical sense, for we act not only under external compulsion but also by inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying – “A man can surely do what he wills to do, but he cannot determine what he wills” – impressed itself upon me in youth and has always consoled me when I have witnessed or suffered life’s hardships. This conviction is a perpetual breeder of tolerance, for it does not allow us to take ourselves or others too seriously; it makes rather for a sense of humor.

To ponder interminably over the reason for one’s own existence or the meaning of life in general seems to me, from an objective point of view, to be sheer folly. And yet everyone holds certain ideals by which he guides his aspiration and his judgment. The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle.

Without the sense of collaborating with like-minded beings in the pursuit of the ever unattainable in art and scientific research, my life would have been empty. Ever since childhood I have scorned the commonplace limits so often set upon human ambition. Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.

My passionate interest in social justice and social responsibility has always stood in curious contrast to a marked lack of desire for direct association with men and women. I am a horse for single harness, not cut out for tandem or team work. I have never belonged wholeheartedly to country or state, to my circle of friends, or even to my own family. These ties have always been accompanied by a vague aloofness, and the wish to withdraw into myself increases with the years.

Such isolation is sometimes bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men. I lose something by it, to be sure, but I am compensated for it in being rendered independent of the customs, opinions, and prejudices of others, and am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shifting foundations.

My political ideal is democracy. Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized. It is an irony of fate that I should have been showered with so much uncalled-for and unmerited admiration and esteem. Perhaps this adulation springs from the unfulfilled wish of the multitude to comprehend the few ideas which I, with my weak powers, have advanced.

Full well do I know that in order to attain any definite goal it is imperative that one person should do the thinking and commanding and carry most of the responsibility. But those who are led should not be driven, and they should be allowed to choose their leader. It seems to me that the distinctions separating the social classes are false; in the last analysis they rest on force. I am convinced that degeneracy follows every autocratic system of violence, for violence inevitably attracts moral inferiors. Time has proved that illustrious tyrants are succeeded by scoundrels.

For this reason I have always been passionately opposed to such regimes as exist in Russia and Italy to-day. The thing which has discredited the European forms of democracy is not the basic theory of democracy itself, which some say is at fault, but the instability of our political leadership, as well as the impersonal character of party alignments.

I believe that you in the United States have hit upon the right idea. You choose a President for a reasonable length of time and give him enough power to acquit himself properly of his responsibilities. In the German Government, on the other hand, I like the state’s more extensive care of the individual when he is ill or unemployed. What is truly valuable in our bustle of life is not the nation, I should say, but the creative and impressionable individuality, and the personality – he who produces the noble and sublime while the common herd remains dull in thought and insensible in feeling.

This subject brings me to that vilest offspring of the herd mind – the odious militia. The man who enjoys marching in line and file to the strains of music falls below my contempt; he received his great brain by mistake – the spinal cord would have been amply sufficient. This heroism at command, this senseless violence, this accursed bombast of patriotism – how intensely I despise them! War is low and despicable, and I had rather be smitten to shreds than participate in such doings.

Such a stain on humanity should be erased without delay. I think well enough of human nature to believe that it would have been wiped out long ago had not the common sense of nations been systematically corrupted through school and press for business and political reasons.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which out dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own – a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.

Notes [ + ]

Aharon N. Varady (transcription)

Aharon Varady (M.A.J.Ed./JTSA Davidson) is a volunteer transcriber for the Open Siddur Project. If you find any mistakes in his transcriptions, please let him know . Shgiyot mi yavin; Ministarot naqeni שְׁגִיאוֹת מִי־יָבִין; מִנִּסְתָּרוֹת נַקֵּנִי "Who can know all one's flaws? From hidden errors, correct me" (Psalms 19:13). If you'd like to directly support his work, please consider donating via his Patreon account . (Varady also translates prayers and contributes his own original work besides serving as the primary shammes of the Open Siddur Project and its website, opensiddur.org.)

