Feynman always experienced a deep sense of awe and wonder at the deeper physics of a flower---things about a flower that, to most of us, seem inherently not to be immediately obvious to the human mind and the human senses. I expect that Feynman took relish in hearing and reading of these deeper physics. In any case, he took great enthusiasm in his own language-mediated efforts to impart a sense of awe in other persons about these deeper physics.
During some point in his efforts to impart to others this sense of awe, a friend expressed to him experiencing a sense of deflation from this deeper ‘knowledge’ of a flower. In recalling this in a BCC interview, Feynman said that he thinks this friend is ‘kind of nutty’.
What complicated Feyman’s relationship to this friend is that Feynman seems to have equated this ‘knowledge’ with the power to do anything except cause someone to feel deflated. Feynman felt antagonized by the fact that his friend felt oppressed by that ‘knowledge’. Feynman believed that the information constituting his language-mediated effort to transmit to others the wonderful deep physics of a flower was sure to have the inspiring effect he intended---that is, so long as the person who received that information was not in some way perceptually defective, obstinate, or anti-science.
So, it seems that, despite his emphasis that science is at least as much a process of discovery as of a body of…knowledge, Feynman conducted his relationship with other persons regarding that knowledge as if that knowledge is like a tree that just sits there for which everyone with any sense about it can plainly see for what it wonderfully is. In effect, Feynman was saying that others’ minds ought, in relation to his own favored knowledge, be treated as blanks slates whenever those minds are at odds with his own aesthetic perceptions of any of that knowledge. As Wayne Bowman puts it, and in regard to the education of none other than that queen of the human aesthetic sense, music:
As humanly-generated meanings, the consequences of musical and instructional actions are plural, ever-changing, and contextually and personally relative. Their anticipation, then, requires contextual, local, and even individual considerations. No particular consequences follow inexorably from musical or instructional engagements: all are contingent.
In other words, the effectively inhumane micro-management of others starts out as the effectively tyrannical effort to impose one’s own personal unique version of humanity onto others—others who are not, in fact, in effect one’s psychological or cognitive clones. Einstein said that it is possible to make an otherwise healthy carnivore hate meat by forcing the carnivore to eat meat always exactly at those times when that carnivore is not hungry.
So, the problem is when thought, so-called, is deemed more worthy than the very senses by which thought ever is provoked. Musical sense----like knowing instinctively how to sort socks non-randomly---is the foundation of the ability to get somewhere besides where you are planted without losing a sense of where you came from, and where you are, in fact, headed.
Contrary to what Feynman seems to have thought of those who object to having the physics of a flower shoved down their intellectual throats, even when we venture beyond our own original garden, it is not to spread an 'objective' descriptive desolation of ‘you are nutty’ to the outlands in an indifferent, much less antagonistic, reflection of those outlands’ seeming current state. Rather, it is to increase upon those lands’ genuine current sense of a good-and-familiar paradise. In short, to merely describe what we seem to meet in world is not the end of language, but, at best, the beginning.
Feynman failed to realize that, in terms of persons’ relations to each other in the exploration and discovery of the world, one person’s legitimate meaningful appreciation of some bit of the world can get lost by that very person’s feeling beholden to a substitutionary sense of what it means to follow the directions to another person’s more deeply ‘authoritative’ appreciation of the world. The result, for that first person, is at once a genuine sense of deflation and distortion: a deflation of what ought to be free to remain meaningful, and a distortion as to what to take to be meaningful in its place: utility but not pleasure; money in the bank but not proper food in the belly.
Feynman was convinced that science is a human enterprise, not merely a body of knowledge. So, he should have known that it ever only has been through persons’ personal sense of discovery-and- realization that that body of knowledge even exists, never mind that it came into being, was added to, and ever is effectively taught.
But, though Feynman could see the deeper delicate beauties of a flower, he was blind to the deeper delicate beauties of humanity. He barely understood even his own relation to his own sense of beauty at the physics of a flower, the necessarily delicate path by which he had acquired it. It may be that he never felt his aesthetic appreciation of a flower deflated by a deeper knowledge of its physics. But, if that is so, then he was only like the butterfly who, despite the delicateness of its wings, had never found itself in anyone’s personally favorite tornado, much less impaled by a pin to some highly crafted, but dead, piece of tree.
Only the ‘Vulcan’ language chauvinist would ride to the end the notion that the dynamic difference between music and language is the proper domain only of language. In marshaling the cognitive powers of representation/reference, language has the ugly potential of throwing your basic sense of a flower off its own bus. This is by your brain's habit of partially, if only temporarily, deferring its own primary visceral sense of a flower to the power of language to provide you with a 'more true sense’ of the flower. That’s when you feel like: “It’s not really a flower, it’s just a bunch of molecules.” It is only when this adverse potential of language becomes habitual upon certain more sensitive minds do effective language chauvinists like Richard Feynman quite unscientifically call these persons 'nutty'.
In sum, cognition comes in (at least) two basic kinds, or modes: sense and reference. Think looking at a flower vs. pointing at a flower. Normally, when your companion points at a flower, they intend for you to follow their finger so that you shall look at the flower, too. Likewise, when you see a flower, and you want for your companion to see it, you use your voice or your writing to direct their attention to it. Sense and reference are each normative. But, they must be normative together in a given mind, else either may act to lock the other out of the dynamic equation of that person's intelligence. In the case of reference, the expectation of truth is the Normative Stance of interpreting instances of language, as such. But, when a given instance of language effects to over-ride within a given person a given cognitively legitimate sense, then the language becomes a de-expansionary thief of that person's general good sense by substitution of the normative intellectual-aesthetic expansion; A person's direct good experience in seeing the flower is substituted by the sense of duty to follow the Pointing Finger of Facts About the Flower, such that when they see the flower, they feel mainly not the sight of the flower, but their sense of duty to admit those 'facts' about the flower.