From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Jan 03 2006 - 15:36:03 EST
Callari wrote: in my understanding, the notion of objectivity that the critics of postmodernism seem (to me) to be using is/may-be untenable (or questionable) even when it comes to nature. I am referring here not only to Heisenberg's original formulation of the uncertainty principle (that you can know either the position of a particle or its direction, but not both) but also to lots of other experiments/theories since then that seem to question the very independence of matter from thought ( a recent article in the science section of the December 27 New York Times, "Quantum trickery: testing Einstein's Strangest Theory," outlines the theories and experiments). In practice, scientists have chosen to ignore this, but it seems to me that the existence of these theories/experiments undermines any philosophical defense of something "real" in the objectivist (mind independent) terms that I have been discussing ------------------------ I assume that you are referring here to two things 1. The so called collapse of the wave function on observation. 2. Bells inequality and the Einsteing Podolsky Rosenberg gedanken experiment. The uncertainty relation of Heisenberg, otherwise known as the quantum of action has little to do with the question of the relation between the thought and reality. It only pertains to the limits to which the abstraction of real numbers can be used to describe the states of physical systems. The collapse of the wave function is something that only occurs within the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum measurement. This Copenhagen interpretation was itself the consequence of the Machist/instrumentalist epistemology current in early 19th century physics. As such idealist's are simply re-discovering their epistemological premises filtered through the writings of Bohr. If one adopts the interpretations put forward by either Everett, Boehm, Deutsch or Huw Price, it becomes evident that there is no necessary subjective element in quantum measurement. The EPR experiment and Bells inequality on the other hand do have considerable philosophical implications. In particular these relate to the time symmetric nature of causality and the illusory nature of subjective action/free will.
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