Humana Mente 4 (13) (2010)

A draft of a possible comparison between the use made of mathematics in classical field theories and in quantum mechanics is presented. Hilbert’s space formalism, although not only elegant and powerful but intuitive as well, does not give us a spatio-temporal representation of physical events. The picture of the electromagnetic field as an entity which is real in itself– i.e., as a wave without support – fostered by the emergence of special relativity can be seen as the first step, favored by many physicists and philosophers, of a gradual “escape” from intuition into a purely mathematical representation of the external world. After the introduction, in recent theoretical physics, of fiber bundle formalism the classical notion of field acquires a new spatio-temporal intuitiveness. This intuitiveness is clearly foreshadowed in the Kantian and Meinongian analysis of the notion of magnitude. At the end of the paper we show that, contrary to what happens in quantum mechanics, mathematics plays a truly explicative role in general relativity, without any loss of spatio-temporal intuitiveness.
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Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity.Edmund Whittaker - 1952 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 3 (10):204-207.

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