How is Quantum Field Theory Possible?

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Oxford University Press, 1995 - Psychology - 280 pages
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Quantum field theory (QFT) combines quantum mechanics with Einstein's special theory of relativity and underlies elementary particle physics. This book presents a philosophical analysis of QFT. It is the first treatise in which the philosophies of space-time, quantum phenomena, and particle interactions are encompassed in a unified framework. Describing the physics in nontechnical terms, and schematically illustrating complex ideas, the book also serves as an introduction to fundamental physical theories. The philosophical interpretation both upholds the reality of the quantum world and acknowledges the irreducible cognitive elements in its representation. The interpretation is based on an analysis of our ways of thinking as the are embedded in the logical structure of QFT. The author argues that philosophical categories are significant only if they play active and essential roles in our knowledge and hence constitute part of the theories in actual use. Thus she regards physical theories as primary, extracts their categorical structure, and uses it to rethink key philosophical questions. Among the questions this book tries to answer are: What are the quantum properties independent of measurements? How do we refer to individual things in a continuous field? How do theories relate to objects? What are the general conditions of the world and of our ways of thinking that make possible our knowledge of the microscopic realm, which is so intangible and counterintuitive? As a penetrating analysis of vital themes in contemporary science, the book will engage the interest of students and professionals in physics and philosophy alike.
 

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User Review  - albertgoldfain - LibraryThing

Difficult but essential reading. I know many philosophers in the realism camp that completely ignore the messy implications of QFT, but Auyang goes straight into the heart of the beast. This is a fine ... Read full review

Contents

1 Introduction
3
2 Nonrelativistic quantum mechanics
16
3 Relativity and symmetries
26
4 Quantum field theory
43
quantum stateobservablesstatistics
61
local fields
119
interacting fields
166
8 Epilogue
194
quantity quality modality
197
APPENDIX B Fiber bundles and interaction dynamics
214
an application
223
NOTES
229
BIBLIOGRAPHY
265
INDEX
273
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About the author (1995)

Sunny Y Auyang is at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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