Einstein's Kantian BackgroundHow did I find out Einstein's philosophical base was Kantianism?
- Thanks to my Eastern background, I had a feeling that my intellectual
base is Kantianism, and that Einstein was also a Kantianist. I confirmed
this with Eugene Wigner when I was working with him from 1984 to 1990.
I published this point in 1995 in Symmetries in Science.
Wigner told that I was the first person to ask this question, and asked
me how I was able to formulate this question. My answer to his question
is contained in my 1995 article mentioned above. A newer version can be
found in in my Kant file.
- Wigner said also that he had no formal training in philosophy, but said
that Kantianism was the prevailing ideology in Europe during Einstein's
time as well as his time. Wigner said further that philosophers do not
dictate others how to think. They simply document the way in which
people think. I of course sensed Einstein's Kantian base while studying
his physics. I am not aware of Einstein's papers on philosophy if he wrote
- In 1995, while I was reading a Sunday edition of the Washington Post,
I spotted an article written by
saying that Kant's
philosophy is a product of the geography of the city called Koenigsberg,
located in a Baltic wedge between Lithuania and Poland. In 1946, this
place became a Russian city called Kaliningrad. In 1995, even though
the Cold War was over, it was beyond my imagination to travel to this
isolated place. When I was in Warsaw in 1996, I asked my Polish colleagues
whether it is possible to Kaliningrad from Warsaw by train. They said No,
and advised me not to go there for safety reasons.
- If Kant's philosophy is a product of the geography of Koenigsberg or
Kaliningrad, the best way to study this aspect is to go there and
look at the place. In June of 2005, I went
there and spent three days and two nights. Indeed, I was able to
confirm the geographic origin of Kantianism as reported in the
above-mentioned Washington Post article, and I learned much more.
- In December of 2005, the Physics Today carried an article by Don Howard
saying that Einstein studied systematically Kant's books in his early
years. The article was well organized and informative, but I still do not
know the exact definition of philosophy. However, I am quite proud to be
able to find out Einstein's Kantian connection by studying his physics and
the geography of the place where Kant spent his entire life, by using the
method of physics. Here is an arxived article written in
the language of physics.
- As for philosophers, Karl Marx said
"Philosophers interpret this world in various ways. There comes the question
of changing the world." If Marx was talking about himself as the philosopher
and Vladimir Lenin as the person who would change the world, he was wrong.
Marx was right, if he was talking about Kant and Einstein! Einstein was more
than a philosopher. He changed the world!
Y. S. Kim (2006.2.12)
copyright@2006 by Y. S. Kim, unless otherwise specified.