Modern Europe Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud and the Search for Hidden Universes," Richard Panek argues that both Einstein and Freud cut across the barriers of science in their time and, through scrupulous observation not only did they produce a revolution in their respective fields of research but, most importantly, they prompted a "revolution in thought" by using as instruments of research not so much mathematical formulas, but more, the tool of imagination which conjures a new, different world for the XX st century.

The notion of the "invisible century" expresses just that. It is not necessary an era of invisible technologies, but one in which questions are answered by triggering flows of speculations based on information or facts which cannot be physically proven yet there is no doubt about their validity. The term "invisible century" points to a historical environment in which one can answer questions such as "what are dreams," "what is a beam of light," "where do we come from" with arguments which cannot be verified by practical means.

Solid contributions to defining the notion are those made by Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein. They were not satisfied with proof acquired through classic means and started asking themselves obvious questions about the evolution of human kind, about man's inner world or simply rethinking old theories, as in the case of Einstein and Galileo. They all came to the same conclusion: any answer is relative, it depends on the perspective; thus, they gave rise to a revolution in approaching any science debate.

Darwin, in his masterpiece "Origin of species" (1859) argues that his theories are not exposed to explain the origins of life on the Planet, but rather its evolution and the influence of history, time and favorable variations of the human kind (Charles Darwin, Introduction). Freud, on the other hand, in a totally different field of research, asked himself questions about common facts about one's inner life, proving that factual data is not always the only basis for science. Einstein made the same point. A mere coincidence made him link relativity to gravity. Still, the famous formula equaling mass and energy, although long debated upon, could never be demonstrated by Einstein. Even so, as in the case with Freud and Darwin, their discoveries and theories are today considered obvious facts of life and are unanimously accepted.

Regarding Darwin's evolutionary theory, every discovery was made as a result of thorough observation and study. As Eric Hobsbawm stated in his book "The age of capital 1845-1875," the true importance of Darwin's theories is the validation of the supremacy of history over all other social sciences (Eric Hobsbawm, p. 293). Darwin affirms thought out his work that man is the result of change along the lines of history and natural conditions, ideas which introduced the term of evolution (Charles Darwin, Introduction), which for his political socialist contemporaries was associated with progress. Therefore, the static, invariable universe known to that day was given a dynamic, yet intangible and unquantifiable component: history. Darwin stressed the importance of time and social change for the evolution of the human race, for the process of natural selection (Charles Darwin, chapter 14: Recapitulation and Conclusion), ideas which will be later on considered to have been the basis for postulating the theory of the Arian superiority. Still, what was till then a result of practical, rigorous analysis became afterward defined in historical terms, unverifiable through objective means of research.

Following the same line but in a completely different area of study, Sigmund Freud steered great controversy with his theories on the unconscious self, when he established a method of medical treatment for psychological ailments and when he tried to prove that the…

Sources Used in Document:


1. Richard Panek. 2005. The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud and the Search for Hidden Universes. Penguin.

2. Eric Hobsbawm. 1988. The age of capital 1845-1875. Random House Inc.

3. Buchwald, Diana Kormos. 2004. Into the unknown: the invisible century: Einstein, Freud and the search for hidden universes. Nature, August 5, section Books and Arts.

4. Kohn, Marek. 2005. Chalk and cheese. The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud and the search for hidden universes by Richard Panek. New Statesman, March 21.

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