Some Remarks on Heisenberg

The Asifoscope

File:Bundesarchiv Bild183-R57262, Werner Heisenberg.jpg

In 1969 Werner Heisenberg published an autobiographical book called “Der Teil und das Ganze”[1], a title meaning „The parts and the whole“. The book is partially an autobiography, partially a collection of philosophical dialogs in the tradition of Plato, based on conversations Heisenberg had with several other people, like, for example Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli or Albert Einstein, exploring the border zone between physics and philosophy. The book is interesting and I recommend reading it, but I disagree with Heisenberg on certain views expressed in it. Before describing my objections, let me briefly sketch Heisenberg’s views, as I understand them. The two – closely interconnected – topics I am dealing with here are the role of beauty in science and the question why nature is understandable to the human mind.

The role of beauty in science is one of the recurring themes of the book. In the fifth chapter of…

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