The Genesis of General Relativity

Volume 250 of the series Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science pp 1925-1938

The Foundations of Physics (First Communication)

  • David Hilbert

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The vast problems posed by Einstein1 as well as his ingeniously conceived methods of solution, and the far-reaching ideas and formation of novel concepts by means of which Mie2 constructs his electrodynamics, have opened new paths for the investigation into the foundations of physics.

In the following—in the sense of the axiomatic method—I would like to develop, essentially from two simple axioms, a new system of basic equations of physics, of ideal beauty and containing, I believe, simultaneously the solution to the problems of Einstein and of Mie. I reserve for later communications the detailed development and particularly the special application of my basic equations to the fundamental questions of the theory of electricity.