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Once this definition is set up, it becomes an empirical question which geometry holds for physical space. Must you not come to the point where you deny the meaning of geometrical statements and concede meaning only to the completely einstein philosopher scientist theory of relativity which still does not exist at all as einstein philosopher scientist finished product?

Why do the individual concepts that occur in a theory require any separate justification after all, if they are indispensable only within the framework of the logical structure of the theory, and if it is the theory as a whole that stands the test?

If theory choice is empirically underdetermined, then an obvious question is why we are so little aware of the underdetermination in the day-to-day conduct of science.

In a address celebrating Max Planck's sixtieth birthday, Einstein approached this einstein philosopher scientist via a distinction between practice and principle: The supreme task of the physicist is … the search for those most general, elementary laws from which the world picture is to be obtained through pure deduction.

Albert Einstein : philosopher-scientist / edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp - Details - Trove

No logical path leads to these elementary laws; it is instead just the intuition that einstein philosopher scientist on an empathic understanding of experience. In this state of methodological uncertainty one can think that arbitrarily many, in themselves equally justified systems of theoretical principles were possible; and this opinion is, in principle, certainly correct.

But the development of physics has shown that of all the conceivable theoretical constructions a single one has, at any given time, proved itself unconditionally superior einstein philosopher scientist all others.

No one who has really gone deeply into the subject will deny that, in practice, the world of perceptions determines the theoretical system unambiguously, even though no logical path leads from the perceptions to einstein philosopher scientist basic principles of the theory.

Einstein31; my translation But why is theory choice, in practice, seemingly empirically determined?

The Library of Living Philosophers, Volume 7. Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist

Einstein hinted at an answer the year before in a letter to Schlick, where he commended Schlick's argument that the deep elements of a theoretical ontology have as much claim to the status of the real as do Mach's elements of sensation Schlickbut suggested that we are nonetheless speaking of two different kinds of reality.

How do they differ? Part of what it means to be a member of a such a community is that we have been taught to make our theoretical choices in accord with criteria or values that we hold in common.

Simplicity and Theory Choice For Einstein, as for many others, simplicity is the criterion that mainly steers theory choice in domains where experiment and observation no longer provide an unambiguous guide. This, too, einstein philosopher scientist a theme sounded early and late in Einstein's philosophical reflections for more detail, see HowardNorton einstein philosopher scientist, and van Dongen For example, the just-quoted remark from about the apparent determination of theory choice in practice, contrasted with in-principle underdetermination continues: Furthermore this conceptual system that is univocally coordinated with the world of experience is reducible to a few basic laws from which the whole system can be developed logically.

Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist

With every new important advance the researcher here sees his expectations surpassed, in that those basic laws are more and more simplified under the press of experience. Herein, it seems to me, lie the roots einstein philosopher scientist the controversy carried on some years ago between Mach and Planck.


Always a leitmotif, Einstein's celebration of simplicity as a guide to theory choice comes clearly to the fore in the early s. Einstein philosopher scientist his faith in simplicity was reaffirmed is clear.

Witness what he wrote in his Herbert Spencer lecture: If, then, it is true that the axiomatic foundation of theoretical physics cannot be extracted from experience but must be freely invented, may we ever hope to find the right way? Furthermore, does this right way einstein philosopher scientist anywhere other than in our illusions?


May we hope to be guided safely by experience at all, if there exist theories such as classical mechanics which to a large extent do justice to experience, without einstein philosopher scientist the matter in a deep way?

To these questions, I answer with complete einstein philosopher scientist, that, in my opinion, the right way exists, and that we are capable of finding it. Our experience hitherto justifies us in trusting that nature is the realization of the simplest that is mathematically conceivable.