I am more interested in a high level conceptual approach than the quantitative one that talks about how quantum mechanics is/is not relevant to concepts such as what I mentioned above, and why. Suggestions and pointers will be very helpful.

  • 5
    I'd wager that any book that discusses fate and free will longer than saying that they're not relevant physical concepts is not a good book.
    – ACuriousMind
    Oct 4 '14 at 20:18
  • 1
    I'd second that wager -- except for the fact that you already have two seconds on that wager. I guess I'll have to third that wager.
    – David Hammen
    Oct 4 '14 at 20:31
  • Thanks for the replies. I will try posting in the Philosophy section. And ACuriousMind, I do agree with you, but when getting into things like these, it's always nice to keep an open mind!
    – Sai Hemachandra
    Oct 4 '14 at 20:35
  • There are no books like that because it is wrong. QM is nothing but statistics. (Notice an important distinction - not a probability not a chance but statistics) And statistics has nothing to do with fate.
    – Asphir Dom
    Oct 5 '14 at 9:59
  • @asphir dom thank you for your interpretation of QM (notice an important distinction - not a description not an explanation but an interpretation) Oct 5 '14 at 13:34

Its probably best to scope this question a little more widely: I'll take it to mean what books discusses physics along with philosophy in the wider sense:

  1. The pre-socratic Empedocles developed a cosmology of Love (philotes) & Strife (neikos)

  2. Lucretious's de rerum natura, ties together Epicurus's theory of 'life' together with the atomic theory of matter. Quite amazingly, they have the 'swerve' which corresponds to quantum indeterminancy.

  3. Spinoza Ethics discusses classical physics in relation to cosmology and God.

  4. Fritjof Capra The Tao of Physics, which discusses quantum physics with the philosophy of the dao and Buddhism.

  5. Though its specifically not related to physics its worth noting Dawkins The Selfish Gene for its immense contemporary impact where he relates the Fortuna (chance) that governs evolution to an explicit athiestic cosmology. Smolin adapts the evolutionary thesis to cosmology where he defines his own highly speculative multiverse theory.

  6. Simone Weils Gravity and Grace which is devoted to a mystical interpretation of Christianity. Its worth noting a possible and speculative connection here with Empedocles, where Love becomes Grace, and Strife becomes Gravity.


Quantum mechanics has very little direct relevance to free will, which is a moral and philosophical concept.

It has some indirect links. For example, it is possible for you to understand how the world works, including issues like how to create knowledge. So having a critical discussion with you about something bad you have done can make a difference to your future behaviour. Part of the reason why you can understand how the world works is that a computer made from simple components can simulate any finite physical system. Part of the reason why such a computer can work has to do with the quantum theory of computation and so with quantum mechanics.

In addition, it is common to deny that quantum mechanics is comprehensible. And if that is true the world isn't comprehensible because everything interacts with quantum systems. So having a good explanation of what quantum mechanics says about how the world works is indirectly relevant to ideas like free will.

See "The Fabric of Reality" and "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch.


The difficulty with seeking out material on these topics is the amount of pseudoscience you'll have to wade through before finding anything worthwhile. From a scientific viewpoint the following are fairly safe positions to hold (in the absence of evidence to the contrary): quantum mechanics is inconsistent with fate; coincidence is just that; free will is an illusion (assuming you can define what it means).

Here's a paper which makes a serious attempt to address what I think is a more interesting question: Consciousness as a State of Matter.

  • That looks like a very interesting read. Thanks for the link! Oct 7 '14 at 5:39

I was once quite fond of Roger Penrose, starting from "The Emporer's New Mind", as a way of putting quantum mechanics together with information theory and computing. (I disagree with him at a basic level, but I think he presents the relationships well.)

  • I've skimmed the book but didn't discover who was the emperor, who is he? Oct 7 '14 at 19:14
  • Har-har. We are all, I suppose the Emperor, with technology playing the tailor in the fable. Computing makes us think we understand thinking, but Penrose would insist that in fact there is no explanation to be had there. In the end, I am not a fan of magic, and Penrose comes very close to quantum mechanics as epistemic thaumaturgy. But I really like a lot of books I disagree with.
    – user9166
    Oct 7 '14 at 19:38

I would think "Wholeness and the Implicate Order" by David Bohm would be along the lines you're looking for.

There are a couple of essays about his ideas here:-

The Cosmic Plenum: Bohm's Gnosis: The Implicate Order

David Bohm ... and The Holographic Universe

For a more recent take on this theme there is also "Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything" by Ervin László


'Quantum Physics and Ultimate Reality: Mystical Writings of Great Physicists', Michael Green Editor

'What is Life?: With "Mind and Matter"' By Erwin Schrodinger

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