A Quantum Leap … narp!
In the 1920s:
“Now in the early twentieth century, modernism was born by the breaking of old strictures and verities. A spontaneous combustion occurred that included the works of Einstein, Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Joyce, Eliot, Proust, Diaghilev, Freud, Wittgenstein and dozens of other path-breakers who seemed to break the bonds of classical thinking.”
“Einstein served as a source of inspiration for many of the modernist artists and thinkers, even when they did not understand him. This was especially true when artists celebrated such concepts as being “free from the order of time”, as Proust put it… A pinnacle of the modernist revolution came in 1922, the year Einstein’s Nobel Prize was announced. … “
Stravinsky, Diaghilev, Picasso, Joyce and Proust “ ‘were destroying 19th century literary certainties as surely as Einstein was revolutionizing physics.’ The mechanical order and Newtonian laws that had defined classical physics, music and art no longer ruled.” – Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe
At this time, Einstein had become a catalyst for an abolishing of faith in absolutes. Just as Einstein was the product of a society ready for this new way of thinking, so, too, he sparked the fuel into a fire.
“There was less faith in absolutes, not only of time and space, but also of truth and morality.”
But he was appalled at the confusion between relativity and relativism. Relativism was more a social, philosophical and artistic way of abandoning structures and authoritarian ways of seeing the world. Relativity, on the other hand, was, according to Einstein, “purely a scientific matter…”
The philosopher Isaiah Berlin lamented, on Einstein’s behalf, that “the word ‘relativity’ has been widely misinterpreted as relativism, the denial of, or doubt about, the objectivity of truth or moral values. … This was the opposite of what Einstein believed. He was a man of simple and absolute moral convictions, which were expressed in all he was and did.”
Or, as Isaacson so succinctly puts it, “In both his science and his moral philosophy, Einstein was driven by the quest for certainty and deterministic laws. If his theory of relativity produced ripples that unsettled the realms of morality and culture, this was caused not by what Einstein believed but by how he was popularly interpreted.”
In my mental conversations with Einstein, I sadly shake my head and bemuse to him…. “Wait until you see what they do with Quantum Theory.”