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`Physics Is a Kind of Metaphysics': Émile Meyerson and Einstein's Late Rationalistic Realism

Giovanelli, Marco (2018) `Physics Is a Kind of Metaphysics': Émile Meyerson and Einstein's Late Rationalistic Realism. European Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

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Abstract

Gerald Holton has famously described Einstein's career as a philosophical “pilgrimage". Starting on “the historic ground" of Machian positivism and phenomenalism, following the completion of general relativity in late 1915, Einstein's philosophy endured (a) a speculative turn: physical theorizing appears as ultimately a "pure mathematical construction" guided by faith in the simplicity of nature and (b) a realistic turn: science is “nothing more than a refinement" of the everyday belief in the existence of mind-independent physical reality. Nevertheless, Einstein's mathematical constructivism that supports his unified field theory program appears to be, at first sight, hardly compatible with the common sense realism with which he countered quantum theory. Thus, the literature on Einstein's philosophy of science has often struggled in finding the thread between ostensibly conflicting philosophical pronouncements. This paper supports the claim that Einstein's dialog with Emile Meyerson from the mid 19205 till the early 19305 might be a neglected source to solve this riddle. According to Einstein, Meyerson shared (a) his belief in the independent existence of an external world and (b) his conviction that the latter can be grasped only by speculative means. Einstein could present his search for a unified field theory as a metaphysical-realistic program as opposed to the positivistic-operationalist spirit of quantum mechanics.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Giovanelli, Marcomarco.giovanelli@uni-tuebingen.de
Keywords: Albert Einstein, Émile Meyerson, Relativity, Unified Field Theory, Realism, Ratioanalism
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: Dr. Marco Giovanelli
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2018 21:58
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2018 21:58
Item ID: 14855
Journal or Publication Title: European Journal for the Philosophy of Science
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s13194-018-0211-y
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14855

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