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Faculty Author Series: Steve Gimbel

Defending Einstein: Hans Reichenbach's Writings on Space, Time and Motion by Steven Gimbel

Hans Reichenbach, a philosopher of science who was one of five students in Einstein's first seminar on the general theory of relativity, became Einstein's bulldog, defending the theory against criticism from philosophers, physicists, and popular commentators. This book chronicles the development of Reichenbach's reconstruction of Einstein's theory in a way that clearly sets out all of its philosophical commitments and its physical predictions as well as the battles that Reichenbach fought on its behalf, in both the academic and popular press. The essays include reviews and responses to philosophical colleagues, such as Moritz Schlick and Hugo Dingler; polemical discussions with physicists Max Born and D. C. Miller; as well as popular articles meant to clarify aspects of Einstein¿s theories and set out their philosophical ramifications for the layperson. At a time when physics and philosophy were both undergoing revolutionary changes in content and method, this book is a window into the development of scientific philosophy and the role of the philosopher.

About the author

Gimbel's research focuses on the connection between scientific evidence and explanation, interpretations of the geometrical aspects of gravitation theories, and the development of 20th century analytic philosophy. He is also interested in questions of sportsmanship arising from the Kasparov/Deep Blue chess match, the geometry of M.C. Escher's art, the environmental ethic of the American Nazi Party, and Dr. Seuss' non-trivial use of tautologies. The classes he teaches include "Einstein in Wonderland: Physics, Philosophy and Other Nonsense," "Bad Science, Wrong Science and Pseudo-science; Language, Truth, and Reality," "From Zero to Infinity: Philosophical Revolutions in the History of Numbers," and "From Aristotle to Einstein: Philosophical Revolutions in the History of Space."

Gimbel holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University and is a professor of philosophy at Gettysburg College. He received the Luther W. and Bernice L. Johnson Award for Distinguished Teaching from the College in 2005. His special approach to teaching ethics in a fashion designed to encourage open-minded, but rigorous discussion is featured in the "Journal of Thought." Having published nineteen scholarly books, articles, and reviews, Gimbel has recently turned his attention to reaching non-academics. He has given popular evening lecture series at the Smithsonian Institute and Johns Hopkins University, was the keynote speaker at the annual conference of Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies in 2001, a speaker at the annual conference of the Society for Business Ethics, and is currently completing work on a biography of Rene Descartes for high school readers. Recently appearing as an "on-air ethicist" on the afternoon drive-time radio program "Mickey and Amelia" on Baltimore's 98 Rock, Gimbel is also widely recognized in the liberal "blogosphere" as SteveG from his daily weblog Philosophers' Playground and other blogs on which he is a regular writer and commentator.


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