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Relativity and Geometry (Dover Books on Physics) Revised ed. Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486690469
ISBN-10: 0486690466
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Roberto Torretti: In Praise of Dover
Robert Torretti was born in Chile in 1930 and received his PhD from the University of Freiberg in 1954. Professor Emeritus of the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Chile, he is now a Fellow of the Institut International de Philosophie. A prominent author on the history and philosophy of science, his books include The Philosophy of Physics (Cambridge, 1999) and Creative Understanding (The University of Chicago Press, 1990). Dover reprinted his Relativity and Geometry in 1996.

In the Author's Own Words:
"I first ran across Dover books in the 1950s as I browsed the shelves of a small bookshop in Santiago de Chile: clearly printed, firmly bound classics of science at incredibly affordable prices. I immediately realized their significance for a Third World would-be philosopher of science trying to make ends meet with a salary — or was it still my student's allowance? — eroded by chronic two-digit inflation.

"Since then, I have remained a devout buyer and reader of Dover books. Early on, I acquired three books which would be decisive for my subsequent research: Felix Klein's Elementary Mathematics from an Advanced Standpoint, Roberto Bonola's Non-Euclidean Geometry, and Hans Reichenbach's The Philosophy of Space and Time. I still keep them, as I do my copies of Campbell's Foundations of Science, and Lindsay and Margenau's Foundations of Physics, which secured me a philosophically solid approach to the field. Though profusely underlined and worn on the outside from too much handling, these books printed over half a century ago do not otherwise show any signs of their age.

"Naturally, I almost burst from pride when a book of mine was added to the Dover catalog in 1996." — Roberto Torretti, PhD, Dhc

Critical Acclaim for Relativity and Geometry:
"It is only rarely that historians and philosophers of science have the opportunity to welcome a work of the outstanding caliber of Torretti's Relativity and Geometry. It is distinguished by the tenacity of its scholarship and the uncompromising rigor of its exposition." — Foundations of Physics


Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Physics
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Revised ed. edition (April 2, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486690466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486690469
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,729,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Many years ago I took a course on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason with Robert Paul Woolf, a renowned Kantian. I loved the course. Here was a Philosopher not given to inscrutable mush about nothing (Hegel, for example). Kant's early work was Scientific and he was interested in all things epistemological: what we know, how we know it and is that knowledge valid? The Critique represents the apex of his "Copernican Revolution", in which he was forcibly awakened from "Dogmatic Slumber" by Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. Kant's Critique is a difficult read. He was inventing a new language for describing cognition and the processing of data presented to us by the Space-Time Manifold. His use of the word Manifold in this context is prescient. Kant also asked whether inferences extracted from that Manifold, and the chain of deductions inevitably attached to those inferences, held validity. These are the synthetic a priori judgements : non-tautological (in which the predicate of a sentence is not semantically contained in the subject-term) judgements held independently of sense experience. Since mathematical truths (and the sciences whose truths are written in mathematics) are dependent upon such judgements, Hume's fierce attack on our notion of causality essentially forced Kant to verify the possiblity of Mathematics and Science.

Roberto Torretti's book is a wonderfully deep study of Relativity. He offers what he calls a "historico-critical" exposition in the spirit of Mach. His emphasis is on geometrical ideas but it is emblematic of the richness of this study that it begins with Kant and his analysis of geometry (as part of the structure of our minds) as a paradigm of our a priori knowlege of nature.
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Format: Paperback
Although there were a few bumps in the road, this book tended to convey the main ideas without getting too technical and too pedestrian. In short, it is a good summary of the basic principles of relativity and how they apply to geometrical situations.
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