Journal of Philosophy

The Kantian Grounding of Einsteinís Worldview: (I) The Early Influence of Kantís System of Perspectives


Stephen Palmquist

Department of Religion and Philosophy Hong Kong Baptist University


Abstract. Recent perspectival interpretations of Kant suggest a way of relating his epistemology to empirical science that makes it plausible to regard Einsteinís theory of relativity as having a Kantian grounding. This first of two articles exploring this topic focuses on how the foregoing hypothesis accounts for various resonances between Kantís philosophy and Einsteinís science. The great attention young Einstein paid to Kant in his early intellectual development demonstrates the plausibility of this hypothesis, while certain features of Einsteinís cultural-political context account for his reluctance to acknowledge Kantís influence, even though contemporary philosophers who regarded themselves as Kantians urged him to do so. The sequel argues that this Kantian grounding probably had a formative influence not only on Einsteinís discovery of the theory of relativity and his view of the nature of science, but also on his quasi-mystical, religious disposition. Back