Monday, April 30, 2007

Wittgenstein's cat

I have this bad habit of scribing nonsensical things in my notebook during meetings and conferences. Just listening to other people talk seems to bore my brain. I need to do something extra to properly exercise it.

That's how I came up with the idea of volcano whales, which illustration I use for the current version of my name card.

The other day I was attending a conference, and was half consciously "at it" again. After somehow going into drawing a cat, I came upon this idea of revising the fascinating concept of the Schrödinger's cat.

Schrödinger's venerable cat has been doing the scientific community a lot of service by providing a striking illustration of the mystery of quantum mechanics, after its introduction to humanity in 1935. However, as the Gedanken experiment involves the life and death of a lovable animal, some people might express uneasiness from politically correct reasons.

Here's the new version. It is called "Wittgenstein's cat". One Sunday afternoon, when the sky's blue and the sun is shining, the deep thinking philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein begins to lecture his latest theory to his cat. In this Gedanken experiment, the key question is whether the cat will be awake or asleep after five minutes. Would the cat be alert and attentive to what Wittgenstein is saying, or would it be happily asleep, taking a well-earned nap after listening to his mater's intractable ideas?
According to quantum mechanics, there will be a superposition of the awake cat and the sleeping cat. You would not know which until you actually make the observation. This is the Gedanken experiment of Wittgenstein's cat.

One crucial condition for this experiment to make sense is that the philosopher keeps talking philosophy (blah, blah, blah, ....) whatever the attitude of the cat turns out to be. In other words, the philosopher should not care whether the cat is listening or not, and keep talking philosophy anyway.

This particular condition, given the known facts about Wittgenstein and other philosophically oriented people, is quite likely to be satisfied.



Wittgenstein's cat. A politically correct version of the Schrödinger's cat experiment.

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It was good by the experiment that was kind to a cat.

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I also agree with former comment.
Please don't kill cats, like "Umibe no Kafuka" by Haruki Murakami.

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