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Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,429 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
The seminal work by one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, Physics and Philosophy is Werner Heisenberg's concise and accessible narrative of the revolution in modern physics, in which he played a towering role. The outgrowth of a celebrated lecture series, this book remains as relevant, provocative, and fascinating as when it was first published in 19 ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1958)
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Feb 11, 2016 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Really, the title should have warned me that I was unlikely to get along with this book - but it doesn't actually say, Physics and Metaphysics. I have very little time for metaphysics; it's day is long since past (couple of millenia, at least) and it is really only of historical interest to those concerned with understanding nature. Far too much of the book is spent on either; comparing quantum mechanics (QM) with Western metaphysics or pondering unanswerable conund
Austin Wright
Aug 22, 2012 Austin Wright rated it really liked it

Physics and Philosophy by Werner Heisenberg Review

Physics and Philosophy is a book published in 1962 by Werner Heisenberg, a “giant of modern physics”, about the theory of Quantum Mechanics and its philosophical implications. This book is certainly best read with prior knowledge of some classical and some quantum physics. I actually read it knowing little or nothing about quantum physics, and the parts that described in detail the physics seemed technical and hard to understand, yet still i coul
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jul 05, 2012 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Heisenberg the famous Nobel Prize winner takes us through the building up of our current understanding of Quantum Reality and the physics that lead up to this. He gives a good discussion of the Uncertainty principle of which he is so famous for and how this will impact the future of physics and how we see the world. The title is misleading however, don't expect much philosophy out of this book, and of course it was written when many ideas of modern physics were not even hardly fleshed out yet. I ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Martina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: physics, philosophy
This has got to be one of the most singular reading experiences ever. Ever. Heisenberg's book is so unusual, refreshing and unique - I'm not even sure on which shelf to put it. The funny thing is, this book is not so much about physics, or about philosophy, for that matter. Perhaps a more apt title would be The life and times of Werner H. It reads like a novel, and, in a way, it is a novel. I would call it a "novelized autobiography", for Werner talks about his life, his work, his thoughts in a ...more
Jun 13, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some Knots Have Knotted Limbs

Toward the end of Physics and Philosophy Werner Heisenberg presciently mentions the incompatibility of quantum mechanics with relativity and the need for coherent concepts that allow for both theories without mathematical inconsistencies. Today unified field theories of quantum gravity that attempt to reconcile quantum mechanics with relativity are being explored by physicists in proposals like string theory. Heisenberg also mentions that the physicists of his time w
Mengsen Zhang
ok. it's a great book. I'm giving three stars based on my personal experience with this book-- I do not fully understand his composition of this book. I have to ignore many passages to have a holistic impression of what he's arguing about.
Based on what I understand, I would give this book another name: "Language and Dispute: the evolution of human knowledge". I would say it's more about language and reality rather than physics and philosophy. The most charming part of this book to me, is his ana
Feb 15, 2009 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics, philosophy
This is really a book about physics that only lightly touches on philosophy. A good reason to read it would be to understand why it is that 20th century physics totally changed the world, something that I think is generally forgotten these days in spite of our (ab)use of technology, the prodigal wunderkind of the advances in science over the last 200 years or so. The thing to remember about Heisenberg's book is that it was written at the height of the Cold War, and therefore beneath the shadow o ...more
Feb 04, 2015 Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

الكتاب يتكلم بشكل عام عن النظريتين اللتان أحدثتا قفزة في فهمنا للطبيعة، وهما النظرية النسبية ونظرية الكم.

ويبين ارتباط الأفكار الفلسفية للفلاسفة بالفيزياء من ناحية أن الفلاسفة أتوا بأفكار ساهمت في تطور العلوم وأخرى وقفت عائق لتطورها، كما أنه من الممكن النظر إلى الأفكار الفلسفية القديمة من منظار الفيزياء الحديثة بحيث تصبح تلك الأفكار الفلسفية متوافقة مع الفيزياء الحديثة.

