In the background is the sharp separation between analytic philosophy, aka ordinary language analysis, and the philosophy of science, a separation stemming from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and the trend among recent philosophers of science to switch from the holistic systematizing of Quine and Sellars to detailed analyses of particular theories. The net result is that analysts treat language as used, but not physics, while philosophers of science in the Anglo-American tradition treat physics but not language. Though the phenomenological tradition does not have much to say about the interpretation of physics, it makes a distinct contribution to the end-of-philosophy scenario and the issue of objectivity. This, as well as more technical difficulties, will be considered later.
In the current conflict the representational idiom is clearly at a disadvantage. In addition to the notorious difficulties involved in explaining ‘correspondence with reality’, there is the issue of scope. Where the performative perspective includes the social and historical aspects of science, cultural forces, experimental interactions and limitations, and personal decisions, the representational perspective tends to concentrate on the products of science, theories considered as timeless claims. A consideration of the evolution of the language in which such claims are framed would add a social and historical dimension. What I will attempt here is to outline a reconstruction of the language of physics, focusing on its conceptual core. This is part of a larger project to be developed elsewhere. Two preliminary qualifications are in order. First, this survey is concerned with the developing core of scientific language, rather than with normal history . Hence, it treats origins, presuppositions, and linguistic residues of transitory ontologies, rather than the familiar discoveries and theories. Second, to streamline the survey I will rely on and often simply report other accounts. Then, I will relate some historical reflections to the issues just summarized.
1. Historical Development
1.1 The Incubation Period.
The new quantitative physics of the scientific revolution emerged from earlier discussions of the quantity of qualities. As Bochner explains it:
And yet, from whatever reasons, the Greeks never penetrated to the insight that an effective manner of pursuing mechanics, physics, and other science is to articulate qualitative attributes by quantitative magnitudes, and then to represent connecting rules and laws by mathematical formulas and relations in order that the application of mathematical procedures to the formulas and relations may lead to further explications and developments. (Bochner, 1966, p. 31)
The seed from which this new way of doing physics incubated was the quantification of qualities, which was rooted in the scholastic treatment of Aristotelian categories. To see this as the point of departure of the language of physics we should begin with the ordinary language basis. Categorization is a basic feature of all natural languages (Rosch,1999). It provides maximum information with the least cognitive effort. By coding an object or event as member of a class one has a basis for drawing further conclusions concerning normal properties and activities. For such inferences to have a reasonable degree of accuracy the categorial structure must map significant features of