D O C . 7 M O T I V E S F O R R E S E A R C H 5 9
Published in Zu Max Plancks sechzigstem Geburtstag. Ansprachen, gehalten am 26. April 1918 in der
Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft von E. Warburg, M. v. Laue, A. Sommerfeld und A. Einstein.
Karlsruhe: C. F. Müllersche Hofbuchhandlung, 1918, pp. 29–32. Lecture delivered 26 April 1918,
published ca. July 1918 (see note 1). A typescript [4 009] with corrections in Einstein’s hand is pre-
served; it was published in Einstein 1934a, pp. 107–110, with the title “Prinzipien der Forschung.”
Since the corrections in the typescript are not reflected in the present document, they were probably
made for Einstein 1934a. Significant departures from the typescript are noted.
The lecture was delivered on 26 April 1918 with the title “Planck als wissenschaftliche Persön-
lichkeit” as part of a special session of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG) in honor of
Max Planck (1858–1947), Professor of Physics at the University of Berlin and Director of its Institute
of Theoretical Physics. The planning of the special session of the DPG was discussed with Karl
Scheel (Scheel to Einstein, 5 January 1918 [Vol. 8, Doc. 430]), and with Arnold Sommerfeld (Einstein
to Sommerfeld, after 1 February 1918 [Vol. 8, Doc. 454]).
A copy of the manuscript was received by Marga Planck before 30 April 1918 (see Marga Planck
to Einstein, 30 April 1918, [Vol. 8, Doc. 527]). The printing of the publication is mentioned in Max
von Laue to Einstein, 29 May 1918 (Vol. 8, Doc. 550). The publication date is inferred from a review
entitled “Das Weltbild des Physikers—Professor Einstein über die Motive des Forschens,” which was
published in the Vossische Zeitung, 23 July 1918, Morning Edition, p. 2.
Already in Einstein 1913b (Vol. 4, Doc. 23), Einstein had stressed Planck’s artistic sensibility.
For Einstein’s reading of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), see Howard 1997, pp. 91–101. In Ein-
stein to Carl Seelig, 20 April 1952, SzZE Bibliothek, Hs. 304:15, Einstein mentions Schopenhauer
together with Hume and Mach as the preferred philosophical author of his youth. For the negative
motive quoted by Einstein, compare, e.g., Schopenhauer 1972a, vol. 2, pp. 419–421; for the positive
motive, see Schopenhauer 1972b, pp. 360–362, which also uses the metaphor of the center of gravity
within oneself. Einstein praises the latter work in a letter to Marcel Grossmann of 6 September 1901
(Vol. 1, Doc. 122). A similar characterization of the motivation for research as a flight from daily
existence is given in Einstein 1920i (Doc. 47) and Einstein 1979, pp. 2–4.
In the typescript, “der Darstellung” is corrected by hand to “der logischen Verbindung.” This
correction is crossed out, and the original text is underlined with a dotted line.
In the typescript, “Komplexe” is corrected by hand to “Komplexere.”
In Einstein 1913b (Vol. 4, Doc. 23), Einstein says about Planck’s work: “He always starts out
from a statement of greatest possible generality and deduces from this the single specific results to be
compared with experience” (“Stets geht er von einem Satze von möglichster Allgemeinheit aus und
deduziert daraus die einzelnen speziellen Ergebnisse, um diese mit der Erfahrung zu vergleichen”)
and remarks that this method is possibly the characteristic of the pure theoretician.
Einstein’s reductionist attitude here stands in marked contrast to the antireductionism of Ernst
Mach (Mach 1897, pp. 497–499) and is close to Planck’s critique of Mach (Planck 1910, pp. 72–74).
See note 10 for a discussion of this dispute.
The role of intuition and deduction in physics is discussed also in Einstein 1914k (Vol. 6,
Doc. 3), p. 740, and Einstein 1919g (Doc. 28). A parallel to Schopenhauer’s philosophy can be
noticed here: the liberation of the subject from the will leads to a pure intuition of ideas, as opposed
to the cognition of individual objects and their relations. It is this intuition that characterizes genius
(Schopenhauer 1972a, vol. 1, book 3).
The passage from “Noch mehr: . . . zurückzuführen ist:” is missing in the typescript. It is also
missing in Einstein 1934a.
Leibniz’s concept of preestablished harmony applies to the theory of action (or, more generally,
causality), not the theory of knowledge. Since the late nineteenth century, however, the term was used
by German mathematicians to characterize the power of pure mathematics to solve problems in phys-
ics. This tradition is discussed in Pyenson 1985, chap. 6.
On 9 December 1908 Max Planck gave a speech at the University of Leyden (published as
Planck 1909) in which he criticized Ernst Mach’s positivistic philosophy of science as leading to sci-
entific barrenness since it gave up on realism and the goal of a unified world picture in physics. This
criticism led to an increasingly acrimonious debate (Mach 1910, Planck 1910). The papers are trans-
lated in Toulmin 1970 and discussed in Heilbron 1986.