Grete Hermann, Quantum Mechanics, and the Evolution of Kantian Philosophy

In Jeanne Peijnenburg & Sander Verhaegh (eds.), Women in the History of Analytic Philosophy (forthcoming)

Michael Cuffaro
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
This chapter is about Grete Hermann, a philosopher-mathematician who productively and mutually beneficially interacted with the founders of quantum mechanics in the early period of that theory's elaboration. Hermann was a neo-Kantian philosopher. At the heart of Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy lay the question of the conditions under which we can be said to know something objectively, a question Hermann found to be particularly pressing in quantum mechanics. Hermann's own approach to Neo-Kantianism was Neo-Friesian. Jakob Friedrich Fries, like Kant, had understood critical philosophy to be an essentially epistemic project. Fries departed from Kant in his account of the elements involved in our cognition. In this chapter it is discussed how, beginning from a neo-Friesian understanding of critical philosophy, Hermann is led to conclude that quantum mechanics shows us that physical knowledge is fundamentally split; that the objects of quantum mechanics are only objects from a particular perspective and in the context of a particular physical interaction. It will be seen how Hermann's solution to the problem of objectivity in quantum mechanics is a natural one from a neo-Friesian point of view, even though it disagrees with those offered by more orthodox versions of Kantian doctrine.
Keywords Grete Hermann  Quantum mechanics  Kant  Fries  Neo-Kantianism  Copenhagen interpretation
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Translation of Three Short Papers by Grete Hermann.Guido Bacciagaluppi - 2020 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 51 (4):615-619.

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