[lit-ideas] Einsteiniana

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 11 May 2014 08:33:16 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 5/10/2014 9:48:12 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:
Everyone on this forum knows that if we  study a subject a lot and then 
keep on studying it; eventually we will know more  about it than almost anyone 
we know – assuming we start our study with adequate  intelligence.   This 
seems to me what the Ashkenazi Jews started doing  800 years ago.  But is 
natural selection an adequate explanation for what  happened in the 20th 
century, for Einstein for example? We know there are  genetic “triggers” of 
various sorts; mightn’t the intense study needed for  mastering money-lending 
triggered an intellectual benefit that was to some  extent heritable?  
Maybe not, but it doesn’t seem as though there were  enough generations for 
natural selection to explain those results."

I see  D. McEvoy has addressed the more general topic of L. Helm's post 
about cultural  "vs." biological evolution, but I wanted to focus specifically 
on Einstein,  before we move on!

there are OTHER ways to fit Einstein into the  picture!
One line of argument would be to sort of show that there's more in Einstein 
 than a development of 'money-lending'! -- a lot of chance comes into play 
as one  can fascinatingly find by reading about Einstein's early years! Oh, 
the effect  of that gift -- Euclid's book -- by the family friend:
"When Einstein was ten years old, Max Talmud (later changed to Max Talmey), 
 a poor Jewish medical student from Poland, was introduced to the Einstein 
family  by his brother. During weekly visits over the next five years, he 
gave the boy  popular books on science, mathematical texts and philosophical 
writings. These  included Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and 
Euclid's Elements (which  Einstein called the "holy little geometry book")"

For a philosopher of  science, Einstein's genetic background may be largely 
irrelevant! For the  record, part of the contents to 

Schilpp, Paul Arthur, ed. (1949). Albert  Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist. 
The Library of Living Philosophers, vol. 7.  Evanston, IL: The Library of 
Living Philosophers.

that lists Einstein as a a 'living philosopher'. (Since McEvoy  discussed 
Helm's post vis-à-vis Popper in his first response -- and Popper  merited a 
volume in Schilpp's series -- McEvoy's second response focuses on  
'intelligence' rather).
This is as per R. Erskins's notes  at


After  the introduction and preface the book opens with  Einstein's

"Autobiographical Notes," written in German.

We  may read both the German text and English translation on the facing 
pages, and  compare the two, 

The next section contains a series of essays by  Einstein's esteemed 
colleagues and contemporaries. 

Among them are W.  Pauli, M.Born, N. Bohr, K. Goedel, G. Bachelard and 
others of equal stature.  

Some contributors disagree with Einstein's position on statistical  quantum 
theory, M. Born in particular. 

Others tackle the epistemological  issues of their time, illuminating 
subtle philosophical considerations that  quickened the numerous advances in 
theoretical physics during the late  nineteenth and early twentieth century. 

One essay, P, Frank's "Einstein,  Mach, and Logical Positivism', reveals an 
astounding fact. 

"Because of  the close connection, which obviously exists between 
Einstein's theory of  relativity and Mach's philosophy, Lenin feared that 
theories might  become a Trojan horse for the infiltration of idealistic 
currents among Russian  scientists and among educated classes in general."

Einstein answers each  contributor at the end of the book in his "Remarks 
to the Essays Appearing in  this Collective Volume." 

He begins with Pauli and Born, primarily  because of their position on 
statistical quantum theory, whereupon Einstein  launches into a fascinating 
defense of his own position. 

But as with all  the contributors, the tone throughout was gentle and 

And one  comes away with the impression that Einstein was beloved by his 
contemporaries  because he returned that love in kind. 

The result was a mighty collusion  of powerful minds that changed the 

"Now, if only politicians and  preachers could do the same!", Erkins 
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