‘. . . But I Still Can’t Get Rid of a Sense of Artificiality’: The Reichenbach-Einstein Debate on the Geometrization of the Electromagnetic Field

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Giovanelli, Marco
preprint description
This paper analyzes correspondence between Reichenbach and Einstein from the spring of 1926, concerning what it means to ‘geometrize’ a physical field. The content of a typewritten note that Reichenbach sent to Einstein on that occasion is reconstructed, showing that it was an early version of §49 of the untranslated Appendix to his Philosophie der Raum-Zeit-Lehre, on which Reichenbach was working at the time. This paper claims that the toy-geometrization of the electromagnetic field that Reichenbach presented in his note should not be regarded as merely a virtuoso mathematical exercise, but as an additional argument supporting the core philosophical message of his 1928 monograph. This paper concludes by suggesting that Reichenbach’s infamous ‘relativization of geometry’ was only a stepping stone on the way to his main concern—the question of the ‘geometrization of gravitation’