Portrait of Ernst Mach

Ernst Mach

Physicist and Philosopher
February 18, 1838 – February 19, 1916

Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach was an Austrian physicist and philosopher, noted for his contributions to physics in the study of shock waves. The ratio of one's speed to that of sound is named the Mach number in his honor. As a philosopher of science, he was a major influence on logical positivism and American pragmatism. Through his criticism of Newton's theories of space and time, he foreshadowed Einstein's theory of relativity.


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Richard Buckminster Fuller

Everything I Know

Visionary inventor Buckminster Fuller explores humanity's evolution and role in the cosmos in this far-reaching lecture. He celebrates the human mind's ability to grasp universal principles, contrasting this with the brain's focus on discrete data. Fuller champions a "synergetic" systems perspective focused on wholes rather than parts. He examines patterns in civilization, especially relating to travel and geography. Throughout, Fuller aims to inspire an eternal, all-encompassing understanding of our existence.

Erwin Schrödinger

My View of the World

A Nobel prize winner, a great man and a great scientist, Erwin Schrödinger has made his mark in physics, but his eye scans a far wider horizon: here are two stimulating and discursive essays which summarize his philosophical views on the nature of the world. Schrödinger's world view, derived from the Indian writings of the Vedanta, is that there is only a single consciousness of which we are all different aspects. He admits that this view is mystical and metaphysical and incapable of logical deduction. But he also insists that this is true of the belief in an external world capable of influencing the mind and of being influenced by it. Schrödinger's world view leads naturally to a philosophy of reverence for life.

Christof Koch

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness

The science of consciousness has made great strides by focusing on the behavioral and neuronal correlates of experience. However, such correlates are not enough if we are to understand even basic facts. Moreover, correlates are of little help in many instances where we would like to know if consciousness is present: patients with a few remaining islands of functioning cortex, pre-term infants, non-mammalian species, and machines that are rapidly outperforming people at driving, recognizing faces and objects, and answering difficult questions. To address these issues, we need a theory of consciousness–one that says what experience is and what type of physical systems can have it.

Lancelot Law Whyte

The Universe of Experience

Modern experience forces philosophy and social thought to confront the basic problems of value. Is this life worth caring about? How can we find a way between the deceit of fanatical belief and despair? In the view of Lancelot Law Whyte, the essential challenge to mankind today is an underlying nihilism promoting violence and frustrating sane policies on major social issues. Avoiding the seductive trap of utopianism, Whyte approaches this challenge by defining the terms of a potentially worldwide consensus of heart, mind, and will.