Disciplines

Continental Philosophy | Philosophy | Philosophy of Science | Physics | Quantum Physics

Abstract

In this article Heelan argues that the return to the concrete and empirical implied in Heisenberg's insight on the importance of observables in physics was not, however, in Heisenberg's case, accompanied by a thorough re-thinking of the rationalist presuppositions of classical physics. The effect on Bohr, however, was to lead him to a complete rejection of rationalism and to the adoption of the contrary extreme, empiricism. The profound – though largely implicit – cause of the disagreement between Bohr and Heisenberg as to the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics, was resolved in the sumnler of 1927, by the common acceptance of the philosophy of complementarity. This was based upon the acceptance of wave mechanics – though not of Schrödinger's interpretation of it – as an equally valid part of the quantum theory with matrix mechanics. A corollary of this was agreement about the complete equivalence of wave and particle representations of quantum phenomena. The latter was called wave-particle dualism or the Principle of Complementarity. The common acceptance of complementarity resulted in agreement as to the language in which quantum phenomena were to be described. In this chapter, we stated the essential propositions of the philosophy of complementarity concerning the nature and limits of human knowing, scientific method and the ontology of nature.