19.

OBJECTIVITY AND PHYSICS

In the preceding section I stressed some aspects of Logik der Forschung and of later work that emerged from it, which had little or nothing to do with my criticism of positivism. However, the criticism of positivism did play a subsidiary role even in my views on quantum theory. I think I was immunized against Heisenberg's early positivism by my rejection of Einstein's positivism.

As I mentioned before (section 8, text between notes 31 and 32), I was introduced to Einstein's theories of relativity by Max Elstein. He neither stressed nor criticized the observational point of view, but helped me to understand the problem of the special theory (I am afraid in the usual unhistorical manner, as a problem posed by the experiment of Michelson and Morley), and he discussed with me Minkowski's form of the solution. It may have been this initiation that prevented me from ever taking the operationalist approach to simultaneity seriously: one can read Einstein's paper 143 of 1905 as a realist, without paying any attention to “the observer”; or alternatively, one can read it as a positivist or operationalist, always attending to the observer and his doings.

It is an interesting fact that Einstein himself was for years a dogmatic positivist and operationalist. He later rejected this interpretation: he told me in 1950 that he regretted no mistake he ever made as much as this mistake. The mistake assumed a really serious form in his popular book, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory. 144 There he says, on page 22 (pages 14 f. in the German original): “I would ask the reader not to proceed farther until he is fully convinced on this point.” The point is, briefly, that “simultaneity” must be defined-and defined in an operational way-since otherwise “I allow myself to be deceived ... when I imagine that I am able to attach a meaning to the

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