Sumesh Kassie

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Was Albert Einstein a success or a failure?

Life changes little in terms of our basic needs and emotive wants, be it from within a cave, a hut, a home, or a high-rise apartment. What good is technological and scientific advancement when purpose and the markers of successful living remain unchanged?
I'm increasingly of the opinion that Albert was more a failure than a success.
Are we better off as a species because of him or worse off?
However you define success, it is imperative it makes you happy. If not, it should make the world a happier place.
What do you think?

  • Jan 25 2014: Everything is better understood in terms of both/and rather than either/or.:)
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      Jan 25 2014: Whilst I agree with you, I feel that the 'both' you speak of needs some balance.
      The issue I feel is greater than the limited scope of Einstein specifically. I feel we are growing to value a type of success and accomplishment that is as detrimental to our long term development as humans as is celebrating victorious soldiers or profane rock stars.
      Please no one reply with "are you seriously comparing Einstein to profane rock stars" . :)
      • Jan 25 2014: No worries, this kind of reply has no chance to cross my mind :)

        " I feel we are growing to value a type of success and accomplishment that is as detrimental to our long term development as humans."

        I think, we all share this feeling. And the very fact that we feel like this is a sign of change.
        You see, change is neither pleasurable nor painful, it's unseen and undetected, it's formed like a tide in the ocean, the metaphor is trivial , but perfect.
        Remember i asked you about a fractal vision ?
        It'll take tons of words to explain and most likely i won't succeed, i haven't verbalised it yet, but i have this uncanny gut feeling that it's a real change. We start to see world differently, and our place in it. The rest will come with.
      • Jan 25 2014: I dug deep to find the point where humanity went wrong, Darwin/ Wallace controversy seemed to be the point, then Newton vs Leibniz seemed to be it. Why Socrates didn't write a word ? So it goes on and on and the point when Yahweh Elohim was converted into Lord God, and still it's not the beginning. So, came up with the conclusion that there is no such a point and one to blame, absolutely no one. This reality fallows the script this reality dictates.
        Someone ( the philosopher i like ) asked : why we are here ? And answered : we are here to go.
        It seems to be true.
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          Jan 25 2014: Natasha,
          You get me!
          What a relief. I agree with you that the change forms like a tide does ... And like a tide lifts all the boats at once so that even though they are all higher, none can claim to be now higher than the others and possibly they all miss the change!
          The point you mention... Just yesterday I asked myself why does existence have to have a point.
          But all of this thinking changes nothing until we act. And if we act to promote the thinking then have we acted wisely?
          For me, however you define success, it has to result in an overall higher level of contentment and happiness.
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    Jan 25 2014: Sumesh,

    Prof. Einstein was an exceptionally gifted human being,but far from perfect-just another human being. It was his signature on a letter to the POTUS (FDR) that got us the Manhattan Project and its aftermath.
    Prof Einstein followed his passion -in Physics- just like Mozart-in music-. And as brilliant as these folks were (imo) is not fair to put the whole mankind's needs & wants on their heads(shoulders?)-That responsibility is individual- and if we get someone like Edison or Picasso to help us along, then great! Some of these fine minds rip secrets off the universe while others show us new perspectives, but at the end of the day is all on you and me.
    You ask-Was Albert Einstein a success or a failure? - from your point of reference he is not-and surprisingly imo- I think that Prof Einstein may have agreed with you-but not for the same reasons.

    " Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." Einstein

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    Jan 25 2014: If he's a failure, I'd like to fail in his way. :)
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      Jan 25 2014: Careful what you wish for...
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        Jan 26 2014: Thank you so much for your kindness~!:)
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      Jan 26 2014: I fully agreed with you up until your last few words. I hope I'm wrong but you sound as if you are dismissive of emotion based on its interference with logic.
  • Jan 25 2014: Success and failure depend on your objective.
    Only Einstein himself knew what he truly aimed for, but I suppose its fair to say he was a great success in some fields while a dismal failure in others. Thing is, some of those fields were more important to him then others.

    Remember that not everyone aspires to be a family man, and getting to a point your name is synonymous with genius is no small feat.
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    Jan 26 2014: I am a great admirer of Prof. Einstein. But, as much as I can appreciate his contributions, I am not sure that the human species is effected to the extent to consider if he was a success or a failure. I can list a number of individuals who have had a more profound effect on humanity. And having said that, I am not sure in retrospect if even my list has any real relevance in their success or failure in the continuance of our species.
    As for the philosophical bent this conversation is taking.. OK, but, I prefer a shaded porch and a glass of wine before entering that conversation...
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    Jan 26 2014: Just this last week Steven Hawking disputed one of Einsteins theories that black holes have "event horizons". That is a big step away from previous thought.

