Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Einstein and DIM

In the context of the DIM Theory and understanding how a culture is influenced, I think that it is interesting to consider the example of Albert Einstein.

My making comments on this subject require some disclaimers. After all, I am not a physicist nor an historian. What I can list as credentials, besides having read original and secondary material on the subject, are the graduate level courses I took on the history and philosophy of science. Albeit, that was several years ago, decades. So, what I have to say cannot be considered anything more than a suggestion,

LP’s analysis of Einstein concludes that the originator of the Theory of Relativity is an M1, i.e., Einstein sees the world of ideas as being fundamental, and the physical world as real, but dependent upon, or at least secondary to ideas. I won’t duplicate LP’s reasoning here. It is clearly presented in the book, The Dim Hypothesis.

If you contrasted Einstein with Descartes, also an M1, you would see that the earlier philosopher leans very much toward his M side, while Einstein leans more toward the I, while both are M1.

A good friend commented to me recently that he was taught in graduate school that Einstein based his physics on the physical world, i.e., Einstein used induction and thus was an I. I think that there is some grounds for that view. But that seems to conflict with LP’s conclusion that Einstein is an M1.

Consider Einstein’s physics without the relativist observer stuff or what he has to say about science. As a description of the physical world, Einstein’s physics has been put to many tests. To my knowledge, every prediction has been proven to be accurate. His science has a significant degree of truth, of correspondence to physical reality.

In his excellent book on induction, The Logical Leap, David Harriman points out that the beginning of good science is for the thinker to be thoroughly familiar with what is known at that point, i.e., he has to know the facts discovered. For a human, of course, that means an integrated, conceptual knowledge, well grounded in its connection with the real world. Einstein, in order to so thoroughly account for the real world had to have a truly objective knowledge of it prior to his discoveries. I think that his wide understanding is well established in that when he got around to publishing his thoughts in 1905, he offered five papers on five different subject which were all ground breaking and influential for good, scientific, objective reasons. Einstein knew his facts and his concepts objectively.

You can’t have a true scientific theory without induction. You can’t dream it up. Einstein used rationality on the physical world to arrive at his theory. No matter how you try to rummage through his comments, interpret his writings, or analyze his mathematics, the incontrovertible fact that his physics has consistently truthfully predicted what we then observe is prime facie evidence that induction was used. Again, compare him to Descartes, who almost completely dreamed up his physics which was completely off the mark.

Still, Einstein is an M1. Why? Because he, Einstein, said he was. LP in analyzing what Einstein said, not what Einstein did to reach his theory. Einstein’s influence on the culture is what he said, what he wrote. Maybe some people noticed that what he said was not consistent with the process by which he discovered his theories. But culturally, that is a minor detail. Einstein’s influence is the result of his statements and writing. The cultural product is the completed, published work. That is true even for the realm of physics, a subject in which you would hope the scientists could tell the difference. But Einstein’s legacy has been his comments about the esthetics of a theory, its elegance, not correspondence with the physical world. That cultural influence is the result of what someone says and not what they do is consistent with what we see resulting from Kant, for example. Kant created a complete philosophical system, a vast integration, with a purpose. In his method, Kant was a Platonist. As an influence, Kant legacy is that systems, integration, and purpose are bad. He is the destroyer, not the integrator.

All of which leads me back to my recent blog post about in implication of the DIM Theory on our work to change the culture. Again, it is not what we do, but what we say and write that will have influence. We cannot expect our example or an implication to be understood or to be influential. We must include within our speeches and articles our I mode in some explicit, clear, and unambiguous form. We don’t want to preach. It isn’t necessary that we put in the philosophical support (it is available). But we do need to include at least part of the vital fact that we are looking at the physical world, thinking about it in a logical, objective manner, and that we are integrating as broadly as we are capable. That is the mode we absolutely need to communicate.


  1. When all is said and done, Einstein may or may not have been right. But he had very little cultural influence since almost no one understands his theory. He was rational though, to a degree that few have ever been. Einstein never claimed to be M1. He believed to his death that his theory was correct and rational.
    How else can you interpret his statement that God does not play dice with the universe?

  2. Steve D, thank you very much for taking the time to make post a comment. I am not sure that I have made myself sufficiently clear so let me try again. First, let me answer your question, “How else can you interpret his [Einstein’s] statement that God does not play dice with the universe?” which you claim reveals Einstein’s belief about his own theory. However, the statement is not about his own theory but the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Einstein is rejecting the arbitrary in physics and yes that is good. But the ‘God’ statement is actually one consistent with Platonism. It does not mean that reality is understood through induction.

    My point in this post is that Einstein writings indicate a Platonic standard for scientific truth as more fundamental than induction. For his theory (meaning General Relativity, I have been informed) to be tested and succeed, it must be founded on induction. So I agree with you there. But his own explanations and statements concerning the goal of science are Platonic, hence, M1.