History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Magee on Kant to Schopenhauer

April 7th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Nk’s comment and link to this book is worth advancing to a post: in my use of Kant in WHEE in the period about 1998 when I first started a section called ‘Kant’s Challenge’ (the original in the first edition was one paragraph) I began to consider how to make Kant comprehensible: answer, use the last half of his first critique, skipping the early chapters on space and the transcendental deduction. Many have always recommended starting with the last half of CPR with its antinomies, and Bryan Magee adopted precisely this approach and his book here is especially right in the way it starts with a the portrait of a child coming on the antinomies while going to sleep at night.

The ‘dialectic’ in CPR is relevant to the study of physics and it is remarkable to see how many books physicists (or should I chortle ‘string theorist’?) have written recently in complete naivete about these antinomies. In a way that is good: innocently stumbling into the antinomies is now the fate of just these physicists, and the brouhaha of discovering antinomial reality should prove interesting. We will discuss a current example, Something from Nothing: Krauss, a fascinating book, whatever the back and forth ‘howls of protest’ from opposite camps in the ‘new atheism’ debate.
Many fail to see the influence of Schopenhauer in the period after 1870> Hartmann, Freud, Tolstoy (the young novelist’s interest in Schopenhauer is lost in the later image we have of Tolstoy), and many others, including physicists like Schrodinger.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 NK // Apr 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I find it odd that contemporary scientists (in this case, Smolin and Woit) seem unaware of the Kantian perspective which transcends and subsumes both of their viewpoints:

    “On the third hypothesis, about the nature of mathematics and its relationship to physics, I just fundamentally and radically disagree. For a shorter version of Smolin’s argument, see this essay, which he has recently submitted to the FQXI essay contest. I’ve been writing something about how I see the topic, will blog about it here very soon. What I’m writing isn’t a response to Smolin’s arguments, but a positive argument for the unity of math and physics at the deepest level.”


  • 2 NK // Apr 16, 2015 at 11:50 am

    More on Woit’s viewpoint:

    “As for the question on the PBS site:

    Is math a human invention or the discovery of the language of the universe?

    the answer is the latter.”


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