The World View of Physics

The World View of Physics

The World View of Physics

The World View of Physics

Excerpt

In re-reading these essays in the English translation I feel a desire directly to address the English-speaking reader. I think Mrs. Grene's translation is excellent, even in the most difficult questions of philosophical terminology. Yet in every text that is not merely technical but a spontaneous expression, trying to convey the authors' views and feelings to an audience with a well-defined, particular cultural background, there must be untranslatable elements. Thus, for example, to a German reader a reference to Goethe's views about Nature may serve as a shorthand expression of a more general 'understanding' or 'human' attitude towards Nature which transcends the self-imposed limitations of the scientific approach and which, in principle, can be understood by everybody. But Goethe his not been absorbed into the English speaking cultural tradition to in extent that would make such a reference helpful to in English or American reader. He would rather feel embarrassed by the strangeness of those elements in Goethe's thoughts which are peculiar to the German cultural tradition and which, actually, do not matter too much with respect to the questions I want the reader to consider. These questions, I think, are common problems of the modern world. I did not try, however, to replace such passages, since it is a delicate question whether a spontaneously written exposé can be improved by subsequent alterations that are bound to interrupt the train of thought. But it may be useful to make a few comments.

These essays have been written during a period of several years. The order in which they are presented here represents a development of the views of the author and of the colleagues and friends with whom he used to discuss such matters. The startingpoint is the fact that the scientific outlook that framed most of the typical 'modern' elements in our culture is as unavoidable to us as it is limited. The author feels himself compelled to avoid two misunderstandings of the role of science: the negative one that . . .

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