Lauener Foundation for Analytical Philosophy
Thursday 22 June - Friday 23 June 2006
2nd International Lauener Symposium on Analytical Philosophy
in honour of Professor Dagfinn Føllesdal
Prof. Dr. Michael Friedman
Transcendental Philosophy and Modern Physics: Neo-Kantianism, Logical Empiricism, and Phenomenology
n the heyday of logical empiricism it was conventional wisdom that modern physics - as represented especially by Einstein’s general relativity - was entirely incompatible with all forms of transcendental philosophy. More recently, however, work on the origins of logical empiricism has revealed a significant debt to Kantian and neo-Kantian ideas in some of the earliest attempts to assimilate Einstein’s discoveries by the logical empiricists themselves. And even more recent work on the history of general relativity has emphasized the substantial influence of Husserlian transcendental phenomenology on Hermann Weyl’s Raum-Zeit-Materie. This paper discusses the background to the various philosophical responses to Einstein’s work - neo-Kantian, logical empiricist, and phenomenological - in Kant’s original attempt to comprehend Newtonian physics; and, in light of this, I suggest a way in which the insights of all of these twentieth-century approaches my be fruitfully combined.