    However, we should realize that Einstein and his formula and high math concepts have been used successfully in both earth and space studies.

    So the question is: 1) has Einstein impacted our lives ... we must accept either directly or indirectly .. also 2) was he a success in his career field / area of studies ... and last 3) how will (and has) history judged him.

    1) Both directly and indirectly. Directly as many of the inventions we enjoy today are spin offs of either military or the space program. Those programs use the theories and math introduced and applied by Einstein.

    2) Yes he is the role model for time and space theories and relativity. He was a full Professor which gives him status in the academic community.

    3) History has granted him a special spot in the academic and science communities.

    However, if you use the markers of what makes a person a success in todays society such as wealth, property, and material things then he did not achieve those. But then Mother Theresa was also a failure using those criteria ... the Pope rose to the top of his profession but does not meet those criteria either ...

    So we are once again left with the issue of how do you determine success?

    I would disagree ... "However you define success, it is imperative it makes you happy. If not, it should make the world a happier place. " Two of the most basic and essential inventions is fire and the wheel. Both have been used for good and bad .. neither one in itself makes me happy or the world happy ... however, when used in specific circumstances it can do either or both. The pencil does not make me happy ... however the written work can inspire and encourage .. or sign my death warrant. That would be a bummer.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Jan 24 2014: Maybe a failure in regards to his social skills but not in other ways such as science, intellect or depth of personality. If you want to say he was a failure then make it specific to an aspect of his humanity but not as a general sweeping statement. Personally, I studied both special and general relativity and found the latter to be, by far, the most beautiful expression of physics ever created.
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      Jan 25 2014: I removed the waffle in the topic and contest that whatever aspect you choose, he was a failure.
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        Jan 25 2014: That is your own personal perception and judgment Sumesh, based on certain criteria you personally use to identify and judge your own success, and the success of another person?

        I just looked at your write...
        "You are only valuable to a system so long as you put into the system more value than you extract."

        Apparently, you have judged Albert Einstein as NOT of value to the system because in your opinion, he extracted more from the system than he put into the system? How so?
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          Jan 25 2014: I'm going through a philosophical phase. Yet I maintain it is likely his contribution, whilst gargantuan, may be pointless! I say this knowing I am bucking conventional wisdom and seemingly obvious logic. But consider this:
          How have we improved our lot as a species following the greater depth of understanding that we now have courtesy of theoretical physicists?
          We live in a world that largely remains unchanged in terms of how we feel about it. I may even go so far as to say we are collectively less satisfied with our lives now than we ever were.
          Could it be that maximally refined and optimised understandings of the laws that govern existence are a 'relatively' pointless pursuit? We still kill, love, experience joy, seek fulfilment, and do what we must to survive.
          Maybe if Albert Einstein, R J Oppenheimer etc. devoted more time to optimising and refining the practical aspects related to nature's laws, they would have moulded greater happiness for the people who they were closest to at the expense of their 'success'. And we would be none the wiser, or worse off.
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        Jan 25 2014: I don't agree with you Sumesh, regarding your perspective that our world largely remains unchanged in terms of how we feel about it. I believe there is a big change going on right now because of our communication systems. We are connecting with people around our world instantaneously, and that is a HUGE change from the past.

        Abuse and violation of human rights thrives in isolation, so when we can have this communication, and good dialogue, we may see abuse and violation of human rights decreasing.....I hope....I believe it is happening now.

        The challenges we face in our world did not happen over night, they are not going to be resolved quickly either, and it is up to each one of us to stay the course and move toward what we want to see in our world...."BE" what we want to "SEE" the change we want to see.

        You say....maybe if Einstein and Oppenheimer, etc. devoted more time to optimizing and refining practical aspects....they could have created greater happiness for people....could have....might have....that is speculation.

        That is in the past my friend. What useful purpose is there in speculating on what might have happened in the past IF someone did something differently? What is the point in choosing one person who lived in the past to decide if he could have....might have....done something different? How about spending the energy HERE and NOW to do what WE can do to reach our goals?
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          Jan 25 2014: Colleen,
          What's your answer to my topic question?
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        Jan 25 2014: My answer to your topic question Sumesh, is that I see no useful purpose in judging another person to be a success or a failure. I expressed that already:>)

        I think I "get" where you are coming from, and I do not agree.
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    Jan 24 2014: Mr. Kassie,

    You basically answered you own question. Yes, Einstein was a great physicist and scientist. His contribution to the body of knowledge we, humans, have produced is immense. On the other hand, his personal life is another story. There seems to be a trade-off between success in one's personal life and success in one's professional career.
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      Jan 25 2014: I dunno. I still feel his contribution is overrated...