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Einstein and Twentieth-Century Politics'A Salutary Moral Influence'$
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Richard Crockatt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198785491

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198785491.001.0001

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(p.56) 3 Pacifism
Einstein and Twentieth-Century Politics

Richard Crockatt

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the relationship between the various strands of Einstein’s political beliefs and the question of whether there was one underlying value or principle. Einstein’s distaste for nationalism and resistance to the idea of exclusive citizenship lay at the basis of his political philosophy, which had its roots in temperament and youthful experience as much as intellectual argument. In the discussion of his pacifism in the First World War and the decade of the 1920s, followed by his apparent retreat from unconditional pacifism with the rise of Hitler, it is argued that Einstein’s value system was pluralistic. The trajectory of Einstein’s pacifism reinforces the conclusion that there is no single foundational premiss among Einstein’s values. Einstein’s commitment was always to a cluster or virtuous circle of values.

Keywords:   pacifism, values, distaste for nationalism, citizenship, pluralistic value system

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