Substance and Function and Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Substance and Function and Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Substance and Function and Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Substance and Function and Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Synopsis

This double-volume work constitutes a great modern philosopher's establishment of a philosophy of the exact sciences -- a work that is historically sound, philosophically mature, and scientifically impeccable. Ernst Cassirer has propounded a general philosophical system in which Einstein's theory of relativity represents only the latest (albeit the most radical) fulfillment of the motives inherent to mathematics and the physical sciences. In the course of its exposition, this volume touches upon such topics as the concept of number, space and time, geometry, and energy; Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry; traditional logic and scientific method; mechanism and motion; Mayer's methodology of natural science; Richter's definite proportions; relational concepts and the activity of the ego; Einstein's relativity and "reality"; and the philosophical concept of truth and its role in relativity theory.

Excerpt

The investigations contained in this volume were first prompted by studies in the philosophy of mathematics. In the course of an attempt to comprehend the fundamental conceptions of mathematics from the point of view of logic, it became necessary to analyse more closely the function of the concept itself and to trace it back to its presuppositions. Here, however, a peculiar difficulty arose: the traditional logic of the concept, in its well-known features, proved inadequate even to characterize the problems to which the theory of the principles of mathematics led. It became increasingly evident that exact science had here reached questions for which there existed no precise correlate in the traditional language of formal logic. The content of mathematical knowledge pointed back to a fundamental form of the concept not clearly defined and recognized within logic itself. In particular, investigations concerning the concepts of the series and of the limit, the special results of which, however, could not be included in the general exposition of this book, confirmed this view and led to a renewed analysis of the principles of the construction of concepts in general.

The problem thus defined gained more general meaning when it became clear that it was in no way limited to the field of mathematics, but extended over the whole field of exact science. The systematic structure of the exact sciences assumes different forms according as it is regarded in different logical perspectives. Thus an attempt had to be made to advance from this general point of view to the forms of conceptual construction of the special disciplines,-- of arithmetic, geometry, physics and chemistry. It did not accord with the general purpose of the enquiry to collect special examples from the particular sciences for the support of the logical theory, but it was necessary to make an attempt to trace their systematic structures as wholes, in order that the fundamental unitary relation by which these structures are held together might be revealed more distinctly. I did not conceal from myself the difficulty of carrying out such a plan; I finally resolved to make the attempt only because the value and significance of the preliminary work already accomplished within the special sciences became increasingly evident to me.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.