Book ID: CBB682085795

Quantum Language and the Migration of Scientific Concepts (2018)


Burwell, Jennifer (Author)

MIT Press

Publication Date: 2018
Physical Details: 336 pages
Language: English

How highly abstract quantum concepts were represented in language, and how these concepts were later taken up by philosophers, literary critics, and new-age gurus.The principles of quantum physics―and the strange phenomena they describe―are represented most precisely in highly abstract algebraic equations. Why, then, did these mathematically driven concepts compel founders of the field, particularly Erwin Schrödinger, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg, to spend so much time reflecting on ontological, epistemological, and linguistic concerns? What is it about quantum concepts that appeals to latter-day Eastern mystics, poststructuralist critics, and get-rich-quick schemers? How did their interpretations and misinterpretations of quantum phenomena reveal their own priorities? In this book, Jennifer Burwell examines these questions and considers what quantum phenomena―in the context of the founders' debates over how to describe them―reveal about the relationship between everyday experience, perception, and language.Drawing on linguistic, literary, and philosophical traditions, Burwell illuminates representational and linguistic problems posed by quantum concepts―the fact, for example, that quantum phenomena exist only as probabilities or tendencies toward being and cannot be said to exist in a particular time and place. She traces the emergence of quantum theory as an analytic tool in literary criticism, in particular the use of wave/particle duality in interpretations of gender differences in the novels of Virginia Woolf and critics' connection of Bohr's Principle of Complementarity to poetic form; she examines the "quantum mysticism" of Fritjof Capra and Gary Zukav; and she concludes by analyzing "nuclear discourse" in the context of quantum concepts, arguing that it, too, adopts a language of the unthinkable and the indescribable.

Reviewed By

Review Olival Freire (2019) Review of "Quantum Language and the Migration of Scientific Concepts". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 215-215). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Perovic, Slobodan
Allori, Valia
Hilgevoord, Jan
Hon, Giora
Domondon, Andrew T.
Joas, Christian
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Physics in Perspective
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Journal of Modern Literature
Yale University Press
Drew University
University of Chicago Press
Quantum mechanics
Theoretical physics
Philosophy of science
Atomic structure
Molecular biology
Schrödinger, Erwin
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Heisenberg, Werner
Einstein, Albert
Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice
Pauli, Wolfgang Ernst
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
Paris (France)

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