Original Research

Relasiebegrippe in die lig van die vraag of Einstein in die eerste plek ‘n ‘relatiwiteitsteorie’ ontwikkel het

Danie F.M. Strauss
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 30, No 1 | a28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v30i1.28 | © 2011 Danie F.M. Strauss | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 April 2011 | Published: 22 June 2011

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Danie F.M. Strauss, University of the Free State, South Africa


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Abstract

In the German literature the history of ‘ideas’ is often mentioned. Its aim is to account for the historical background of the choice and use of certain terms. In this instance such an ‘idea-historical’ approach is connected to the truly intrinsic scientific status and intention of the well-known theory of Einstein (from the years 1905 and 1916). The emphasis within the natural sciences switched since the early modern era from thing-concepts to relation-concepts, whilst the forthcoming developments eventually revealed the influence of the historicistic spiritual climate of the 19th and the early 20th century. It was also investigated in which way Einstein‘s theory of relativity explored the positive element in the shift from thing-concepts to relation-concepts even though the generally known designation of his theory (consciously or subconsciously) reflected something of the historicistic Zeitgeist [spirit of the time] at beginning of the 20th century. Nonetheless it would turn out that he was not convinced of the intrinsic antinomic nature of historicism, precisely because he realised that constancy underlies change and for that reason it cannot be emphasised at the cost of constancy. At the same time the special and general parts of his theory embody an insight into the distinct nature of the kinematic and physical aspects of reality and of the foundational role of the kinematic in respect of the physical aspect. Both these aspects underly the relation-concepts employed by Einstein, particularly as they are embodied in his emphasis on energy-constancy, where the term energy reflects the unique meaning of the physical aspect and constancy that of the kinematic aspect. The argumentation of the entire article is focused on the insight that constancy forms the basis of dynamics and change and that Einstein consequently did not develop a theory of relativity, but rather a theory of constancy. It follows that his theory at once demonstrates that the historicistic Zeitgeist of his time is intrinsically antinomic in its emphasis on change at the cost of constancy. This, moreover, is true in spite of the fact that the spirit of his time probably played a role in the designation of his theory, namely as a theory of relativity.

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