558 of 569 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2001
Readers should be aware that this edition of "The World As I See It" is, in fact, an abridged version of the original publication. Without bothering to mention this on the title page, it has dropped the entire fifth section on "Scientific Questions," including such classic popular expositions of Einstein's basic philosophy as "Geometry and Experience" and "Principles of Research." Editing a book of Einstein's writings which deliberately excludes all mention of science is like publishing a biography of Mozart - without any reference to music.
It is, I think, significant of the dumbing down of American publishing that the German edition of the same book ("Mein Weltbild," published by Ullman) has continuously added new material on politics, fascism, Judaism, peace and science over the years! Readers who want to know what Einstein was really like should obtain a used copy of the original full version.
193 of 195 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2006
This book (first published in 1934) contains brief writings of physicist Albert Einstein (1879 to 1955), one of the most creative intellects of the twentieth century. It contains articles (speeches, letters, statements, etc.) from early in his career.
This book gives a personal portrait of the man behind the scientific legend.
The book itself is divided into four parts:
(1) The world as I see it (about 30 articles). This is my favorite part.
(2) Politics and pacifism (almost 20 articles). Einstein was a pacifist (one who opposes the use of force under any circumstances).
(3) Germany (3 articles). Einstein was born in Ulm, Wurttemberg, Germany. (He later emigrated to the United States in late 1932.)
(4) The Jews (just over 10 articles). Einstein was Jewish.
Finally, if this book is so good, then why did I give it the rating I did? Two reasons.
First, there is a much more comprehensive book that also has gathered Einstein's writings. It is called "Ideas and Opinions" (first published in 1954 and sold by Amazon). It contains almost all the articles (it excludes seven) contained in "The World as I See It." As well, it contains selected articles from other publications (most notably the books "Out of my Later Years" and "Mein Weltbild.")
As well, the book "Ideas and Opinions" has a fifth part called `Contributions to Science' (which contains almost 20 articles). Here, Einstein discusses topics such as relativity, theoretical physics, science, and gravitation. He even gives tributes to such people as Isaac Newton and Copernicus.
Second, this book's price. It costs $9.20 and you get 65 articles. But the hardcopy version of "Ideas and Opinions" costs about $6.00 and you get 120 articles (almost double the amount)!! (Note that all prices quoted are as of May 2006.)
In conclusion, instead of this book, I recommend the more comprehensive and cheaper book called "Ideas and Opinions." In my opinion, this recommended book is the definitive collection if Albert Einstein's popular writings!!!
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 1998
Albert Einstein will always be remembered as one of the great minds of our time. But not too many people think of him as a great societal thinker as well. Albert delves into many touchy subjects in this book (having grown up during the most devastating era mankind has ever known).
The one downside to this book is that there are a few (only a few) passages where you really don't know who he is talking to, and little reference is given on these to help you, the reader, figure them out.
I was thoroughly impressed that this genius, mental marvel of the 20th century could convey his message so clearly in most of the essays and writings. He talks about religion, minorities, war, and other issues facing humaity today that are highly debated in all circles.
A good buy, a great mind.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The content is good, but I don't recommend you buy it. This book has been released in the public domain so you can download it for free. In addition, as mentioned in other people's comments, you may want to consider "Ideas and Opinions", which is a much more comprehensive collection.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This volume consists of writings of Einstein collected in the year 1932. Another Amazon reviewer has pointed out that it omits Einstein's writings on science which he rightfully says is something like speaking about Mozart without speaking about his music.
Yet Einstein was already by 1932 a world - figure. And one of the great tests of his life, and proofs of his being , beside a great genius, a very decent and moral human being , was the way he reacted to the Nazis. When they were beginning their racist attacks on the Jews, Einstein proudly announced his Jewish origin. Instead of trying to play up to authority as did for instance Heidegger he showed an ability to sacrifice his own private position within Germany , then the great center of scientific research.
This volume contains a chapter on his relation to the Germany of the time. It also contains a more extensive chapter on his relation to the Jews, to the building of a homeland , to the conception of peace between Jew and Arab in the Holy Land.
The volume opens with Einstein's reflections on the meaning of life, and on the way he sees the world. They come , I think, very much out of his own sense of himself. Einstein highly prized the private individual. He believed that the individual did not exist to be absorbed in or be a slave to the State, but rather the State existed in order to enable individuals to pursue their lives and creative endeavors. In this work he champions the political system of the United States because he believes it best enables individuals to find their way to real creative and productive human endeavor.
He says,"The real valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the State, but the creative, sentient,individual , the personality: it alone creates the noble and sublime."
Einstein in his humble away talks about the dependence of the individual, of himself on the contributions of so many others in society.
