Einstein on Relativity

The theories of relativity were revolutionary. Everybody agrees that Einstein brought about this revolution. Even the people that claim that Einstein just tweaked the theories of Lorentz and Poincar, admit that Einstein was the first to recognize the physical meaning of the formulations. He understood that the terms and concepts like those of absolute space and absolute time must lose there meaning and other concepts had to replace them, if we were to be able to understand the phenomena of electrodynamics.

All this is consistent with a scientific revolution as conceived of by Kuhn. It is then possible to express the revolution in science that Einstein started in terms of Kuhns paradigms and paradigm shifts. Kuhn thought that scientific development was discontinuous . He believed that the important changes in science show radical discontinuity. Most basic to his views was the concept of a paradigm. A paradigm or as he latter termed it, a disciplinary matrix, was the most fundamental rules and concepts that defined a field of study.

He said that a disciplinary matrix has three or four basic parts. The first is the symbolic generalizations. For example, in the Newtonian disciplinary matrix that was the paradigm at the time that Einstein worked, a symbolic generalization would be F = ma. The second part of the disciplinary matrix was what he called the metaphysical parts or the ontology. This is where the entities that a theory is committed to are. These are the things that the disciplinary matrix assumes exist in order to express the phenomena of a field of science in terms of these things.

In the Newtonian disciplinary matrix, a metaphysical part would be the mechanical viewpoint: that everything can be expressed by bodies in motion under the influence of Newtons laws of motion. This was the reason that gave rise to the ideas that heat is a molecular phenomena and the kinetic theory of gases. The third part of a disciplinary matrix is the values that the disciplinary matrix holds. This is what a paradigm values as a criteria for judging theories in that disciplinary matrix. In the Newtonian paradigm, quantitatively expressed theories were valued.

Another thing that was valued were the vague notions that Newton called his first two rules of reasoning. There is another thing that is sometimes considered part of a disciplinary matrix. They are called the exemplars of the matrix. These are concrete solutions to problems that the disciplinary matrix has posed. They represent the best of the disciplinary matrix and their form is looked upon as a model for future research. They are concrete examples of how the disciplinary matrix has determined science should work.

These disciplinary matrices create the worldview that people use when they look at the world and conduct science. Most importantly, a paradigm sets up the basic rules that everyone follows when conducting science. The first thing that it sets up is the problems that are accessible to science. Different paradigms want different things to be answered. It also sets up what the rules for observation are. For example, in the Newtonian paradigm, telescopes are valid where as clairvoyance is not. A disciplinary matrix also defines the basic terms that it uses.

For example, the disciplinary matrix would provide the definition of motion for all those working in that paradigm. The disciplinary matrix gives the rules of reasoning that are valid in that paradigm. For example, in modern paradigms mathematics and calculus are valid methods of reasoning. The last thing that a paradigm provides is a way to evaluate theories. This is mainly done by the values of the disciplinary matrix. There are two types of science for Kuhn. They are normal science and revolutionary science. The normal science is the type of science that is conducted most of the time.

It in conducted inside the paradigm of the time. It uses the rules of the paradigm to solve the problems that the paradigm allows. Kuhn calls it puzzle solving, but it is not trivial. Eventually, normal science will create anomalies. Anomalies are phenomena that cannot be explained by the paradigm. When enough of the anomalies build up, the current paradigm will be overthrown by another paradigm in which the anomalies are solved. This is what is called revolutionary science. In revolutionary science a great scientist comes along and creates a new paradigm. This is a rare occurrence.

Revolutionary science is not subject to the rules of the paradigm, or any rules. It is an arational event. Kuhn doesnt say that the newer paradigm is right and the older one is wrong. He doesnt even say that the newer paradigm is better than the older one. They are all equal for Kuhn. While Einstein clearly thought that his theory was true and better than any other theory, there is a parallel to the arational nature of revolutionary science that can be seen in Einstein. Einstein starts his papers on his theories of relativity with the anomalies of the present paradigm .

