Foundations of Physics

, Volume 45, Issue 10, pp 1301–1310 | Cite as

Differentiation with Stratification: A Principle of Theoretical Physics in the Tradition of the Memory Art

  • Claudia PomboEmail author


The art of memory started with Aristotle’s questions on memory. During its long evolution, it had important contributions from alchemists, was transformed by Ramon Llull and apparently ended with Giordano Bruno, who was considered the best known representative of this art. This tradition did not disappear, but lives in the formulations of our modern scientific theories. From its initial form as a method of keeping information via associations, it became a principle of classification and structuring of knowledge. This principle, which we here name differentiation with stratification, is a structural design behind classical mechanics. Integrating two different traditions of science in one structure, this physical theory became the modern paradigm of science. In this paper, we show that this principle can also be formulated as a set of questions. This is done via an analysis of theories, based on the epistemology of observational realism. A combination of Rudolph Carnap’s concept of theory as a system of observational and theoretical languages, with a criterion for separating observational languages, based on analytical psychology, shapes this epistemology. The ‘nuclear’ role of the observational laws and the differentiations from these nucleus, reproducing the general cases of phenomena, reveals the memory art’s heritage in the theories. Here in this paper we argue that this design is also present in special relativity and in quantum mechanics.


Epistemology of physics Observation Memory art 



The author would like to thank Xander Giphart, Isabela Pombo-Geertsma and David Costa for discussions on the topics developed here.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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