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Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead

Michael Epperson

Publication Year: 2004

In Process and Reality and other works, Alfred North Whitehead struggled to come to terms with the impact the new science of quantum mechanics would have on metaphysics.This ambitious book is the first extended analysis of the intricate relationships between relativity theory, quantum mechanics, and Whitehead's cosmology. Michael Epperson illuminates the intersection of science and philosophy in Whitehead's work-and details Whitehead's attempts to fashion an ontology coherent with quantum anomalies.Including a nonspecialist introduction to quantum mechanics, Epperson adds an essential new dimension to our understanding of Whitehead-and of the constantly enriching encounter between science and philosophy in our century.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Series: American Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

Whatever one may say about the unsurpassed predictive power of quantum mechanics, few would argue that it is a more comfortable or intuitive theory than the classical mechanics of Newton and Galileo, which its innovators intended to replace as die endgültige Physik. For while we have for the past...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-22

This chapter is intended to provide a brief overview of the synthesis developed over the course of the book. As a result, it occasionally incorporates certain concepts and terminology that have yet to be introduced. Since this book was written for readers with varying familiarity with quantum mechanics and Whitehead's...

I. The Philosophical Implications of Quantum Mechanics

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pp. 23-38

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2. The Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

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pp. 25-60

In any modern exploration of the philosophy of science, one is at some point doomed to encounter that old, strangely constructed bridge that is quantum mechanics, the path across which seems to provide anything but sure footing. On one side of the chasm lie the conventional materialist...

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3. The Evolution of Actuality to Probability

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pp. 61-104

If, as Heisenberg suggested, potentia indeed constitute an ontologically fundamental species of reality, then the mathematical representation of the quantum mechanical evolution of the matrix of potentia to the matrix of probabilities—that is, the valuation of potentia as probabilities between zero...

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Interlude: The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead

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pp. 105-116

Alfred North Whitehead was as much a mathematician as he was a metaphysician, and so it should come as no surprise that whereas some have characterized his metaphysical system as intuitive, others have found it to be frustratingly complicated and difficult to understand. If mathematics is indeed intuitively...

II. Quantum Mechanics and Whitehead's Metaphysical Scheme

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pp. 117-132

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4. The Correlation of Quantum Mechanics and Whitehead's Philosophy

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pp. 119-163

The ontological interpretation of quantum mechanics explored thus far in this essay can be distinguished from other interpretations by two primary characteristics: First, it is an interpretation that attempts to describe, via imaginative hypothetical deduction, the form among the facts of experience...

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5. Spatiotemporal Extension

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pp. 164-221

For both Whiteheadian metaphysics and the decoherence-based interpretations of quantum mechanics, physical objects—whether they be solid material bodies or localized fields of energy—are most fundamentally characterized as serial historical routes of quantum actual occasions. Nonlocal correlations...

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6. Summary and Outlook

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pp. 222-243

Any bridge intended to span the chasm separating classical and quantum mechanics must be constructed upon a sound ontological framework that is (i) coherent, in that its most fundamental concepts are incapable of abstraction from each other and thus free from self-contradiction; (ii) logical...


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pp. 245-246


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pp. 247-250


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pp. 251-263

E-ISBN-13: 9780823250219
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823223190
Print-ISBN-10: 0823223191

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2004

Edition: Text
Series Title: American Philosophy
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 798793732
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead

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Subject Headings

  • Quantum theory -- Philosophy.
  • Whitehead, Alfred North, 1861-1947.
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