Identity versus determinism: Émile Meyerson׳s neo-Kantian interpretation of the quantum theory

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:33-49 (2014)
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Abstract

Despite the praise his writing garnered during his lifetime, e.g., from readers such as Einstein and de Broglie, Émile Meyerson has been largely forgotten. The rich tradition of French épistémologie has recently been taken up in some Anglo-American scholarship, but Meyerson—who popularized the term épistémologie through his historical method of analyzing science, and criticized positivism long before Quine and Kuhn—remains overlooked. If Meyerson is remembered at all, it is as a historian of classical science. This paper attempts to rectify both states of affairs by explicating one of Meyerson׳s last and untranslated works, Réel et déterminisme dans la théorie quantique, an opuscule on quantum physics.I provide an overview of Meyerson׳s philosophy, his critique of Max Planck׳s interpretation of quantum physics, and then outline and evaluate Meyerson׳s neo-Kantian alternative. I then compare and contrast this interpretation with Cassirer׳s neo-Kantian program. Finally I show that, while Meyerson believes the revolutionary new physics requires "profoundly" modifying our conception of reality, ultimately, he thinks, it secures the legitimacy of his thesis: that science seeks explanations in the form of what he calls "identification." I hope my research will enable a more general and systematic engagement with Meyerson׳s work, especially with a view to assessing its viability as a philosophical method today.

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Citations of this work

Explicating Meyerson: The Critique of Positivism and Historical Épistémologie.M. Anthony Mills - 2015 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5 (2):318-347.

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References found in this work

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
Critique of pure reason.Immanuel Kant - 2007 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late modern philosophy: essential readings with commentary. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 449-451.
Einstein, Meyerson and the role of mathematics in physical discovery.Elie Zahar - 1980 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 31 (1):1-43.

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