And he talks about the fundamental values for which he has lived, Truth, Goodness and Beauty.
When one thinks of the other outsized giant of science, Newton and compares Einstein with him, one is again struck at how remarkable it is that a person of Einstein's incredible genius in scientific work, should also have been in so many ways a decent, sane, moral human being.
Mankind is enriched by his being one of us.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2000
To know Einstein's thoughts is to understand the nature of one of histories finest minds. Beyond all else, Albert Einstein was a man, a man of deep social & moral conscience. As I read this book, I was struck by the thought of George Santayana, "Those who do not study the past are condemned to repeat it." To be able to travel back nearly 100 years and view the world throught the mind and spirit of Einstein is a pleasure indeed. I found myself at odds with some of what Einstein thought. However, what a great experience it was to explore those thoughts and how many still appear true today. Albert Einstein once said "Imagination is more important than knowledge". The man knew what he was talking about.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2004
It still amazes me to think that this book exists at all, and for one very good reason: no one ever mentioned to me that Albert Einstein was a quasi-philosopher-turned-political-activist. I grew up hearing about 'Einstein the Scientist' but knew nothing of the man who spoke out about global disarmament, pacifism, and even the reconstruction of Palestine in spite of persecution at home (think Germany, 1933) and abroad. It wasn't until I stumbled upon a few quotes of his that I realized his mind worked beyond even the limits of science, and it wasn't until I stumbled across an e-book titled "The World As I See It" by Albert Einstein that I realized there were publications in his name beyond his Scientific Journals. When I saw a real copy in one of my favourite used-book shops, of course I had to buy it.
The book is really an incomplete collection of Einstein's articles and writings put together "to give a picture of a man," we are told by the editor, as "his character and opinions are being exhibited to the world in an utterly distorted form...to forestall this fate is the real object of this book." If nothing else, this collection gives a clear picture of the things that Einstein was concerned about, which speaks volumes more about his character than a biography could. Topics within the text vary greatly, though inevitably touch upon religion, personal philosophy (yes, those are two separate categories to me), and world politics.
Of particular interest to me was those articles written in pre-WWII Germany as they absolutely reek of the political turmoil of the times, which remind me greatly of the political bantering surrounding a post-9/11 United States. Specifically, there are a series of letters exchanged between Herr Einstein and the Prussian Academy of Sciences in which Einstein is accused of "atrocity-mongering" after resigning from the Academy due to the Prussian Government's inequities against individual freedom. The Academy essentially twists Einstein's actions and words in an effort to slander his good name, and each retort quid pro quo paints the formulaic picture of an irrational "authority" attacking those who speak out against them. After re-reading the articles just now, I can't help but be reminded of the Bush Administration's attacks on the Dixie Chicks after the attacks on the World Trade Center.
I would like to address each of the ideas presented within this book, but would rather save that for a proper essay as each deserves more merit than a few brief scribbles in a book review. I will say this though: Albert Einstein's theories on disarmament, world peace and global unification seem as attainable as they are idealistic when coming from the pen of such an honest, genuine, intelligent man. He speaks with complete understanding and acceptance of himself, others and the politics in between when touching upon subjects ranging between Good and Evil to The Meaning of Life to Peace, Fascism, Culture and Prosperity, and I found myself with little choice but to listen whole-heartedly and agree with the brilliance captured within these few pages.
I recommend this book to everyone (and I *rarely* recommend books) and believe it should be a mandatory-study in high school for its sheer breadth of scope in understanding the globe we call Earth as it is today, and as it should be tomorrow.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2009
This book comprises a collection of Einsteins confessions and ideological statements. Beside contemporary historical and political questions and thoughts Einstein gives account about his scientific work and its embedding into the social context. Einstein belongs to the people, who deserve it to be listened, what they have to say. It is good to know that he himself uttered his ideology, his personal faith in written form. This spares us some speculations.
From what he says you can conclude that he cared honestly for the future of mankind. He was a humanist endowed with humbleness. A combination not to scandalize or tend to agitate. This becomes clear in his statements. He was no universal scholar like Alexander von Humboldt or Leibniz, he was neither theoretist given to philosophyzing. Therefore you cannot expect life-alien considerations or too much of abstract revelations from his pen. Readable and instructive are his announcements nevertheless. Einstein comments the meaning of life, the true value of man, Good and Bad, religion and science, war and peace, politics and pacifism. You do not find any new ideas, nothing radical, everything seems to be balanced.
