Sunday, February 18, 2007

Was Einstein the Greatest Thinker?

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A lot of people, on either side of the God divide, want to think that Einstein was on their side. That's because he is the icon of billiance. But he is ony so because he was in science. Science is assumed to be the umpire of reality. science is used in a socially constructed way to orbitrate for us in epistemic and ontological matters. Of course this is not really the way it should be, since philosophy as a discipline contians sub discipolines for both epistemology and ontology. But science offers us a concrete working proof of its validty; we can build bridges. People think in concrete terms, nothing suceeds like sucess.

It's not really intellect at all, but performance that dirves this sense of scinece as the only surce of true knowledge. It might be schocking to a lot of people to know that there are other thinkers in history who might well be more intelligent than Einstein. A lot of people would never accept that, just because they weren't in science.

some of these guys include, Goethe, Bekeley, Schweitzer, Has urs Von Balthasar (that would really be a shocker since he was a priest).

Goethe actually did science was an early contributer to theories of evolution before Darwin. He discovered a certain bone in the body that was not known befroe, that contributed to Wallace's version of evolution. But he was mainly a poet, playright, worte the ealry novel, and in general a renaissance man. Professionally he was a beurocrat.

Berekely was a philosopher who took on Newton's understanding of Philosophy and produced a different version of materiailsm that allowed for the spirit. Schweitzer mastered four brilliant careers at once. He was a theologian, an expert on building and playing organs (a concert organist) Philosopher, and Bible scholar who set the future of Eschatology and the study of historical Jesus on course with his Quest of the Historical Jesus, then after all that he became a doctor and moved to the jungle to spend the rest of his life treating leppers. He did some of the most important work in textual criticism of the ninetten century while in fox hole on militariy maneuvers on the cusp of WWI.

Balthasar is the least known, but highly accomplished. He spent his career hidden away in the Vatican except for his theological writtings. He was close life long friend of JPII. He spoke 20 langauges fultently and wrote over 1000 books.

In all of this is a subjective evaluation because there was never a comparison of thesse peple. ONe thing I base this on is a Time/LIfe book on the mind I saw as a kid. It belonged to my friend and it evalutated major thinkers of history and charted probable listings for their IQ's Goethe had the higest one, even higher than that of Einstein. Einstein as I recall was tiven 180. Goether was given 200.

The social historian Shappin of Shappin and Shaffer's Leviathan and the Air Pump, wrote a book called the social history of truth. this arged that there is always a source of authority at the bottom of all epistemic conclusions. So appeal to authority is always there. This is the force that the status of science in our world.

Scinece is a social constuct and it's according a source of authority apart from the turth content of it tells us.


peter said...

I think you are right that most people automatically think of scientists like Einstein as the most intelligent people who have ever lived, while in fact many people outside science are at least as smart as many scientists. Since I work in mathematics, I have a reasonable opinion that Jean-Pierre Serre, a French mathematician (b. 1926) is one of the most brilliant people alive. But whenever I read something by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, I get the same feeling of being blown away by his insight. Other non-scientists I admire very much: St. Paul, St. Augustine, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alvin Plantinga, Umberto Eco (to name a non-Christian).

Singing Owl said...

Interesting post, MC. I never thought of it like that--but "intelligence" doesn't always mean the same thing. And we now know more than we used to about the types of thinking and "intelligence" that can happen in different sorts of people.

You know, the brilliant Mr. Einstein just looks so scientific and eccedntric and cool and all...

tinythinker said...

Going in a slightly different direction...

There are different kinds of intelligence, but I don't know that for Einstein that religion was so separate from science in terms of value - it seems to me that from what I've read, for the big E, one inspired and illuminated the other.