chapter  15
16 Pages

Beyond Realism and Idealism: A Response to Patrick A. Heelan

WithJoseph J. Kockelmans

Educated in classical philosophy as well as in phenomenology, and a student of theoretical physics for many years, Patrick A. Heelan has tried since 1970 to develop a consistent philosophy of science from a phenomenological point of view. Heelan makes a distinction between the "experimental phenomena" and the events which, occurring within the preparation and measurement process, produce and signal them. Heelan has correctly pointed out that in the domain of particle physics many "phenomena in the scientific sense of the term" have actual existence only within the measurement processes; outside these processes one can only attribute "virtual existence" to them. In "Hermeneutical Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Science", Heelan explains, among other things, in what sense a hermeneutico-phenomenological philosophy of science differs from scientific realism. If, however, idealism amounts to reducing all meaning to consciousness, a divine or a human consciousness, then idealism is just as naive as the most naive form of realism.