2 thoughts on “Richard Feynman, on Limited Government

  1. Feynman Renormalized
    [In quantum field theory, the statistical mechanics of fields, and the theory of self-similar geometric structures, renormalization is a collection of techniques used to correct computations which otherwise would lead in infinities. Feynman was one the pioneer of renormalization.]

    As a physicist (not just a mathematician), I admire Feynman who wrote great lectures on physics, and is mostly famous for “Feynman Diagrams” a splendid, and perhaps deep way, to denote terms in the sort of power series expansion one has to consider in Quantum Field Theories.

    Feynman’s statement depends upon what one means by “government”. It also depends upon what type of government one is talking about. For clarity, I will consider that “government” here means “Direct Democracy”, the most perfect form of democracy, where the People (Demos) exert Power (Kratos). That means We the People rules and legislates.

    Then Feynman’s statement becomes to some extent self-referential, and self-condemning. Indeed, if it is a government by the citizens, for the citizens, the distinction between government and citizens disappear. By expecting such a distinction, Feynman, who was involved in the Manhattan Project (the making of nuclear bombs crowned, for want of a better concept, with Hiroshima and Nagasaki), seem to expect that government ought to be a dictatorship of some sort, out there, and up there.

    Government, in the most general sense, includes the legislative, judicial and police processes and the laws they built and enforce. As such, the government is deeply involved in finding out what is true, and which philosophies are valid, and which have not, supported by a rather rigorous view of history.

    So Feynman’s statement should be not just be reinterpreted as a warning to the citizenry to govern with an open mind. It also indicates a sort of naivety, a sort of Manichean view of the world out of physics.

    Unfortunately, just as Quantum Field Theories, our interpretation of the real world is self-referential, and non-linear. Our view of reality is constantly renormalized (in a way similar to what Quantum Field Theories do). We cannot separate government from truth, and especially not perfect government. And when truth is found, it has to be enforced.

    No government nowadays tolerate a religion conducive to human sacrifices (wait…) Because it was found such religions were not optimal, in light of more advanced philosophies. And that is so much the truth, it’s legislated that way, all over.

    The more powerful we become, the more perfect our government, We the Citizens, and the keener we will have to be to find the truth, and impose it, when lives, or the future, are at stake.

    Truth is not an innocent bystander. And, if the lie is too big, just one citizen, in a future soon to be, could condemn the “human race”.


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