• The Meaning of it All

  • Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist
  • By: Richard P. Feynman
  • Narrated by: Raymond Todd
  • Length: 2 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,148 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this collection of lectures that Richard Feynman originally gave in 1963, unpublished during his lifetime, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist discusses several of the ultimate questions of science. What is the nature of the tension between science and religious faith? Why does uncertainty play such a crucial role in the scientific imagination? Is this really a scientific age?

Marked by Feynman's characteristic combination of rationality and humor, these lectures provide an intimate glimpse at the man behind the legend. He says at the start of his final lecture, "I dedicate this lecture to showing what ridiculous conclusions and rare statements such a man as myself can make." Rare, perhaps, and irreverent, sure. But ridiculous? Not even close.

©1998 Michelle Feynman and Carl Feynman (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What listeners say about The Meaning of it All

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Meh....

Mostly highlights of "Surely you're joking, Mr Feynman." From the onset, he admits to getting out of his depth with non-scientific statements, and accordingly, I found many of his philosophies to be straightforwardder, but shallow, opinions. Clearly a very nice man, engaged with his world and his time. Lovingly self-deprecating understanding the limits of his knowledge. My only criticism is that I thought at first this was a book he had written and thus had given time to think things through. However this is really a post-mortem compilation of lectures, speeches, and anecdotes, some of which comes off as random thoughts blurted out that were simply inaccurate.

Lastly, the title conveys to the reader an expectation of learning some insight on Dr Feynman's personal philosophy of life. Instead we get the idea from the text, quite wrongly I assume, that he never gave "the meaning of it all" much thought. In place of searching for meaning, mechanisms, or truth, this book leads one to believe Dr Feynman never sought such questions. This I doubt. The meaning of it all?......."just because"......

18 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable

It’s worth reading. Concise, precise ant to the point. Easy to follow. Beautiful description of science.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Insightful

Feynman does not dissapoint in this series of three lectures. In other Feynman titles, Feynman will veil some of his views, in these lectures he lets it all out. Great book.

11 people found this helpful

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Must Listen/Read For All

This book is truly insightful. I’m not a physicist, nor have I ever been interested in any form of philosophical readings, but The Meaning of it All is an incredible read for everyone, regardless of their occupation or specialty. Feynman does an excellent job of explaining humanity, ethics, morality, religion, government, etc and, while remaining neutral on all these topics, he is able to show how science is NOT at odds with or disproving of any of these ideas. I specifically enjoyed his discussion on morality and religion because he clearly emphasizes that these beliefs can coexist with scientific theories. I highly recommend!

2 people found this helpful

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Great!

I love these lectures! Fun, insightful, and they aged well. These are still very relevant.

2 people found this helpful

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Teach in schools

I think if this book was taught in school, we would have a lot more critical thinkers and a much larger love of learning. Also, a lot less flat earthers! Definitely worth the listen!

2 people found this helpful

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Be open for the unknown

There is a rush to create and produce amazing products and services- to “perfect” them without flaws. A theory- vision is not suppose to be fine tuned or discovered all the details- there must be a room for the unknown, to grow the theory as others add in. I do not have an intense scientific background on how to present a theory, how to develop one or know when it is ready for presentation to the public. What was my personal block and ignorance was lifted. As, discovering in this book a single piece of information which now I’m raised in self assurance to present a theory which isn’t 100% defined….yet…when, the present physical world seems to lack the information I need to move forward. I lean on the thoughts of those before me, in filling in my own personal journey gaps. Many scientific books are filled with “scientific language” and need a dictionary along side it as they speak the community tribal lingo when addressing the public. What I love is how simple the words flow in the thoughts and on very complex topics. When I began my own personal theory journey I leaned on Einstein to define my own thoughts to the point of simple. The big words are great inside communities when everyone else knows it or when wanting to only target that group. As Feynman presents that discussing thoughts from origin and repeating them helps those who arrive with gaps and a single book is a infinite gift of wisdom for those who will find a tiny piece for their personal journey to move forward. When, you choose to read this book- May it be as filling for your life gap as it was for mine today. Thank you

1 person found this helpful

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What a remarkable experience!

Maybe it’s because I am very deeply interested and fascinated by the workings of the Brain, or better, by the combined workings of the Body’s Systems and the Brain to create the Conscious Human Mind, that I found it such a joy to listen to Feynman’s words. His meandering considerations of the underpinnings of logic, belief, analogy, and their application in Religion, Politics, Ideology and Modern Culture was a pleasure to read.

