This year Germany is celebrating the centenary of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The journal Gegenworte reflects on the “eventization” of sciences.
A whirlwind of science festivals, hands-on physics exhibitions, and other record-breaking cultural events is blowing across Germany, as the country celebrates the centenary of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The Einstein-year is marketing the world’s best known scientist and public intellectual in every way possible. Reason enough for Berlin-based journal Gegenworte to diagnose “Einsteinitis”. In its new issue, Gegenworte focuses on the “eventization” of the sciences – and what this means for the sciences themselves and for German national identity.
Eurozine presents three of the most interesting articles from Gegenworte . Austrian philosopher of science Ulrike Felt investigates this yearning for great men and impressive events. She finds a new culture in science. Calls have been made for the sciences to be more participatory, and to take a more appropriate place in society.
Jürgen Trabant, Professor of Romance philology at the Free University of Berlin, draws attention to the fact that one of the tragic moments in intellectual history is connected to the person of Einstein: the passage of “mind” from one country to another – in this case, because of the expulsion of Jewish scientists from Nazi Germany. This leads Trabant to consider the conditions a country should offer its scientists in order to keep them.
For Germany, the events around Einstein could become an “occasion” and bring a turnaround in the problematic Jewish-German relationship, writes Gegenworte -editor Hazel Rosenstrauch. With the celebration mania, Einstein, who after leaving Germany in 1932 wanted never to set foot on German soil again, is being turned into a public hero for the Germans. For German identity and the construction of an acceptable past, this is, ironically enough, so much the better.
A new culture of science?
Or: The yearning for great men and big events
In response to the world-wide celebrated Einstein year, Ulrike Felt looks into the mechanisms of making science into a public event. [2005-06-08]
Losing Einstein, Celebrating Einstein
Jürgen Trabant draws attention to the fact that one of the tragic moments of intellectual history is connected to the person of Einstein: the passage of “mind” from one country to another. [2005-06-08]
Building blocks for a theory of Jewish atonement
Are the celebrations around Einstein in Germany a possibility to integrate this great mind and public intellecutal into German identity and to construct an acceptable past? [2005-06-08]
Published 8 June 2005
Original in English
First published by Eurozine