The influence of Einstein on Wittgenstein's philosophy - by Carlo Penco 2010 - Article review

This document contains article review "The influence of Einstein on Wittgenstein's philosophy " by Carlo Penco written 2010
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1. Introduction - page 1

2. Historical evidence - page 1

3. Textual evidence - page 3

Page 4

Furthermore, these citations are repeated many times between 1929 and 1950, and the fact that they change at some of the turning points of Wittgenstein’s philosophy is good evidence that the connection with Relativity Theory is not a superficial one, but something which Wittgenstein must have continuously thought about, giving it more weight than is normally believed.
Okay. Important info for what follows.
This constant returning to Relativity theory is therefore something truly unusual for Wittgenstein and cannot be dismissed as casual or irrelevant.
Therefore the analogy between Relativity Theory and Wittgenstein's philosophy is to be found in a methodological concern: Relativity Theory concerns the analysis of systems of measurement as Wittgenstein's philosophy concerns the conceptual structures of descriptions.
I think it is very difficult to compare both fields, however a philosophical approach is very important and can be beneficial for both.

4. Einstein’s impact on Wittgenstein’s verificationism - page 4

Verificationism was developed after Schlick’s analysis of the concept of simultaneity.
By ?
Next sentence:
The interpretation of Einstein as a forerunner of the verificationist thesis of the Wiener Kreis is widely described by Philipp Frank (1949) who insisted on citing Einstein on the aim of science: “to coordinate our experiences and to bring them into a logical system”
'our experiences' have nothing to do with science. Experiments are important.
The next sentence continues on the next page:
Frank’s paper is a very general one, noting some similarity between Einstein and the Vienna Circle’s fight against metaphysics.
Why mention: 'the fight against metaphysics'?
Next sentence:

Page 5

Discussing the relativity of simultaneity, Einstein stresses the fact that “unless we are told the reference-body to which the statement of time refers, there is no meaning in a statement of the time of an event."
A statement of time of an event requires a specification of time and position. Such definition at least requires a second event. Such a second event you can call a reference-event, but much more is involved.
As Schlick had pointed out, Einstein’s analysis of the concept of time consists of “nothing but the analysis of the meaning of our statements about the simultaneity of spatially separated events”
Okay - However I expect more is involved.
To show the meaning of simultaneity you have to show “how the proposition ‘two events are simultaneous’ is verified.
That is correct, but first you have to define, what means: ‘two events are simultaneous’.
If you have a clear definition, most often, other questions become easier to tackle.
Next sentence:
But with this you have completely determined its meaning”
That depents what the meaning is of verified. Is this an experiment?
This book has an overabundance of discourse on the “meaning of sentences”: here Einstein and Infeld discuss the difference in meaning of the word “simultaneously” in classical and relativity theory.
First you have to discuss the meaning without any theory in mind. Next you should discuss what is wrong with this meaning.
Next sentence:
They present their task as one of understanding the meaning of the sentence “two events which are simultaneous in one CS[Coordinate System], may not be simultaneous in another CS”
The first question to ask is what means: “two events which are simultaneous in one CS". Important is: what means the word "are".
In order to answer that question we should start from something which we all accept, which we call a postulate. Something like:
There exist an universe. In this universe at any instant changes take place. Each of those changes we call an event. By definition all the events which take place at the same instant we call simultaneous events.
The importance of this postulate is that it is completely observer independent.
You can also make the next sentence as part of this postulate:
The speed of light is the same in all directions in the universe.
When you take that approach it become easy to agree that an observer who stands (and stays) in the middle between two simultaneous events (these two events are simultaneous) will see the two events simultaneous.
But that does not mean that if the observer sees two events simultaneous that the two events are simultaneous.
Next sentence:
They go on to say that intuitively everyone seems to know the meaning of the sentence, but they warn against overestimating intuition.
The word intuitive should not be used in science. Science should be based on observations (measurements) and experiments.
After setting up a (mental) experiment to define when two clocks at rest are synchronised (the clocks show the same time when looked at from the same distance from an intermediate point in a given inertial system), they assert that “to say that one of the distant events happens before the other has now a definite meaning”.
This requires a defintion of what means: 'an inertial system at rest'? You also need to answer the question: Is it possible to study two 'inertial system'? And the following question if the answer is Yes: Can both inertial systems, be at rest?

