November 1915

Two minds beyond the war

November 25th, 1915 Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) published the field equations, the core and the end result of the theory of general relativity, the more complex work by the German physicist. The horror for the war matures in Einstein a pacifism increasingly radical, so ashamed to belong to the human race.

In the same month Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) works on On Transience, a short essay about beauty and mourning, wich began in 1913, was suspended, and concluded after a year of reflctions about the war. In this text the father of psychoanalysis investigates the vanity of human efforts trying to build something that will last over time. The initial patriotic abandon of the psychoanalyst quickly gave way to a sense of loss, in face of the carnage brought by the conflict, defining the science a prostitute, sold for the sole purpose of destroying the enemy.

While Einstein was sailing beyond man knowledge, and Freud was investigating the innermost corridors of the mind, the world around them was changing. Famous remains the exchange of letters between the two scientists in 1932, where Einstein invites Freud to reflect on a possible way of “delivering mankind from the menace of war”. Freud, after a deep reasoning, says that “whatever makes for cultural development is working also against war”.

A couple of years later Einstein emigrated to the United States to continue his work, unable to do it at home, imitated by Freud that in 1938 left the Nazi-occupied Vienna and moved to London. A year later the World War II broke out.