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On Physics and Philosophy 1st Ed Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691119649
ISBN-10: 0691119643
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Editorial Reviews


"Bernard d'Espagnat eschews the technical philosophical and mathematical jargon . . . while nonetheless getting deeply into the consistency and plausibility of significant metaphysical claims. For all collections on the philosophy of science. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"In this valuable work, Bernard d'Espagnat brings his considerable expertise in contemporary physics to bear on the difficult philosophical issues arising from the current understanding of the subatomic domain."--Thomas Oberdan, Isis

"Written in a very readable style, without an overload of mathematical equations,
Of Physics and Philosophy unfolds the exotic features of quantum physics to the accompaniment of philosophical commentary. It is without doubt a work of immense scholarship, and will probably hold its own till the mysteries in the field are adequately understood. D'Espagnat's scholarship is helping understand the bizarre implications of quantum theory in investigating everything from free will and the paranormal to the enigma of consciousness."--Sudhirendar Sharma, Caravan

From the Back Cover

"This book is a monument to d'Espagnat's excellent work and style; it is surely the most complete book to have been written on this subject and one likely to last a long time, at least until we come to fully understand the remaining mysteries in the field."--Roland Omnès, Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics, Université de Paris-Sud

"Bernard d'Espagnat is an accomplished theoretical physicist and philosopher, whose two disciplines are interrelated in the present book. He conclusively argues that features of quantum mechanics--particularly the Uncertainty Principle, the nonlocality exhibited by entangled systems, and the measurement problem--revolutionize epistemology and metaphysics. His novel and lucid philosophy, called 'veiled realism,' criticizes Kant's doctrine of synthetic a priori knowledge but shares the thesis that scientific knowledge provides empirical regularities while pointing to an underlying 'noumenal' reality whose structure is not revealed."--Abner Shimony, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Physics, Boston University

"With exceptional scientific, historical, and philosophical insights, d'Espagnat examines the implications of recent developments in quantum physics for philosophy and the implications of philosophical reflections for the understanding of fundamental physics. D'Espagnat's book not only challenges ingrained ways of thinking; it is indeed a visionary and critical reorientation for both physics and philosophy."--Tian Yu Cao, Boston University

"D'Espagnat has performed an intellectual feat by distilling the essential conceptual puzzles of quantum mechanics into a few core principles without relying on any mathematical formalism, and in a very readable style at that. At the same time, this book is not some trendy everyman's guide to the exotic features of quantum physics, with some philosophical commentary--but a work of mature scholarship."--Jeffrey Bub, University of Maryland, author of Interpreting the Quantum World

"Here, d'Espagnat discusses virtually all the central philosophical issues related to quantum mechanics and its interpretation. The book is nontechnical, presupposing no previous knowledge of science or philosophy. It is a pleasure to read."--Andrew Z. Wayne, University of Guelph, coeditor of Ontological Aspects of Quantum Field Theory

"This book takes the theme of d'Espagnat's influential Veiled Reality and develops it into a 'world view,' as he calls it. This extensive treatment is rich in detailed arguments, deft rebuttal of rival viewpoints, and historical perspectives."--Arthur G. Zajonc, Amherst College, coauthor of The Quantum Challenge

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st Ed edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691119643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691119649
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,168,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By S. W. Gore on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This highly credentialed French physicist applies the disciplines of quantum field theory and philosophy to refute assumptions commonly held by scientists, philosophers, and lay people about what is "real," and to sort out such views as are consonant with experimental data. I take pleasure in D'Espangnat's clean writing, his dedication to accuracy, and his insistence on addressing the ground from which our concepts arise. Here D'Espagnat expands on his earlier work regarding "veiled reality." The book is accessible to lay intellectuals who like to savor ideas and reflect on them.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert F. Holub on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Reading this book was not easy, it does teach the reader the facts well, summarizes everything thoroughly and clearly, describes the dilemmas (mess?) the present day physics is in. The author is very careful in avoiding explaining why reality should be veiled; whether reality is dualist (note, d'Espagnat is not a "scientific materialist"); whether we (and perhaps even animals?) have free will etc. I'm planning a second reading soon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Noumenon on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding work on the philosophical implications of quantum theory, in particular as it relates to epistemology. D'Espagnat's 'Veiled Reality' notion is similar to Immanuel Kant's 'Noumenal Reality' one, in that, there is a philosophical rationality behind the notion of a "something" underlying and 'informing' empirical reality. While D'Espagnat found Kant's original arguments obsolete, he nevertheless, through a analysis of modern physics, derived views that somewhat coincide with the core of Kant's conclusions.

D'Espagnat puts forward the notion of an 'extended causality', that is effective not between phenomenon as the term is usually taken, but between Reality per se and phenomenon, as an unknowable ground or unconceptualized structure for the laws of nature.

Physics does not provide knowledge of Independent Reality as in Objective Realism, ...but rather empirical reality (phenomenal reality), that is, reality as experienced and conceptualized, and so can provide only predictive knowledge of observables. Given the refutability of the scientific method with respect to experimentation, there must be a 'something' which says "no". This justifies the notion of a Independent Reality, (though formless and therefore unknowable),... as opposed to an Hegelian idealism. Thus, D'Espagnat, like Kant avoids that progression.

It may take some getting used to, and may be on account of necessity (given the subject matter), but the writing style contains many sub-sentances, which is to say, qualifications (as I've tried to reproduce in this one), imbedded within the same sentence. However, one gets used to this, and in fact D'Espagnat is able to make the subject rather clear, as can be expected.
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