One of the main problems is to study this as a mental experiment or a thought experiment. That is alsways dangerous as if you can reach final agreements.
What is much more important to describe a real experiment in all its details, as much as possible, with all its complications, such that it can be performed in real.
Real experiments for example always involve accelerations, gravity. Also, at least, two objects are involved and space cannot be considered empty.

But this meaning was not defined before the experimental setting.
That means that now (see the previous sentence) the claim "that event A becomes before event B" can now be verified, because the clock near event A and the clock near event B both at rest are synchronised by means of an experiment.
The sentence “how a magnitude is measured is what it is” is repeated in various passages in the 'Nachlass', and it reappears together with the explicit reference to verificationism in various passages, from the 'Philosophische Bemerkungen' to the 'Big Typescript': “The verification is not one token of the truth, it is the sense of the proposition. (Einstein: How a magnitude is measured is what it is).”
The words in between '', are references to other documents. The abbrevations used are PB and BT
IMO first you should define what someting is, and secondly how it is measured.

Page 6

It appears as if remnants of verificationism are still influencing the late Wittgenstein – still under the influence of Einstein's idea of verification, which seems so deeply rooted in Wittgenstein’s thought that it comes out in some of his discussions of various topics, such as his treatment of inner states.
It is not clear what is meant with "inner states"
Next sentence:
A particularly clear example is given in 'Philosophical Investigations'.
Here Wittgenstein says that it is not possible to pass from understanding the meaning of “it is 5 o‘clock” to understanding the meaning of “it is 5 o’clock on the sun”.
In fact this is a very difficult problem.
The argument is reminiscent of old discussions regarding the definition of simultaneity, even if framed in a more intuitive and simplified manner:
“The explanation by means of identity does not work here. For I know well enough that one can call 5 o'clock here and 5 o'clock there “the same time”, but what I do not know is in what cases one is to speak of its being the same time here and there.”
Both sentences are not clear.
The whole problem starts with the physical question: Does there exists a now.
The answer should be: Yes. But more important is: what is its meaning.
Now, is the total state, a total description of all what happens, all the events, at a certain instant in the universe.
The problem is nobody knows, how this description looks like.

The importance is, if there exists a now, than two events which happened at the same instant, also happened at the same time.
The 'problem' is that they should also happen at the same clock reading.
This is the issue discussed in the document: Article_Review_On The Electrodynamics Of Moving Bodies Specific in the Appendix of that document.

The following sentence ends at page 7
It is therefore reasonable to say that Wittgenstein here uses the heritage of the discussion on the meaning of a sentence concerning time or simultaneity as a means to treat other topics such as inner states: as we need a precise experimental setting to give meaning to a sentence on simultaneous events (sameness of time), we also need a precise setting to give meaning to sentences on pain or inner states (sameness of pain).
The importance of this sentence is that Wittengenstein emplifies the importance of experiments, while IMO for Einstein this is less. Einstein starts from postulates, which IMO are not always clear.
See the discussion called: THe two postulates in SR!topic/sci.physics.research/X6_854E2LhE

Page 7

Reflection 1 - A universal postulate.

A postulate is a description of a physical process, we take all as an accepted fact in physics. In mathematics this is called an axiom. A definition is also a description of a physical process or object, but involves a single object or event. Both descriptions have to be clear. A postulate is much more a short story. Combining different postulates and definitions it becomes posible to describe very complex systems. Experiments can also be involved, to give the whole a more scientific twist.
In this document the word meaning is used instead of definition.

Reflection 2 - simultaneity

The central issue of this document is the concept simultaneity as understood or used by Einstein and Wittgenstein. Einstein's aproach is more scientific and Wittgenstein's approach is more philosophical. Both can not be performed with out the other, but in some sense a philosophical discussion is more important than a scientific discussion, because the philosopical issues discuss how science has to be performed and IMO come first.

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Created: 26 July 2019

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