ثم يتحدث الكتاب عن اللغة وكونها سببت سوء فهم كبير في فهم النظريتين، وأنها احتاجت للتطور لكي تستخدم مصطلحاتها
Hussain Ali
Apr 13, 2015 Hussain Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
قد لا يضيف إلى معلوماتك في الفلسفة والفيزياءالشيء الكثير، إلا أنه حتمًا سيوضح لك الرابط بينهما، ويضع لك الأفكار بترتيب منقطع النظير ليشرح لك تطور تصورنا عن المادة من التفكير المجرد إلى نموذج الذرة الحالي. كما أنه أوضح دور الفلسفة في بناء النماذج العلمية عن الزمان والمكان والذرة وغيرهم، فإنه يبدع في تبيين الدور الذي لعبته الفيزياء في تطور الفكر البشري.
Asmaa M
Aug 09, 2016 Asmaa M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب مُهمّ جِدّ.
حاول فيه هايزنبرغ أن يربط بين الفيزياء -خاصة الحديثة- والفلسفة.
قام هايزنبررغ بكتابة تقدِيم تارِيخي لنظريّة الكمّ وبشرح مُستضيف حولها وبإعطاء التّفسِير الكوبنهاجني لها، كما ركّز كثِيرا على شرح النّظريّة النّسبية لآينشتاين... كان من المُهمّ أن يقُوم بشرح النّظريّتين لكي يفهم القارِئ الفُصول التّي ربط بِها الفيزياء بالفلسفة.

بالنّسبة للفُصول المُرتبطة بالفلسفة كانت -برأيي- هي الأهم.
الفصل4: نظريّة الكم وبدايات النّظرية الذّريّة.
تحدّث فيه عن مفهوم المادة والذّرة في الفلسفة اليونانيّة و
Daniel Prasetyo
May 08, 2012 Daniel Prasetyo rated it it was amazing
The essence of quantum physics from one of it's founder. Mind blowing..
Mesbah Khandan
Jul 15, 2016 Mesbah Khandan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
در حال حاضر کتاب نایابیست؛اتفاقی در بساط دستفروشی در حوالی میدان انقلاب یافتمش

سطر به سطرش برام ارزش زیادی داشت

اثری دست اول در تاریخ و فلسفهی فیزیک محسوب میشه

از اونجایی که رویکرد هایزنبرگ در مواجهه با فیزیک جدید کاملا عکس اینتشین و تا حدی ماکسپلانک میباشد و من بیشتر با نظرات آن دو آشنا بودم، مطالب این کتاب دید متفاوتی نسبت به تئوریهای نسبیت و کوانتوم و نسبت و ربطِ آنها با مبانی معرفتی مدرنیته و فلسفهی جدید به من داد
Dec 06, 2015 Tom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is important to read to the philosophy of a scientific theory from the originator of that theory. Here Heisenberg certainly delivers an important philosophy of quantum physics, clearly (at least, semi-clearly) articulating the Copenhagen interpretation.

He notes the intertwining of epistemology and ontology in quantum physics, where the nature of a thing is defined through our observation of that thing, and is then restricted by our knowledge. And quantum physics sets a restriction on our kn
Feb 20, 2014 Rama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Existence and physical reality according to physicist Werner Heisenberg

At the turn of 20th century when quantum physics was born; the founding fathers of this scientific revolution were thinking deeply about the philosophical consequences of the new physics in terms of existence and physical reality (ontology). The reality perceived through the laws of classical physics provided strong challenges to quantum reality and human knowledge of quantum physical concepts (epistemology). In addition, the
Brent Hametner
Apr 24, 2016 Brent Hametner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you take your time with this book and take good notes and review those notes, this book will transcend physics and philosophy. Sometimes when discussing engineering or physics it's easy to get bogged down on the details of one particular area, but after reading Heisenberg describe the relationships between Newtonian mechanics, the theory of heat, electricity and magnetism, and quantum mechanics, I have a much better understanding of how to understand what to even work on in the first place. U ...more
Folkert Wierda
Jun 29, 2016 Folkert Wierda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was first published in my birth year. Much has happened since. However, to read an explanation of the philosophical implications of our current "understanding" of the quantum world by one of the originators of the Copenhagen interpretation is invaluable, as this interpretation is still the dominant one today. Heisenberg discusses the problems with the "hidden variables" interpretation, though at the time of his writing the conclusive Bell argumentation was still in the future. Also the ...more
Gives a review of the progress of physics in the 20th century, and explains the consequences of the new ideas. Also, he writes about the relationship between physics, chemistry, biology and religion.
Manuel Crespo-Rodríguez
It's a book about how changes found in modern physics gives a paradigm change to the understanding of philosophy.

--Physics and Philosophy
Ege Özmeral
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
About 400 years have passed since the dawn of the scientific method. Is physics coming to an end? Are we doomed to live in a weird reality without a fundamental understanding, as suggested by relativity and quantum mechanics?

The Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, as has been called, explains the results of quantum mechanics as follows. Take a particle, an electron. From a classical point of view, when we are not observing the electron, it should still exist and have a certain posit
Page Quinton
Heisenberg's historical account of the progression of thought in both physics and philosophy operates, at least in my eyes, as a means to illustrate his understanding of what exactly science is. The information presented in reference to the historical developments in both science (of course most notably physics, given the topic of the text) and philosophy tended towards that of an introductory text. Though for me this added a repetitive nature to some of the essays, it allows the text to be more ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Mangoo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is Heisenberg's main account of the development of the quantum revolution and its, in some sense, standard interpretation (which he built in the Copenhagen infatuation). He presents the implications and the connections of the advent of quantum mechanics, and to a lesser extent of relativity theory, to modern thought and society. He is almost obsessed with the observation, which dates to Bohr in fact, that common language as we are endowed by daily experience is no suitable to describe unamb ...more
May 08, 2012 Liam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The observation itself changes the probability function discontinuously; it selects of all possible events the actual one hat has taken place." (54)

"We may remark at this point that modern physics is in some way extremely near to the doctrines of Heraclitus. If we replace the word 'fire' by the word 'energy' we can almost repeat his statements word for word from our modern point of view." (63)

"Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is a part of the interplay between nat
Conner Houghtby
Jun 23, 2013 Conner Houghtby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would like to quoto the final paragraph of this very insightful and compelling book:

"Coming now to a conclusion from all that has been said about modern science, one may perhaps state that modern physics is just one, but a very characteristic, part of a general historical process that tends toward a unification and a widening of out present world. This process would in itself lead to a diminution of those cultural and political tensions that create the great danger of our time. But it is acco
Dec 05, 2012 Mahendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I would wait until today December 5th, 2012 on Heisenberg's 111th birthday to write this review. Heisenberg was without a doubt a "wunderkind", a "giant" in physics and an vital contributor to the discovery and the progress of Quantum Mechanics. In 1900, Max Planck discovered something strange and scary, that energy did not flow in a steady continuum, but was delivered in discrete packets Planck later called "quanta." What I think was the greatest discovery of all time, Quantum Mechani ...more
Jason Britt
Nov 21, 2013 Jason Britt rated it really liked it
This is the most challenging book I have read in many years. The physics, by definition, I think, are unfathomable, and I do not have the physics knowledge to even begin to understand much of what Heisenberg describes. Though I understood the philosophy better than the physics, I am very much a novice in that field as well and clearly do not have Heisenberg's grasp of metaphysics and epistemology.

Even with these challenges, I found myself engrossed in this book. It has served as an inspiration
Apr 06, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
This work is an interesting historical window into the philosophical crisis caused by quatum thoery. Having come to academic maturity well after quantum mechanics was thoroughly formulated I've never had the crisis of philosophy presented here: as a student the duality of nature was presented as mathematically elegant description of how nature works and it didn't occur to me then any more than it occurs to my students today that this somehow subverts the tenants of natural science. Given the sta ...more
Suellen Rubira
Jan 13, 2016 Suellen Rubira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In order to come to an understanding of Imagery and literature one must seek knowledge on changes in science, I can see it clearly now. This incredible book shows how the theory of relativity and the quantum theory changed the perspective about space, time, atoms and matter. Also, Heisenberg brings the problems of language concerning the description of these theories to non-physicists. A new concept needs a new interpretation, which sometimes our daily understanding of a word can't express.
May 11, 2011 Temperamente rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggistica
Tanti anni fa, quando ancora frequentavo il liceo, presi l’abitudine di conferire alle mie letture una continuità concettuale che potesse legarle tra loro, così da svolgere uno studio per quanto possibile sistematico e non troppo “dislocato”. E le abitudini, si sa, sono dure a morire. Riprendiamo dunque da dove abbiamo interrotto con l’ultima recensione: principio di indeterminazione, meccanica quantistica, filosofia della fisica. Sono questi, infatti, i temi del saggio di Werner Heisenberg, che ...more
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Wrong Cover 6 7 Apr 18, 2013 06:39PM  
  • The Value of Science: Essential Writings of Henri Poincare
  • Wholeness and the Implicate Order
  • What Is Life? with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches
  • The Character of Physical Law
  • The Principles of Quantum Mechanics
  • Philosophy of Mathematics and Natural Science
  • The Ghost in the Atom: A Discussion of the Mysteries of Quantum Physics
  • The Human Use Of Human Beings: Cybernetics And Society
  • Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics
  • The Scientific Outlook
  • Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory
  • Physics and Philosophy
  • The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science
  • The Nature Of The Physical World
  • The New Quantum Universe
  • Science and the Modern World
  • Disturbing the Universe
  • Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science
Werner Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory. In addition, he made important contributions to nuclear physics, quantum field theory, and particle physics.
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“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” 123 likes
“Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word 'understanding.” 38 likes
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