Metaphysical Implications of the Quantum Theory

  • Neal Grossman
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 132)


According to Arthur Danto1 one of the distinguishing features of philosophy is that, unlike any other discipline, questions about its own nature are internal to the discipline; questions like ‘What is a philosophical question?’ and ‘What is philosophy?’ are themselves philosophical questions. Conceptions of the scope and nature of philosophy have varied markedly throughout the history of philosophy, and vary today from one ‘school’ to the next. The conception of the nature of philosophy naturally affects the way philosophy is done, which of course affects the content of philosophy. Hence, in order to appreciate the content of any philosopher’s writings it is important to understand his general attitude towards philosophy and how the content is structured by that attitude. Reichenbach is exceptionally clear about his attitude towards philosophy:

I do not believe that there are philosophical questions as such, exempt from scientific treatment. If philosophy is to deal with problems of the structure of the world, it should abandon the idea of deriving this structure from an intuition alleged to be based on eternal truths. The philosophical truths of yesterday have become the errors of today. The philosopher who wants to contribute towards making the universe intelligible can aid the physicist only in searching for the correct form of a question, but not in searching for the answer. That is to say, his contribution will consist in a logical analysis of the problems which separate the physical content of a theory from the additions occurring in the form of definition, and which clarifies the meanings of terms instead of prescribing the ways of thought. (Italics mine.)


Interference Pattern Conceptual Structure Physical Situation Philosophical Question Logical Empiricist 
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  1. Hooker, Clifford A, ‘The Nature of Quantum Mechanical Reality’, in Paradigms and Paradoxes (ed. by Colodny), p. 181.Google Scholar
  2. Feinberg, G., ‘Philosophical Implications of Contemporary Particle Physics’, in Paradigms and Paradoxes (ed. by Colodny).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neal Grossman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Chicago CircleUSA

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