How is Quantum Field Theory Possible?
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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LibraryThing ReviewUser 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
2 Nonrelativistic quantum mechanics
3 Relativity and symmetries
4 Quantum field theory
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absolute abstract amplitudes argued atomic Born postulate called causal characteristics classical mechanics complex conceptual structure conventional coordinate systems curve defined definite differentiable distinction dynamical eigenstates eigenvalues Einstein electromagnetic field elements empirical entities equation experiences explicit relation fiber bundle formal framework function fundamental G-orbit gauge field theories geometry global Hilbert space idea identity independent individual interaction field interpretation invariant Kant kind Lagrangian Leibniz local symmetry logical magnitudes manifold mathematical matter field meaning metric metric tensor momentum notion objective world observable operators parameter particles phase philosophical physical significance physical theories physicists Poincaré group position possible potential predicates primitive principal fiber bundle principle probability problem property type qualities quantity quantum field theory quantum mechanics quantum system quantum theories real numbers representations represented sense space-time spatial spatio-temporal structure special relativity specific spin statements statistical substantival substantive symmetry group tangent space temporal things tion variables various vector