History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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NK comment: physics and transcendental idealism

January 21st, 2015 · 1 Comment

Good comment from NK on physics and ‘transcendental idealism’. The work by Jim Baggott starts with a direct statement (unwitting or not) of the phenomenal/noumenal distinction. I think that this issue is long overdue. But it is also true that TI is not yet a fully developed subject: Schopenhauer was the last to really work on the basic core of ideas. Nietzsche led people away here by reducing ‘will’ to ‘will to power’, completely confusing TI. Btw, Schrodinger was a student of Schopenhauer.
Transcendental idealism has a number of severe difficulties: the place of the observer is extreme and in some contexts absurd. But the trend in physics itself has been to start to analyze the observer in the context of cosmic evolution.


NK // Jan 18, 2015 at 8:41 am
My feeling is that Bohr thought the most deeply about this issue. I think he was misunderstood as supporting idealism when I really think his views were closer to transcendental idealism. The concepts of physics only gain traction within certain contexts and domains, but, as for whatever Being is in itself, we can never grasp it.

Our own technology seems to hint at this. When we perceive phenomena from one angle, we can construct technology based on Newtonian mechanics; when we perceive it from another angle, we can construct technology based on QM. None of the theories are True with a capital “T” of phenomena in and of themselves.

2 nemo // Jan 19, 2015 at 10:52 am

The issue of transcendental idealism and modern physics is a sleeper issue that conventional physics won’t tackle

3 nemo // Jan 20, 2015 at 7:24 am

Farewell to Reality by Jim Baggott has a direct (and unwitting) statement of this…can’t find my copy…will find the material later.

Tags: General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 nemo // Jan 21, 2015 at 12:37 pm


    Check out Baggott’s Farewell to Reality

    Here’s one quote from the book. Stunning, in fact I have to wonder if he isn’t deliberately citing TI folks, like Kant…

    The Reality Principle Reality is a metaphysical concept, and as such it is beyond the reach of science. Reality consists of things-in-themselves of which we can never hope to gain knowledge. Instead, we have to content ourselves with knowledge of empirical reality, of things-as-they-appear or things-as-they-are measured. Nevertheless, scientific realists assume that reality (and its entities) exists objectively and independently of perception or measurement. They believe that reality is rational, predictable and accessible to human reason.

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