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Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (Harper Perennial Modern Thought) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 8. Mai 2007

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“A giant of modern physics.” (New York Times)

“Philosophically, the implications of quantum mechanics are psychedelic. . . . [a] mind-expanding discovery.” (Gary Zukav, author of The Seat of the Soul)


Nobel Prize winner Heisenberg's classic account explains the central ideas of the quantum revolution and his celebrated Uncertainty Principle. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.

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Format: Taschenbuch
The German physician and philosopher Heisenberg counts together with the German Erwin Schrödinger as founder of the Quantum mechanics. In the year 1927 he formulated the uncertainty relation, German: "Unschärferelation" (also called indeterminacy principle) according to which place and impulse of a subatomic particle cannot be destined at the same time. For his quantum physical research he received in 1932 the Nobel prize of physics.

After the second World War Heisenberg became director of the Max-Planck-Institute. His "Einheitliche Theorie der Elementarteilchen" (unitary theory of elementary particles) from the year 1958 was called "world formula" (although that is just what it is not!) and strengthened Heisenbergs position as one of the most important representative of quantum physics.

In countless lectures and essays he disputed the philosophical implications of quantum physics, among others in "Quantentheorie und Philosophie", "Physik und Philosophie" and "Der Teil und das Ganze".
According to Heisenberg the whole thing is more than the summary of the parts. In this idealism is recognizable as to such a degree that it must be concluded to have created not the theory but vice versa the reality itself. And this would mean, that in the end all things that came into being must be traced back to an immaterial flow of information. But information is a spiritual phenomeneon. The magazine "Der SPIEGEL" called this "God in the quantum chaos", for according to Heisenberg:

"The quantum theory leaves no room for a totally objective description of nature... In the experiments of atomic procedures we have to do with material things and facts, with phenomenons so much real as any phenomenon in daily life.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 von 5 Sternen 47 Rezensionen
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen 4.5 Stars, Great for Philosophical Background and Quantum Theory 21. August 2012
Von Brian J. Hendricks - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Heisenberg's Physics and Philosophy is a rare book in that it addresses two interesting but difficult subjects. These being epistemology and quantum physics.

The nice thing about the book is that it has an easy to follow flow to it. As you read, you feel as if you are sitting inside of a lecture hall as Dr. Heisenberg delivers his remarks. This adds to greater accessibility to the material as it is presented. As you read, you must keep in mind that at the time period that Heisenberg was reflecting upon turned the old Newtonian approach to physics upon its head. This is the objective of the book. To show what has changed and what has stayed the same and how the old model will graft itself into this new understanding.

Heisenberg attempts to show from the time of preSocratic thought that humanity has hypothesized about the origins of the things that make up our world. The treatment of the preSocratics to the ancients and then the modern philosophers is worth picking up the book alone. After he discusses this material he then moves on to show the reader just how much physics at the quantum level as changed the nomenclature of scientific thought as much as it did through the progress of natural philosophy.

One of the nice things about the book is that even though it is a little dated, you feel as if you have been transported back to this time period where a lot of this stuff was just starting to happen. For instance, he mentions the beginning of the building of what is now the Cern reactor that helped to discover the Higgs Boson.

Lastly, his explanations of quantum physics are clear and more approachable than some other writers. One thing to keep in mind, quantum physics is not playing Scrabble on a Sunday afternoon. This is difficult material for everyone. This is what makes Heisenberg helpful, it is a bit easier to ascertain what it is that this discipline is all about.

All in all, a great book as a primer for the progress of natural philosophy and clear explanation of things at the quantum level.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating insights from a great physicist. 13. Februar 2009
Von Noumenon - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This little book is highly recommended to anyone interested in the philosophical implications of the new paradigms of physics of the twentieth century, ...relativity and quantum theory. It is especially fascinating to hear first hand from, Werner Heisenberg, having been a key player in the development of quantum mechanics and the Copenhagen interpretation.

Heisenberg, very nicely, presents a history of the development of physics, and philosophy as it relates to epistemology, in order to contrast such ideas with the strange reality of quantum theory.

Ancient Philosophy, and especially modern philosophy since Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, George Berkeley, culminating with Immanuel kant, ... has had a close relation with science in the analysis of scientific method indirectly through the study of the philosophy of knowledge, and here Heisenberg presents a wonderful overview.

Kant's transcendental deduction, that a-priori cognitive faculties determine the form of experience, and so the conditions of science, is here presented by Heisenberg with his amended argument that such a-priori conditions "can have only a limited range of applicability", something "Kant couldn't have foreseen". Heisenberg implies that this is where Kant "went wrong" in his analysis.

While its true that Kant's a-priori synthetic concepts of space, time, and causality, are inapt prior to the wave function collapse of quantum mechanics, and yet science is still able to make predictions about phenomenal reality, ... the fact is, no one 'understands' quantum mechanics apart from these conceptual forms!! That is after all the point of the Copenhagen interpretation, just do the math and never mind (visualize) what's going on in 'reality' in between observations.

This is already the essence of Kant's argument, that reality as it is in-itself, noumenal reality, is unknowable in principal, apart from the a-priori conditions of understanding due to the nature of mind. It seems that Heisenberg's reinterpretation of Kant's philosophy is redundant, and unnecessary.

In any event, this is a classic book which should be read by anyone interested in the modern physical sciences.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen PROBLEMS STILL NOT SOLVED 22. November 2010
Von Dr. Gerd Doeben-Henisch - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
On my personal journey reading 'classical' books from the past I have recently read Heisenberg's 'Physics and Philosophy' , originally published 1958. More than 50 years later this seems to be still a very remarkable book, with an easy reading and a scope of thinking which is rare today.


