Hermann Weyl was one of the twentieth century's most important mathematicians, as well as a seminal figure in the development of quantum physics and general relativity. He was also an eloquent writer with a lifelong interest in the philosophical implications of the startling new scientific developments with which he was so involved. Mind and Nature is a collection of Weyl's most important general writings on philosophy, mathematics, and physics, including pieces that have never before been published in any language (...) or translated into English, or that have long been out of print. Complete with Peter Pesic's introduction, notes, and bibliography, these writings reveal an unjustly neglected dimension of a complex and fascinating thinker. In addition, the book includes more than twenty photographs of Weyl and his family and colleagues, many of which are previously unpublished. Included here are Weyl's exposition of his important synthesis of electromagnetism and gravitation, which Einstein at first hailed as "a first-class stroke of genius"; two little-known letters by Weyl and Einstein from 1922 that give their contrasting views on the philosophical implications of modern physics; and an essay on time that contains Weyl's argument that the past is never completed and the present is not a point. Also included are two book-length series of lectures, The Open World and Mind and Nature, each a masterly exposition of Weyl's views on a range of topics from modern physics and mathematics. Finally, four retrospective essays from Weyl's last decade give his final thoughts on the interrelations among mathematics, philosophy, and physics, intertwined with reflections on the course of his rich life. (shrink)
In Bertrand Russell's 1903 Principles of Mathematics, he offers an apparently devastating criticism of the neo-Kantian Hermann Cohen's Principle of the Infinitesimal Method and its History (PIM). Russell's criticism is motivated by his concern that Cohen's account of the foundations of calculus saddles mathematics with the paradoxes of the infinitesimal and continuum, and thus threatens the very idea of mathematical truth. This paper defends Cohen against that objection of Russell's, and argues that properly understood, Cohen's views of limits and (...) infinitesimals do not entail the paradoxes of the infinitesimal and continuum. Essential to that defense is an interpretation, developed in the paper, of Cohen's positions in the PIM as deeply rationalist. The interest in developing this interpretation is not just that it reveals how Cohen's views in the PIM avoid the paradoxes of the infinitesimal and continuum. It also reveals some of what is at stake, both historically and philosophically, in Russell's criticism of Cohen. (shrink)
Der Verzicht auf absolut gültige Erkenntnis, heute in den Naturwissenschaften beinahe schon selbstverständlich, ist erst jüngeren Datums. Noch im vergangenen Jahrhundert zweifelte die experimentelle Forschung kaum an der vollkommenen Begreifbarkeit der Welt. Diesen Wandel zu erkunden und aufzuzeigen ist Thema der vorliegenden Studie. Der erste Teil präsentiert verschiedene Typen neuzeitlicher und moderner Wissenschaftsauffassungen von Galilei über Newton bis hin zu Kant. Im zweiten Teil werden Entwicklung und Wandel der Wissenschafts- und Naturauffassung bei Helmholtz (1821-1895) erstmals mittels detaillierter Textanalysen einer umfassenden (...) Rekonstruktion unterzogen. Die Relativierung des Wahrheitsanspruchs erlaubt es Helmholtz, seine Naturauffassung trotz der antimechanistischen Kritik innerhalb der Physik, die im letzten Viertel des vergangenen Jahrhunderts laut wurde, als Hypothese aufrechtzuerhalten. Auch gewährt die Studie eine neue Sichtweise des Verhältnisses zwischen Helmholtz und Kant, das in der Vergangenheit kontroverse Beurteilungen erfuhr. (shrink)
The essay brings a summation of human efforts seeking to understand our existence. Plato and Kant & cognitive science complete reduction of philosophy to a neural mechanism, evolved along elementary Darwinian principles. Plato in his famous Cave Allegory explains that between reality and our experience of it there exists a great chasm, a metaphysical gap, fully confirmed through particle-wave duality of quantum physics. Kant found that we have two kinds of perception, two senses: By the spatial outer sense we perceive (...) phenomena, objects in space. Our temporal inner sense lets us perceive our inner state, noumena . Kant's two senses are fully confirmed through bilateral brain duality of cognitive science. The bilateral brain serves inner, temporal sense, logic & noumena in the left hemisphere. The right brain half is for the outer, spatial sense, geometry & phenomena. We form a whole system, a bilateral interior cosmos, a kind of world model, expressing what may lie beyond the metaphysical gap. In the right brain we build a phenomenal cosmos, to resemble the outer environment. In the brain's left hemisphere a noumenal cosmos, a model of our private world including Saint Teresa of Avila's castillo interior. The cosmos is regularly updated with novel sense data integrated into our memory banks. This was recognized early by Helmholtz (1860s). Our lives, health & well-being depend on us keeping our interior cosmos in good order. This used to be seen as saving one's precious soul from perdition. While we endeavour to keep our phenomenal cosmos neat & orderly by protecting the environment from harm, our noumenal cosmos to be livable requires us to engage in ethical conduct. This bilateral cosmos is responsible for our common sense judgment power, that we depend on for being able to lead a good & benign life. The 200 million neurons of BA10 in the prefrontal lobe have global access to the interior cosmos, & apply massive feedback to identify environmental conditions rapidly. The global access also gives conscious presence of the individual to itself, all that is present in the interior cosmos, for total freedom of action. In the left brain private ego, we are guarded by faith in divine mercy, & guided to choose the best course of action, able to survive under the most adverse conditions. For this, we receive directions from the Holy Ghost in Saint Teresa's castillo interior. (shrink)
