The Kantian grounding of Einstein’s worldview: (II) Simultaneity, synthetic apriority and the mystical

Stephen Palmquist

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Abstract

Part I in this two-part series employed a perspectival interpretation to argue that Kant’s epistemology serves as the philosophical grounding for modern revolutions in science. Although Einstein read Kant at an early age and immersed himself in Kant’s philosophy throughout his early adulthood, he was reluctant to admit Kant’s influence, possibly due to personal factors relating to his cultural-political situation. This sequel argues that Einstein’s early Kant-studies would have brought to his attention the problem of simultaneity and the method of solving it that eventually led to the theory of relativity. Despite Einstein’s reluctance to acknowledge his Kantian grounding, a perspectival understanding of Kant’s philosophy of science shows it is profoundly consistent with Einstein’s views on both synthetic apriority and the nature of scientific theory. Moreover, Kant and Einstein share quasi-mystical religious tendencies, relying on an unknowable absolute as the ultimate boundary of our scientific understanding of nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages20
JournalPolish Journal of Philosophy
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

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