Mathematical Physics and Formalized Epistermology: Debate with Jean Petitot

  • Jean Petitot
Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 129)


This paper develops an updated transcendentalist perspective concerning the epistemological status of objectivity. The main point is that objectivity is neither an ontology nor a mere description of a phenomenal state of affairs. It is instead a principled (categorial) “legalization” and a mathematical reconstruction of the phenomena. As the very concept of a phenomenon is relational (relative to a receptive stance such as perception in classical mechanics or measure devices in quantum mechanics), the conditions for accessing them must be included in the very concept of objectivity. This paper emphasizes the transcendental content of symmetries in modern physical theories, from general relativity to gauge invariance. A great deal of the discussion focuses on epistemological key points in quantum mechanics.

Key words

physical objectivity transcendental philosophy mathematical models symmetries quantum mechanics 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Petitot
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecole PolytechniqueParisFrance

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