About the Book
The present book is a collection of eight texts which were presented in
an abridged version at the meeting Physics & Philosophy organized by
the University of Split on the July 8th and 9th 2013. The intention
of the meeting was to establish and foster a dialogue between natural
sciences and philosophy, something which is still in its seminal form in
Croatia. The lack of a proper dialogue has negative consequences on
mutual perception of natural scientists and philosophers alike. Often it
is the case that not only students but also established natural scientists
perceive philosophy as of no relevance on their own work and professional
interests. On the other hand, philosophers and those interested in
philosophy often see natural sciences as too technical, and of no use for
their enquiries. The mutual lack of interest is in contradiction with the
long tradition of European education in which natural sciences emanated
from philosophy. Moreover, philosophical thinking is a never-ending
effort to understand the world and the position of human beings in it.
It was grounded in the belief that humans are able, by their rationality,
to capture the essence of the world. The following steps were based on
the conviction that only by observing the world and experimenting with
it, we may understand its functioning. This approach was the basis of
the modern science whose one of the most important element is the
concept of causality.
One of the crucial moments in the development of natural sciences
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. Under the influence of the quantum
theory, one of the main pillars of classical science, causality, has been
put into question. Today most of the physicists agree with the statement
that they do not understand the quantum world in its entirety. 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 mathematization. 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.
Although there is an immense progress in science in the last century,
it was not followed by an adequate development in philosophy - inasmuch
as it can be spoken about progress in philosophy. Some modern
philosophers developed even an antiscientific attitude, which is quite
common among students of philosophy. This situation may be changed
by proposing curricula which combine humanistic and scientific subjects.
Could a common effort of physicists and philosophers help to do
some progress in this domain? After a century of self-confidence in
physical science, it is the moment when its critical analysis is needed,
and as well as the judgment of its achievements and drawbacks. This is
particularly true for its most outstanding theory, quantum mechanics,
to which the meeting in Split in 2013 was principally dedicated. Meanwhile,
there are ever louder voices coming from both sides advocating
the necessity of mutual interest and understanding.
The papers collected in this book reflect some of the above-mentioned
problems and thus aim at contributing to bridge the gap between
natural scientists and philosophers.
We would like to thank Filip Grgić, Tvrtko Jolić and Vladimir Paar
for their helpful comments and suggestions.