Rise and Fall of Physical Theories

  • Peter MittelstaedtEmail author
Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 169)


Classical physics, which is assumed here as represented by classical mechanics, is usually considered as the correct physical theory of our ordinary everyday experience (OE). This experience refers to the dimensions and processes of the human life, to slow motions, to time intervals that are comparable with hours, days, and years etc. and to distances that correspond almost to the dimensions of human beings. The world as we know it through ordinary experience determines what we call intuitive or comprehensible. We do not want to begin with the meaning of the word “intuitive” and its history. Rather, this concept will find its bearing in ordinary experience (OE), which, as pre-scientific experience, precedes all scientific cognition. This vague sense of intuitive and comprehensible is not only used in popular science but also corresponds largely to the usage of the terms in the literature of modern physics. This does not rule out the possibility that individual physicists interested in fundamental questions have understood these concepts in a deeper sense and in line with the philosophical tradition. Such an interpretation, however, seems initially to have been limited to Quantum Mechanics and will therefore be omitted for the present purpose.


Quantum Mechanics Classical Mechanic Physical Theory Modern Physic Classical Physic 
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.


  1. Falkenburg, B. (2006). Functions of intuition in quantum physics. In E. Carson & R. Huber (Eds.), Intuition and the axiomatic method (pp. 267–292). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Huber, R. (2000). Einstein und Poincaré (pp. 267–273). Paderborn: Mentis.Google Scholar
  3. Kant, I. (1998). The critique of pure reason (P. Guyer & A. Wood, Trans., p. B600). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Könneker, K. (2001). Auflösung der Natur- Auflösung der Geschichte. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler.Google Scholar
  5. Mach, E. (1901). Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklung (4th ed.). Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus. English trans.: (1902). The science of mechanics (T. J. McCormack, Trans.). Chicago: Open Court.Google Scholar
  6. Newton, I. (1687). Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica. London: Streator.Google Scholar
  7. Poincare, H. (1898). La mesure du temps. Revue de metaphysique et de moral, VI, 1–13.Google Scholar
  8. Stachel, J. (1989). Quale cancone cantarono le sirene. In U. Curi (Ed.), L’opera di Einstein (pp. 21–37). Ferrara: Gabriele Corbino & Co.Google Scholar
  9. Vollmer, G. (2000). Was ist Naturalismus? In G. Keil & H. Schnädelbach (Eds.), Naturalismus (pp. 46–67). Frankfurt a. Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  10. Vollmer, G. (2007). Wie viel Metaphysik brauchen wir? In D. Westerkamp & Avd Lühe (Eds.), Metaphysik und Moderne (pp. 67–81). Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inst. Theoretische PhysikUniversität KölnKölnGermany

Personalised recommendations