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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),

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

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).

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).

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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).

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