Étienne Klein

French Philosopher of Science, epistemologist

Étienne Klein (born 1.4.1958) is a French physicist and philosopher of science, born in 1958. A graduate of École Centrale Paris, he holds a DEA (aster of Advanced Studies) in theoretical physics, as well as a Ph.D. in philosophy of science and an accreditation to supervise research (HDR).

Étienne Klein in 2011


  • We no longer exercise our critical faculties as soon as we like the thesis put forward. The role of a scientific council is to act as a lighthouse and beacon, to enlighten the political authorities, who must not make decisions without taking account of what the scientists say, i.e. not do what Donald Trump does.
    • Nous n'exerçons plus notre sens critique dès que la thèse avancée nous plait. Le rôle d'un conseil scientifique c'est d'assurer un service de phare et balise, d'éclairer le pouvoir politique, qui ne doit pas prendre de décision sans tenir compte de ce que disent les scientifiques, c'est-à-dire ne pas faire comme Donald Trump.
  • I'm a great believer in popularising science, but I've noticed that it's not very effective [...]. We treat our knowledge a bit like beliefs, and that creates a lot of confusion.
  • Journalist: [...] in Italy a scandal was caused by the dossier [...] Majorana and Eichmann, the secret in a photograph, in which the hypothesis that the physicist, after having joined Heisenberg in Germany, worked on the creation of the Nazi atomic bomb took shape. [...] Majorana, or rather someone who looked a lot like him, is portrayed next to Eichmann escaping to Argentina. It seems to me that you discard the Argentinian track..."}} I did not even raise this thesis because it seemed to me at least outlandish. After all, how can one support a thesis based solely on the alleged similarity of a photo taken thirteen years after Majorana's disappearance? On the other hand, there is no trace of Majorana in the German archives concerning his work on the atomic bomb - which are open to all and can be consulted -. And the Italian physicist's name did not even come up in 1945, when German scientists arrested in Germany were transferred to a secret residence in England, and conversations recorded without their knowledge for several months.
  • Journalist: Does he share the opinion of Sciascia [...] that "for others science was a matter of will, for him a matter of nature"? To write Il était sept fois la révolution, I studied a lot the works of the founding fathers of quantum physics: Einstein, Pauli, Dirac, Schrödinger, Heisenberg... In all of them one can feel moments of discouragement, doubt, fatigue, alternating with moments of enthusiasm of intellectual joys. In Majorana, on the contrary, things have the air of advancing continuously, without obstacles, without the onset of any Eureka! Physics seems to flow through him with nothing to hold it back, without barriers.
  • Majorana thought that the notion of symmetry allows one to grasp what is permanent in the flow of phenomena...In the world of elementary particles, interesting symmetries operate within spaces that only mathematicians know how to represent and that are distinct from three-dimensional physical space. These symmetries are directly related to the dynamic properties of physical systems, i.e. the way they behave under the effect of a force. And it may prove very fruitful to begin by identifying the fundamental symmetries that govern phenomena because they are at the source of the invariant quantities or structures that are capable of revealing deep reality.
Wikipedia has an article about: