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REVIEW

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTES (ALBERT EINSTEIN),


EINSTEIN, MACH, AND LOGICAL POSITIVISM (PHILIPP FRANK),
THE PHILOSOPHICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY (HANS REICHENBACH),
EINSTEINS THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE (VICTOR LENZEN),
REMARKS TO THE ESSAYS APPEARING IN THIS COLLECTIVE VOLUME (ALBERT EINSTEIN),

in SCHILPP, P. A. ALBERT EINSTEIN: PHILOSOPHER-SCIENTIST. Open Court. La


Salle, Illinois. 1970
1. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
This writing contains what could be described as the intellectual milestones of
Einsteins scientific career. Even though it is not a personal life biographical sketch,
the author makes a general statement about his subjective worldview which works as
a sort of standpoint for all of his intellectual autobiography. Einstein describes himself
as a thinker always characterized by a critical attitude to institutionalized authority of
any type. This attitude, which can be easily noticed in his political activism, is
considered by Einstein as a very important background for his scientific career too.
The very first appearance of such attitude happened when by reading popular
scientific books he came to the conclusion that most of the main religious explanations
contained in the bible were false. This discovery led him to deeply freethinking
convictions which he would never abandon: Suspicion against every kind of authority
grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude towards the convictions which were
alive in any specific social environment an attitude which has never left me, even
though later on, because of a better insight into the causal connections, it lost some of
its original poignancy (5).
Two experiences of childhood the wondering experience of watching a compass
working when he was 5 years old, and the wondering experience of the recognition of
the axiomatic structure of Euclidian geometry when he was 12 are characterized by
Einstein as decisive for his decision of becoming a scientist. After enrolling the
Polytechnic Institute of Zurich he decided to conduct his studies towards the realm of
physics mainly motivated by the fact that he felt more able to recognize the
foundational problems of the field; whereas in the case of mathematics he felt lost
among the multitude of different specialized branches of research without being able
to value what was really essential for the discipline. At this point he introduces a
comment which shows how deep his sense of the value of freethinking was. He claims
that the freedom to focus in the topics which really interested him was much more
fruitful than the strict discipline under which he was educated in Germany: it is a very
grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted
by means of coercion and a sense of duty (17).
After these vocational remarks, Einstein refers to the contextual situation of
physics science upon which he undertook his first research. Even though the
mechanicist framework was facing problems to make sense of some important
phenomena, dogmatic mechanicist rigidity prevailed: In the beginning (if there was
such a thing) God created Newtons laws of motion together with the necessary
masses and forces. This is all; everything beyond this follows from the development of
appropriate mathematical methods by means of deduction (19). Moreover, he states
that students of the times felt quite impressed about the successful achievements of
mechanic physics in several different fields theory of light, the kinetic theory of
gases, etc.. These facts, Einstein points out, make understandable that mechanicism
was conceived by the times as the firm foundation of physics: Even Maxwell and H.
Hertz, who in retrospect appear as those who demolished the faith in mechanics as
the final basis of all physical thinking, in their conscious thinking adhered throughout
to mechanics as the secured basis of physics (21).

However, Einstein started to feel uncomfortable about such basis quite soon. The
reading of Mach History of Mechanics is stated as the main source of such suspicious
feeling. Einstein refers to two main criticisms of mechanics as the basis of physics.
From the point of view of the empirical confirmation of theories, the incorporation of
wave-optics into the mechanical picture of the world was bound to arouse serious
misgivings (25). As it is known, if light was to be conceived as an electromagnetic
wave, then the mechanicist picture should necessarily postulate the existence of a
medium for its propagation, but this ether had to lead a ghostly existence alongside
the rest of matter, inasmuch as it seemed to offer no resistance whatever to the
motion of ponderable bodies (25). That is, the peculiar features of such entity were
understood by Einstein as problematic for a mechanicist framework. However, the
main empirical fact which condemned mechanicism was given by the electrodynamics
of Faraday and Maxwell, for this theory and its confirmation by Hertzs experiments
showed that there are electromagnetic phenomena which by their very nature are
detached from every ponderable matter namely, the waves in empty space which
consist of electromagnetic fields (25). These results were never, according to
Einstein, susceptible of being interpreted in a coherent mechanicist way.
From a more internal and epistemological point of view, mechanicism was not
favorably regarded by Einstein because of his agreement (during the first years of his
career) with Machs critic concerning the unjustified reference of Newtons physics to a
substantival space. Such reference would constitute a violation of the criterion of
empirical meaning for scientific theories (conceived from a positivistic point of view):
Mach conjectures that in a truly rational theory inertia would have to depend upon
the interaction of the masses, precisely as was true for Newtons other forces, a
conception of which for a long time I considered as in principle the correct one (29).
In the context of this problematic foundational situation of physics, Einsteins most
appreciated field of investigation was given by Maxwells theory. The incorporation of
optics into electromagnetism and the derived consequences of it was like a
revelation (33). The main development and interpretation on such field achieved
during those times were made by Lorentz. However, even in the context of Lorentzs
theory, the problematic foundational problem of the duality among ponderable matter
and electromagnetic fields could not be solved. The program of reducing ordinary
matter to electromagnetic features was never completely accomplished.
A second source of deep problems for the foundational framework of physics was
contained in Plancks work. As it is known, this scientist achieved a solution of the
problems involved in the dynamics of heat radiation of a blackbody by the introduction
of the notion of energy quanta. These discrete packages of energy which determined
the values of the radiation emitted by a blackbody contradicted the mechanicist view,
insofar as they exclude the possibility of emission over the range of a continuum.
Interestingly, Einstein points out that the results of Plancks work were incompatible
with electromagnetic theory too for the expression for the density of radiationenergy, although it is compatible with Maxwells equations, is not a necessary
consequence of these equations (45).
All of these problems were enough for Einsteins conviction of the necessity of the
formulation of a radically new and coherent foundational framework for physics: All of
this [the deep foundational problems] was quite clear to me shortly after the
appearance of Plancks fundamental work; so that, without having a substitute of
classical mechanics, I could nevertheless see to what kind of consequences this law of
temperature-radiation leads for the photo-electric effect and for other related
phenomena of the transformation of radiation-energy, as well as for the specific heat
of (especially) solid bodies. All my attempts, however, to adapt the theoretical
foundation of physics to this new type of knowledge failed completely. It was as if the
ground had been pulled out from under one, with no firm foundation to be seen
anywhere, upon which one could have built (45).
The last quotation shows the struggle that Einstein had to face in order to make
deep sense of one of his very first outstanding contributions to physics (actually, only

