REVEALING LETTER ON EINSTEIN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE.
Dated November 2, 1950, typed on Einstein’s Institute for Advanced Study letterhead, the letter, addressed to Akos Thiery, reads in full (from the original German): I read your manuscript with great interest. It shows the efforts of someone who is passionately seeking truth. I believe, however, that you are attempting something impossible in this sketch. Everyday thinking is given to us as an object to be understood, just as we find it.
This is encompassed in a schema, built from words whose meaning is necessarily unclear. The criterion for the 'truth' of the system can only lie in how convincing we feel their correspondence with the object to be. In my opinion, no abstract system can achieve this unless the concepts used in the schema can be made precise through detailed comparison with the images of everyday thought. Only then can one ask whether or to what extent the schema is ‘accurate'. This is probably one of the reasons why philosophical books are relatively long.
You will probably now say 'what I gave you is not a complicated philosophical analysis, rather it is only a sketch. I want to know whether you think the schema can be developed'. It is possible that there are people who can make such a judgment on the basis of the sketch. These must however be people who have greater expertise in epistemological thought than I.
I would like to add parenthetically that the Institute for Advanced Study does not have a member who works in the field of epistemology or speculative philosophy. This is probably due to the fact that it is generally perceived as very difficult to choose among the candidates in relatively objective terms. I myself am retired and have no more say in the faculty.
[Signed] A. Einstein.
One 8.5x11 inch page, on The Institute for Advanced Study letterhead. Princeton: November 2, 1950. Includes original mailing envelope. Usual mailing folds, fine condition.