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Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science



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Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science + What is Life?: With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches (Canto Classics) + Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge (Dover Books on Physics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061209198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061209192
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A giant of modern physics.” (New York Times)

“Philosophically, the implications of quantum mechanics are psychedelic. . . . [a] mind-expanding discovery.” (Gary Zukav, author of The Seat of the Soul)

About the Author

A winner of the Nobel Prize, Werner Heisenberg (1901–1976) was born in Würzberg, Germany, and received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Munich. He became famous for his groundbreaking Uncertainty (or Indeterminacy) Principle. After World War II he was named director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book will be of great interest to anyone studying the philosophy of modern science.
Steven H. Propp
Despite all this, for me this is a very remarkable book, extremely clear, and very inspiring.
Dr. Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Werner Heisenberg is one of the most important figures within the world of quantum mechanics.
Jan Doxrud

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on April 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (1952) makes good reading, but it is likely to be more appreciated by readers already familiar with the philosophical underpinnings of quantum theory. The scholarly introduction by F. S. C. Northrop of Yale University cautions the reader that a meticulous reading is necessary to follow Werner Heisenberg's discussion of causality, determinism, and complementarity.
For the reader new to Heisenberg I suggest first reading a collection of essays published by Seabury Press in 1983 under the title Tradition in Science. In 1989 this collection, now titled Encounters with Einstein And Other Essays on People, Places, and Particles, was republished by Princeton University Press. A few discussions are a bit technical, but they do not involve mathematics. These essays were written between 1972-1975. Heisenberg died in 1976.
Another good choice is Philosophical Problems of Quantum Physics, a collection of Heisenberg's early lectures that span the turbulent period 1932-1948. Many of the key ideas discussed in his 1952 book Physics and Philosophy will be found in this earlier work.
Heisenberg believed that early Greek philosophy is closer to the ideas underlying modern physics than it was to the deterministic, objective reality defined by Newton. The story of the development of quantum theory is always fascinating, but even more so when told from the viewpoint of a major contributor to this great intellectual triumph. Bohr, Heisenberg, and other founders of the Copenhagen interpretation recognized quite early that quantum theory would have a the profound impact on man's understanding of reality.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Earl Dennis on August 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Qualitative, descriptive books on physics, I think, are often unsatisfying because nothing suffices like actually doing the math to appreciate the full impact and enjoyement of what physics has to offer. Yet this hasn't prevented the likes of Einstein, Hawking, Feynman, et al, from attempting to do so. Perhaps for the professional physicist such works are interesting by virtue of their historical content, but the lay reader will likely find such works wordy and boring. This book by Heisenberg transcends this milieu however, with the author's shear brilliance and eloquence an admirable spectacle in and of itself. Heisenberg is a terribly smart fellow and that comes through thoughtfully.
This book reads like a collection of essays and, perforce, some chapters could probably be left unread without great harm. Chapter 7, 'the theory of relativity,' being a case in point. No, the real beauty of this book is not in its trenchant reflections on the mechanical behavior of matter, but more on its correlation with physics as a human endeavor, and the evolution of human thought in philosophical terms, as well as language and how it expresses ideas; these themes, philosphy and language, are artfully crafted and make this book significant, not the fact that we can make atom bombs or postulate a universe.
Heisenberg emphasizes the Copenhagen interpretation, which states that the observer effects the outcome of an experiment by the very act of having observed the experiment. This is of course true primarily in terms of atomic physics and not of macro events. For example, if you try to observe an electron you will have to use high energy equipment to do so, which will effect the behavior of the electron.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Heisenberg, the man who removed absolute destiny from science and replaced it with chance, eloquently attempts to unify the philosophies of Kant, Descartes, and Einstein with science in regards to the recent developments of Quantum Theory. From a historical and internal perspective, Heisenberg speaks directly to the the reader without the intellectual ego that often accompanies a man of his renowned stature.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on September 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is important because Heisenberg clearly explains why quantum mechanics was fatal for great philosophical theories, and more particularly, for logical positivism and Kant.
Logical positivism affirms that all knowledge is ultimately founded in experience. This led to a postulate concerning the logical clarification of any statement about nature. But since quantum theory such a postulate cannot be fulfilled.
Kant's a priori's like space and time are viewed totally differently since quantum theory. His law of causality is no longer true for the elementary particles, because we don't know the foregoing event accurately or this event cannot be found.
Heisenberg states that it will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at some absolute truth.
Naturally this book is not up to date. It doesn't speak about COBE or superstrings. But Heisenbergs explanation of quantum theory is second to none.
Quotable. After someone said that the quantum theory may be proved false, Bohr answered: 'We may hope that it will later turn out that sometimes 2 x 2 = 5, for this would be of great advantage for our finances'.
A great book.
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