further developments of quantum physics could accomplish a full meaning


attribution); achievement which he describes, of course, as one of the milestones
along his scientific career: the attribution of particle-like behavior to light as the
explanation of the photo-electric effect: This double nature of radiation (and of
material corpuscles) is a major property of reality, which has been interpreted by
quantum-mechanics in an ingenious and amazingly successful fashion (51). This
revolutionary outcome of Einsteins thinking occurred briefly after another very
important landmark in his career. He was interested in getting an explanation of the
phenomenon of Brownian motion, in a way such that: My major aim in this was to find
facts which could guarantee as much as possible the existence of atoms of definite
size (47). His research in this field allowed him to interpret Brownian motion of a
suspended particle as the outcome of thermal agitation of the molecules constituting
the solution. This interpretation contained a way to determine Avogadros number.
This twofold physical innovation made possible the ultimate recognition of the
effective existence of atoms: The agreement of these considerations with experience
together with Plancks determination of the true molecular size from the law of
radiation (for high temperatures) convinced the skeptics, who were quite numerous at
that time (Ostwald, Mach) of the reality of atoms (49).
The next step in the narration of his scientific road consists on the formulation of
the Special Theory of Relativity. As a general remark, Einstein states that his main
motivation to undertake the project of SRT was the necessity to formulate a new
grounding framework for science, after the problematic situation originated by
electromagnetic results and Plancks and his own innovations: Reflections of this type
made it clear to me as long ago as shortly after 1900, i. e., shortly after Plancks
trailblazing work, that neither mechanics nor electrodynamics could (except in limiting
cases) claim exact validity. By and by I despaired of the possibility of discovering the
true laws by means of constructive efforts based on known facts. The longer and the
more despairingly I tried, the more I came to the conviction that only the discovery of
a universal formal principle could lead us to assured results (53).
Such universal principle, which would constitute a step towards the achievement of
a new and firm ground for physics, was the outcome of a line of thought which,
Einstein narrates, occurred for the first time when he was 16 years old. Thinking about
what would happen if he were able to pursue a light beam; he realized that the
mechanicist framework would predict that he should observe an oscillatory
electromagnetic field at rest. However, he soon acknowledged that such a thing was
not possible; and consequently grasped the insight that an observer riding a light
beam would observe the physical reality as governed exactly by the same laws which
hold for an observer at rest on the earth. Such interpretation of this fictitious situation
was paradoxical from the point of view of mechanicism, but the freethinking attitude
of Einstein led him to develop such idea: One sees that in this paradox the germ of
the special relativity theory is already contained (53).
Einstein introduces a very interesting remark concerning the background
reflections which led to pursue the development of this paradoxical line of thought.
Besides his critical attitude, the reading of empiricist oriented works by Mach and
Hume worked as the epistemological grounds to the trust he felt about the fruitfulness
of this revolutionary conception. Under the conception of physical coordinates as the
result of measurements made by means of rigid rods and light clocks, he arrived to the
conclusion that the notion of (absolute) simultaneity needed not to be considered from
an a priori standpoint: A clock at rest relative to the system of inertia defines a local
time. The local times of all space points taken together are the time, which belongs
to the selected system of inertia, if a means is given to set these clocks relative to
each other. One sees that a priori it is not at all necessary that the times thus defined
in different inertial systems agree with one another (55).
These considerations led Einstein to the formulation of the two principles which are
the basis of the SRT: (1) the constancy of the light velocity, and (2) the independence
of the laws of the choice of the inertial system. He explicitly remarks that such two

principles are contradictory if conceived from the point of view of classical physics. But
if one assumes the new meaning attributed to simultaneity, and assumes the Lorentz
transformations as the expression of the relative nature of simultaneity, the
contradiction disappears. As it can be seen, this rejection of classical physics in favor
of a new conception of time is one of the landmarks of the achievement of a new
framework for science.
Together with the abandonment of absolute time and absolute simultaneity, and
the consequent loss of meaning of an expression such as immediate action at a
distance in the sense of Newtonian mechanics; Einstein characterizes as the main
second revolutionary result of his SRT to the fact that: the principles of the
conservation of momentum and of energy are fused into one single principle. The inert
mass of a closed system is identical with its energy, thus eliminating mass as an
independent concept (61). That is to say, a second feature of the physical revolution
initiated is given by the mass-energy equivalence entailed by the theory.
One last remark that Einstein introduces in connection with SRT lies on the great
relevance of Minkovskis reflections. The formulation of Minkovskis four dimensional
spacetime allowed the introduction of a formalism which guarantees the invariance of
the laws of physics under the Lorentz transformations. Before Minkovskis
investigations such invariance had to be tested through the application of the
transformations at issue. In simpler words, Einstein affirms that Minkovski showed
that the Lorentz-transformation (apart from a different algebraic sign due to the
special character of time) is nothing but a rotation of the coordinate system in the
four-dimensional space (59).
The next chapter in Einstein narration tells the story of his undertaking of the
endeavor of a generalization and extension of SRT. Two main reasons are characterized
as the motivation for such endeavor. On the one hand, Machs question concerning the
grounds for a legitimate distinction among inertial frames above all other co-ordinate
systems is not answered by SRT; that is, Einstein did not find any grounding for the
attribution of the special and qualitative hierarchy to inertial frames. On the other
hand, SRT was not able to offer a complete and coherent account of gravitational
phenomena. Moreover, his first attempts to include this kind of phenomena within a
relativistic approach failed. The reason was that such approach could not make a
coherent sense of a twofold requirement: to account for the equality of inertial and
gravitational mass; and, at the same time, to account for the dependence of mass on
the kinetic energy of a body: This convinced me that, within the frame of the special
relativity theory, there is no room for a satisfactory theory of gravitation (65).
The first key for the solution came from a thorough conception of the equality of
inertial and gravitational mass as the first principle of the pursued generalization. The
formulation of his famous principle of equivalence among a gravitational field and a
uniformly accelerated frame, another radically revolutionary and paradoxical insight
of Einstein, is introduced in this writing in the following way: In a gravitational field (of
small spatial extension) things behave as they do in a space free of gravitation, if one
introduces in it, in place of an inertial system, a reference system which is
accelerated relative to an inertial system (65). This principle showed even more
clearly that the restriction of SRT of law-invariance under the Lorentz transformation
operated among inertial frames was too narrow. The equivalence among gravitational
free-falling and consequently among uniform acceleration and inertial motion
entailed by the principle showed that the scope of SRT to inertial frames was
arbitrarily restricted.
The discovery of the equivalence principle happened in 1908. Einstein states that
he needed seven further years to accomplish the GRT because his important
conception of the co-ordinates system as containing a metrical meaning had fallen
down. The reason of the arising of this problem lied mainly on the recognition that the
gravitational red-shift predicted by the equivalence principle entailed on its hand a
gravitational time-dilation which could not be accounted by the operation of Lorentz
linear transformations: time runs slower for an observer in the top of a tower than for