One chapter is dedicated to the National Socialism. He immigrated as a German Jew from Nazi-Germany and was confronted with the decision to share in the fight against the Nazi-regime. Another chapter shows what occupied him most of his life, he calls it the "Jewish problems". He was obliged to the Zionismus, but he was no follower of the Jewish belief ("The Jewish God is only a negation of superstition") and also no follower of Christianity (only a teaching, "which would be able to heal the humankind of social diseases"). There is also a letter to an Arab. Of course he sees also in the Palestine conflict only a peaceful co-existence as aim to strive for.
The last chapter deals with the main topic of his life, the scientific work. Striking is, that this is the last headline: "For the humiliation of the scientific man".
Hence I believe, that man serves best when occupied with a good thing, refining him hereby indirectly." Hm, the construction of the atomic bomb must have been an object of refinement? Einstein was sorry to have had his effects on it.
"Everything that has been made and thought by man, is just for satisfaction of felt requirements and the stopping of pains." Is man really to be reduced to this alone? What was his satisfaction?
Einstein`s credo: "A God who rewards and punishes the subjects of his creation, who has at all a will of the kind we ourselves realize in us, is not what I can fancy. Also an individual who outlasts his bodily death, I do not like and cannot imagine: may weak souls out of fear or ridiculous egoism nourish such thoughts. For me the mystery of the eternity of life and the conscience and the idea of the wonderful construction of the existence is enough."
Such kind of utterances prove that Einstein had his prejudgment too. There are people who are not in fear of death but life`s continuation. Hindus and Buddhists for example feel the eternal wheel of rebirths as burdensome. For them redemption means to break it. All people are egoists, but this has mostly nothing to do with their ideology, rather with their nature. It is true, an expert is only an expert in his special field!
And what is the meaning of life? Einstein is in doubts that there can be something like that at all. This is consequent, because to give such a meaning of life to oneself would be contradictory. Nobody made himself to live. Instead you can proclaim idealistic ideas. Einstein does, "Goodness, beauty and truth" are his declared contents of life, not "welfare" and "happiness", which he calls the "Ideal of the swineherd". Is there a certain contempt for the average people recognizable? For them he uses other animalistic comparisons: About the majority of the stupid he said: "To be a flawless member of the sheep herd, you have to be a sheep before everything else!" Not quite without humour!
Mainly this book deals with his sayings on physical science. And there he was a keen thinker. "In so far as the sentences of mathematics relate to reality, they are not certain, and in so far as they are certain they do not relate to reality!" Great achievement to get this as a passionate mathematician.
For decades he tried to prove that everything could be built into the classical physics and not to disprove the conclusions of the quantum physics, which surpass the limits of the measurable universe, but to tame them. Besides the fact that he failed in this, it does not seem to have brought him to reconsider his own ideology, an ideology limited to that what is visible and measurable.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A Very satisfying read, as I knew little about this genius's thoughts and words beyond the fact that he was the author of the Theory of Relativity and somewhat responsible for ushering us into the Atomic Age. It was clearly stated before clicking 'BUY' that all writings regarding hard science had been edited out of this book, so it's not like I wasn't warned. But the editor could have included a short explanatory chapter -- perhaps written by a third party -- that would've given us some insight into what that ground-breaking theory is/was about.
And then there's the atomic bomb. There's a huge gap between Einstein's writings regarding pacifism and the unexplained common-knowledge that it was he who whispered into FDR's ear: "We need a WMD"; somehow we just leap-frogged over WWII altogether.
But especially satisfying were the paragraphs regarding Einstein's views regarding God, Judaism and organized religion, and world socialism. Apparently much that has been attributed to him (probably by the right -- a group to which I admittedly belong) regarding the existence of God was lifted out of context and spun. To say more about that here would become near to being a spoiler alert, so I'll leave it at that. But I will say this: Einstein's views regarding God and a Supreme Being do not clash with those of Deepak Chopra's, which is probably why you'll find Einstein referenced in several of Deepak's writings.
All in all, highly recommended for those who are curious about what made Albert Einstein tick.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2008
I read "Ideas and Opinions" before diving head first into this one, and I'm glad I did. Had I read this first, there's a great chance I never would have read "Ideas and Opinions" which I found to be fascinating. In "The World As I See It," I found it to be a bit jumbled and thrown together without too much thought as to why it's presented the way it is, etc. There are some good bits and pieces included in this book, but overall I just couldn't get into it.
Normally, I like to read while lying in my bed with a dim lamp on, and normally it's not an issue. I can read for hours like this--but I needed to read "The World As I See It" outdoors or with music on, otherwise I was constantly falling asleep after a mere one or two pages.
Again, there are some good things to take from the book, but I think you'll do yourself better by exploring other Einstein works that are out there. Just one man's opinion.