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.
|Publisher:||Johns Hopkins University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Steven Gimbel is the Edwin T. and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Gettysburg College, where he won the Luther and Bernice Johnson Award for Distinguished Teaching. He is author of Exploring the Scientific Method: Cases and Questions; René Descartes: The Search for Certainty; and Defending Einstein: Hans Reichenbachs's Early Writings on Space, Time, and Motion.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Einstein's Jewish Science 1
Chapter 1 Is Einstein a Jew? 13
Chapter 2 Is Relativity Pregnant with Jewish Concepts? 40
Chapter 3 Why Did a Jew Formulate the Theory of Relativity? 68
Chapter 4 Is the Theory of Relativity Political Science or Scientific Politics? 112
Chapter 5 Did Relativity Influence the Jewish Intelligentsia? 157
Chapter 6 Einstein's Liberal Science? 192
Conclusion: Einstein's Cosmopolitan Science 209
What People are Saying About This
"From its unnerving premisemaybe the Nazis were right, and Einstein’s physics is 'Jewish science' after allto its contrarian conclusions, Einstein’s Jewish Science is a bruiser of a book. It asks questions and floats hypotheses that strain academic etiquette. With unflagging 'out-of-the-box-itude,' Gimbel reinterprets modern science and modern Judaism in a way that is sometimes exasperating, often challenging, frequently inspired and always riveting. You may not be persuaded, but after grappling with this book, you are sure to see in a new light both science and Jews of the twentieth century."
"A fascinating engagement with the nature of Judaism and of science. By exploring and, in a sense, redeeming the Nazi accusation that Einstein's relativity theory is 'Jewish science,' Gimbel not only challenges the racist meanings of that charge but shows how scientific theories must in fact reflect the issues and concerns of the historical periods which give rise to them. This book is certain to generate much interest and will stimulate an important and understudied debate."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Too much not related to prime subject about Einstein. Stays off the prime subject.