By P. W Bridgman

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To show this, we turn to the two methods in question. o rg While individual coordination principles are determined by the ‘‘subjective’’ nature of reason, and thus are ‘‘arbitrary’’, establishing a system of them is not independent of experience, for the system as a whole is required to univocally connect the mathematical concepts of a physical theory with concrete empirical phenomena. In the face of recalcitrant experience, there is no logical compulsion to single out a particular member of the system as invalidated; rather, a conflict with experience testifies only to the presence of mutually inconsistent members.

The question is then whether these are physically distinct solutions. o rg For two years, Einstein believed that they were, hence that the gravitational field equations do not univocally determine the metric field from given matter sources. That two different solutions arise at a single point within the hole, whereas the sources outside the hole have not changed, certainly appears to be a failure of causal determination. Clearly, Einstein’s difficulty pertained to the interpretation of the diffeomorphic point transformations rather than to any trivial confusion regarding coordinate transformations, as has been frequently alleged.

The interpretive ambiguity between the ‘‘A’’ and ‘‘B’’ editions on this point continued into 20th century philosophy, most notably, perhaps, in the encounter between Cassirer and Martin Heidegger at the ‘‘International University Course’’ in Davos, Switzerland, in March and April 1929. Michael Friedman has recently argued that this exchange of views acquires particular significance in understanding the subsequent split of philosophy into an analytic tradition, taking its lead from logic and the mathematical and physical sciences, and a continental one, stemming from Heidegger’s ‘‘existential–hermeneutic’’ variant of phenomenology.

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A sophisticate's primer of relativity by P. W Bridgman


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