Event Detail

Fri Mar 15, 2024
Howison Library
4–6:15 PM
Townsend Visitor
Jenann Ismael (Johns Hopkins University)
General Discussion

Most day-to-day physics involves modelling other systems: cells, gases, fluids. In those contexts, we maintain a provisional separation of subject and object, or of investigator and system being investigated. When we are dealing with the universe as a whole, we are part of the subject matter, but we tend to adopt a god’s eye view, treating the universe imaginatively as though it were an object we were looking at the universe from the outside.

This is a convenient and mostly harmless fiction but it pushes out of view a phenomenon that I’m going to call interference. Interference arises because we are part of the universe. That means that our representational activity is connected in the domain that we are representing and it is going to be impossible to stabilize some facts or events in the world independently of the act of representing them. This fact turns out to be important in some philosophically contested contexts. I’ll be exploring its fallout.