To be competent in an art of living that draws on Stoicism requires learning about physics, which is to say the nature of the world. To live in accord with nature you need to have an understanding of it. Of course, it makes little sense trying to live with the understanding of the natural world that the Stoics had 2,000 years ago. What we need is an understanding of nature and its processes, that acts as a guide in our life today.
This isn’t as hard as it might sound. Basic physics and other sciences are something we can relearn with only a high school science background. The book pictured above — a recreation of Richard Feynman’s lecture on the motion of the planets around the sun — is one of the very best books to help deepen our logic and understanding of physics.
Feynman won a Nobel prize for Physics. He was also a renowned teacher. In this lecture he set out to do the mathes of Isaac Newton’s revolutionary law of ellipses. This great discovery of the 1600’s is a clear example of how the world we think we live in, is not the same as the one Seneca and the other Stoics thought they were living in.
What Feynman set out to do in this lecture is recreate Newton’s mathematical proof that the motion of the planets around the sun is elliptical. However, the task he set himself was not straight forward. Newton, writing in his Principia Mathematica proved this description of the physical universe in 2 or 3 pages of calculus. What Feynman wanted to do was establish the mathematical proof using simple geometry.
The book by the Goodstein’s follows step-by-step how Feynman did exactly that. The genius of Feynman’s proof is that many more of us can follow along, and grasp with our intellect one of the wonders of natural philosophy. I hope you find it as profound as me.
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