7 2 D O C U M E N T 4 5 M A Y 1 9 1 9
Raum wie Fische in einem Teich. Aber dass dieser Vergleich einen Einwand be-
gründet, erkenne ich nicht an, vielmehr scheint mir das gerade das Rechte zu sein,
ein intellektuelles Bedürfniss zu befriedigen—das der Positivist eben nicht zu ha-
ben scheint. M. E. kann der Positivist mit dem fremden Seelenleben nicht zurecht
kommen, er sollte Solipsist sein und gar nichts schreiben.
Beste Grüsse
E. St.
AKS. [22 313]. The verso is addressed “Herrn Prof. Dr. Einstein Berlin Haberlandstr. 5,” with return
address “Study, Bonn, Argelanderstr 126,” and postmarked “Bonn 1 24.5.19. 2–3N[achmittags].”
There are perforations for a loose-leaf binder at the left margin of the document.
[1]The Philosophical Faculty at the University of Bonn was searching for a successor to Heinrich
Kayser (1853–1940), Professor of Physics. A meeting of the mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche
Sektion of the faculty took place on 4 June, and on 12 June the faculty decided on a short list with
Friedrich Paschen primo loco; Heinrich Konen (1874–1948), Professor of Physics at the University
of Münster, secundo loco and, pari passu, Christian Füchtbauer (1877–1959), Extraordinary Profes-
sor of Physics at the University of Tübingen; and Peter Paul Koch (1879–1945), Professor of Physics
at the Univerisity of Hamburg, tertio loco. The faculty also accepted a proposal by Kayser to empha-
size the need of a continuation of Kayser’s spectroscopic investigations. While the nomination of
Paschen was accepted unanimously, Kayser’s proposal received one vote against, and Konen’s place-
ment was controversial, with five votes for and four votes against him (Swinne 1989, p. 69). The fac-
ulty’s vote was sent to the Prussian Ministry on 26 June, and in a separate vote, of the same date, Study
and Georg Steinmann (1856–1929), Professor of Geology and Paleontology, endorsed the candidacy
of Paschen but criticized the faculty’s one-sided emphasis on spectroscopic research. They asked that
the search be repeated should Paschen decline (GyBSa, I. HA, Rep. 76 Va, Sekt. 3, Tit. 4, Nr. 55, Bd.
7, Bl. 7, 56–60).
[2]In Study 1914, chap. 10, the modern axiomatic understanding of geometry following Hilbert
1899 was criticized as a “scientific fashion mania” (“wissenschaftliche Modekrankheit”) and ridi-
culed as “axiomiasis” (“Axiomiasis”). Study especially objected to what he perceived as a tendency
of favoring synthetic over analytic geometry. In an earlier letter to Study, dated 17 September 1918
(Vol. 8, Doc. 618), Einstein fully endorsed Study’s criticism of the “offshoots of axiomatics”
(“Auswüchse der Axiomatik”), but in the statement to which Study is reacting here, he may have
expressed himself more favorably about the use of the axiomatic method, in accordance with his
favorable comments in Einstein 1921c (Vol. 7, Doc. 52), where he claims that modern axiomatics
“dispels the mystic obscurity which formerly adhered to the basis of mathematics” (“beseitigt das
mystische Dunkel, welches der Grundlage der Mathematik vorher anhaftete,” p. 5).
[3]Although Moritz Pasch still regarded the axioms of elementary geometry as empirical facts, he
was the first to give a semantically complete axiomatization of Euclidean geometry (see Pasch 1882,
especially p. 5). In Study 1914, p. 136, Pasch is praised as “the actual originator of modern axiomat-
ics” (“der eigentliche Urheber der modernen Axiomatik”). Yet Study also criticized Pasch’s interpre-
tation of geometry as an empirical science. For a historical discussion of Pasch’s role in the
development of an axiomatized geometry, see Contro 1976.
[4]For Study, a positivistic epistemology is one that reduces all valuable knowledge to experience
and rejects any speculations transcending the limits of experience. As an example of the difference
between positivists and physicists, he discussed modifications of the ideal gas law. While positivists
described the deviations by “empirical formulas,” physics progressed to the Van der Waals law on the
basis of the atomistic hypothesis (see Study 1914, pp. 24, 36–43).
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