Einstein (Paperback) book cover


By Thomas Ryckman

© 2017 – Routledge

352 pages

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Paperback: 9780415773270
pub: 2017-06-05
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Hardback: 9780415773263
pub: 2017-06-05
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About the Book

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) was the most influential physicist of the twentieth century. Less well-known is that fundamental philosophical problems, such as concept formation, the role of epistemology in developing and explaining the character of physical theories, and the debate between positivism and realism, played a central role in his thought as a whole.

Thomas Ryckman shows that already at the beginning of his career, at a time when the twin pillars of classical physics, Newtonian mechanics and Maxwell’s electromagnetism, were known to have but limited validity, Einstein sought to advance physical theory by positing certain physical principles as secure footholds. That philosophy produced his greatest triumph, the general theory of relativity, and his greatest failure, an unwillingness to accept quantum mechanics. This book shows that Einstein’s philosophy grew from a lifelong aspiration for a unified theoretical representation encompassing all physical phenomena. It also considers how Einstein’s theories of relativity and criticisms of quantum theory have shaped the course of twentieth-century philosophy of science.

Including a chronology, glossary, chapter summaries, and suggestions for further reading, Einstein is an ideal introduction to this iconic figure in twentieth-century science and philosophy. It is essential reading for students of philosophy of science, and also suitable for those working in related areas such as physics, history of science, or intellectual history.

Table of Contents



1. Life and Works

Part 1: Quantum theory

2. On the road to Planck 1900

3. Contributions to the old quantum theory

4. Quantum mechanics

Part 2: Relativity

5. Special relativity

6. General relativity

Part 3: Geometry and philosophy

7. Geometry and experience

8. Philosophy of science – realism

9. Philosophy of science – constructivism

10. Philosophy of science – rationalism

11. Influence and Legacy



About the Author

Thomas Ryckman is Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, USA. He is author of The Reign of Relativity: Philosophy in Physics 1915-1925 (2005).

About the Series

The Routledge Philosophers

Routledge Philosophers is a major series of introductions to the great Western philosophers. Each book places a major philosopher or thinker in historical context, explains and assesses their key arguments, and considers their legacy. Additional features include a chronology of major dates and events, chapter summaries, annotated suggestions for further reading and a glossary of technical terms.

An ideal starting point for those new to philosophy, they are also essential reading for those interested in the subject at any level.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Modern
SCIENCE / Physics