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New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy

Volume 11, 2011

Richard F. Hassing
Pages 214-248

History of Physics and the Thought of Jacob Klein

Aristotelian, classical, and quantum physics are compared and contrasted in light of Jacob Klein’s account of the algebraicization of thought and the resulting detachment of mind from world, even as human problem-solving power is greatly increased. Two fundamental features of classical physics are brought out: species-neutrality, which concerns the relation between the intelligible and the sensible, and physico-mathematical secularism, which concerns the question of the difference between mathematical objects and physical objects, and whether any differences matter. In contrast to Aristotelian physics, which is species-specific, classical physics is species-neutral. In contrast to both Aristotelian and quantum physics, classical physics assumes that any differences between mathematical objects and physical objects make no difference for the conduct of physics. Aristotle’s act and potency, and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle are discussed as counterexamples to the physico-mathematical secularism of classical physics. The algebraicization of thought in conjunction with the disposition and program for the mastery of nature leads to the homogenization of heterogeneities in both mathematics and physics, and, therewith, to confusion concerning the meaning of human being and our place in the whole.

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