Aharon N. Varady (translation)

Aharon Varady (M.A.J.Ed./JTSA Davidson) is a volunteer translator for the Open Siddur Project. If you find any mistakes in his translations, please let him know . Shgiyot mi yavin; Ministarot Naqeni שְׁגִיאוֹת מִי־יָבִין; מִנִּסְתָּרוֹת נַקֵּנִי "Who can know all one's flaws? From hidden errors, correct me" (Psalms 19:13). If you'd like to directly support his work, please consider donating via his Patreon account . (Varady also transcribes prayers and contributes his own original work besides serving as the primary shammes for the Open Siddur Project and its website, opensiddur.org.)

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc^2, which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation." He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect," a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.

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This I Believe Albert Einstein Essay

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‘The search for truth is more precious than its possession’;Albert Einstein, also known as ‘The Father of The Nuclear Age,’; perhaps one of the most brilliant minds ever to exist was a very quiet man. ‘Einstein’s Theory of Relativity revolutionized scientific brought with new conceptions of time, space, mass, motion, and gravitation’; (Unknown, World Book Inc. )Albert Einstein contributed more than any other scientist to the modern vision of physical reality. His theory of relativity is held as human thought of the highest quality. (http://www-history.

mcs. st-andrews. ac. uk/history/Mathematicians/Einstein. html)Interested in human affairs and was one of the first supporters of a World Government, and had great compassion for people who were politically oppressed or economically oppressed.

He was also fond of classical music, and was a great player of the violin. He was born to Hermann and Paulina Koch Einstein on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Wrttemberg Germany. As a young boy at the age of five his father Hermann, showed him a little pocket compass. Einstein was deeply impressed by the mysterious behavior of the compass, because it always pointed at the same direction no matter what direction he was holding the compass itself. He later said ‘something deeply hidden had to be behind things.

‘; He attended public school in Munich, Germany and also in Aarau, Switzerland. Later Einstein Studied mathematics and physics at the Swiss Polytechnic institute in Zurich. From 1902 until 1909, Einstein worked as an examiner at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. This job gave him much time for scientific research. Einstein became a Swiss Citizen in 1905.

In 1933 while visiting the U. S. and England, Nazi Germany took seize of Einstein’s property and deprived his of his citizenship. Einstein on the other hand had been invited to study at Princeton, NJ at the Institute for Advanced Study. Einstein gladly accepted the invitation and lived there until his death in 1955.

His influential letter to President Roosevelt on August 2, 1939 started the Manhattan Project and through this project, without his influence many more Allied Power lives would have been lost in WWIIAlbert Einstein’s study of Physics and Mathematics was ingenious. Although I do not know much about the great mathematicians of the 20th century, I feel as if Albert Einstein contributed most to modern math than any other modern mathematician that I know of. His study of Physics and the progress he made in the understanding of physics gave him world-renowned attention. In 1922 he won the Nobel Peace Prize in Physics giving furthermore recognition.

Einstein also won medals such as the Gold Medal, Copley Medal of the Royal Society, and the Barnard Medal. Albert Einstein’s explanation of physics also gained him a lot of influence in the world of physics and of military personal because of the potentials of nuclear energy that were being explored. Einstein’s work in the field of physics helped explain atomic physics such as his most famous theory, ‘The Theory of Relativity. ‘; His findings on the theory of relativity (E=mc^2) helped show the potential of nuclear energy. With all of his findings and his own personal feelings on WWII Einstein felt he needed tell President Roosevelt about the potentials of a Nuclear Bomb and how the Germans were working on a bomb using Nuclear Energy. In the year 1939, Einstein and several other physicist worked together to write a letter to President Roosevelt about the need to start a nuclear program.

Only Einstein’s signature was on the letter showing that to me that he was the only person bold enough to stand up for what he believed in firmly, just like John Hancock and his famous signature in the Declaration of Independence. Einstein’s Letters to Roosevelt whom he sent stated,(Partial Letter One)Sir:Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and, if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration.

