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The Formative Years of RelativityThe History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures$
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Jürgen Renn and Hanoch Gutfreund

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174631

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174631.001.0001

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Philosophical Debates on General Relativity

Philosophical Debates on General Relativity

(p.106) 7 Philosophical Debates on General Relativity
The Formative Years of Relativity

Hanoch Gutfreund

Jürgen Renn

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses the philosophical debate surrounding general relativity in its formative period, from Einstein's own writings on methodological and epistemological aspects of the theory to the first reactions by philosophers such as Moritz Schlick, Ernst Cassirer, and Hans Reichenbach. The focus is on the philosophical investigations clarifying and reinterpreting the conceptual foundations of general relativity. General relativity emerged from Einstein's concerns for the foundations of physics. His early readings of philosophers had made him aware of the delicate relation between the fundamental concepts of space and time and experience. In creating special relativity, David Hume's empiricism and Poincaré's conventionalism had been helpful because they encouraged Einstein to ascribe new notions of space and time to coordinates that in Hendrik Lorentz's electrodynamics had no direct physical meaning.

Keywords:   philosophical debates, philosophical investigations, conceptual foundations, special relativity, Moritz Schlick, Ernst Cassirer, Hans Reichenbach, general relativity, Albert Einstein

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