By Henry Margenau
This booklet is meant for individuals attracted to physics and its philosophy. should you regard physics as a vital part of recent tradition instead of basically a device for or battle. certainly this quantity is addressed to these scholars, academics and study employees who take pleasure in studying, instructing or doing physics, and are within the behavior of pausing infrequently to think of over key actual innovations and hypotheses and to wonder if got theories are as ideal as textbooks may have us think and, if now not, how they could be enhanced. Henry Margenau, lately retired from Yale college as Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and Philosophy, is crucial thinker of physics of his new release, and certainly probably the most eminent philosophers of technological know-how of our century. He brought and elucidated the concept of the correspondence rule. He claimed and confirmed, within the heyday of positivism, that physics has metaphysical presuppositions. He used to be the 1st to gain that quantum mechanics can do with out von Neumann's projection postulat- and that was once way back to 1936. He clarified the physics and the philosophy of Pauli's exclusion precept at a time whilst it appeared mysterious. He used to be the 1st physicist to post a philosophical paper in a physics magazine, which he did as early as 1941. He used to be additionally one of many infrequent scientists who proclaimed the necessity for a systematic method of price idea and ethics.
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Extra info for Physics and Philosophy: Selected Essays
We discover more and more phenomena, completely different in appearance, but related by the similarity of their causes. Our system of explanation preserves the continuity or relatedness of the causes; it comprises 12 CHAPTER 1 only symbols of such character that a transition from one to a related one corresponds to the step from one occurrence in nature to another one which has a similar cause. The situation reminds one indeed of the process which mathematicians call mapping. In choosing this process to illustrate the meaning of physical explanation I am fully conscious of the inadequacy of the use of pictures to represent abstract facts.
Again let us look to the kinetic theory for elucidation. To be more specific, let us consider a gas. Under certain controllable conditions it rises in temperature, that is, a change occurs that can be measured. " If the gas be enclosed in a vessel, another phenomenon may be observed and measured at the same time: that of increase in pressure. There is distinctly no similarity in the outward appearance of these two effects; they seem perfectly incoherent. Yet they have the same cause. The explanatory symbols, by their very reason for existence, must preserve the relatedness of the two events which nature obscures.
It may be remarked parenthetically that this same principle yields numerical and geometrical laws if both sets are coexistent. With more particular reference to physics the principle of causation may thus be stated: No matter at what time an experiment be performed, its result is the same if the original conditions are identical. Perfect identity of causal conditions can never be achieved. Hence, if the principle of consistency be regarded as an a posteriori datum it can be established only as an ideal absfraction from an approximating, ever recurring experience.