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Polish Journal of Philosophy

Volume 4, Issue 1, Spring 2010

Stephen Palmquist
Pages 45-64

The Kantian Grounding of Einstein’s Worldview
(I) The Early Influence of Kant’s System of Perspectives

Recent perspectival interpretations of Kant suggest a way of relating his epistemology to empirical science that makes it plausible to regard Einstein’s theory of relativity as having a Kantian grounding. This first of two articles exploring this topic focuses on how the foregoing hypothesis accounts for various resonances between Kant’s philosophy and Einstein’s science. The great attention young Einstein paid to Kant in his early intellectual development demonstrates the plausibility of this hypothesis, while certain features of Einstein’s cultural-political context account for his reluctance to acknowledge Kant’s influence, even though contemporary philosophers who regarded themselves as Kantians urged him to do so. The sequel argues that this Kantian grounding probably had a formative influence not only on Einstein’s discovery of the theory of relativity and his view of the nature of science, but also on his quasi-mystical, religious disposition.

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