The Philosophic Corruption of Physics
Aug 09, 1997
Just as capitalism-the legacy ofthe Founding Fathers could not survive without a rational ethics, modern physics––the legacy of Isaac Newton––could not survive without a rational metaphysics and epistemology. This course traces the steps by which bad philosophy ended the glorious era of physics that began with the Copernican Revolution. The story takes place mainly in Germany, beginning with Immanuel Kant. In the early nineteenth century, while the English and French were discovering the principles of electromagnetism and heat, the Germans were attempting to deduce physics from Kant's philosophy. The bankruptcy of this rationalist approach eventually led German physicists to positivism, the flip-side of Kant's coin. Mr. Harriman will discuss the positivist's attack on the conceptual foundation of physics, and other developments that culminated in the rationalism and subjectivism of relativity theory, and the rejection of causality in quantum theory. No specialized knowledge of physics is required .