D O C . 3 3 M A Y 1 9 1 9 2 9
your presence in Zurich. Maxwell’s results could certainly be derived more ele-
gantly by Hilbert’s method using integral equations and, in the worst case, this
alone could justify a
dissertation.[8]
I am quite satisfied with physics life in Zurich, not only regarding the profes-
sional aspect but also the spirit of camaraderie at the institute. Only the faculty
works a bit slowly; I have not been able to hold my trial lecture up to now, as it is
only today that the faculty is convening to pass a resolution about the date. Whether
I am still going to be able to give a lecture is, hence,
questionable.[9]
With respectful greetings, I remain very devotedly yours,
Paul Epstein.
33. To Hans Vaihinger
[Berlin,] 3 May 1919
Highly esteemed Colleague,
You have had to suffer much hardship, as I sadly gather from your amicable and
long
letter.[1]
And yet, those of our kind are still better off than most others, for we
are accustomed to placing the focus of our attention beyond personal experience.
This kind of liberation is actually the most valuable thing that true culture can give
a
person.[2]
I am sorry that you devoted so much attention to my marginal notes in
Study’s book; they were jotted down hastily and with little
care.[3]
I do see that Study does not do you
justice.[4]
I gave you the book only because
it is written with such wit and is amusing, not because I wanted to plead for that
view. I find that his “realism” is philosophically quite foggy, only substantiated in
the little book so that the reader gets a Molière-like
slap.[5]
I find the book General
Theory of Knowledge [Allgemeine Erkenntnislehre] by M. Schlick, which takes a
somewhat similar point of view, much more
penetrating.[6]
If I find any fault with certain propositions posed by you with regard to the “fic-
tions,” it is primarily that fictions are inherently
contradictory.[7]
The concept
“point,” for ex. is, in my view, not inconsistent if one realizes that what is involved
here is merely a concept, not an object of perception. I absolutely do not see how
this concept, within its own system, leads to mutually contradictory conclusions.
The assumption that I held out the prospect of a paper for the Kant-Studien is
based on
error.[8]
I am too little versed in philosophy to take an active part in it my-
self; if I can be passively receptive to the work of the men in this field, I am content
enough. I just promised to pass on information, verbally as well as in writing, about
matters regarding my specialty in particular that are of interest to philosophers.
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