Workshop on Grete Hermann, Aberdeen

‘Grete Hermann: between physics and philosophy’, a CHPSTM workshop
5-6 May 2012, University of Aberdeen

Grete Hermann (1901-1984) was a pupil of mathematical physicist Emmy Noether and follower and coworker of neo-Kantian philosopher Leonard Nelson. Although most of her activities focused on ethics, politics and education, she is also known for her work on the philosophy of modern physics in the 1930s. Her best-known work in this field appeared in 1935, after months of intense discussions with Werner Heisenberg and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker in Leipzig. Hermann’s avowed aim was to counter the perceived threat to the Kantian notion of causality stemming from the new quantum mechanics. She not only succeeded to her satisfaction, but also discussed in depth the question of ‘hidden variables’ (including the first critique of von Neumann’s alleged impossibility proof) and provided an extensive analysis of Bohr’s notion of complementarity. This work also appears to shed considerable light on some of Heisenberg’s views at the time. It places her in the first rank among philosophers who wrote about modern physics in the first half of the last century. Nevertheless, Hermann is a relatively little-known figure (especially in the English-speaking world).

This workshop aims to reassess Grete Hermann’s work in the philosophy of physics, and attempt to place it in the context of her wider work. It brings together physicists and historians and philosophers of physics with interests relating to Hermann, philosophers working in/on the Nelsonian tradition, and even a personal friend from Hermann’s wartime period as a refugee in Britain.

Registration is free, but due to space restrictions, please email g.bacciagaluppi@abdn.ac.uk if you wish to come.

Confirmed participants:
Guido Bacciagaluppi (University of Aberdeen)
Elise Crull (University of Aberdeen)
Thomas Filk (IGPP, Freiburg)
Mélanie Frappier (Halifax)
Martin Jähnert (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Dieter Krohn (Philosophisch-Politische Akademie)
Fernando Leal Carretero (University of Guadalajara)
Giulia Paparo (University of Nijmegen)
Rene Saran (Society for Furtherance of Critical Philosophy)
Gregor Schiemann (University of Wuppertal)
Michiel Seevinck (Universitiy of Nijmegen)
Patricia Shipley (Birkbeck College,)
Léna Soler (Archives Henri Poincaré, Nancy)

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