The Physicist & the Philosopher

By Jimena Canales,

Book cover of The Physicist & the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time

Book description

On April 6, 1922, in Paris, Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson publicly debated the nature of time. Einstein considered Bergson's theory of time to be a soft, psychological notion, irreconcilable with the quantitative realities of physics. Bergson, who gained fame as a philosopher by arguing that time should not be…

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2 authors picked The Physicist & the Philosopher as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The debate on the nature of time between Henri Bergson, one of the most important philosophers at that time, and Albert Einstein, happened on April 6, 1922. Although many people believe that Einstein gained the upper hand in this showdown, comparable perhaps only with the ‘rumble in the jungle’ between Foreman and Ali in 1974, matters are more complicated. Jimena Canales has written a thriller about this clash of cultures fighting about time. She opens up a cosmos of philosophy and physics embedded in culture and shows how one hour of talk in 1922 still has relevance 100 years later…

In March 1922 Albert Einstein came to Paris to deliver some lectures and had a famous exchange with the well-known French philosopher Henri Bergson about the nature of time. This accessible history uses this short exchange as a lens to look at many big topics, including the fascinating history of the resistance to relativity in Europe, the nature of time, the division between science and philosophy, and the role of science in society. What I especially loved was the writing style and Canales’ bringing to life historical characters we seldom hear about anymore, such as Herbert Dingle, Ernst Cassirer, Paul…

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