Philosophies

  • David Wick

Abstract

Scientists sometimes pretend that what they do is as natural as breathing, and hence they have no philosophies. But Heisenberg, Bohr, Schrödinger, and Einstein all paid attention to theirs, and indeed no scientific discipline in this century has attracted more philosophical comment than quantum physics. (Evolutionary biology comes close in this department, but by now probably lags behind.) Should one not therefore make a compendium of these views, the better to sift truth from error?

Keywords

Beach Adrenaline Arena Ghost Dial 

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Notes

  1. [p. 172]
    Professional philosophers prefer, in place of my naïve realism, either “critical” or “representational” realism; see the article “Realism” in The Encylopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edwards, ed. The reason is historical, the former being reserved for an archaic doctrine of, for example, sensed greenness residing in grass, as opposed to the modern view that sensation arises from interactions of the sense organs with intermediates (light) or the thing sensed. However, in my time the standard insult was always “You’re a naïve realist!” so I won’t opt for the less pejorative phrase (which would cause my friends to think I was putting on airs).Google Scholar
  2. [p. 176]
    Schrödinger on naïve realism: from the cat paper (op cit. Chapter 16).Google Scholar
  3. [p. 177]
    Corpuscles: see Whittaker (1951), pp. 31–32.Google Scholar
  4. [p. 180]
    Light and Life: Nature 131 (1933), pp. 421–457.Google Scholar
  5. [pp. 180–183]
    On Delbrück: I profited greatly from the article by Lily E. Kay in J. Hist. Bio. 18, no. 2 (1985), pp. 207–246; the articles in Cairns et al. (1966), see especially “Waiting for the Paradox” by Günther Stent and Delbrück’s 1949 address, pp. 22. See also Delbrück’s article “A Physicist’s Renewed Look at Biology: Twenty Years Later,” Science 168 (1970), pp. 1312–1315.Google Scholar
  6. [p. 183]
    Watson and Crick influenced by Schrödinger: see Moore (1989), pp. 403–404. Müller quotation: Moore (1989), p. 402.Google Scholar
  7. [p. 184]
    What Is Life?: Schrödinger (1944). Stent (op cit.) refers to the title as a colossal piece of nerve.Google Scholar
  8. [p. 185]
    Bohr’s references to psychology: Nature 121 (1928), p. 580–590; Die Naturwissenshaften 17 (1929), pp. 483–486; the first reprinted in Wheeler and Zurek.Google Scholar
  9. [pp. 186–187]
    The Bohr-James connection: see Jammer (1966), Chapter Seven, and James (1890). It is known that Bohr had read James (“I thought he was most wonderful”) and that when questioned about the matter by T. S. Kuhn and Aage Peterson, Bohr even mentioned the “Stream of Thought” passage; see the interview of November 1962, with T. S. Kuhn et al., in the Bohr Archives. Also quoted in Holton (1973), p. 137.Google Scholar
  10. [p. 186]
    Lucie: Jammer (1966), p. 350; James (1890), pp. 202–213; Janet (1889), pp. 276- 277. Jerome Bruner, the educational theorist, told of meeting a physicist named “Mr. Baker” (Bohr’s cover name) in 1944 at a friend’s home in Washington, and hearing a different account of the origin of complementarity. Bruner recalled Bohr telling him how he had first thought of complementarity in connection with having to discipline his son. “Could he (Bruner recalled Bohr saying) know his son simultaneously both in the light of love and in the light of justice? Were these not mutually non-convertible ways of knowing?” (Bruner, 1971, p. xiii.) I thank Dr. Matthew Howard for bringing this reference to my attention.Google Scholar
  11. [p. 188]
    Heisenberg quotation: from his article “Quantum Theory and Its Interpretations” in Rozental (1967), p. 107.Google Scholar

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© Birkhäuser Boston 1995

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  • David Wick

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