“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quantum Realism

A recent experiment seems to validate correlationist or idealist interpretations of quantum theory. That's how New Scientist wants to spin it.

There are three basic interpretations of quantum theory out there:

Idealism: reality only exists insofar as it is perceived

Correlationism: reality exists, but it can only become meaningful by being measured by (human) instruments

Realism: there is a real reality that is meaningful from its own side.

OOO stands with Bohm, Valentini and various others who cleave to this last view. But there is a significant difference.

The difference is that for OOO there is a fundamental chorismos between an object and its sensual prehension.

OOO is not a theory of lumps that are somehow personalized with qualities (substance and accidence). These lumps are ALSO sensual prehensions, nowhere near deep enough.

So it's not a matter at the QT scale of colorless quanta that gain color when they interact.

The realist interpretation of the recent experiment is that particle A exists without being measured. Yet when it is measured it assumes qualities appropriate to the measuring object.

For OOO it's as if every entity is a correlationist. Every entity is to deinotaton (Sophocles).


Jason Bradford said...

Forgive my ignorance, but what are the current theories surrounding what it means to be "meaningful?"

Or am I just not thinking hard enough, and this is exactly what OOO is about, discussing what "meaningful" means?

Timothy Morton said...

Hi Jason, It's not particularly current, but it has to do with Kant: the in-itself is inaccessible and the categories are aspects of our reason (time, space etc.). Reality exists but is only meaningful insofar as it is measured (by humans).

Jason Bradford said...

I suppose I'm reacting to a "meaningful" that seems to imply a "purposefulness," which then causes me to wonder "purposeful to who/what?" What does it mean to be "purposeful?" And is "purposeful" even an ethical quality to require of/for existence?

Would this be me reacting against teleology, which Levi Bryant mentions in relation to Kant? Also, if I'm becoming a troll, let me know. I don't want to troll.

Timothy Morton said...

Hi Jason--no problem. Your questions are far from trollish. Trolling is when you try to take someone out in public. My experience of you is that you are simply asking honest questions. I'll think about this and respond.