This can be shown here: It is known that Maxwells electrodynamics as usually understood at the present time when applied to moving bodies, leads to asymmetries which do not appear to be inherent in the phenomena. How does it come that certain reference-bodies (or their states of motion) are given priority over other reference-bodies (or their states of motion)? What is the reason for this preference? These are the anomalies that Einstein wishes to deal with. In order to create a new paradigm, Einstein must create the four things that as disciplinary matrix consists of.

The symbolic generalizations in Einsteins theories would be the Lorentz transformations, the electromagnetic field transforms and the field equations. The metaphysical parts that are different from those in the previous paradigm would be the field. This can be shown here: The electromagnetic fields are not states of a medium, and are not bound down to any bearer, but they are independent realities which are not reducible to anything else, exactly like the atoms of ponderable matter. This is how Einstein added to the metaphysical parts of the theory.

He added the concept of a field as being an independent part of nature. He also removed the concept of the ther. The fact that Einstein was concerned with the values that a paradigm holds can be seen in how much Einstein let epistemological considerations influence his thoughts. The paradigm that Einstein created must also provide certain things. These were listed above, and include things like defining the basic terms. Because revolutionary science is inherently arational, Einstein defended his changes in definitions of the basic terms as such:

With what right – the reader will ask – does this man operate so carelessly and primitively with ideas in such a problematic realm without making even the least effort to prove anything? My defense: all out thinking is of this nature of free play with concepts; the justification for this play lies in the degree of comprehension of our sensations that we are able to achieve with its aid. The concept of truth can not yet be applied to such a structure; to my thinking this concept becomes applicable only when a far-reaching agreement (convention) concerning the elements and rules of the game is already at hand.

This shows how Einstein was aware that his was changing the definitions of words. Einstein shows how he is redefining time like this: That my definition satisfies this demand is indisputable that light requires the same time to traverse the path A -* M as for the path B -* M is in reality neither a supposition nor a hypothesis about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation which I can make of my own freewill in order to arrive at a definition of simultaneity It has been assumed that all these clocks go at the same rate if they are of identical construction.

Stated more exactly: When two clocks arranged at rest in different places of a reference-body are set in such as manner that a particular position of the pointers of one clock is simultaneous (in the above sense) with the same position of the other clock, the identical settings are always simultaneous (in the sense of the above definition) Time then is a defined term. The transforms and the relativity of local time are also defined terms in the paradigm, but the concept of local time as seen in its own reference frame is still the same primitive term as in the previous paradigm, with the exception that it is not absolute.

There are similarities in what Einstein thought of as a theory and what Kuhn thought of as a paradigm. Einstein says: A proposition is correct if, within a logical system, it is deduced according to the accepted logical rules. A system has truth-content according to the certainty and completeness of its possibility of coordination with the totality of experience. A correct proposition borrows its truth from the truth-content of the system to which it belongs. The difference is that Einstein thought of his world theories as things that are capable of having a truth-content whereas Kuhn thought that his paradigms could not have truth-content.

They both, however, say that the basic concepts of a theory or of a paradigm are arbitrary (Kuhn calls it arational but the meaning is the same in this context. ) Within that logical system or paradigm the correctness of the proposition or theory is determined by whether or not it can be obtained using the accepted logical rules or if it is a proper deduction in the context of that paradigm. There are similarities in the way that Einstein and Kuhn approached science, as well as many differences.

The similarities include the arational nature of revolutionary science as well as the idea that normal science must be conducted in the logical system with specific logical rules that are agreed upon by convention. The differences are that Einstein did think that there was a way to evaluate different logical systems so as to find out which one was better, Kuhn did not agree with that. Also, while Einstein thought that a system could be judged by the experiments and observations objectively, Kuhn did not think that either. Einsteins science can still be expressed in Kuhns terminology as a scientific revolution and revolutionary science.


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