I am currently reading Schröddinger's essay: Mind and Matter. But I am stuck on chapter 3. After reading it over and over I still can't understand his principle of objectivisation.

Has anyone understood it and if so can he or she explain it?

I am currently reading it in french so i cannot quote the text but, the passage I'm stuck on is when he describes his principle of objectivisation and when he says :"Nous reculons avec notre propre personne dans le rôle d'un spectateur qui n'appartient pas au monde, ce dernier devenant, par cette procédure même un monde objectif"

Here is my own bad english translation of this passage: We retreat with our own person, in the role of a spectator who does not belong to the world, becoming by the same procedure an objective world.

It's not that I don't understand the concept of it it's just that often Schrödinger is very profound but I feel like I'm missing something here.

  • Can you post a particular passage that you're stuck on? Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 22:35
  • Here, I've edited the question
    – Mathphilo
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 23:29
  • I think "ce dernier" ("this last one") = "[le] monde", ie the world becomes objective an objective world. That is to say, when we remove ourselves from the world, we become spectators of an objective world. Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 23:38
  • Yes that's what I've also understood, but I feel like I can't quite grasp the profoundness of the concept. Well, maybe I just haven't thought enough about it. Thanks anyway
    – Mathphilo
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 23:44

1 Answer 1


Schrödinger was a leading physicist in the development of Quantum Mechanics (QM). Hence he knew well about the question whether the separation between the observer (subject) and the observed natural phenomens (object) could be held up in QM.

Classical mechanics successfully adheres to the paradigm that the observer has no impact on the phenomens he observes. The observer observes just the objective nature. On the other hand, one learned by QM that our observation may influence the microphysical objects. As a consequence, the result is a mix of properties of the object and of the experimental interaction. A strict separation cannot be uphold any longer. The degree of this interaction could be even quantified by Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty.

Schrödinger emphasizes that the physical world, as it appears in the models created by physicists, does not capture the subjective experience of colours, sound, feeling of cold and warm, i.e. the subjective experience of our senses is lacking in the model. But even more, the whole mental world is excluded from the model of the physical world. This separation poses the question how mind and body interact, which is up to now the unsolved mind-body problem.

Eventually Schrödinger votes for a monistic stance. In the last passage of chapter three he makes the radical claim that there is no gap between subject and object at all. This would imply that objectivation in the sense of seraparating of subject and object is impossible,

In this chapter Schrödinger does not argue for this worldview. Possibly he is influenced by the monistic position from Upanishads with it fundamental equation “atman = brahman”.

Here is a link to the German text of chapter 3:


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