Achilles, the Tortoise and Quantum Mechanics


Authors
Alfred Driessen
University of Twente
Abstract
The four antinomies of Zeno of Elea, especially Achilles and the tortoise continue to be provoking issues which are even now not always satisfactory solved. Aristotle himself used this antinomy to develop his understanding of movement: it is a fluent continuum that has to be treated as a whole. The parts, if any, are only potentially present in the whole. And that is exactly what quantum mechanics is claiming: movement is quantized in contrast to classical mechanics. The objective of this study is to show the merits of the Aristotelian approach. It is a good candidate for serving as the philosophical background for understanding fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics. Especially mentioned are the influence of the final state in quantum mechanics that in philosophy could be correlated with the final cause. Like in the work of Aristotle also in this study examples from science are presented to illustrate the philosophical approach. But, in contrast to ancient Greek, the examples now relate to issues which are only fully accessible to the scientifically trained reader. As the main conclusion the dialogue between scientists and philosophers is strongly recommended which will result in progress in both disciplines.
Keywords Zeno  Aristotle  movement  quantum mechanics  Achilles and Tortoise
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