Cassirer’s Functional-Based Approach in the Reconstruction of the First Quantum Theory

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Angeloni, Roberto
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I propose a rational reconstruction of the first quantum theory (1900-1913) in terms of the ideas presented by Ernst Cassirer. Specifically, I propose to reconsider the first quantum theory through the lens of the method of conceptual functionalization that Ernst Cassirer laid down in his Substance and Function (1910) and he later refined in Determinism and Indeterminism in Modern Physics (1937). Following Cassirer’s functional interpretation of natural sciences, it is my primary concern to reconsider the conceptual evolution of Planck’s quantum of action from 1900 to 1913. In this regard, I shall emphasize the importance of the quantum of action (Planck’s constant) in the architectonic structure of the first quantum theory, in the role of an element of fundamental continuity between the first quantum theory and the formulation by Niels Bohr of the first atomic theory.