an observer fixed in the ground, and such dilation is not a function of Lorentz
transformations. The root of the problem consists on the requirement of law-invariance
among gravitational/uniformly-accelerated frames and inertial frames. Einstein then
realized that the solution was given by finding a group of continuous coordinate
transformations such that this group replaces the group of the Lorentz
transformations of the special theory of relativity, which forms a sub-group of the
former (69).
Einstein found such new group of transformation thanks to the insight that he could
approach the problem from the perspective of Riemannian geometry. Riemanns
curvature tensor allowed him to express the invariant interval of special relativity ds2
in the generalized way that the principle of equivalence required. It is interesting to
note that in this writing Einstein only refers to the mathematical problem of law
invariance, but he does not refers to the geometrical-physical aspect of the story. He
does not mention at all the importance that reflection about the physics of a rotating
disk had for the abandonment of a Euclidian description of spacetime.
The remaining question for the complete formulation of GRT consisted in finding
equations which to account the relationship of the metric assigned to a certain region
of spacetime to the matter in it. In other words, with the Riemanns tensor he had the
description of the metric of spacetime, but he still needed the physical explanation of
the specific metric of any region. Considering that in classical physics matter was
conceived as the lawlike connected feature of gravity, and that gravity has been
reduced to the metric of spacetime in GRT; it is clear that is matter the lawlikely
related feature of a certain metric in the context of GRT: In general one may write
(Poisson equation) 4k ( mass density) [ gravitational potential]. In the
case of the relativistic theory of the gravitational field Rik takes the place of . On
the right side we shall then have to place a tensor also in place of . Since we know
from the special theory of relativity that the (inert) mass equals energy, we shall have
to put on the right side the tensor of energy-density more precisely the entire energydensity, insofar as it does not belong to the pure gravitational field (75).
These observations accomplish the story of the original formulation of GRT. Einstein
points out that such formulation is incomplete in the sense that it only covers the
physical account of the pure gravitational field, but not the general field in which
quantities corresponding somehow to the electromagnetic field occur too (73). Before
describing what he considers as the most coherent program to achieve the completion
of a general theory of unified fields, Einstein exposes his critical interpretation of
quantum mechanics. In the first place, he recognizes that, together with relativity
theory, quantum mechanics is the most general and successful physical theory.
However, their coherent combination has resisted all undertaken efforts. His critical
conception of quantum theory lies on the fact that Einstein renders it as incomplete.
The -function of the theory, which describes the probability of finding a certain
physical magnitude, is interpreted by quantum physicists as showing that the value
of the measurement only arises in cooperation with the unique probability which is
given to it in view of the -function only through the act of measuring itself (85),
and consequently, as a complete description of the corresponding system. To refute
this interpretation Einstein then offers a brief and simple exposition of the EPR
paradox. If the two partial-systems involved in this famous paradox are considered as
independent, and if we consider as well the fact that a complete measurement of the
first system S1 plus the -function of the total system we get an entirely definite function for S2; then it follows that according to the type of measurement made on S1
we get different values for -function of S2. But, given the independence of the two
partial-systems, this means that for the same real situation of S2 we get different
values for its -function unless we accept that S 1 telepathically affects the situation
of S2, or unless we deny independent real situations for things which are physically
independent. The outcome that Einstein attributes to this paradox is that one has to
give up the position that the -function constitutes a complete description of a real

factual situation. For in this case it would be impossible that two different types of functions could be co-ordinated with the identical factual situation of S2 (87).
Einstein attributes a twofold importance to his interpretation of the essential
incompleteness of quantum theory. On the one hand, he states that I believe that this
theory offers no useful point of departure for future development (87). On the other
hand, it determines that all of his scientific efforts undertaken after the formulation of
GRT aim to the achievement of a general field theory which could be able to give a
complete description of such field. The last pages of this writing contain a brief
description of the attempts that he has done in that direction. However, he recognizes
that at that moment he has not arrived to any definitive result. He also recognizes
that, concerning the equations he proposes as the most natural generalization of the
equations of gravitation: the proof of their physical usefulness is a tremendously
difficult task, inasmuch as mere approximations will not suffice (93).
In order to accomplish this summary of Einsteins autobiographical notes, it is
interesting to pay some attention on some epistemological remarks he offers as his
philosophical credo; especially because of the fact that such remarks can be evaluated
from the standpoint of Franks paper. Einstein draws a basic distinction among the
realm of sense experiences and the realm of concepts and propositions. In the later,
the relations among concepts and propositions are characterized by a logical nature
and governed by the rules of logical thinking. The meaning of the concepts and
propositions is grounded on their connection with sense-experiences, and such
connection is conceived as intuitive, not logical. Therefore, the system of concepts is a
creation of human beings in accordance with the syntactical laws of logic. The intuitive
nature of the connection with sense experience is given by human creativity, whereas
the simplicity and inner coherence of such system is given by logic laws. However, he
strongly remarks the fact of the creative and non-inductive origin of the concepts: All
concepts, even those which are closest to experience, are from the point of view of
logic freely chosen conventions (13).

2. EINSTEIN, MACH, AND LOGICAL POSITIVISM


The main point in Franks paper is to show that Einstein epistemological beliefs are
deeply coherent with the description of scientific knowledge proposed by positivistic
thinkers, such as Mach, and especially by the logical empiricists. The positivistic main
epistemological principle, namely, the requirement that any proposition or concept, in
order to posses meaning, must necessarily refer to sense perceptions; is stated by
Frank as having a deep heuristic value for Einsteins science.
However, Einstein considered that an interpretation of the positivistic principles as
stating the requirement that every statement of physics must be translatable in terms
of observable quantities is too strict and oversimplified. His convincement about the
creative and free origin of concepts led Einstein to adopt a view of the positivistic
criterion in which the meaning of physical concepts and statements is assured by the
possibility of logically deriving observables quantities from them. The subtle difference
lies then upon the distance that Mach and Einstein allowed between concepts and
experience. For Mach, scientific concepts are abstracted from, and therefore directly
linked to, experience; whereas for Einstein they are freely and intuitively invented, and
therefore a larger distance for their connection to experience is allowed: According to
Mach and his immediate followers, the fundamental laws of physics should be
formulated so that they would contain only concepts which could be defined by direct
observations or at least by a short chain of thoughts connected with direct
observations. Einstein, however, recognized that this requirement is an
oversimplification. In twentieth-century physics the general principle have been
formulated by using words or symbols which are connected with observational
concepts by long chains of mathematical and logical argument (274).

