- Conference date: 14–18 June 2009
- Location: Växjö (Sweden)
Taking its historical point of departure in Heisenberg’s work, this article offers a view of quantum mechanics as, arguably, the first truly experimental and truly mathematical physical theory, that is, a theory concerned with experimenting with nature and mathematics alike. It is truly experimental because it is not, as in classical physics, merely the independent behavior of the system considered, in other words, what happens in any event, that we track, but what kind of experiments we perform that defines what happens. By the same token, the theory is also truly mathematical because, at least in the interpretation adopted here, its mathematical formalism does not stand in the service of a mathematical description of (quantum) physical processes in space and time in the way the formalism of classical physics does, but is only used to predict the outcomes of relevant experiments. It also follows that quantum theories experiment more freely with mathematics itself, since we invent predictive mathematical schemes, rather than proceed by refining mathematically our phenomenal representations of nature, which process constrains us in classical mechanics.
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