What does phenomena mean

What is actually a phenomenon?

“Interestingly, researchers from completely different disciplines often simply refer to the objects they are investigating as phenomena,” says Jochen Apel, philosopher at Heidelberg University. “This is astonishing as the concept of a scientific phenomenon is by no means clearly defined. That is why we want to bring scientific theorists and scientists from various disciplines together and discuss with them what characterizes a scientific phenomenon. "

For this purpose an interdisciplinary symposium with the title: "Data, Phenomena, Theories: What's the notion of a scientific phenomenon good for?" that is dedicated to this important question. The speakers are from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany. The disciplines philosophy, physics, mathematics, astronomy, anthropology and psychology are represented - among others. The symposium is funded by the DFG and the Heidelberg University Foundation.

The conference has two goals. On the one hand, specialists are invited to use case studies to demonstrate their understanding of the concept of a scientific phenomenon. On the other hand, these definition proposals are to be evaluated from an epistemological perspective. Is a certain usage discipline-specific, or can it also be transferred to other areas? Does the term “phenomenon” mean something other than the term “date” or “theory”? If so, how do phenomena differ from data on the one hand and theories on the other?

The scientific use of the term "phenomenon" goes back a long way to ancient astronomy. At that time, phenomena were understood to be observable celestial phenomena, which had to be explained by natural laws. This understanding has become increasingly controversial in modern times, both in the sciences and in the philosophy of science. Today scientists continue to refer to what they explain as phenomena, but these are rarely observable phenomena. What is observed and measured is called a date. Phenomena are only inferred from these data in a second step. If, however, phenomena are not observed but rather obtained from the data, the question arises as to whether phenomena actually exist or whether they are not more likely to be constructed by scientists.

Date: September 11-13, 2008
Location: International Science Forum of the University of Heidelberg, Hauptstrasse 242, 69117 Heidelberg
Start: Thursday, September 11th, 2008, 9.00 a.m. Participation only after prior registration

Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemmerling, Prof. Dr. Peter McLaughlin, Philosophical Seminar at Heidelberg University
Emmy Noether Group "Causality, Cognition and the Constitution of Scientific Phenomena"

Here the program as a PDF file.

Additional Information:

Please contact:
Pavel Radchenko
Philosophical seminar of the University of Heidelberg, Schulgasse 6
69117 Heidelberg
Tel. 0049- (0) 6221 54 22 90
[email protected]

Dr. Ellen Peerenboom
Managing Director of the International Science Forum at Heidelberg University
Hauptstrasse 242
69117 Heidelberg
Tel. 06221 54 3690, Fax 165 896
[email protected]

General queries from journalists to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press spokesman for the University of Heidelberg
Tel. 06221 54 2310, Fax 54 2317
[email protected]

Irene Thewalt
[email protected]