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Autobiographical Notes

ISBN 0-8126-9179-2

96 pages

(1979; first paperback printing 1991)


Autobiographical Notes

Albert Einstein
Translated and edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp

"Here I sit in order to write, at the age of sixty-seven, something like my own obituary. . . ."

"When I was a fairly precocious young man I became thoroughly impressed with the futility of hopes and strivings that chase most men restlessly through life. Moreover, I soon discovered the cruelty of that chase, which in those years was much more carefully covered up by hypocrisy and glittering words than is the case today. . . . As the first way out there was religion, which is implanted into every child by way of the traditional education-machine. Thus I came—though the child of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents—to a deep religiousness, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of twelve. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. . . ."

Delivered with warmth, clarity, and humor, this brief work is the closest Einstein ever came to writing an autobiography. Although a very personal account, it is purely concerned with the development of his ideas, saying little about his private life or about the world-shaking events through which he lived.

Starting from little Albert's early disillusionment with religion and his intense fascination with geometry, the narrative presents Einstein's "epistemological credo," then moves through his dissatisfaction with the foundations of Newtonian physics to the development of his own special and general theories of relativity, and his opposition to some of the assumptions of quantum theory.

This moving "scientific self-portrait" first appeared in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist (Volume VII in the Library of Living Philosophers). The English translation, by Paul Arthur Schilpp, was revised for this edition.

This book contains Einstein's original German text, with Schilpp's English translation on facing pages.

Paul Arthur Schilpp singlehandedly conceived the idea for the Library of Living Philosophers, and launched this monumental series in 1939. He remained its editor until 1981.

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