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"Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science" by Werner Heisenberg

In-depth explanation talking about the role of Physics in a philosophical sense.

I mentioned before how I thought that physicists often scoffed at philosophers, not really needing them when their researches and their experiments prove otherwise. As Quantum Theory was born, things didn't seem the way they normally were as behaviors of particles don't comply with the laws of Mathematics and Logic. It was then Physics needed the wisdom and interpretation of Philosophy to define what makes the action of a particle the way it is. Never assume you need something as there comes a time when you'll need it, huh?

Written by the physicist himself, Werner Heisenberg, he goes all out talking and interpreting what the notion of quantum physics is and what its underlying focus overall. Making brief mentions of philosophers René Descartes and Immanuel Kant, Heisenberg discusses much about their philosophical points of view into the quantum physical realm. The part where he talks about the particles and its "notion" was the part I was waiting for, but there wasn't much a clear-cut stance on what makes an atom behave the way it is. I wanted to know why, despite its integration of the mathematical disciplines of Statistics and Probability used. Perhaps, we may never know the answer, or we do but it's not clear, but Heisenberg briefly brought that thought up. Throughout the book, it was more discussions on Philosophy and what physicists look for during rh aftermath of their experiments and theorizing.

I felt the book was more of a conversation-like, overview of the partnership of physics and philosophy, and not much really diving in to what makes physics the area of science that defines the world and the Universe, composing physical theories and laws. There is also a mention as to what comprises an experiment to become a theory, and what makes that physical formulation into a law.

A tid bit dry at times, Heisenberg brings up the cruciality of physics needing philosophy, like it needs mathematics, to really open up to what the reality of our place of existence is, and why the laws recorded and composed shows that Nature obeys such a perplexing phenomenon.

Not too bad of a read, as I feel this was an overview than a thesis by the main man himself. I would've liked to read more on the discussion and bringing in philosophers more of their input in defining the physical science. I would've liked to see the looks on the philosophers' faces when they hear first hand on the account of the thought experiment of Schrödinger's Cat.





  • Great take on the connection of Physics and Philosophy.
  • Reads like a conversation.
  • May be too deep a subject for the average person.
  • Writing gets a little mixed up.
85% (B)
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Title Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science
Author(s) Werner Heisenberg
Description With A New Introduction by David Lindley


The seminal work by one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, Physics and Philosophy is Werner Heisenberg's concise and accessible narrative of the revolution in modern physics, in which he played a towering role. The outgrowth of a celebrated lecture series, this book remains as relevant, provocative, and fascinating as when it was first published in 1958. A brilliant scientist whose ideas altered our perception of the universe, Heisenberg is considered the father of quantum physics; he is most famous for the Uncertainty Principle, which states that quantum particles do not occupy a fixed, measurable position. His contributions remain a cornerstone of contemporary physics theory and application.
Dedication --
ISBN 978-0-06-120919-2
Book Dimensions Width: 5.25″ (5 1/4″)
Height: 8″
Depth: 0.5″ (½″)
Page Count 256
Contents Introduction by David Lindley, An Old and a New Tradition, The History of Quantum Theory, The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, Quantum Theory and the Roots of Atomic Science, The Development of Philosophical Ideas since Descartes in Comparison with the New Situation in Quantum Theory, The Relation of Quantum Theory to Other Parts of Natural Science, The Theory of Relativity, Criticism and Counterproposals to the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory, Quantum Theory and the Structure of Matter, Language and Reality in Modern Physics, The Role of Modern Physics in the Present Development of Human Thinking, NOBEL LECTURE: The Development of Quantum Mechanics
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Published May 08, 2007 (originally published in 1958, previous edition published in 1962 by Harper Torchbooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
Publisher Harper Perennial Modern Thought (www.harperperennial.com)
Copyright Copyright © 1958 by Werner Heisenberg. Introduction copyright © 2007 by David Lindley.
Printed in United States of America
Book Format Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Quoted Reviews "A giant of modern physics." — New York Times

"Heisenberg's famous Uncertainty Principle had a profound effect on philosophical concepts about the physical world. . . . The revolution in modern physics is the subject of this important book, of which the author is no less an authority than the man who was the leading figure in this revolution" — New York Times Book Review

"Once again, Brian shows there's much more to professional sports than meets the eyes (or ears), He digs so deep that he'll need a bodyguard!" Sam Bourquin, Host, WHBC, Ohio
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Other Introduction by David Lindley, author of Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science

Includes Heisenberg's Nobel lecture and the essay "Science and Religion"

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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