Hermann Weyl: Mind and Nature

Selected Writings on Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics,edited with an introduction and notes by Peter Pesic

Hermann Weyl (1885-1955) was one of the twentieth century's most important mathematicians, as well as a seminal figure in the development of quantum physics and general relativity. He was also an eloquent writer with a lifelong interest in the philosophical implications of the startling new scientific developments with which he was so involved. Mind and Nature is a collection of Weyl's most important general writings on philosophy, mathematics, and physics, including pieces that have never before been published in any language or translated into English, or that have long been out of print. Complete with Peter Pesic's introduction, notes, and bibliography, these writings reveal an unjustly neglected dimension of a complex and fascinating thinker. In addition, the book includes more than twenty photographs of Weyl and his family and colleagues, many of which are previously unpublished.

Included here are Weyl's exposition of his important synthesis of electromagnetism and gravitation, which Einstein at first hailed as "a first-class stroke of genius"; two little-known letters by Weyl and Einstein from 1922 that give their contrasting views on the philosophical implications of modern physics; and an essay on time that contains Weyl's argument that the past is never completed and the present is not a point. Also included are two book-length series of lectures, The Open World (1932) and Mind and Nature (1934), each a masterly exposition of Weyl's views on a range of topics from modern physics and mathematics. Finally, four retrospective essays from Weyl's last decade give his final thoughts on the interrelations among mathematics, philosophy, and physics, intertwined with reflections on the course of his rich life.

Japanese translation 精神と自然: ワイル講演録 (ちくま学芸文庫) (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo Publishing, 2014).

"This work edited by Pesic is an interesting collection of Hermann Weyl's essays, letters, and manuscripts. Though Weyl certainly made important contributions to mathematics and physics, this collection gives a broader picture of his work and thinking. Including many previously unpublished works and photographs, Mind and Nature presents what Weyl saw as the connections between mathematics, physics, and metaphysics."Choice

"Weyl's Mind and Nature: Selected Writings on Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics is of more interest to historians or to philosophers like me, but I still heartily recommend it to physicists and mathematicians. A selection of philosophical writings from the period 1921-55, it is beautifully edited with an introduction and scholarly endnotes by Peter Pesic. Mind and Nature includes several treasures. . . . What a pleasure, what a privilege, to read and contemplate Hermann Weyl's monumental achievements."—Jeremy Butterfield, Physics Today

"Edited by Peter Pesic . . . these works show a side of Weyl deeply concerned about the nature of infinity, knowledge, and truth. . . . Rarely are we given insights into the thinking of great mathematicians of the past. Even more rarely are we given their thinking presented with such thought and obvious care. This book should produce a reflective response among the teachers of mathematics who read it."Mathematics Teacher

"[T]hese books have much to stimulate the philosopher of science today, perhaps because of, rather than in spite of the heavily idealistic leanings. More importantly, they still have much to offer the philosophically minded physicist and mathematician."—Jeremy Gray, MAA Reviews