HAPSAT GRADUATE WORKSHOPS
Gary Graham will present: Kant, Heisenberg, and the Apple: The Metaphysics of Mediating Objects
Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - In-person event
12—1 PM - Room VC211
ABSTRACT: Heisenberg, faced with the perplexities arising from the development of quantum mechanics, viewed the interpretation of the experimental data to be a matter of great importance. This is unsurprising, given his philosophical (Platonic/Kantian) perspective on physics. He considered the epistemological and ontological challenges generated by quantum mechanics to comprise a ‘failure of the Kantian critique.’ Much of his writing is an effort to address this, which he saw as something of a scientific and philosophical crisis. More specifically, his work may be viewed as a reply to four questions, of which the last will be the special focus of my presentation:
Q1: How do we rehabilitate the Kantian critique?
Q2: What is the essence of matter?
Q3: How is it that there is such a profound duality in nature between the world of experience and the quantum world?
Q4: What exactly serves as a bridge between two seemingly incommensurable metaphysics (Newtonian mechanics and quantum theory)?
This last question may be stated more simply as follows: How is it possible to reconcile the world of experience with the discoveries of quantum mechanics, if we’re to take a realist perspective on the latter?
I show how Heisenberg’s response to Q4a entailed proposing a new ‘mediating object’ between our world and the underlying reality implied by quantum mechanics. This is the Heisenbergian ‘potentia,’ a concept he borrowed (and modified) from Aristotle. How well this served Heisenberg’s goal is discussed, followed by (time permitting) a counter-proposal of my own.
Wednesday, February 14, 2024, 12—1 p.m., Room VC211
Save the date for our upcoming session on March 13