Niels Bohr as Philosopher

He espoused a principle of complementarity; there are mutually contradictory ways of looking at reality which together give us a deeper understanding.

He thought that science doesn’t describe reality as it is but our ways of conceptualizing it.

He rooted everything in concrete action and was an admirer of William James.

He also liked Lao Tzu and the Buddha.

His philosophy gave him the werewithall to see that the photon was both wave and particle — that is, it had empirical teeth.



6 thoughts on “Niels Bohr as Philosopher

  1. A Pallid Din says:

    “Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question.” – Neils Bohr

    …just the kind of praxis any Socrates respects and resembles!

  2. Sean F says:

    I highly recommend Karen Barad’s “Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning” (2007) to anyone interested in a philosophically informed take on the differences between Bohr’s complementarity and Heisenburg’s uncertainty principle. She is a theoretical physicist by training, and puts her expertise to incisive use in differentiating the two (commonly run together) interpretations.

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