Author: Tim Maudlin
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2012
Introduces non-physicists to core philosophical issues surrounding the nature & structure of space & time, & is also an ideal resource for physicists interested in the conceptual foundations of space-time theory. Provides a broad historical overview, from Aristotle to Einstein, & covers the Twins Paradox, Galilean relativity, time travel, & more.
This book presents the third edition (1920) of Moritz Schlick's introduction to the special and general theories of relativity, side-by-side with the English translation by Henry L. Brose, published that same year. It will be useful to students of physics and the history of science who wish to approach the literature in German directly, as well as students of German who are curious about the subject.
On April 6, 1922, in Paris, Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson publicly debated the nature of time. Einstein considered Bergson's theory of time to be a soft, psychological notion, irreconcilable with the quantitative realities of physics. Bergson, who gained fame as a philosopher by arguing that time should not be understood exclusively through the lens of science, criticized Einstein's theory of time for being a metaphysics grafted on to science, one that ignored the intuitive aspects of time. The Physicist and the Philosopher tells the remarkable story of how this explosive debate transformed our understanding of time and drove a rift between science and the humanities that persists today. Jimena Canales introduces readers to the revolutionary ideas of Einstein and Bergson, describes how they dramatically collided in Paris, and traces how this clash of worldviews reverberated across the twentieth century. She shows how it provoked responses from figures such as Bertrand Russell and Martin Heidegger, and carried repercussions for American pragmatism, logical positivism, phenomenology, and quantum mechanics. Canales explains how the new technologies of the period—such as wristwatches, radio, and film—helped to shape people’s conceptions of time and further polarized the public debate. She also discusses how Bergson and Einstein, toward the end of their lives, each reflected on his rival’s legacy—Bergson during the Nazi occupation of Paris and Einstein in the context of the first hydrogen bomb explosion. The Physicist and the Philosopher is a magisterial and revealing account that shows how scientific truth was placed on trial in a divided century marked by a new sense of time.
Author: Max Jammer
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2009-06-08
The concept of mass is one of the most fundamental notions in physics, comparable in importance only to those of space and time. But in contrast to the latter, which are the subject of innumerable physical and philosophical studies, the concept of mass has been but rarely investigated. Here Max Jammer, a leading philosopher and historian of physics, provides a concise but comprehensive, coherent, and self-contained study of the concept of mass as it is defined, interpreted, and applied in contemporary physics and as it is critically examined in the modern philosophy of science. With its focus on theories proposed after the mid-1950s, the book is the first of its kind, covering the most recent experimental and theoretical investigations into the nature of mass and its role in modern physics, from the realm of elementary particles to the cosmology of galaxies. The book begins with an analysis of the persistent difficulties of defining inertial mass in a noncircular manner and discusses the related question of whether mass is an observational or a theoretical concept. It then studies the notion of mass in special relativity and the delicate problem of whether the relativistic rest mass is the only legitimate notion of mass and whether it is identical with the classical (Newtonian) mass. This is followed by a critical analysis of the different derivations of the famous mass-energy relationship E = mc2 and its conflicting interpretations. Jammer then devotes a chapter to the distinction between inertial and gravitational mass and to the various versions of the so-called equivalence principle with which Newton initiated his Principia but which also became the starting point of Einstein's general relativity, which supersedes Newtonian physics. The book concludes with a presentation of recently proposed global and local dynamical theories of the origin and nature of mass. Destined to become a much-consulted reference for philosophers and physicists, this book is also written for the nonprofessional general reader interested in the foundations of physics.
This volume explores the inadequacies of the two standard conceptions of space or spacetime, substantivalism and relationism, and in the process, proposes a new historical interpretation of these physical theories. This book also examines and develops alternative ontological conceptions of space, and explores additional historical elements of seventeenth century theories and other metaphysical themes. The author first discusses the two main opposing theories of the ontology of space. One, known as substantivalism, proposes space to be an entity that can exist independently of material things. The other, relationism, contends that space is a relation among material things. Readers will learn about specific problems with this dichotomy. First, Newton and Leibniz are often upheld as the retrospective forerunners of substantivalism and relationism. But, their work often contradicts the central tenets of these views. Second, these theories have proven problematic when transferred to a modern setting, especially with regards to general relativity and the recent quantum gravity hypotheses. The author details an alternative set of concepts that address these problems. The author also develops a new classificational system that provides a more accurate taxonomy for the elements of all spatial ontologies. This classification obtains successful analogies between Newton, Leibniz, and other natural philosophers with contemporary physical theories.
Author: Milton K. Munitz
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 1990
In this work the distinguished philosopher Milton Munitz provides a lucid account of the chief empirical findings and theories of recent cosmology and a systematic assessment of their broader philosophical implications.