In spite of Einsteins criticism of Machs original principle as oversimplified and too


strict, Frank points out that Mach himself and even Comte had a clear insight about
the fact that the origin of scientific concepts is not a mere inductive abstraction. He
refers to a distinction made by Mach between direct and indirect description in
which the later method of formulation of concepts is not a mere observational
description, but a mathematical scheme which describe phenomena starting from a
purely symbolic set of terms. In the case of Comte, he quotes a passage in which this
author states that any observational process inherently requires the participation of a
theoretical presupposed framework: no observation is possible without a previous
conceptual scheme. These remarks can be understood as a ground to assert that
Einsteins refining statements about the origin of concepts were at least prefigured by
the main positivistic philosophers.
In the case of a comparison between Einsteins epistemology and logical
empiricism of Carnap and others, Frank argues that the coincidence is even deeper. He
quotes a passage of Carnap in which he states that in the formulation of the first
principles of physical theories such process is made from above, not as an inductive
grasping grounded on direct perception: the calculus is first constructed floating in
the air, so to speak; the construction begins at the top and then adds lower and lower
levels. Finally, by the semantical rules, the lower level is anchored at the solid grounds
of observable facts (276). Frank argues that remarks like this show that Einstein
coincided with logical positivists not only about the criterion of meaning, but in the
conception of the origin of concepts as well. Carnaps quotation can be interpreted as
being coherent with a view of freely created scientific concepts. Frank states that for
this philosophical tradition: the principles themselves were regarded as products of
the free human imagination and could contain any abstract terms or symbols [].
The principles are regarded as true only if by logical conclusions statements about
observations can be derived which can be confirmed by actual experience (275-6).
In more general terms, Franks points out that a deep common feature shared by
classical positivism and logical empiricism is the requirement for the meaning of
concepts and statements. Whatever the nature or origin of such concepts and
statements, if they are not directly related to observational entities, or if they are such
that no possible confrontation with experience can be logically derived from them;
such concepts or statements are qualified as meaningless or metaphysical. This
conception of metaphysical concepts as notions devoid of any meaning is, according
to Frank, supported by Einstein. Frank quotes a passage contained in his contribution
for a book about the philosophy of Bertrand Russell in which Einstein asserts that: in
order that thinking might not degenerate into metaphysics, or into empty talk, it is
only necessary that enough propositions of the conceptual system be firmly enough
connected with sensory experience and that the conceptual system, in view of its task
of ordering and surveying sense-experience, should show as much unity and
parsimony as possible (278-9). As it can be seen, in this passage Einstein shares the
pejorative meaning attributed to the term metaphysics as naming concepts and
propositions which do not posses any meaning at all, by virtue of the impossibility of
deriving any statements about possible sense experience.
Nevertheless, Einstein, in some other writings, aims to detach himself from
contemporary empiricist philosophizing because of the thorough rejection of any
metaphysical concepts of such philosophy from the realm of science. Frank argues
that this detaching attitude of Einstein is nothing but a terminological-semantical
problem. When Einstein complains about the complete rejection of metaphysics
proposed by logical empiricists, he is not the term in the sense of meaningless.
Einstein argues that there has to be some space for metaphysical concepts within
science in the sense of concepts which do not directly refer to experience; in the back
of his claim there is his conception of the origin of scientific principles as the outcome
of free human invention, in opposition of an inductive-abstractive conception. Frank
then states that this sense of metaphysic is not excluded from science by the logical
positivists, as the quotation of Carnap shows. The thorough rejection of metaphysics is

made in the sense of meaningless. In simpler words, Frank states that what Einstein
describes as metaphysics in the sense of a freely invented concept is not referred by
the logical empiricists with the term at issue.
Franks last point consists on the expression of a difference among Einstein and
logical positivists. If the basic concepts of science, as Einstein and Carnap state, are
the outcome of human invention, then it would be easy to consequently argue that the
definitive basic principles governing nature will never be achieved. Moreover, it could
suggest that such basic principle, understood as the correct ones, do not exist at all.
Frank reminds that a position of this kind was adopted by Poincare and many of his
logical empiricist followers. Contrarily, Einstein did believe in the existence of the
ultimate principles governing the world, and he did believe in the possibility to achieve
them; and the key to such achievement lies upon a mathematical heuristic method: if
it is true that this axiomatic basis of theoretical physics cannot be extracted from
experience but must be freely invented, can we ever hope to find the right way? Nay
more, has this right way any existence outside our illusions? I answer without question
that there is, in my opinion, a right way, and that we are capable of finding it. I am
convinced that we can discover by means of purely mathematical constructions the
concepts and the laws connecting them with each other, which furnish the key to the
understanding of natural phenomena (283). However, Frank considers that this
differentiation is not a matter of epistemological issues. He thinks that it is only the
expression of a personal and subjective reaction with regards to the fact of scientific
knowledge he offers an example of a different personal reaction by P. Bridgman. He
refers to the fact that Einstein associated this hope of finding the truth with his
religious world view to characterize it more as a subjective and personal opinion,
than as the expression of an epistemological task.
I think that this last remark is a flaw in Franks argumentation. Even though the
structure and foundation of scientific knowledge that Einstein and the logical
empiricists offer are quite similar and coherent to each other, Einsteins belief in the
true principles of science and in the possibility to grasp them by means of
mathematical reflection does constitute a deep philosophical departure from logical
positivism. Considering such beliefs, Einstein should be characterized as a realist
grounded on a kind of Pythagorean assumptions- concerning the ultimate ontological
status of scientific knowledge; whereas in the case of positivisticly oriented thinkers
the question is not so simple. If one denies the existence of the ultimate physical
principles, it follows that one could not be regarded as a realist, or at least not in the
same sense as Einstein can be regarded. A concrete example is given by one of the
ramifications of logical positivism: Reichenbachs reduction of scientific theories to the
set of observational predictions they entail consider the semantic conventionalism he
proposes in The Philosophy of Space and Time is clearly an example of a non-realist
oriented conception of scientific knowledge.

