- Series: Library of Living Philosophers (Paperback)
- Paperback: 800 pages
- Publisher: Open Court; 3rd edition (December 30, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875482864
- ISBN-13: 979-0875482865
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,176,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Albert Einstein, Philosopher-Scientist: The Library of Living Philosophers Volume VII (Library of Living Philosophers (Paperback)) Paperback – December 30, 1998
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But "Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist" edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp can change all that, provided one makes the effort. After the introduction and preface the book opens with Einstein's "Autobiographical Notes," written in German at the age of 67. We may read both the German text and English translation on the facing pages, and compare the two, which I often did, especially with difficult passages. And there are some "difficult passages" to be sure.
The next section contains a series of essays by Einstein's esteemed colleagues and contemporaries. Among them are Wolfgang Pauli, Max Born, Niels Bohr, Kurt Godel, Gaston Bachelard and others of equal stature. Some contributors disagree with Einstein's position on statistical quantum theory, Max Born in particular. Others tackle the epistemological issues of their time, illuminating subtle philosophical considerations that quickened the numerous advances in theoretical physics during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. One essay: Philipp G. Frank's "Einstein, Mach, and Logical Positivism" reveals an astounding fact. "Because of the close connection, which obviously exists between Einstein's theory of relativity and Mach's philosophy, Lenin feared that Einstein's theories might become a Trojan horse for the infiltration of idealistic currents among Russian scientists and among educated classes in general."
I find this appalling. Apparently, even devout atheists can lack an open mind.
Happily, Einstein answers each contributor at the end of the book in his "Remarks to the Essays Appearing in this Collective Volume." He begins with Pauli and Born, primarily because of their position on statistical quantum theory, whereupon Einstein launches into a fascinating defense of his own position. But as with all the contributors, the tone throughout was gentle and respectful. And one comes away with the impression that Einstein was beloved by his contemporaries because he returned that love in kind. The result was a mighty collusion of powerful minds that changed the world. Now, if only politicians and preachers could do the same!
Ah, but wait! Like a late night TV offer there's more. With the autobiography you also get two versions- one in German and the other in English for a price well worth the nominal expense.
While it is easy to struggle with the concepts, theories and math formulas contained within the 800 pages or so the dual language approach offers we German language practitioners something to study as well. Think your ability to read German is good? Test yourself against the facing page in English and as you do you'll get a firsthand feel for his native tongue and piuck up something more in the process.
Read on and you'll also find a few philosophical views Einstein tossed in as he penned his words. Consider this: " For, however brief and limited one's working life may be," he wrote, "and however predominant may be the ways of error, the exposition of that which is worthy of communication does nonetheless not come easy- today's person of 67 is by no means the same as was the one of 50, of 30, or of 20. Every reminiscence is colored by today's being what it is, and therefore by a deceptive point of view." Or this: "It is easier to denature plutonium than it is to denature the evil spirit of man."
Astute observations given more credence by our own reminiscences or today's headlines. The essays by the others in this book offer more looks at this complicated man and his ideas, filling in the gaps and spaces of what we thought we knew.
Schilpp put together a wonderful and profound book that could have easily been several or even a series of books. But it gave us something worthwhile to add to our ever on going education. There's genius there too.
I just hope there's no written final exam but I guess that too is all relative.
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--Lonnie R. Gardner (Math Teacher)