Thursday, January 31, 2008

RQM, markets and Fechner's friends

In RQM reality emerges as the locus of intersubjective agreement in an epistemic web of question and answer sessions (cf. here on mid p.4). Such a framework appears quite adequate for financial markets, where transactions are determined by agreement on ask and bid prices. The identification of statistical and quantum probabilities, proposed a.o. by Wald in a cosmological setting, makes the analogy even closer.

Moreover, the issue of universality, which I touched upon in my previous post, recurs here. The analogies between man-made market crashes and critical phenomena in physics have been widely studied in the past few years. It is tempting to construe structural similarities as evidence of a common origin in the observer's perceptual paradigm, which gives shape to events as they emerge through observation from the turbulent quantum flow.

Historical footnote. Entanglement was officially born with the famous EPR paper, but it haunted Western philosophy long before that. When Geulincx and Malebranche tackled the mind/body problem, the epistemic condition on causality that they proposed as the basis of necessary connections is reminiscent of the current RQM view, where entanglement upholds physical laws by imposing constraints on distinct perceptions/measurement outcomes. Malebranche's seeds would later germinate in Merleau-Ponty's idea that "existence is projective and results from an intersubjective dialogue between the embodied subject and the external world", where RQM finds an inviting philosophical counterpart.

As for the crucial question about the status of the observer, Thom writes that "all modern science is based on the postulate of the stupidity of objects". However here is a Schroedinger quote: " ... the genius of Gustav Theodor Fechner did not shy at attributing a soul, to the earth as a celestial body, to the planetary system, etc. I do not fall in with those fantasies, yet I should not like to have to pass judgement as to who has come nearest to the deepest truth, Fechner or the bankrupts of rationalism.". In a relational setting, where people or devices ignore Descartes' arbitrary animate/inanimate distinction and are identified as observers only relationally, Fechner's approach may score some points.

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