Grete Hermann’s essay “Die naturphilosophischen Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik” has received much deserved scholarly attention in recent years. In this paper, I follow the lead of Elise Crull who sees in Hermann’s work the general outlines of a neo-Kantian interpretation of quantum theory. In full support of this view, I focus on Hermann’s central claim that limited spatio-temporal, and even analogically causal, representations of events exist within an overall relational structure of entangled quantum mechanical states that defy any (...) unified spatio-temporal description. In my view, Hermann also advances an important transcendental argument that perspectival spatio-temporal representations of nature have their foundations in general relational networks that are not spatio-temporal. The key point is that the adoption of a perspectival system within the general network induces the representation but only for that context. These ideas are consistent with a perspectival subject–object principle in Kant and also with Weyl’s work on Lie groups and their representations. (shrink)
The neo-Kantian Hermann Cohen is famously anti-empiricist in that he denies that sensations can make a definable contribution to knowledge. However, in the second edition of Kant’s Theory of Experience (1885), Cohen considers a proposition that contrasts with both his other work and that of his followers: a Kantian who studies scientific claims to truth—and the grounds on which they are made—cannot limit himself to studying mathematics and logical principles, but needs to also investigate underlying presuppositions about the empirical (...) element of science. Due to his subjectivist approach, Cohen argues, Kant not only failed to explain how scientific observation and experiments are possible, but also misconceived the role of the ideas, particularly the idea of a system of nature. (shrink)
In all the current alienating discourse on Islam as a source of extremism and fanatic violence this new publication takes a timely and refreshing look at the traditions of Islamic mysticism, philosophy and intellectual debate in a series of diverse and stimulating approaches. It tackles the major figures of Islamic thought as well as shedding light on hitherto unconsidered aspects of Islam utilizing new source material. The contributors are impressive list of scholars and experts.
Hermann Cohen's Religion of Reason, Out of the Sources of Judaism is widely taken to be the greatest work in Jewish philosophy and religious thought since Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed. It is at once a Jewish book and a philosophical one: Jewish because it takes its material from the literary tradition that extends from the bible to the rabbis to the great medieval philosophers; philosophical because it studies that material in order to construct a worldview that is rational (...) in the broadest sense of the term. This edition reprints a 1972 introduction by Leo Strauss and includes an essay on the work by Steven Schwarzchild. A new introduction by Kenneth R. Seeskin situates Cohen's masterwork in the history of modern philosophical and religious thought. (shrink)
Prior analyses of Grete Hermann’s 1935 essay on the philosophical foundations of quantum mechanics have taken her central aim to be the recovery of an appropriately Kantian notion of causality from this new indeterministic physics. I argue that if one instead reads this essay as primarily an investigation into the meaning and implications of the relative nature of quantum mechanics—not only for physics, but also for fields as different as ethics—certain dimensions of her work appear with greater clarity. Among (...) these are her particular Kantian interpretation of Bohr’s complementarity and correspondence principles, her unique understanding of the quantum-classical divide, the failure of Kant’s a priori categories of space, time and causality to apply literally—even for obtaining classical natural knowledge, and the splitting of truth. (shrink)
The following text is the first ever translation into English of a writing by German phenomenologist Hermann Schmitz (*1928). In it, Schmitz outlines and defends a non-mentalistic view of emotions as phenomena in interpersonal space in conjunction with a theory of the felt body’s constitutive involvement in human experience. In the first part of the text, Schmitz gives an overview covering some central pieces of his theory as developed, for the most part, in his massive System of Philosophy, published (...) in German in a series of volumes between 1964 and 1980. Schmitz’s System is centred on the claim that the contemporary view of the human subject is the result of a consequential historical process: A reductionist and ‘introjectionist’ objectification of lived experience culminating in the ‘invention’ of the mind (or ‘soul’) as a private, inner realm of subjective experience and in a corresponding ‘grinding down’ of the world of lived experienced to a meagre, value-neutral ‘objective reality’. To counter this intellectualist trend, Schmitz puts to use his approach to phenomenology with the aim of regaining a sensibility for the nuanced realities of lived experience—hoping to make up for what was lost during the development of Western intellectual culture. Since both this text and the overall style of Schmitz’s philosophising are in several ways unusual for a contemporary readership, a brief introduction is provided by philosophers Jan Slaby and Rudolf Owen Müllan, the latter of whom translated Schmitz’s text into English. The introduction emphasises aspects of Schmitz’s philosophy that are likely to be of relevance to contemporary scholars of phenomenological philosophy and to its potential applications in science and society. (shrink)