3. THE PHILOSOPHICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY


Reichenbachs paper aims to offer an explicit outline of the philosophical
contentions implied by Einsteins relativity philosophical. In the first section, the author
introduces some general remarks. He states as a deep mistake to interpret Einsteins
science as supporting a sort of philosophical relativism in the sense of an
abandonment of notions as truth and objectivity, mistake which gets even bigger if
applied to the realm of ethics. The second remark also points out a mistake: it is wrong
to believe that physical relativity is not a philosophical theory; it is, specifically in the
sense of containing very important and definite consequences for the theory of
knowledge. However, this fact does not mean that Einstein was a philosopher in the
full sense of the word. For instance, even though always supporting a kind of
empiricist criterion of meaning (as Frank points out), he never felt in necessity of
undertaking a properly philosophical analysis of such criterion.

In the second section Reichenbach begins to develop his view of the philosophical
content of relativity. His first claim is that: the logical basis of the theory of relativity
is the discovery that many statements, which were regarded as capable of
demonstrable truth or falsity, are mere definitions (293). He explains this sentence by
means of an example. In this theory, congruence, the comparison of distances, is a
matter of definition just as the settlement of units of length measure is. A certain
distance can be said to be congruent or incongruent to another distance just if a
certain definition of congruence has been introduced. A second example is given by
the statements referred to time: the attribution of a relation of simultaneity to distant
events depends on a prior definition as well; simultaneity statements acquire a truth
value only when a certain definition is presupposed.
These definitions used in the construction of space and time within the theory,
which are the grounds to construct meaningful statements, are characterized by
Reichenbach as co-ordinative definitions. By this he manes that they are given by the
co-ordination of a physical object, or process, to some fundamental concept (294).
Equal length, for example, is defined by reference to a rigid rod whose transport lays
equal distances. Simultaneity is defined by referring to light rays which cover equal
distances.
This property of the basic grounds of relativity theory, their co-ordinative
definitional nature, is quite important because of its connection to the reference to the
features of different observers in the theory. Reichenbach points out the fact that
sometimes the theory is presented in a way such that the co-ordinative definitions are
intrinsically related to different observers. This kind of presentation has the risk of
suggesting that the relativity of the theory is an expression of different subjective
standpoints. That would be a big mistake. The relativity of spacetime measurements
has nothing to do with subjective perspectives of observers. For instance, to relate
different co-ordinative definitions of simultaneity to different observers is nothing but
a way to simplify the presentation of logical relationships: It is convenient to identify
one definitional system with one observer; to speak of different observers is merely a
mode of speech expressing the plurality of definitional systems. In a logical exposition
of the theory of relativity the observer can be completely eliminated (295).
In order to be even more precise about the philosophical meaning of relativity
within Einsteins theory, Reichenbach states that even though the definitions of certain
features of spacetime vary throughout different definitional systems related to
different observers, all of these systems are physically equivalent and are connected
to each other by means of suitable transformations. Therefore, the definitional nature
of basic concepts leads to a plurality of equivalent descriptions. They are only
different languages to depict the same physical content. As it can be seen,
Reichenbach is aiming to describe the precise meaning of relative in Einsteins theory
as a way to detach it from any interpretation which wrongly state it as somehow
connected to any form of lack of objectivity, or to any abandonment of the notion of
truth.
Some misunderstandings about truth and relativity are given by considerations
about the role of simplicity in the theory. Reichenbach asserts that the fact that nonEuclidian geometry allows a simpler presentation of the theory than Euclidean
geometry does not imply that the non-Euclidean version is truer 1. Moreover, the
geometrical conventionalism of Poincare claims that the geometrical statements about
the physical world are not grounded on real features of it. Therefore, the adoption of a
Euclidean or non-Euclidean presentation is just a matter of convention. Reichenbach
states this as misleading, insofar as the choice of a geometry is arbitrary only so long
1

I think this contention is open to criticism. It ignores the fact that the adoption of Riemannian
geometry is not only the outcome of mathematical necessities. Einsteins reflection on the
physics of the rotating rigid disk shows that the adoption of non-Euclidian geometries is related
to physical-geometrical issues as well. At least it is a fact that Reichenbach, in this point, is
presupposing his own epistemology of geometry (semantic conventionalism)which is not the
only possible one.

as no definition of congruence is specified. Once this definition is set up, it becomes an


empirical question which geometry holds for a physical space []. Instead of speaking
of conventionalism, therefore, we should speak of the relativity of geometry. Geometry
is relative in the same sense as other relative concepts (297).
Reichenbach nevertheless recognizes that this relativity of geometry has some
limits. Certain different representations of an original geometrical system are not
continuous a sphere represented on a flat-plane, for instance, and consequently the
new representation contains some singularities the poles of a sphere in a plane. In
the case of Einsteins theory, such possible singularities can take the form of causal
anomalies of the type of a light signal traveling from A to B passing through one pole
of the sphere, the representation of such trajectory in a plane is causally anomalous.
Geometrical representations of relativity theory which give space to such anomalies
are of course ruled out. For instance, if the description of a closed universe is correct,
a Euclidean representation would contain causal anomalies. Hence, the neo-Kantian
project of taking advantage of relativity of geometry in order to relate physics to a
Euclidean framework is condemned to failure unless they are willing to hold an
anomalous conception of causality, option which would not be Kantian at all.
The third section of the article deals with the task of assigning Einsteins physics
(more precisely, to its epistemological consequences) within the course of the history
of philosophy. Occams razor and Leibnizs principle of indiscernibles, in connection
with the empiricist criterion of meaning; are sketched by Reichenbach as antecedents
of Einstein. Leibnizs attempt to build an account of space and motion in relative terms
is also stated as connected to Einsteins view 2. But the most influential antecedent is
machs claim of the necessity of a relational account of inertial forces.
Another line of thinking development connected to Einsteins science and
epistemology is given by the history of geometry. The introduction of non-Euclidean
geometries reached by Gauss, Bolyai and Lobachevski was related to considerations
about the possibility of an accurate geometrical description of the world which would
not be Euclidean. Later on, Helmholtz offered the first explanation of the relative
character of geometry, insofar as it depends on an explicit formulation of congruence.
He also shed light on the problem of the psychological possibility of representation of
geometrical features. He established that the visualization of geometry is nothing but
the outcome of everyday experience with solid bodies and light rays: we have a
natural visualization of space in Euclidean terms because of the features of the
physics surrounding our everyday life; but if we would live close to a black hole, for
example, such visualization would be quite different.
However, concerning his new and revolutionary conception of time and
simultaneity, Reichenbach claims that Einstein has no previous forerunners. He
explains such fact by asserting that the possibility of the formulation of such idea
depends on the availability of some very accurate experimental methods: the
assumption of light as the fastest possible signal could not have been conceived
before the negative outcome of the Michelson-Morley experiment.
Reichenbach concludes these historical remarks with a general assertion about the
relation of physics and philosophy: this short account shows that the evolution of
philosophical ideas is guided by the evolution of physical theories. The philosophy of
space and time is not the work of the ivory tower philosopher []. The great synthesis
of the various lines of development, which we owe to Einstein, bears witness to the
fact that philosophy of science has taken over a function which philosophical systems
could not perform (301).
The fourth section of the article aims to make explicit the philosophical description
of space and time contained in relativity. Reichenbachs first claim about the subject is
that space and time specifically contra Kant, are not ideal objects or necessary
ordering forms of the human mind. Space and time are real in the sense that they
2

