When classical mechanics is seen as the short-wavelength limit of quantum mechanics (i.e., as the limit of geometrical optics), it becomes clear just how serious and all-pervasive the measurement problem is. This formulation also leads us into the Bohm theory. But this theory has drawbacks: its nonuniqueness, in particular, and its nonlocality. I argue that these both reflect an underlying problem concerning information, which is actually a deeper version of the measurement problem itself.
Der Raum marks a transitional stage in Carnap’s thought, and therefore has both negative and positive implications for his further development. On the one hand, he is here largely a follower of Husserl, and a correct understanding of that background is important if one wants to understand what it is that he later rejects as “metaphysics.” On the other hand, he has already broken with Husserl in certain ways, in part following other authors. His use of Hans Driesch’s Ordnungslehre, in (...) particular, foreshadows the theme of so-called “voluntarism” which will characterize his later thought. (shrink)
Here I establish a parallel between modern epistemology and traditional metaphysics: between the way we know an object, on the one hand, and the way an object's causes cause it to exist, on the other. I show that different efficient causes in the Thomistic system correspond to different questions of knowledge, as analyzed by Stanley Cavell, and that in particular the question the Cavellian skeptic asks corresponds to God's causation in creation. As I have explained in detail elsewhere, and discuss (...) briefly here, this parallel represents far more than a formal analogy between a series of issues in epistemology and a series of issues in metaphysics. It helps to explain, in fact, why modern philosophers (e.g., Husserl) were ultimately driven to put the human ego in the place of God, as creating (or “positing”) the objects of its knowledge, thereby denying the very distinction between epistemology and ontology. (shrink)
Ancient Peripatetics and Neoplatonists had great difficulty coming up with a consistent, interpretatively reasonable, and empirically adequate Aristotelian theory of complete mixture or complexion. I explain some of the main problems, with special attention to authors with whom Avicenna was familiar. I then show how Avicenna used a new doctrine of the occultness of substantial form to address these problems. The result was in some respects an improvement, but it also gave rise to a new set of problems, which were (...) later to prove fateful in the history of early modern philosophy. (shrink)
The train of thought I will follow here begins with two facts about Husserl. First, the main and most intractable problems in interpreting him, and the major conflicts between his interpreters, arise from and are fed by the equivocality and unsteady meaning of his terminology. Second, Husserl has a highly developed theory of terminology, beginning with, but by no means limited to, the earliest periods of his thought. This theory of terminology, moreover, focuses on the causes of equivocality and unsteadiness (...) of meaning. These two facts, taken together, suggest why there is something philosophically deep, some deep aspect of the selfknowledge of knowledge, in Husserl’s work, and helps explains why figures of the stature of Heidegger and Carnap took so much interest in him. Nevertheless, I will suggest that Husserl’s theory of terminology is inadequate to his problems: that the self-knowledge of philosophy is here (as always) incomplete. This helps explain what both Heidegger and Carnap reject in Husserl, and therefore, in turn, why the question, how to give to or recover for terminology an unequivocal and fixed meaning, becomes crucial for both of them. Both of them, in fact, approach this question in a way which is essentially a modification—albeit a root and branch modification—of Husserl’s approach. This paper, despite it’s title, will be devoted mostly to setting up the problem in Husserl. At the end I will then briefly describe Heidegger’s and Carnap’s contrasting solutions. (shrink)
Traditional attempts to delineate the distinctive rationality of modern science have taken it for granted that the purpose of empirical research is to test judgments. The choice of concepts to use in those judgments is therefore seen either a matter of indifference (Popper) or as important choice which must be made, so to speak, in advance of all empirical research (Carnap). I argue that scientific method aims precisely at empirical testing of concepts, and that even the simplest scientific ex- periment (...) or observation results in conceptual change. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to explain how universal statements, as they occur in scientiﬁc theories, are actually tested by observational evidence, and to draw certain conclusions, on that basis, about the way in which scientiﬁc theories are tested in general. 1 But I am pursuing that aim, ambitious enough in and of itself, in the service of even more ambitious projects, and in the ﬁrst place: (a) to say what is distinctive about modern science, and especially modern physical (...) science, as a human intellectual activity; and (b) to show how this distinctiveness explains the unique status of modern science in human intellectual life. So I will begin by saying a few words about that larger project. One might doubt, ﬁrst, whether that project is legitimate. Although everything is different from everything else, the question “What is distinctive about X?” is not necessarily well put, because X may not be anything—that is, anything distinct. And there are indeed many philosophers, otherwise of the most diverse intellectual backgrounds and tendencies, who would deny, in various ways, that modern science is a distinct thing, or that its status is unique. It seems to me that they deny something terrifyingly obvious— a fact which confronts us far more urgently than the fact that, say, ravens are black. I will put off further remarks about this until the end of the paper, however, because the discussion of my more limited present aim will focus precisely on the ways to tell when a question is well put, and whether there is such a (distinct) thing as X. That one’s methodological problems are also the subject of one’s investigation is a sign that that investigation is philosophical, although (or because) also a threat to its coherence. Second, some points about methodology. I am not a sociologist, or even a historian, nor (unlike some recent philosophers of science) will I pretend to be.. (shrink)
It should be said that the title is slightly misleading. Most of the chapters in fact focus on either mathematics, the mathematical foundations of physics, or epistemological issues about science in general. This focus is unsurprising, given Husserl’s well-known interest in both mathematics and such general epistemological issues. For the same reason, however, it makes the collection somewhat less exciting than the title might suggest.