Einstein's God (philosophy of science)

#1
https://aeon.co/ideas/what-einstein-mean...-play-dice

EXCERPT: [...] Despite his parents’ secularism, the nine-year-old Albert discovered and embraced Judaism with some considerable passion, and for a time he was a dutiful, observant Jew. Following Jewish custom, his parents would invite a poor scholar to share a meal with them each week, and from the impoverished medical student Max Talmud (later Talmey) the young and impressionable Einstein learned about mathematics and science. He consumed all 21 volumes of Aaron Bernstein’s joyful Popular Books on Natural Science (1880).

Talmud then steered him in the direction of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781), from which he migrated to the philosophy of David Hume. From Hume, it was a relatively short step to the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach, whose stridently empiricist, seeing-is-believing brand of philosophy demanded a complete rejection of metaphysics, including notions of absolute space and time, and the existence of atoms.

[...] This youthful, heavy diet of empiricist philosophy would serve Einstein well some 14 years later. Mach’s rejection of absolute space and time helped to shape Einstein’s special theory of relativity [...] Ten years later, Einstein would complete the transformation of our understanding of space and time with the formulation of his general theory of relativity, in which the force of gravity is replaced by curved spacetime. But as he grew older (and wiser), he came to reject Mach’s aggressive empiricism, and once declared that ‘Mach was as good at mechanics as he was wretched at philosophy.’

Over time, Einstein evolved a much more realist position. He preferred to accept the content of a scientific theory realistically, as a contingently ‘true’ representation of an objective physical reality. And, although he wanted no part of religion, the belief in God that he had carried with him from his brief flirtation with Judaism became the foundation on which he constructed his philosophy. When asked about the basis for his realist stance, he explained: ‘I have no better expression than the term “religious” for this trust in the rational character of reality and in its being accessible, at least to some extent, to human reason.’

But Einstein’s was a God of philosophy, not religion. When asked many years later whether he believed in God, he replied: ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.’ [...]

Einstein’s God is infinitely superior but impersonal and intangible, subtle but not malicious. He is also firmly determinist. As far as Einstein was concerned, God’s ‘lawful harmony’ is established throughout the cosmos by strict adherence to the physical principles of cause and effect. Thus, there is no room in Einstein’s philosophy for free will: ‘Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control … we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player.’

The special and general theories of relativity provided a radical new way of conceiving of space and time and their active interactions with matter and energy. These theories are entirely consistent with the ‘lawful harmony’ established by Einstein’s God. But the new theory of quantum mechanics, which Einstein had also helped to found in 1905, was telling a different story....

MORE: https://aeon.co/ideas/what-einstein-mean...-play-dice
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Bring back science & philosophy as natural philosophy C C 0 71 May 15, 2019 02:21 AM
Last Post: C C
  Time for a robust defence of truth in science? (philosophy of science) C C 0 93 Mar 18, 2019 08:15 AM
Last Post: C C
  Blind spot of science is the neglect of lived experience (philosophy of science) C C 4 218 Jan 14, 2019 04:11 PM
Last Post: Secular Sanity
  (Philosophy of science videos) Laws of nature + After the end of evidence C C 8 202 Jan 8, 2019 08:55 PM
Last Post: Syne
  New book argues life is inevitable via laws of nature (philosophy of science) C C 2 218 Nov 22, 2018 05:41 AM
Last Post: Zinjanthropos
  The return of Aristotelian views in philosophy & philosophy of science: Goodbye Hume? C C 1 207 Aug 17, 2018 02:01 PM
Last Post: Zinjanthropos
  Myths of Copenhagen (philosophy of science) C C 3 526 Jun 11, 2018 10:25 PM
Last Post: Ostronomos
  A fetish for inflexible guidelines holds back science (philosophy of science) C C 1 198 Apr 6, 2018 05:38 AM
Last Post: Syne
  What constitutes an individual organism in biology? (philosophy of science) C C 0 150 Oct 26, 2017 01:21 AM
Last Post: C C
  SEP: The Philosophy of Computer Science C C 0 231 Jan 24, 2017 01:42 AM
Last Post: C C



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)