Heisenberg describes in his book the modern findings in physics in a language which does not presuppose any mathematics. And he describes these central findings in a way which is even clearer than written in the complex mathematical machinery of modern physics. The detection of the atomic structure of matter, the discrete structure of the energy levels, the velocity of light as the upper limit of the velocity of all moving bodies, the uncertainty in the description of the behavior of the atomic elements caused by the inevitable interaction between observer and observed object, the equivalence of matter and energy as well as the new structure of the physical space (non-euclidean) compared to the space of our perceptions, imaginations and the everyday space of daily actions. I can not remember any other book about physics which explains these developments in such a clearness and directness.


The book gains even more because Heisenberg compares the concepts of the modern physics with the main concepts of the old Greek philosophy as well as with philosophers like Descartes, Locke, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant. It is interesting to see that human kind was more than 2000 years ago capable to develop conceptual models of matter and nature which logically come very close to the modern concepts of the atom and its parts. At the same time it is interesting to see, that despite of this astonishing conceptual thinking the lack of proper measurement instruments and the lack of a sufficient mathematical language didn't allow better theories. Thus the development of new measurement instruments, new strong languages like modern mathematics as well as the right experiments appear to play a fundamental role in the construction of better world models; they are not 'outside' of the story but a central moment of it.


Heisenberg describes in length the insufficiency of language to describe the new findings in physics, especially those headed under the label of quantum mechanics, not an insufficiency only of the everyday language, but also an insufficiency of the mathematical language as such. While the concrete experiments are described with everyday language expressions and the terms of classical physics do the mathematical expressions describe formal structures like probability fields which encode expectations about the behavior of the quanta which as such are not concrete objects. From the point of theory there is no complete consistent solution conceivable for this problem, only 'practically' by relating concrete experimental data with the abstract mathematical models.


Heisenberg describes not only the development of modern physics but considers also the effect of this new world picture on the overall world view of mankind. He suggests that the physical world view before quantum theory was too narrow, not giving satisfying answers to central phenomena like biological life, the human mind or even the concept of human soul. Only quantum theory has -according to Heisenberg-- forced an opening of central concepts, has widened the concept of objectivity, has reinforced the awareness that the observer is a central moment of the observed object; there is no 'real objectivity'. Knowledge is always a construct under certain conditions where we have to 'extrapolate' the 'hidden' structures with some probability. With regard to biology he states explicitly "...we are obviously still very far from such a coherent and closed set of concepts for he description of biological phenomena. The degree of complication in biology is so discouraging that one can at present not imagine any set of concepts in which the connections could be so sharply defined that a mathematical representation could become possible". (PP79f)" If we go beyond biology and include psychology in the discussion then there can scarcely be any doubt but that the concepts of physics, chemistry, and evolution together will not be sufficient to describe the facts ..".(PP80)


If one wants to find weak points in the wonderful book, one can mention some. There is nearly no citation; this makes it difficult to follow the sources (if one wants). The look to philosophy is very narrow; many modern developments have not been cited, especially not the large amount of work in semiotics, philosophy of language, and formal logic. He mentions the limits of mathematical theories without citing the famous results of Goedel (1931) and Turing (1936/7). Or, he mentions the logic of quanta proposed by Weizsäcker which has the format of a type logic; this has been introduced by Whitehead-Russel already in 19010ff. Heisenberg argues for the limits of physics with regard to biology using arguments which resemble those of Schroedinger in his famous book of 1944, without mentioning Schrödinger. Despite all this, for me this is a very remarkable book, extremely clear, and very inspiring.


The book shows that central questions regarding man are not solved. The phenomenon of life is still the big challenge of science.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen His master's voice 13. Februar 2009
Von Guy Denutte - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Quantum science is without any doubt the greatest breakthrough of science in the 20th century. If you want to know what quantum physics is all about, read this fluently written introduction to quantum physics by one of the founders of the theory himself, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Werner Heisenberg. It is very uncommon that a great scientist is capable to transmit his profound knowledge in such an easy to read book, without a single formula. (For the ones interested in the mathematics behind this theory, he has also written another book : "The physical principles of the quantum theory"). In the world of today, Aristotle's deeper understanding that philosophy is the mother of science has been forgotten, something that Heisenberg not only recalls, but actively uses as a guiding principle throughout this book.

Quantum physics is important, since it produced a revolution within the materialistic perspective of classical physics. At elementary level, there is no longer a sharp distinction between matter and energy. Heisenberg says : "The elementary particles are certainly not eternal and indestructible units of matter, they can actually be transformed into each other. As a matter of fact, if two such particles, moving through space with a very high kinetic energy, collide, then many new elementary particles may be created from the available energy and the old particles may have disappeared in the collision. Such events have been frequently observed and offer the best proof that all particles are made of the same substance : energy."

This way he also solves the duality between particles and fields. If energy is the primary substance of the universe, then it will only depend on the experiment how we will observe this energy. "What we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning."
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A beautiful depiction of what physics is all about 1. August 2012
Von R. Olcott - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This is probably the most profound, deeply informed, yet most accessible book I've ever encountered. Should be required reading for every student entering grad school in physics, but also suitable for many of us who are curious about the underpinnings of modern science. No equations, no diagrams, but every concept is laid out so clearly that none are needed. Writing in the middle '50s, Heisenberg set forth the four great conceptual systems of modern physics (Newtonian mechanics, the theory of heat, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics) and pointed the way to a still-gestating fifth system that would include all of them. Unfortunately, he left us in 1976, just as physicists were beginning to see the interrelationship between entropy, information theory and the rest of the field. Who knows how much further along we'd be had we had the help of Heisenberg's genius and continued contributions in this area.
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