This claim is also debatable. Lawrence Sklar, for instance, argues in his influential Space,
Time, and Spacetime, that relativity, in the special and general case, is not a theory which
could be understood as supporting Leibnizian relationisms, or even Machian-relationist claims.

specify some general features of physical objects, and thus, they are descriptive of the
physical world. In spite of the fact that qua concepts they are inventions of the human
minds, we have to consider that not all of human conceptual inventions are descriptive
of the world. The relation telepathy is empty in terms of physical descriptive content,
whereas the relation fatherhood is descriptive. This is the sense in which
Reichenbach establishes space and time as physically descriptive: these conceptual
systems describe relations holding between physical objects, namely, solid bodies,
light-rays, and watches. In addition, these relations formulate physical laws of great
generality, determining some fundamental features of the physical world (302).
Another way to explain this is that, in the context of Kants apriorism regarding
Euclidean geometry, the discovery of different geometries had as a main outcome the
fact that choosing the most adequate system to describe physical reality became an
empirical question. That is, the correct system does say something about empirical
features reminding, of course, that we have to consider the geometrical system and
certain co-ordinative definitions.
Reichenbachs second claim about the philosophy of spacetime has to do with the
intrinsic connection among time and causality implied by Einsteins theory.
Reichenbach is quite clear and precise when explaining such connection. The order of
time, in terms of after and later, is reducible to causal order. Cause is always after its
effect, this is a relation whose order cannot be altered; and the relativity of time is
built upon this causal framework: that Einsteins theory admits a reversal of time
order for certain events, a result from the relativity of simultaneity, is merely a
consequence of this fundamental fact [the intrinsic relation among time and causality].
Since the speed of casual transmission is limited, there exist events of such a kind that
neither of them can be the cause or the effect of the other. For events of this kind a
time order is not defined, and either of them can be called earlier or later than the
other (304).
In the case of the direction of time things are not so simple. Causal-temporal
relation assigns an order to time, but such order does not imply a certain direction or a
uni-directionality for time. Such uni-directionality is the precise formulation of the
problem of irreversibility of time. That is, a physical theory should include a foundation
for the uni-directionality of time in order to be able to account for its irreversibility.
Reichenbach asserts that no such foundation is available within the context of
relativity theory. Moreover, he considers that this is an open and completely unsolved
problem for physics.
His last remark about the philosophy of time presupposed by Einstein is that it
makes possible a better understanding of the meaning of absolute time in classical
physics. Absolute simultaneity would exist in a physical world in which there is no
upper limit to the velocity of signals. Such world is as conceivable as one in which
such limit exists. That is, just as in the case of geometry, there are different possible
time schemes produced by the human mind; and the decision about which scheme is
the correct one is an empirical task. This is an instance of times relativity and of
times reality as conceived by Reichenbach.
In the fifth and final section of his paper, Reichenbach deals with the task of
circumscribing Einstein, at least in general terms, into a larger philosophical school.
The first stage is to show that Einstein achievements can be understood as a step
towards a rejection of Kantian views related to a synthetic a priori conception of the
basic principles of knowledge and science. Such principles, as determining the bounds
of rationality, have been progressively challenged by modern science: Euclidean
space, absolute time, substances as the ultimate entities, are concepts which have
been abandoned by physics, and Einsteins relativity is one of the milestones of this
process. Einstein has then contributed to a conception of human knowledge
characterized by freedom and creativeness: the fact that we are able to overcome
these conceptions and to replace them by better ones reveals unexpected abilities of
the human mind, a versatility vastly superior to the dogmatism of a pure reason which
dictates its laws to the scientist (309).

Grounded on this view, Reichenbach asserts that Einstein belongs to an empiricist


conception of knowledge. It is true that not to the classic empiricism of Bacon and Mill,
but to an empiricism which gives space to the introduction of innovative ideas that is,
the empiricism which Frank depicts: Einsteins empiricism is that of modern
theoretical physics, the empiricism of mathematical construction, which is so devised
that it connects observational data by deductive operations and enables us to predict
new data (309).
Reichenbach concludes his article with a general remark about the nature of
philosophy of science connected to the value he assigns to this modern theoretical
physics empiricism. If by metaphysics we understand the conception that the main
principles of science are not analytical, even though their validity derives only from
reason; then modern physics is anti-metaphysical. Modern science denies the
possibility of knowledge grounded on any different basis than experience.
Consequently: there is no separate entrance to truth to philosophers. The path of the
philosopher is indicated by that of the scientist: all the philosopher can do is to
analyze the results of science, to construe their meanings and stake out their validity.
Theory of knowledge is analysis of science (310).
4. EINSTEINS THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
In order to offer an explicit description of Einsteins relativity, Lenzen undertakes a
sort of progressive approach. In a manner of speaking, Lenzen begins by an
examination of Einsteins view about the origin and structure of concepts in general,
continues with an exposition of the structure and origin of the main scientific concepts
involved in relativity, and concludes with an account of the structure and nature of the
whole theory of relativity (both special and general).
In the first stage of this progression, Lenzen offers a preliminary account of the
distinction among sensory experience and conceptual description which is
presupposed by Einsteins view. Such distinction is quite coherent with what has been
stated by Frank and Reichenbach. The realm of sense experiences is organized and
made intelligible by concepts which refer to them, immediately or via logical
derivations of observational statements. The origin of concepts, Einstein considers, is
grounded on humans mind creativity, not on inductions or abstractions operated over
sense experience. However, immediate or mediate reference to sense experience is
the necessary criterion of meaning. Lenzen remarks the fact that in the case of
physics, Einstein believes that the truly creative process lies on the introduction of
mathematical constructions. Moreover, the ultimate goal of physical science is to build
theories in which the mathematical apparatus would be as small as possible. The
mathematical core of a theory which is not logically reducible constitutes the
indispensable and not rationally deducible part of a theory. finally, related to the
creative origin of any concept, it is the conception that there are no a priori or
necessary notions to which knowledge must conform; there is always a possible
conceptual alternative, the merits of which is judged only through its reference to
experience.
In the second section of his article, Lenzen begins continues his progressive
examination by stating that the most basic concept involved in Einsteins science is
the bodily object. As a general framework for the analysis of the meaning, origin and
structure of this concept; Lenzen remarks that Einstein holds a realist conception of
the world. That is, he states that the belief in an external world independent of the
percipient subject is the foundation of all science (363). Besides this quotation from
an article about Maxwell, Lenzen also states that Einsteins realist view can be traced
in his analysis of quantum mechanics and his EPR paradox: he does believe in a
determinate state of any physical system independently of the intromission of
observers. However, this realist talk is attenuated by the conception that the meaning
of any concept is given by its reference to sense-impressions, that is, not directly to

