Journal Article

Geometrization Versus Transcendent Matter: A Systematic Historiography of Theories of Matter Following Weyl

Norman Sieroka

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 61, issue 4, pages 769-802
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axq007
Geometrization Versus Transcendent Matter: A Systematic Historiography of Theories of Matter Following Weyl

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This article investigates an intertwined systematic and historical view on theories of matter. It follows an approach brought forward by Hermann Weyl around 1925, applies it to recent theories of matter in physics (including geometrodynamics and quantum gravity), and embeds it into a more general philosophical framework. First, I shall discuss the physical and philosophical problems of a unified field theory on the basis of Weyl's own abandonment of his 1918 ‘pure field theory’ in favour of an ‘agent theory’ of matter. The difference between agent and field theories of matter is then used to establish a sort of dialectic meta-view. With reference to Weyl this view can be understood as being a particular Fichtean transcendental idealist approach which attempts to combine the strengths of the Husserlian phenomenology and Cassirer's neo-Kantianism.

1 Introduction

2 Weyl on Pure Field Physics and Agent Theories of Matter

2.1 Weyl's abandonment of pure field physics

2.2 The philosophical tradition of agent theories

3 A Weylian Classification of Recent Theories of Matter

3.1 Direct interparticle action

3.2 Wheeler's geometrodynamics

3.3 Geometrodynamics of gauge fields

3.4 Quantum gravity: quantum general relativity versus string theory

4 Wavering Between Freedom and Constraint

Journal Article.  14893 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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