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Title: Einstein and the influence of Spinoza : advancing Tillich's critique
Author: Woolley, J. Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 5345
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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"Mystery" and "reason that manifests itself in nature" form the core of Einstein's religious credo. But what does he mean by this and by other similar expressions of his personal religiosity-what he calls his "cosmic religion"? And how do they support Einstein's claim that he is a "follower of Spinoza"? We can better understand Einstein's personal religiosity by advancing Paul Tillich's critique which makes two central claims: first, that while Einstein's religious views are poorly developed philosophically, they are essentially consistent with the "modem theology" inspired by Spinoza; second, that Einstein's emphasis on the grandeur of reason in nature which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to the intellect "is the first and basic element of any developed idea of God from the earliest Greek philosophers to present day theology." I Gerald Holton suggest that a valuable opportunity was lost when Tillich, an expert in the post-Kantian philosophies of Schopenhauer, Schleiermacher, and others, failed to engage Einstein in conversation on Einstein's published views of religion. Einstein could have helped Tillich to better understand the consequences of relativity for his philosophical thought. And Tillich could have helped Einstein to better understand the relevance of modem theology to his own religious concerns. Holton claims that advancing research along these lines would be an "opportunity found" which could shed light on the "transcendental impulses" that characterize Einstein's personal religiosity. In this paper, I seek to advance Tillich's critique by showing that Einstein's "mystery" is analogous to Spinoza's concept of the infinite as interpreted by post-Kantian philosophers of religion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available