the real objects, but through the sensitive presentation of such object in the cognitive
subject.
On this framework, Lenzen affirms that the construction of the concept of a bodily
object is the outcome of human intuition. That is, even this basic notion is not
abstracted from experience, but posited by the human mind on the realm of sense
impressions: certain recurring complexes of sensation are arbitrarily selected by
thought out of the fullness of sensations and to them is assigned the concept of bodily
object. Einstein holds that, logically considered, the concept of bodily object is not
identical with the totality of those sensations, but is a free creation of the human (or
animal) spirit (365). Lenzen remarks that this account of the concept of a bodily
object avoids any idealistic consequences insofar as the concept is not reducible to a
complex of sense impressions. Moreover, he also remarks that sometimes Einstein
refers to it as signifying an element of an independent reality beyond the realm of
mere sense impressions.
In the third section of his paper, Lenzen states that the next level in the theory of
knowledge presupposed by Einstein, we find the concepts of space and time. Both
these concepts presuppose the notion of a bodily object to be construed. The concept
of space is explained by Einstein in terms of the properties of a specific type of bodily
object: the rigid rod. The concept of a rigid rod is the outcome of idealizing properties
of relatively to each other moving bodily objects, and once this notion is available: a
specific body K0 can be continued by a second body which is in contact with it at three
or more points. The quasi-rigid continuation of a body is unlimited. The collection of
conceivable quasi-rigid continuations of a body K0 is the infinite space determined by
this body as a frame of reference (368).
Now, the structure of space can be conceptualized in several ways. For example, in
the case of Euclidean space, Lenzen points out that Einstein conceives as its main
properties i) two points determine a stretch, and ii) to any point in space one can
assign a triplet of co-ordinate numbers so that to any stretch a positive number can be
assigned; the square of such number is the sum of the squares of the co-ordinate
difference and this positive number is the length of the stretch, which is independent
of the position of the body and of the position of any other body. A deep philosophical
consequence of this description of space as grounded on the concept of bodily object
is that the axiomatic construction of Euclidean geometry has an empirical foundation,
and Einstein declares that forgetfulness of this fact was responsible for the fatal error
that Euclidean geometry is a necessity of thought which is prior to all experience
(369). As it can be seen, this remark is an expression of Einsteins rejection of a priori
knowledge.
In the case of time the reasoning is analogous. Just as space presupposes the rigid
body, time presupposes clocks. Objective local time is defined through the correlation
of a certain process with the indications of a clock a periodically running isolated
system3. Objective extended time is based on the synchronization of distant clock
signals. Mechanics presupposed Euclidean structure for space, and absolute
simultaneity for time, since the time required for the propagation of light was
neglected. This mistake favored the development of modern physics, but again, the
forgetfulness of its empirical origin led to a misconception of the error of attributing an
a priori and fixed nature to the structure of time.
Lenzens next step consists in an examination of the construction of a higher level
of knowledge, in which the concepts do not refer immediately to sense experience, but
in which a wide range of sense-impressions can be organized by means of the
observational statements which this level entails. In other words, Lenzen now
approaches a description of the formulation of the principles of Einsteins scientific
theories. Einstein conceives two methods and origin for the formulation of this
theoretical level. When the source of the formulation of the main statements is
empirical, he calls them theories of principle. Examples of this are given by the
3

It is quite clear that the analogy presupposes the introduction of light as a further concept
insofar as Einsteins clocks are light clocks. Lenzen offers no account of such introduction.

hypotheses of the non-existence of perpetuum mobile as the foundation of


thermodynamics, and by Galileos law of inertia. Besides these examples offered by
Einstein, Lenzen also states that the two basic hypotheses of special relativity are of
this type4.
On the other hand, when the formulation of theoretical hypotheses is guided by
ideals of reason, Einstein refers to constructive theories. In the fourth section of his
article, Lenzen points out that Einsteins contribution to the development and
acceptance of the atomic theory are of this kind. It is quite clear that the attribution of
an atomic structure to matter is not a hypothesis which could be empirically
suggested; and in spite of all of the criticism introduced in positivistic terms by Mach
and others, Einstein always believed in this theory and certainly contributed to its
final acceptance. However, according to Lenzen, the most apparent example of a
constructive theory is general relativity. He refers to the importance of the
mathematical requirement of general covariance under coordinate transformation as
an ideal of reason which motivated the introduction of its main hypotheses.
The constructive character of theories is understood by Lenzen as an argument
supporting his conception of the origin of scientific knowledge: the use of rational
criteria for the construction of physical theories confirms Einsteins doctrine that
concepts are free creations of the mind. The fundamental axioms, he declares, can be
chosen freely. To be sure, the freedom is controlled to the extent that consequences of
the axioms must be confirmed by experience. The freedom is not that of a novelist,
but of the person who solves a cross-world puzzle. Any word can be proposed as a
solution, but there is only one that fits the puzzle in all parts (373). In the specific
case of GRT, the creative nature of its main principles can be clearly recognized by the
fact that, even though using hypotheses quite different from Newtons gravitation
theory, for GRT it was possible to comprehend the whole range of experience data, in
a manner even more complete and satisfactory, than what Newtons theory did 5.
In the last section of his article, Lenzen refers to Einsteins evaluation of the scope
of the achievements made by physics science. Such evaluation rests upon a
distinction among empirical science and pure mathematics. In the later case, given
that the objects of the rational construction are created by the mind through the
adoption of certain axioms and definitions; the certainty of such construction, when
referred to the created objects, is complete and exact. In the case of empirical science,
its objects are given, and considering that the establishment of the conditions under
which experiments are carried on requires methods of approximation, it follows that
confirmation of an applied theory by perception is only approximate. The variables in
a physical theory are interpreted by results of measurement which are never
completely consistent (381). Lenzen conceives this account of the nature of the
empirical science as the foundation for Einsteins criticism of the interpretation of
quantum mechanics as completely descriptive. Quantum mechanics is an
approximately valid theory in a sense even deeper than normal theories: Einstein
holds that quantum mechanics is limited to a statistical point of view. On his view the
wave-function does not describe the state of a single system; it refers to an ensemble
of systems in the sense of statistical mechanics (383). Consequently, Einstein argues
that even though quantum physics represents an element of truth, it cannot serve as
the basis for a more adequate theory. Finally, Lenzen asserts that Einsteins hope in
the possibility of complete even though approximate theories is founded on the
faith that a pre-established harmony between thought and reality will win for the
human mind, after patient effort; an intuition of the depths of reality (384).
4

