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THE ROLE OF CONSCIOUSNESS AS MEANING MAKER IN SCIENCE, CULTURE, AND RELIGION

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Abstract:

Abstract.

Two hundred years ago, Friedrich Schleiermacher took critical issue with Immanuel Kant's intellectual notion of intuition as applied to human nature (Wellmon 2006). He found it necessary to modify—“hermeneutically,” as he said—Kant's notion of anthropology by enabling it to include as human the new and strange human tribes Captain Cook found in the Pacific South Seas. A similar hermeneutic move is necessary if physics is to include the local contextual empirical syntheses of relativity and quantum physics. In this hermeneutical revision the synthesis is formed around the notion of a Hilbert Vector Space as the universal grammar of physics, adding to it the dynamic of the Schrödinger equation, and representing empirical “observables” by projection operators that map the subspaces of definite measurable values. Among the set of observable projection operators, some pairs share the same subspace, commute with one another, and share a common laboratory setting. Other pairs do not share this property and are described as being mutually complementary. Complementary symmetries introduce into the discursive language of physics the commonsense notion of contextuality. The new synthesis, proposed by Eugene Wigner, John von Neumann, and (in his own way) Paul Dirac, brought physics into the community of common language and established it as a work of general human achievement. 1

Keywords: Albert Einstein; Bernard Lonergan; Edmund Husserl; Eugene Wigner; Hilbert Space; Martin Heidegger; Space; Time; Werner Heisenberg; concepts; consciousness; context; experiment; geometry; grammar; hermeneutical; perception; philosophy; physics; quantum; religion; symmetry; synthesis; theology; theory; transcendental

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01009.x

Affiliations: William A. Gaston Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057-1133;, Email: heelanp@georgetown.edu.

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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