Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ernst Mach - Gedankenexperiment

Thought experiment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia coined by Ernst Mach)

Ernst Mach - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Mach developed a philosophy of science which was influential in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mach held that scientific laws are summaries of experimental events, constructed for the purpose of human comprehension of complex data. Thus scientific laws have more to do with the mind than with reality as it exists apart from the mind. Some quotations from Mach's writings will illustrate his philosophy. These selections are taken from his essay 'The economical nature of physical inquiry', excerpted by Kockelmans (citation below).
The goal which it [physical science] has set itself is the simplest and most economical abstract expression of facts.

When the human mind, with its limited powers, attempts to mirror in itself the rich life of the world, of which it itself is only a small part, and which it can never hope to exhaust, it has every reason for proceeding economically. "

In accordance with this philosophy, Mach opposed Ludwig Boltzmann and others who proposed an atomic theory of physics. Since atoms are too small to observe directly, and no atomic model at the time was consistent, the atomic hypothesis seemed to Mach to be unwarranted, and perhaps not sufficiently "economical".
Mach had a direct influence on the Vienna Circle philosophers and the school of logical positivism in general.

Albert Einstein entitled him as "forerunner of Theory of relativity".
Mach's positivism was also influential on many Russian Marxists, such as Alexander Bogdanov. In 1908, Lenin wrote a philosophical work Materialism and Empirio-Criticism in which he criticized the views of "Russian Machists".


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