I believe therefore that it is my duty to bringto your attention the following facts and recommendations: In the course of the last four months it has been made probable -through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard inAmerica – that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future. This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable – though much less certain – that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove to be too heavy for transportation by air.

(Partial Letter Two)Since the outbreak of the war, interest in uranium has intensified in Germany. I have now learned that research there is carried out in great secrecy and that it has been extended to another of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, the Institute of Physics. (Albert Einstein, Ronald W. Clark. Einstein)What these letters did was, it sparked the start of the Manhattan project. The Manhattan Project was a covert operation to build an atomic bomb to use as soon as possible.

The Manhattan project was not know to the public and the details of it were not shared with Einstein himself. J. Robert Oppenheimer created the first atomic bomb, he was a scientist, philosopher, bohemian and radical, he was the man chosen to direct the construction of the first nuclear weapon by the U. S.

(Pentis Building, The Place Where the First Atomic Bomb was built)The Manhattan Project was the code name for the US effort during the War. It was named after the Manhattan Engineer District of the US Army Corps. Started by the letter from Albert Einstein and other refugee physicists in the US, the program was slowly organized after nuclear fission was discovered by German scientists, in 1938, and many US scientists feared the chance that Hitler would attempt to build a fission bomb. ‘ The object of the project is to produce a practical military weapon in the form of a bomb in which the energy is released by a fast neutron chain reaction in one of more of the materials known to show nuclear fission.

‘; (Robert Serber April, 1943)The Outcome of this project and Einstein’s idea was the first atomic bomb, a. k. a. Little Boy and the second atomic bomb, a. k.

a. Fat Man. The first bomb Little boy was dropped on the city of Hiroshima at 8:45 a. m.

August 6, 1945. Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets wrote ( Newsweek)’ A bright light filled the plane. ‘; ‘We turned back to look at Hiroshima. The city was hidden by that awful cloud;#8230; boiling up, mushrooming.

‘; ‘For a moment, no one spoke. Then everyone was talking. ‘; ‘Look at that!, Look at that!’; Exclaimed the co. -pilot, Robert Lewis, pounding to Tibbets’s shoulder.

Lewis said he could taste atomic fission: it tasted like lead. Then he turned away to written in his journal. ‘My God,’; he asked himself, ‘what have we done?’; (Special Report, ‘Hiroshima: August 6, 1945)the point where the atomic bomb exploded was approximately 2,000 ft above the building that is now called the A- bomb dome. This act of power from the US showed the world that the US was not a country to be messed with. It led to a quick end with Japan. Now the Axis Powers had lost a greatly needed ally in the war.

Also now the Russians who agreed with the Allied Powers to help fight off the Japanese in the Pacific could put all of their resources and man power into the fight against the Axis Powers in Europe. This act by the US was not a humane thing to do, but is war humane anyhow? This act helped end the war with Japan and it saved many US lives because now the US did not have to send in ground troops into Japanese territory before their surrender. Not only for the years during the war but for years to come it showed how far superior American technology and the might of our country. Without Einstein’s influence many more Allied Power lives would have been lost in WWII. I feel most importantly that the fact he was of Jewish decent is what most importantly helped the US in a very odd way.

Einstein was asked by the Germans to lead in their research for the atomic bomb, but he refused obviously because of their intentions against the Jewish people. Also if Einstein had decided to join the German program they would probably have been ready to build the atomic bomb. President Roosevelt also would probably have never been called to the attention of the probability of the Germans building an atomic bomb and have never received the key letter from Einstein or anyone else to start the Manhattan Project. Even though Einstein did not participate in the building of the atomic bomb I feel he was the foremost major contributor in the completion of the atomic bomb. For reasons such as; He was a pioneer in the science of physics, he could have joined the enemy in the atomic race, the US might have even never know about the possibility of an atomic bomb, and Albert Einstein held enough stature and prestige to persuade a president on such a costly weapon that has had no prior use and which was being built primarily on theories.

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This I Believe

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