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Defending Einstein

by Steven Gimbel Anke Walz

Hans Reichenbach, a philosopher of science who was one of five students in Einstein's first seminar on the general theory of relativity, became Einstein's bulldog, defending the theory against criticism from philosophers, physicists, and popular commentators. This 2006 book chronicles the development of Reichenbach's reconstruction of Einstein's theory in a way that clearly sets out all of its philosophical commitments and its physical predictions as well as the battles that Reichenbach fought on its behalf, in both the academic and popular press. The essays include reviews and responses to philosophical colleagues; polemical discussions with physicists Max Born and D. C. Miller; as well as popular articles meant for the layperson. At a time when physics and philosophy were both undergoing revolutionary changes in content and method, this book is a window into the development of scientific philosophy and the role of the philosopher.

Einstein

by Steven Gimbel

Is relativity Jewish? The Nazis denigrated Albert Einstein's revolutionary theory by calling it "Jewish science," a charge typical of the ideological excesses of Hitler and his followers. Philosopher of science Steven Gimbel explores the many meanings of this provocative phrase and considers whether there is any sense in which Einstein's theory of relativity is Jewish. Arguing that we must take seriously the possibility that the Nazis were in some sense correct, Gimbel examines Einstein and his work to explore how beliefs, background, and environment may-or may not-influence the work of the scientist. You cannot understand Einstein's science, Gimbel declares, without knowing the history, religion, and philosophy that influenced it. No one, especially Einstein himself, denies Einstein's Jewish heritage, but many are uncomfortable saying that he was a Jew while he was at his desk working. To understand what "Jewish" means for Einstein's work, Gimbel first explores the many definitions of "Jewish" and asks whether there are elements of Talmudic thinking apparent in Einstein's theory of relativity. He applies this line of inquiry to other scientists, including Isaac Newton, René Descartes, Sigmund Freud, and Émile Durkheim, to consider whether and how their specific religious beliefs or backgrounds manifested in their scientific endeavors. Einstein's Jewish Science intertwines science, history, philosophy, theology, and politics in fresh and fascinating ways to solve the multifaceted riddle of what religion means-and what it means to science. There are some senses, Gimbel claims, in which Jews can find a special connection to E = mc2, and this claim leads to the engaging, spirited debate at the heart of this book.

The Grateful Dead and Philosophy: Getting High-Minded about Love and Haight

by Steven Gimbel

Twenty philosophical essays about the Grateful Dead phenomenon evaluates the band, its lyrics, and its influence from a variety of ancient and modern perspectives to consider how it fits into broader trends of American thought.

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