Introduction

Michel Janssen, Christoph Lehner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

Abstract

This volume brings together fourteen essays by historians and philosophers of science on various aspects of the writings of Albert Einstein. Together they are meant to provide a guide to Einstein’s work and the extensive literature about it. The essays can be read independently of one another, though most of them gain from being read in conjunction with others. All of them should be accessible to a broad audience. The use of equations, for instance, has been kept to a minimum throughout this volume. The first ten essays deal with Einstein’s contributions to physics and with various philosophical implications of these contributions. The next three essays directly address some of Einstein’s more philosophical writings and the impact of his work on the twentieth-century philosophy of science. The final essay is on Einstein’s political writings. In this introduction we give a brief overview of Einstein’s life and career to provide some context for this collection of essays and highlight some themes addressed more fully in the individual contributions to this volume. Albert Einstein (1879–1955) was born in the Swabian city of Ulm, the first child of upwardly mobile Jewish parents, Hermann and Pauline (née Koch). In 1880, Hermann’s featherbed business failed and he moved his family to Munich, where with one of his brothers he started a gas and water installation business. In 1885, they founded an electrotechnical factory. Growing up around dynamos and electromotors, Einstein developed an early interest in electrodynamics, the field in which he would develop his special theory of relativity. In his “Autobiographical Notes,” he recalled two other experiences that drew him to science at an early age: being shown a compass by his father when he was four or five years old and reading a book on Euclidean geometry at the age of twelve (Einstein 1949a, 9).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Einstein
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages1-37
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9781139024525
ISBN (Print)9780521828345
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

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