Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker: Major Texts in Philosophy by Michael Drieschner

By Michael Drieschner

This publication offers a suite of texts via the German thinker and physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1912-2007), to be used in seminars on philosophy, in general epistemology and the philosophy of physics or foundations of quantum mechanics, but additionally for classes on German philosophy of the 20 th century or the philosophy of technological know-how. such a lot texts seem in English for the 1st time. Weizsäcker turned recognized via his works in physics, later turning into popular as a thinker and an analyst of latest tradition and politics. He labored intensively on initiatives for the prevention of nuclear warfare and for peace commonly. – Texts approximately classical philosophy are integrated in addition to on good judgment, at the philosophy of biology and at the philosophy of arithmetic, on “death” in addition to on “power”.

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Then came new measurements of the earth’s diameter, and thereby of the distance to the moon, and with the new, improved data it turned out that Newton’s calculation was exactly right. Only at that point did he dare to return to his old problem, which then led him to the formulation of the general law of gravity. What had happened? Newton had the correct thought, we might say the ingenious thought, from the first. But he was so deeply steeped in the empirical thinking of the new age that even a small discrepancy between experience and the deductions from his thought prompted him to reject the thought in its entirety.

It was an assertion which had experience in mind, which dared prophesy that this particular experience would turn out not to be an experience. It is thus unclear what ‘experience’ really means, and when a supposed experience is actually an experience. Physics is based on this. It is based on empirical knowledge which can again and again be subjected to the criticism that it is not empirical knowledge after all. Whoever fails to recognize this structure of our science does not understand what experience and empirical science really mean.

After all, it could have turned out that observations stimulate all sorts of ideas, but that none of these ideas enables us to transform the world. Intellectual systems based upon delusion do exist, but most of them betray their delusory character by coming to grief. Delusions are dangerous if they contain a grain of truth and therefore do not come to grief immediately. Could it be that physics is such a delusion? But then the question of how a delusion containing a grain of truth can possibly exist remains unanswered.

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