Although the present paper looks upon the formal apparatus of quantum mechanics as a calculus of correlations, it goes beyond a purely operationalist interpretation. Having established the consistency of the correlations with the existence of their correlata, and having justified the distinction between a domain in which outcome-indicating events occur and a domain whose properties only exist if their existence is indicated by such events, it explains the difference between the two domains as essentially the difference between the manifested world (...) and its manifestation. A single, intrinsically undifferentiated Being manifests the macroworld by entering into reflexive spatial relations. This atemporal process implies a new kind of causality and sheds new light on the mysterious nonlocality of quantum mechanics. Unlike other realist interpretations, which proceed from an evolving-states formulation, the present interpretation proceeds from Feynman’s formulation of the theory, and it introduces a new interpretive principle, replacing the collapse postulate and the eigenvalue–eigenstate link of evolving-states formulations. Applied to alternatives involving distinctions between regions of space, this principle implies that the spatiotemporal differentiation of the physical world is incomplete. Applied to alternatives involving distinctions between things, it warrants the claim that, intrinsically, all fundamental particles are identical in the strong sense of numerical identical. They are the aforementioned intrinsically undifferentiated Being, which manifests the macroworld by entering into reflexive spatial relations. (shrink)
Does a world that contains chemistry entail the validity of both the standard model of elementary particle physics and general relativity, at least as effective theories? This article shows that the answer may very well be affirmative. It further suggests that the very existence of stable, spatially extended material objects, if not the very existence of the physical world, may require the validity of these theories.
Several errors in Stapp's interpretation of quantum mechanics and its application to mental causation (Henry P. Stapp, “Quantum theory and the role of mind in nature,” Foundations of Physics 31, 1465–1499 (2001)) are pointed out. An interpretation of (standard) quantum mechanics that avoids these errors is presented.
In a recent article, O. Ulfbeck and A. Bohr [Found. Phys. 31, 757 (2001)] have stressed the genuine fortuitousness of detector clicks, which has also been pointed out, in different terms, by the present author [Am. J. Phys. 68, 728 (2000)]. In spite of this basic agreement, the present article raises objections to the presuppositions and conclusions of Ulfbeck and Bohr, in particular their rejection of the terminology of indefinite variables, their identification of reality with “the world of experience,” their (...) identification of experience with what takes place “on the spacetime scene,” and the claim that their interpretation of quantum mechanics is “entirely liberated” from classical notions. An alternative way of making sense of a world of uncaused clicks is presented. This does not invoke experience but deals with a free-standing reality, is not fettered by classical conceptions of space and time but introduces adequate ways of thinking about the spatiotemporal aspects of the quantum world, and does not reject indefinite variables but clarifies the implications of their existence. (shrink)
In resisting attempts to explain the unity of a whole in terms of a multiplicity of interacting parts, quantum mechanics calls for an explanatory concept that proceeds in the opposite direction: from unity to multiplicity. Being part of the Scientific Image of the world, the theory concerns the process by which (the physical aspect of) what Sellars called the Manifest Image of the world comes into being. This process consists in the progressive differentiation of an intrinsically undifferentiated entity. By entering (...) into reflexive spatial relations, this entity gives rise to (i) what looks like a multiplicity of relata if the reflexive quality of the relations is not taken into account, and (ii) what looks like a substantial expanse if the spatial quality of the relations is reified. If there is a distinctly quantum domain, it is a non-spatial and non-temporal dimension across which the transition from the unity of this entity to the multiplicity of the world takes place. Instead of being constituents of the physical world, subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules are instrumental in its manifestation. These conclusions are based on the following interpretive principle and its more direct consequences: whenever the calculation of probabilities calls for the addition of amplitudes, the distinctions we make between the alternatives lack objective reality. Applied to alternatives involving distinctions between regions of space, this principle implies that, owing to the indefiniteness of positions, the spatiotemporal differentiation of the physical world is incomplete: the existence of a real-valued spatiotemporal background is an unrealistic idealization. This guarantees the existence of observables whose values are real per se, as against “real by virtue of being indicated by the values of observables that are real per se.” Applied to alternatives involving distinctions between things, it implies that, intrinsically, all fundamental particles are numerically identical and thus identifiable with the aforementioned undifferentiated entity. (shrink)
Marchildon’s (favorable) assessment (quant-ph/0303170, to appear in Found. Phys.) of the Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics raises several issues, which are addressed. Proceeding from the assumption that quantum mechanics is fundamentally a probability algorithm, this interpretation determines the nature of a world that is irreducibly described by this probability algorithm. Such a world features an objective fuzziness, which implies that its spatiotemporal differentiation does not “go all the way down”. This result is inconsistent with the existence of an evolving instantaneous (...) state, quantum or otherwise. (shrink)