Heisenberg and the transformation of Kantian philosophy


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Kristian Camilleri
University of Melbourne
Abstract
In this paper, I argue that Heisenberg's mature philosophy of quantum mechanics must be understood in the context of his epistemological project to reinterpret and redefine Kant's notion of the a priori. After discussions with Weizsäcker and Hermann in Leipzig in the 1930s, Heisenberg attempted to ground his interpretation of quantum mechanics on what might be termed a 'practical' transformation of Kantian philosophy. Taking as his starting point, Bohr's doctrine of the indispensability of classical concepts, Heisenberg argued that concepts such as space, time and causality can be regarded as 'practically a priori', in so far as they remain the conditions for the possibility of experience and even of 'objective reality', though they are not universal and necessary in a strictly Kantian sense. We cannot avoid using classical concepts in the description of experiments in quantum theory, despite the fact that there are limits to their applicability. Such concepts are, for Heisenberg, historically contingent, yet indispensable in our time, because we have no other language through which we can describe and conceive of the interaction between 'object' and 'measuring device'.
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DOI 10.1080/02698590500462273
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References found in this work BETA

Reconsidering Logical Positivism.Michael Friedman - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.
Reconsidering Logical Positivism.Michael Friedman & Alan W. Richardson - 1999 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 62 (1):152-155.

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Citations of this work BETA

Constructing the Myth of the Copenhagen Interpretation.Kristian Camilleri - 2009 - Perspectives on Science 17 (1):pp. 26-57.
Classes of Copenhagen Interpretations: Mechanisms of Collapse as Typologically Determinative.James R. Henderson - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):1-8.
Classes of Copenhagen Interpretations: Mechanisms of Collapse as Typologically Determinative.James R. Henderson - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):1-8.

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