Quantum Mechanics and an Ontology of Intersubjectivity: Perils and Promises

  • Marc A. Pugliese
  • Open Theology, August 2018, De Gruyter
  • DOI: 10.1515/opth-2018-0025

What Quantum Physics does and does not tell us about reality

What is it about?

A lot of popular and academic discussions appeal to quantum physics to discuss what reality is ultimately like. Frequently, there are appeals to quantum physics to claim that we create reality or that reality is composed of consciousness. This paper explains that although scientists agree on the experimental procedure to do quantum mechanical experiments there actually is no agreement among scientists on what quantum physics tells us about reality. The paper goes on to show how there are some basic, fundamental, points about reality that can be drawn from what physicists do agree upon. It ends by showing how one particular philosophical system, that of Alfred North Whitehead, fits with these basic points.

Why is it important?

There are a lot of popular books, movies, media writings, etc., that claim quantum physics tells us some very surprising things about the world. Often these are things that can be shocking, or even utterly unbelievable. Movies like "What the Bleep Do We Know," books like Gary Zukav's classic "The Dancing Wu Li Masters," and videos by popular spiritual / self-help personalities make radical claims supposedly based on quantum physics. This article is important for showing that these claims go too far and can even be flat-out wrong as far as what physicists really do agree upon. It basically clears up some important misconceptions about quantum physics and points to some valid conclusions we may draw about reality from what physicists do actually agree upon.


Dr Marc A. Pugliese
Saint Leo University

I wrote this because I sensed a felt need to clear up some misconceptions about what quantum physics does and does not tell us about reality. I was seeing not only popular discussions in books, movies, and the media, but even among academics, professors, and other intellectuals who were going too far in their claims about what quantum physics is telling us about reality. I discuss Whitehead at the end because long ago I was drawn to the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. He was trying to develop a philosophical system that is firmly grounded on recent scientific developments (like quantum physics and relativity theory), as well as what has transpired in western thought during our modern period (I personally see "postmodern" as just a subset of "modern." Yes, we are all still moderns. Maybe teen age moderns rebelling against our parents but still modern nonetheless. Once a modern always a modern, I like to say. If you're wondering what a "modern" is then just grab any old stranger off the street, and there you have it).

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