V O L U M E 8 , D O C U M E N T 6 0 7 a 1 0 9
[Likewise, although I comprehend well that a consistent theory of contact action
still seems impermissible to you in physics for the time being, because it only
suggests one consequence of experience and this one evidently is not
nevertheless don’t understand at all why you think that it goes beyond implying to
actually requiring this consequence of experience. It wouldn’t surprise me, as I’ve
already repeatedly said, if the actual constancy of the elements didn’t belong
among those inexplicable things that might only become comprehensible with a so-
lution to the problem of quanta—:—so then the logically inconsistent theory based
on the constancy of the [elements?] would, in the end, be a wrong track in the deep-
er sense. I also repeatedly admitted to you that a true physicist cannot let himself
be impressed as much as I have been by such shaky “hypotheses.” Shaky though
Mach’s confidence was in your theory of gravitation, my confidence in it is like-
wise—if possible—even shakier.
Whether I’m ever going to be able to retain this confidence, once I’ve understood
your consideration (from your existing letter) about the energy question, I’ll have
to wait and see, of
On the question of the difference between past and future, I’d like to ask you:
would you perhaps dare to regard the “fact” that we find ourselves in—or seem
even to be promoting—a period of increasing entropy as based on the definition of
the progression of time? This interpretation seems to me to be an unavoidable con-
sequence of your view that all temporal bias is based on order. The initially striking
reference to the experimental observation of thermal equilibrium seems to me
now , for some time now, merely an illegitimate interpolation in a deeper sense;
this understanding of radioactive
[The fact that living beings use the
entropy of the sun’s radioactivity and not their own is simply a matter of course. We
mustn’t forget that entropy corresponds somewhat to exertion.] still seems to me
very valuable as a working hypothesis, but both of us donÊt actually believe it.–
Incidentally: what influence does your -term have on the radiation? Is there
perhaps also an absorption of the radiative energy parallel to the absorption of the
gravitational lines of force?
Your present description of the intuitive preference for the closed world with
a -term doesn’t appeal to me, by the way: What do I care about the constant irra-
diation of thermal energy into the infinitely empty surrounding space? (On the con-
trary, it guards me from thermal death in that it represents the reservoir of infinite
capacity and absol. temp. 0°.–
Once again And back to the question of past and future. For me it is identical
to the question whether world events can be understood as events between given
physical objects entirely governed by natural law; on one hand, and as opposed to
an infinite or as in principle unbounded, infinite creation. I repeat myself: Deter-
minism, as a product of experimental constraints, as subjugation of the mind to an
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