- Hardcover: 504 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st edition (October 3, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691119643
- ISBN-13: 978-0691119649
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,534,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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On Physics and Philosophy 1st Edition
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"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 Inside Flap
"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 ofInterpreting 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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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.
These notes are not necessarily a reflection of the above book,...
It seems reasonable to suppose that relative to 'Independent Reality', the a-priori intellectual faculties, of which the mind evolved to synthesize experience at the Macroscopic realm, are conceptual artifacts and are therefore effectively artificial as applied in synthesizing the Microscopic realm. So such concepts necessary for intuitive understanding,... locality, counterfactuality, space, time, separability, causality,... fail to consistently conform Reality at the quantum realm.
The revolution that was quantum mechanics, with respect to epistemological considerations, perhaps was in effect a physical rediscovery of the consequences of Kant's 'Copernican Revolution' in his 'Critique of Pure Reason'. Though I think Kant's reasoning was sound (I disagree that non-Euclidean geometries refute Kant, as the elements are the same, i.e. In general relativity, the tangent space to the (pseudo-)Riemann manifold in the limit is Euclidean (well, Minkowskian)), .... it is entirely necessary to reevaluate his core point in light of current understanding,... this B. D'Espagnat does quit well.
Abraham Pais, the great biographer and friend of Einstein, remarked that Bohr was the natural successor to Kant. Heisenberg developed a non-intuitive, purely operational approach, in matrix mechanics, while E. Schrödinger along with A. Einstein still expected 'Reality per se', to conform to intuitive principals. Bohr won this debate, and it was epistemologically based.
I see here an author, who is truly a physicist & philosopher.
I am really surprised at the writing of his book by Murray Gell-Mann (The Quark and the Jaguar: 1994), in which none of the author (d'Espagnat)'s book is referred to! Very probably, in the view of Gell-Mann the author's theory & philosophy is a "Flapdoodle." In this book the Bell Theorem plays an essential role; however, in Gell-Mann's view this theorem is the start of the very "Flapdoodle." What a different view between the two physicists!
Now, I recently posted my critical review of the book: Quantum Enigma: Physics encounters Consciousness by Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2012/ 2nd Ed.). If I understand correctly the book, though they refer to the Gell-Mann & Hartle's idea of reality, the authors do think the Bell Theorem is essential in understanding "what reality is."
And I think that: Quantum measurement problem might narrow the abysmal gap between "Physical Science" and "Psychical Research," which is the title of my review of the Rosenblum & Kuttner's book.
<Added on 25 Feb. 2014>
In chap. 18: Objects and Consciousness, the author critically review the "Identity Theory" (pp. 412-414). In the author's words the identity theory is defined as follows:
"The view here called, for brevity's sake, the "identity theory" consists in asserting that, in the last analysis, any genuine sensation--that is, any "becoming aware" and, by extension, perhaps even any thought--is finally identifiable to some material structure internal to or involving neurons. ... The thesis is supported by indirect convincing-sounding arguments, such as the fact that no established experimental facts show souls existing independently of bodies, and the observation that, to some extent, people's thoughts and desires may be changed at will from the outside by means of drugs. ..."
Now, my intention of adding this concerns the author's mentioned part that might support the identity theory: "The thesis is supported by indirect convincing-sounding arguments, such as the fact that no established experimental facts show souls existing independently of bodies,"...
I recently published the following technical paper in the Journal of Scientific Exploration:
Rebuttal to claimed refutations of Duncan MacDougall's experiment on human weight change at the moment of death. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 24, No.1, pp. 5 - 39, 2010.
Probably, the author knows or hears about the MacDougall's experiment, the result of which has never been confirmed independently by any scientist so far. Rather, the experiment had been negatively reviewed by a certain psychologist and some scientists without providing any scientifically sound analysis. However, in the published paper I critically reviewed the experiment, providing theoretical analyses based on classical physics, and concluded that the claimed refutations expressed in books or websites have no scientifically sound basis; MacDougall's result is still waiting for independent confirmations (or refutations) by scientists for these 107 years to make it an "established experimental fact" (or a "scientifically deleted folklore"). However, even if the experiment is positively confirmed in the near future, it does not necessarily confirm the "existence of souls independent of bodies"; rather it shows a violation of the cherished law of physics: the law of conservation of energy. That is, it shows that our physical dimension is not a closed system, but opens to some non-physical dimensions. If souls would exist in non-physical dimensions, they could not be directly detected through physical means, just like those data on "Reincarnation" compiled by the late Prof. Ian Stevenson.