Die großen Fragen behandeln grundlegende Probleme und Konzepte in Wissenschaft und Philosophie, die Forscher und Denker seit jeher umtreiben. Anspruch der ambitionierten Reihe ist es, die Antworten auf diese Fragen zu präsentieren und damit die wichtigsten Gedanken der Menschheit in einzigartigen Übersichten zu bündeln. Im vorliegenden Band Physik beleuchtet Michael Brooks die oft verwirrenden Fragen dieser Disziplin, sei es zu Quantenphysik, Relativität oder der Natur der Realität. Die großen Fragen sind: Wozu ist Physik da?, Was ist Zeit?, Was geschah mit Schrödingers Katze?, Warum fällt der Apfel nach unten?, Sind feste Stoffe wirklich fest?, Warum gibt es nichts umsonst?, Ist letztlich alles Zufall?, Was ist Gottes Teilchen?, Bin ich einmalig?, Können wir durch die Zeit reisen?, Wird das Erdmagnetfeld verschwinden?, Warum ist E gleich mc2?, Verändert ein Blick das Universum?, Ist Chaos gleich Katastrophe?, Was ist Licht?, Geht es in der Stringtheorie um Bindfäden?, Warum gibt es überhaupt etwas?, Leben wir in einer Simulation?, Welche ist die stärkste Naturkraft?, Was ist das wahre Wesen der Realität?
Author: Roland Omnès
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2002
In this magisterial work, Roland Omnès takes us from the academies of ancient Greece to the laboratories of modern science as he seeks to do no less than rebuild the foundations of the philosophy of knowledge. One of the world's leading quantum physicists, Omnès reviews the history and recent development of mathematics, logic, and the physical sciences to show that current work in quantum theory offers new answers to questions that have puzzled philosophers for centuries: Is the world ultimately intelligible? Are all events caused? Do objects have definitive locations? Omnès addresses these profound questions with vigorous arguments and clear, colorful writing, aiming not just to advance scholarship but to enlighten readers with no background in science or philosophy. The book opens with an insightful and sweeping account of the main developments in science and the philosophy of knowledge from the pre-Socratic era to the nineteenth century. Omnès then traces the emergence in modern thought of a fracture between our intuitive, commonsense views of the world and the abstract and--for most people--incomprehensible world portrayed by advanced physics, math, and logic. He argues that the fracture appeared because the insights of Einstein and Bohr, the logical advances of Frege, Russell, and Gödel, and the necessary mathematics of infinity of Cantor and Hilbert cannot be fully expressed by words or images only. Quantum mechanics played an important role in this development, as it seemed to undermine intuitive notions of intelligibility, locality, and causality. However, Omnès argues that common sense and quantum mechanics are not as incompatible as many have thought. In fact, he makes the provocative argument that the "consistent-histories" approach to quantum mechanics, developed over the past fifteen years, places common sense (slightly reappraised and circumscribed) on a firm scientific and philosophical footing for the first time. In doing so, it provides what philosophers have sought through the ages: a sure foundation for human knowledge. Quantum Philosophy is a profound work of contemporary science and philosophy and an eloquent history of the long struggle to understand the nature of the world and of knowledge itself.
Author: Peter Unger
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2014-06-13
Peter Unger's provocative new book poses a serious challenge to contemporary analytic philosophy, arguing that to its detriment it focuses the predominance of its energy on "empty ideas." In the mid-twentieth century, philosophers generally agreed that, by contrast with science, philosophy should offer no substantial thoughts about the general nature of concrete reality. Leading philosophers were concerned with little more than the semantics of ordinary words. For example: Our word "perceives" differs from our word "believes" in that the first word is used more strictly than the second. While someone may be correct in saying "I believe there's a table before me" whether or not there is a table before her, she will be correct in saying "I perceive there's a table before me" only if there is a table there. Though just a parochial idea, whether or not it is correct does make a difference to how things are with concrete reality. In Unger's terms, it is a concretely substantial idea. Alongside each such parochial substantial idea, there is an analytic or conceptual thought, as with the thought that someone may believe there is a table before her whether or not there is one, but she will perceive there is a table before her only if there is a table there. Empty of import as to how things are with concrete reality, those thoughts are what Unger calls concretely empty ideas. It is widely assumed that, since about 1970, things had changed thanks to the advent of such thoughts as the content externalism championed by Hilary Putnam and Donald Davidson, various essentialist thoughts offered by Saul Kripke, and so on. Against that assumption, Unger argues that, with hardly any exceptions aside from David Lewis's theory of a plurality of concrete worlds, all of these recent offerings are concretely empty ideas. Except when offering parochial ideas, Peter Unger maintains that mainstream philosophy still offers hardly anything beyond concretely empty ideas.
Author: Lawrence Sklar
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date: 2014
This collection surveys two aspects of contemporary philosophy of science: the methods of physical science and crucial aspects of foundational theories of physics. Part 1 explores the methodological topics, scientific explanation, probabilistic explanation, laws of nature, interpretation of theories, the structure of physical theories, and evolution and revolution in scientific change. In part 2 the studies of foundational physics explore contemporary theories of space and time, quantum theories of fields, and statistical mechanics.