Sunday, October 12, 2008

QM and the problem of Being

Here are some remarks on the practical implementation of the scientific paradigm. They sketch a semantic analysis of the reproducibility requirement and cast scientific results as rhetorical tools, with pointers for the deconstruction of some concrete examples, from the recent Gravity Probe B farce (arguably foreseen in [1], cf [2], [3] also available at [3A]: "The gap between the current error level and that which is required for a rigorous test of a deviation from GR is so large that any effect ultimately detected by this experiment will have to overcome considerable (and in our opinion, well justified) skepticism in the scientific community", [4]) to my old favorite univalence superselection ([5], [6], [7] ) all the way to a deconstructed notion of physical law ([8]). The starting point is this sentence from Plato's Sophist, which famously inspired Martin Heidegger as well as others in his wake: "For manifestly you have long been aware of what you mean when you use this expression 'being'. We, however, who used to think we understood it, have now become perplexed". The inability/unwillingness of contemporary scientific thought to tackle the postulate of existence is arguably the core problem in quantum mechanics' "unfinished revolution". Without a deconstruction of the "a priori" semantic assumptions hidden in (our "scientific" image of) the world, the way ahead, beyond pirouettes in front of blatant experimental failure, will stay blocked. While such a deconstruction has been initiated by the relational approach to quantum mechanics, both its scope and its impact are still limited. Within RQM's epistemic framework one can recover some of the far-reaching arguments by Philip Warren Anderson against the reductionist approach. The mantra that "big things are made up of small things" is often tacitly assumed in scientific models. In a RQM perspective there are no things, either big or small, but only measurement outcomes/perceptions relative to a measurement operator. If this post didn't put you too sleep, there is more below.