Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist

By Paul Arthur Schilpp | Go to book overview
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always particles and that what makes us conclude that there are waves, [namely] the interferences, refers only to expansion. We reach, therefore, so to speak, the following proportion: Wave nature is to the nature of particles what super-individual potentiality is to individual actuality. For, for the so-called waves of matter--because of their excess over the speed of light--immateriality, i.e., pure potentiality, is valid from the very beginning.

In a prize essay of 1923 on "The Relation of Einstein's Theory of Relativity to Contemporary Philosophy" (which was composed in response to a prize offered by the Annalen der Philosophie, and to which the prize was awarded by a committee of judges consisting of Max von Laue, Ernst von Aster, and Moritz Schlick, and which was also favorably adjudged by Albert Einstein) the author had already pointed out the compatibility of the theory of relativity with critical realism and had contended for its significance for our scientific world- picture. Favoring the objective epistemological worth of the theory of relativity in the sense of critical realism is, on the one hand, the possibility of its consistent execution, which is by no means self-evident, and, on the other hand, its validation within experience. Today I would summarize this significance in the following manner:
1. The order of things and events which appears to us as space, and that which appears to us as time with regard to the external world, are, of course, not interchangeable, but neither are they separated by a sharp boundary. There is, therefore, a space-like and a time-like "sphere." A "distance" in the sense of merely being apart from each other may, according to differing conditions, appear as a more spatial or as a more temporal [kind of a] distance.3 This is connected with the fact
The order becomes unequivocally temporal only if a cause and effect relation is involved. Without such [a relation] it makes no sense to speak of any objective simultaneity or after-each-other; for finite system-bound beings could not establish such; and for an infinite being, capable of surveying everything, there could be no temporality at all.


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