The New Physics of the Twentieth Century

SUMMARY: In Chapter 2 we examined the process by which raw experience is mentally transformed into an organized system of concepts --that is, how it becomes knowledge. In the third chapter we studied the formalization of one part of our common-sense world picture into classical physics. In the language of semiotics we recognized physics as a true system in the three senses of being internally logical, of being consistently correlated with experience and of being pragmatically successful. This success was actually only attained for the less complex phenomena of inanimate nature, and of course only at the macroscopic level observable by man's unaided senses. In Chapter 4 we found that the instrumental extension and enlargement of our sensory experience brought about by our technology, itself developing under the stimulus of classical physics, presented us with a new set of experiences which couldn't be integrated into either the physical or the common sense conceptual scheme.

The revision required in physics was not the simple one of introducing newforce terms and energies into Newtonian mechanics, but of a penetrating re-examination of the concepts themselves. This was carried out in two principal theoretical developments: Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics. Both of these are fine examples of semiotics. They have clearly expressed pragmatic bases induced from experimental results, well-defined syntactic developments, and semantic correspondence rules which admit only the operationally possible. Both look strange when compared with common-sense classical physics, but this is entirely in keeping with the weirdness of the phenomena they were invented to 'explain'. Though we will make little further use of it in our investigation of determinism, Einstein Special Theory of Relativity is so conceptually and mathematically simple, that we will begin with it as an example of how a theory evolves in an attempt to explain an experimental result. However there is no reason for carrying Relativity Theory beyond the derivation of the transformation equations. We will go on from this to examine the postulational and syntactical structure of Quantum Mechanics, and apply it to the solution of a problem resembling the potential barrier one of Chapter 4. Finally we will study the predictive


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Free-Will and Determinism


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