Foundations of Physics

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 1541–1560 | Cite as

Set theory and physics

  • K. Svozil


Inasmuch as physical theories are formalizable, set theory provides a framework for theoretical physics. Four speculations about the relevance of set theoretical modeling for physics are presented: the role of transcendental set theory (i) in chaos theory, (ii) for paradoxical decompositions of solid three-dimensional objects, (iii) in the theory of effective computability (Church-Turing thesis) related to the possible “solution of supertasks,” and (iv) for weak solutions. Several approaches to set theory and their advantages and disadvatages for physical applications are discussed: Canlorian “naive” (i.e., nonaxiomatic) set theory, contructivism, and operationalism. In the author's opinion, an attitude of “suspended attention” (a term borrowed from psychoanalysis) seems most promising for progress. Physical and set theoretical entities must be operationalized wherever possible. At the same time, physicists should be open to “bizarre” or “mindboggling” new formalisms, which need not be operationalizable or testable at the lime of their creation, but which may successfully lead to novel fields of phenomenology and technology.


Theoretical Modeling Lime Theoretical Physic Weak Solution Physical Application 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Svozil
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Theoretische PhysikUniversity of Technology ViennaViennaAustria

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