While some of his references were obviously dated, it was amazing to hear how many of the issues he raised in trying to explain the Life of the Mind are applicable to our current problems with sloppy thinking and the relics of ancient beliefs.

All in all, a great read and one I didn’t want to end. Four Stars. ****

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Cowardly work

Dude can’t answer the question he ventured to answer because he can’t know anything. He knows horoscopes are nonsense (how he knows that is a mystery, presumably by revelation?) but he has no idea if capitalism is better than socialism??

This is skepticism run amok. The author explicitly calls this fence sitting and considers it a virtue. Do not recommend.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Was hoping for better

I was hoping for a lot better. While there were insights and interesting thoughts in the book, they were connected loosely without leading to anywhere of significance. A great part of the disappointment came from the narrator - the life of Feynman's original lectures was simply not there.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marc
  • 11-14-11

Inspired, but demanding

The lecture covers a wide range of thoughts on finding meaning in life and in what we do. The depth of thought is thoroughly exploring most aspects of every day interest and although he comes clearly from a scientist's point of view, this is a philosophical exploration of meaning for all aspects of human existence in a form that is accessible for everybody. No prior knowledge is required.
The only criticism I have is that occasionally the listener has to pay close attention of context, as Feynman is quick in assuming you know what he means with "so on and so on" or similarly referential shortcuts.
If you want to learn more about how/where to find meaning and you find that you dislike grande ideologies, like me when I chose this audiobook, this book will provide great inspiration.

4 people found this helpful

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  • LC
  • 08-31-21

Another amazing Feynman book

I found this one just as thought provoking, educational and enjoyable as the other Feynman books that I have listened to so far. Well worth listening to.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 01-07-15

Very enjoyable

Sound arguments in an enjoyable manner. A very good book by an undervalued genius. It is also a good book to start with if you are not familiar with Feynman.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tom O'Rourke
  • 10-20-21

Richard P. Feynman. The tutor.

A lifelong love and admiration of such a sentient being has taught me to question all authorities, something I still do to this day even to the self centred uniformed youth who have become what I term "Google-heads" who over the last 20 years have raised their collective consensus into a "Google worshiping" society without any realisation that "Google" is the 21st century Bible that has as many chapters of disinformation and contradictions as the Holy Bible or for that matter any religious tome contains.
Will it end in another lost generation to mass information without clear boundaries and the necessary doubt as law?
Even my generation of post WW2 almost lost the individual will to stand up for one's own convictions and not be pressed to take authorities as sacrosanct entities, I think all that can be said is to let us see what transpires over the decades to come as the avalanche begins to settle.
I add as I have always done that technology and science is not at fault it is the scientist and technicians who advocate and promote the preordaind values of "progress" they aquire in the indoctrination into the respective entities the majority will sadly take for granted.
I end with this statement "progress is the offspring of failure".
P.S. I use the term "Google" as the analogy of the Internet and computer technology of which I have decades of experience.
Tom O'Rourke 1953...?

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lucia Ramos
  • 01-31-15

You gotta love Feynman!

A great physicist, a great man, and above all, a great story teller!
He is really good and engaging. Really enjoyed this lectures

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alan Michael Forrester
  • 04-13-13

Good lectures

This is an audiobook of some lectures given by Feynman on methodology in science and on politics. The narrator reads it clearly. If you want to know what Feynman thought about these subjects you should listen to it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • danielius
  • 04-30-22

good book

Lovely book, scientists point of view, about life, religion, countries, and impact of scientific method.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-19-22

This man was a genious

The reasoning in this book are both fascinating and compelling. Clearly the book contains Feynman's own beliefs and understanding of the universe, and as such it's a great book.

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  • Peter Lawless
  • 03-13-22

manah for the enquiring mind

Mr Feynman explores how much of what is purportedly science is just pure laziness or a lack of willingness to undertake scientific rigour.. it might help you think better for yourself

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  • John Fraser
  • 01-03-22

Nauseating in the extreme

Nauseating. Rambling and without any tangible content. Tedious. A science book without a discernible piece of science in it. Zzz Zzzz Zzzz

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  • vh
  • 06-26-19

Overall Enriching.

Pretty solid attempt at demystifying scientific knowledge for the average citizen as well as those of higher education.