Physics and Ancient Philosophy in Werner Heisenberg: appropriations of the classic legacy by a twentieth-century physicist

Anderson Cleiton Fernandes Leite, Samuel Simon


The aim of this article is to analyze the uses Werner Heisenberg made of Greek philosophy in his works, and to relate such uses not only to the internal argumentation present in the texts of the German physicist, but also to the historical context, conflicts and debates between diverse interpretations of quantum theory during the first half of the 20th century. We shall first make a general presentation of the quantum theory and the presence of philosophy in the works of Heisenberg, followed by a case study of Heisenberg’s appropriation of the thought of Leucippus, Democritus, Heraclitus, Plato and Aristotle


Werner Heisenberg; Ancient Philosophy; Quantum Physics; Philosophy of Physics.

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UNESCO Chair in Archai: on the origins of the western thought

ISSN: 1984-249X electronic version