Is relativity Jewish? The Nazis denigrated Albert Einsteinï¿½s 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 Einsteinï¿½s theory of relativity is Jewish.
Arguing that we must take seriously the possibility that the Nazis were in some measure correct, Gimbel examines Einstein and his work to explore how beliefs, background, and environment mayï¿½or may notï¿½have influenced the work of the scientist. You cannot understand Einsteinï¿½s 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 being a Jew while he was at his desk working. To understand what "Jewish" means for Einsteinï¿½s work, Gimbel first explores the many definitions of "Jewish" and asks whether there are elements of Talmudic thinking apparent in Einsteinï¿½s theory of relativity. He applies this line of inquiry to other scientists, including Isaac Newton, Renï¿½ Descartes, Sigmund Freud, and ï¿½mile Durkheim, to consider whether 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 meansï¿½and 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.
About Steven GimbelSee more books from this Author
His German physics, with its constipated view of science, was becoming as anachronistic as his politics.Read Full Review of Einstein's Jewish Science: Ph... | See more reviews from NY Times
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