Decision-making capacity is the gatekeeping element for a patient’s right to self-determination with regard to medical decisions. A DMC evaluation is not only conducted on descriptive grounds but is an inherently normative task including ethical reasoning. Therefore, it is dependent to a considerable extent on the values held by the clinicians involved in the DMC evaluation. Dealing with the question of how to reasonably support clinicians in arriving at a DMC judgment, a new tool is presented that fundamentally differs from (...) existing ones: the U-Doc. By putting greater emphasis on the judgmental process rather than on the measurement of mental abilities, the clinician as a decision-maker is brought into focus, rendering the tool more of an evaluation guide than a test instrument. In a qualitative study, the perceived benefits of and difficulties with the tool have been explored. The findings show on the one hand that the evaluation aid provides basic orientation, supports a holistic perspective on the patient, sensitizes for ethical considerations and personal biases, and helps to think through the decision, to argue, and to justify one’s judgment. On the other hand, the room for interpretation due to absent operationalisations, related ambiguities, and the confrontation with one’s own subjectivity may be experienced as unsettling. (shrink)
Two seemingly contradictory tendencies have accompanied the development of the natural sciences in the past 150 years. On the one hand, the natural sciences have been instrumental in effecting a thoroughgoing transformation of social structures and have made a permanent impact on the conceptual world of human beings. This historical period has, on the other hand, also brought to light the merely hypothetical validity of scientific knowledge. As late as the middle of the 19th century the truth-pathos in the natural (...) sciences was still unbroken. Yet in the succeeding years these claims to certain knowledge underwent a fundamental crisis. For scientists today, of course, the fact that their knowledge can possess only relative validity is a matter of self-evidence. The present analysis investigates the early phase of this fundamental change in the concept of science through an examination of Hermann von Helmholtz's conception of science and his mechanistic interpretation of nature. Helmholtz (1821-1894) was one of the most important natural scientists in Germany. The development of this thoughts offers an impressive but, until now, relatively little considered report from the field of the experimental sciences chronicling the erosion of certainty. (shrink)
In the sixth century BC, Pherekydes of Syros, the reputed teacher of Pythagoras and contemporary of Thales and Anaximander, wrote a book about the birth of the gods and the origin of the cosmos. Considered one of the first prose works of Greek literature, Pherekydes' book survives only in fragments. On the basis of these as well as the ancient testimonies, the author attempts to reconstruct the theo-cosmological schema of Pherekydes. An introductory chapter on the life of Pherekydes is followed (...) by four chapters on the contents of his book. From Pherekydes' mythopoeic creation account, his colourful narratives of a divine marriage and a battle of the gods, and finally from his remarks on the soul, Professor Schibli is careful to unfold the philosophical implications. Pherekydes emerges as a figure who moved in that fascinating frontier between myth and philosophy. The theogonies of Hesiod and the Orphics, the cosmological speculations of certain Presocratics, and the Pythagorean tenets on the soul are all profitably compared with the remnants of Pherekydes' book. Pherekydes is thus shown to be an important witness to early Greek thought in its various manifestations. This is the first book-length study in English dedicated to Pherekydes. It includes a comprehensive appendix of the fragments and ancient testimonies, along with limited critical apparatus and English translations. (shrink)
Hermann Weyl, one of the twentieth century's greatest mathematicians, was unusual in possessing acute literary and philosophical sensibilities—sensibilities to which he gave full expression in his writings. In this paper I use quotations from these writings to provide a sketch of Weyl's philosophical orientation, following which I attempt to elucidate his views on the mathematical continuum, bringing out the central role he assigned to intuition.
This paper offers an introduction to Hermann Cohen’s Das Princip der Infinitesimal-Methode, and recounts the history of its controversial reception by Cohen’s early sympathizers, who would become the so-called ‘Marburg school’ of Neo-Kantianism, as well as the reactions it provoked outside this group. By dissecting the ambiguous attitudes of the best-known representatives of the school, as well as those of several minor figures, this paper shows that Das Princip der Infinitesimal-Methode is a unicum in the history of philosophy: it (...) represents a strange case of an unsuccessful book’s enduring influence. The “puzzle of Cohen’s Infinitesimalmethode,” as we will call it, can be solved by looking beyond the scholarly results of the book, and instead focusing on the style of philosophy it exemplified. Moreover, the paper shows that Cohen never supported, but instead explicitly opposed, the doctrine of the centrality of the ‘concept of function’, with which Marburg Neo-Kantianism is usually associated. (shrink)