Grothendieck on innocence

Let me start my blog with some powerful words by Grothendieck that I would like to share with you all.

In our acquisition of knowledge of the Universe (whether mathematical or otherwise) that which renovates the quest is nothing more nor less than complete innocence. It is in this state of complete innocence that we receive everything from the moment of our birth. Although so often the object of our contempt and of our private fears, it is always in us. It alone can unite humility with boldness so as to allow us to penetrate to the heart of things, or allow things to enter us and taken possession of us.

This unique power is in no way a privilege given to “exceptional talents” – persons of incredible brain power (for example), who are better able to manipulate, with dexterity and ease, an enormous mass of data, ideas and specialized skills. Such gifts are undeniably valuable, and certainly worthy of envy from those who (like myself) were not so “endowed at birth, far beyond the ordinary”.

Yet it is not these gifts, nor the most determined ambition combined with irresistible will-power, that enables one to surmount the “invisible yet formidable boundaries” that encircle our universe. Only innocence can surmount them, which mere knowledge doesn’t even take into account, in those moments when we find ourselves able to listen to things, totally and intensely absorbed in child’s play.

— Alexander Grothendieck


About kongliang

I am a mathematician interested in quantum field theory.
This entry was posted in English. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Grothendieck on innocence

  1. Mr WordPress says:

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

  2. Humble Observer says:

    interesting. very true. my blog is dedicated to this.

  3. Tim says:

    Hi, do you know the source of this quote?

  4. jumanji says:

    So who are you? You havent stated whether youre a professor or student in math or background. Are you a gennius?
    Please inform us..

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