I think this is misleading. Einstein himself remarked that the formulation of special relativity
was not grounded on the negative outcome of the Michelson-Morley experiment, contrarily to
what Lenzen suggests. However, his explanation of Einsteins conception of theories of
principle is not deep enough as to make a completely clear sense of his claim.
5
But if the free origin of scientific concepts is for Einstein a general rule, what is the exact
meaning of the concept of theories of principle. Are they an exception to Einsteins view? Or
their difference with respect to constructive theories lies on the different distance to sense
impressions of their concepts? Lenzen exposition does not consider these issues.

5. REMARKS TO THE ESSAYS APPEARING IN THIS COLLECTIVE VOLUME


In this writing, Einstein offers a personal reaction to the papers contained in the
book. Insofar as such papers refer to very different topics, I will refer just to his
response to the reviewed articles. However, it is interesting to notice some general
remark which Einstein introduces in the context of an exposition of his criticism
against quantum mechanics as an incomplete theory. These remarks are quite
expressive about his ontological standpoint. As a way to offer a philosophical ground
to his convincement on the real possibility of a complete theory for the realm of the
microscopic ultimate particles, he states that his notion of reality as the aim of
science is a metaphysical concept. The sense in which it is metaphysical is that it
works as a framework concept for the very possibility of knowledge. The basic and prescientific distinction among sense-impressions and concepts, Einstein argues, is not
susceptible to be conceptually defined or to be confirmed by any empirical data. The
legitimacy of the distinction lies on the fact that it is a necessary presupposition to
avoid solipsism. In other words, this distinction is needed in order to assign meaning
and rationality to science as a whole: the only justification lies in its usefulness. We
are here concerned with categories or schemes of thought, the selection of which is,
in principle, entirely open to us and whose qualification can only be judged by the
degree to which its use contributes to making the totality of the contents of
consciousness intelligible (674). Without a distinction among the realms involved,
there would be no objectivity and no access to truth. In this context, Einstein
characterizes this sense of the real which he hopes can be completely grasped by
scientific theories even in the field of elementary particles as a type of program
(674). He argues that in the realm of the macroscopic no one is willing to abandon
such program, and that given the essential link among macroscopic and microscopic
realm, the program of reality must be pursued in the later as well. Finally, Einstein
asserts that his position regarding reality is in a sense Kantian. The program at issue
works as a category in the sense of a condition of possibility for physical thinking.
However, it differs from Kant in the sense that the categorical status is not fixed; as
any conceptual achievement it is the outcome of a free invention of intellect.
Concerning his opinion about Reichenbachs article, Einstein offers an amusing
fictional debate among Poincare and Reichenbach himself about the relativity of
geometry. Poincare begins by stating the fact that empirically given bodies are not
rigid, and consequently the concept of distance is not empirically instantiated.
Therefore, without the theorems of any geometry cannot be verified or falsified.
Reichenbach replies that a meaning can be assigned to distance if we consider the
thermal volume-dependence of bodies, their elasticity, electro-magnetic striction, etc.
But then Poincare claims that we would be using physical laws which presuppose
Euclidean geometry; therefore, the verification achieved would be of the physical
theory as a whole, but not of a certain geometry (at this point, due to his respect for
the superiority of Poincare as a thinker, he replaces him for an anonymous rival to
Reichenbach). Reichenbach answers that the assumption of an objective meaning to
length and the interpretation of differences of coordinates as distances has not led to
problems; therefore should not we, at least tentatively, operate with a concept of
length thus defined, as if there were rigid rods? actually, this is what Einstein did. His
rival then replies that in such a case Reichenbach would seem to be forgetting or even
rejecting his basic verificationist principle of meaning. The non-positivistic finishes his
intervention by stating that by his abandonment of a strict verificationist principle
Reichenbach would have to recognize a more Kantian oriented conception of
knowledge. Concepts in a scientific theory would not need any further justification
than to make experience intelligible. The non-positivistic conceives this sense of
categories as epistemic conditions as a great philosophical achievement introduced by
Kant. His mistake of assigning Euclidean geometry a fixed and necessary status is an

unavoidable consequence of the scientific framework of his time. Even though these
words are pronounced by the non-positivistic, not by Einstein, I think that they show
that he was not as distant to Kantian philosophy as Frank and Reichenbach argued.
Finally, regarding Lenzens paper, Einstein is quite favorable. He states that
grounded on his occasional utterances about epistemological tasks, he built a
consistent presentation which carefully filled what was missing in his occasional
expressions. In more general terms, Einstein asserts that Lenzens paper contributes
to clearly show the positive and necessary independence among science and
epistemology: epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme.
Science without epistemology is insofar as it is thinkable at all primitive and
muddled (684). However, Einstein states that Lenzens article also shows that once
the epistemologist has elucidated the system he is seeking and which is contained in
the science then he is inclined to interpret the thought content of science in the
sense of his system and to reject whatever does not fit into his system. On the other
hand, even though the scientist gratefully accepts the epistemological analysis of his
work; the external conditions of his practice do not allow him to adhere to any
epistemological system. Moreover, the scientist, depending on the context and guided
by a a sense of what is more convenient in any case, sometimes behaves as a realist,
sometimes as an idealist, sometimes as a positivistic, sometimes as a Pythagorean,
and so forth; and he therefore must appear to the systematic epistemologist as a
type of unscrupulous opportunist (684).
PABLO ACUA LUONGO