The voice of Albert Einstein

Have you ever heard Albert Einstein talking? In the fall of 1941, Albert Einstein gave this extraordinary reading of his essay "The Common Language of Science" to the British Association for the Advancement of Science. It's truly fascinating.


Einstein's essay first touches on the incongruity of language and thought:

Is there no thinking without the use of language, amely in concepts and concept-combinations for which words need not necessarily come to mind? Has not every one of us struggled for words although the connection between 'things' was already clear?

However, he goes on to emphasize that the two are not entirely disparate:

The supernational character of scientific concepts and scientific language is due to the fact that they have been set up by the best brains of all countries and all times. In solitude, and yet in cooperative effort as regards the final effect, they created the spiritual tools for the technical revolutions which have transformed the life of mankind in the last centuries. Their system of concepts has served as a guide in the bewildering chaos of perceptions so that we learned to grasp general truths from particular observations.

The final part of his speech emphasizes that science is just the means, not the endgoal. And as Open Culture notes, this was, of course, alluding to the circumstances surrounding World War II. Still, Einstein's brilliant words are just as true now as they were then, but nothing drives the point home quite like hearing the man himself speak it.



This is who I was thinking of: