The Second Physics and Philosophy Meeting

Franjo Sokolić

Why $\Phi \& \Phi$?

This Meeting is organized with the aim to develop the dialogue between natural sciences and philosophy. Unfortunately, there is generally a lack of contacts in this sense, and in our country particularly. This has negative consequences on the general attitude of both, natural scientists and philosophers. They do not see what would be the benefit of their acquaintance with the other discipline. Scientists and the students of science perceive philosophy as of no bearing on their own work and interests. On the other side, philosophers and those interested in philosophy perceive natural science as too technical, and of no importance for their general worldview. This is in contradiction with a long tradition in which sciences emanated from philosophy. The effort of specialisation in this reductionist paradigm has as a side product the loss of the global view.

There is an immense progress in science in the last century, which was not followed by an adequate dialogue with philosophy. Some modern philosophers developed even an antiscientific attitude, which is quite common among philosophy students. This situation may be changed by proposing curricula which combines humanistic and scientific subjects. Probably the educational system in USA is the one which goes further in that sense than those in Europe.

After a century of self-confidence in physical science it is the moment when its critical analysis is needed, and the judgement of its achievements and drawbacks. This is particularly true for its most outstanding theory, quantum mechanics, to which is principally dedicated this Meeting.

Philosophical thinking emanated from an effort to understand the world and the position of the man in that world. It was grounded on the belief that humans are able, by their rationality to capture the essence of it. The following step was based on the conviction that only by observing the world and experimenting on it, we may understand its functioning. This approach was the basis of the modern science. It was founded on the idea of causality. The singular event in that development is the appearance of the quantum theory. Although existing for already more than hundred years it is still to find its right place in the human adventure of understanding the world. The whole construction of the classical science, based on causality, has fallen apart under the attack of the quantum theory. Most of the physicists agree with the statement that they do not understand the quantum world, and that the intellectual adventure is far from being finished. On the other hand, the interest of philosophers for it was quite limited, probably due to the intrinsic difficulties of the whole field. One of the principal obstacles was its high degree of mathematisation. Mathematics is playing the principal role in physics and it may be said that it is the only language in which the quantum theory may be correctly expressed, because any expression in an ordinary language is not more than a metaphor.

Could a common effort of physicists and philosophers help to do some progress in this domain?

Franjo Sokolić, 2013.