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What would Plato have said about the Quantum Mechanics theory development? I mean, we have had to give the reason a second place in order to give to the observations the main motor of the theory and I think that Plato would have a lot to say in this subject. I would like to just discuss this in terms of Plato's conceptions of knowledge, as how we should approach the seek of reality in terms of just the reason.

I am trying to write an essay about the Plato's vision of reality and I would like to counter him into the quantum theory:

  • Quantum theory needs an observed to become 'real', to be a thing (us making the measure). Plato thought about the reality independent of a subject.

  • If Plato just 'believed' in the power of reason in order to find the truth, how would he argue all the quantum phenomena, which is based in our senses, not abstract ideas?

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    Hey there, welcome to philosophy and thanks for the question!! Is there any chance you might be able to narrow this down a bit? What is a specific aspect of this problem you're facing in your study?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Mar 5, 2017 at 14:29
  • Thanks! I am trying to write an essay about the Plato's vision of reality and I would like to counter him into the quantum theory: - Quantum theory needs an observed to become 'real', to be a thing (us making the measure). Plato thought about the reality independent of a subject. - If Plato just 'believed' in the power of reason in order to find the truth, how would he argue all the quantum phenomena, which is based in our senses, not abstract ideas? Feel free to edit whatever you thing in the main question. Mar 5, 2017 at 14:56
  • But how are we supposed to know what Plato could have said about a theory developed 2000 years after him with extensive conceptual developments in between? He did not possess conceptual vocabulary to even express what quantum mechanics is, let alone to comment on it.
    – Conifold
    Mar 8, 2017 at 3:31
  • Your views of quantum theory are wrong. Whether something is real in quantum theory is independent of observation. See "The Fabric of Reality" chapter 2 and "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch chapters 11 and 12.
    – alanf
    Mar 8, 2017 at 13:58
  • Great idea for an essay. I hope it worked out. Feb 16, 2018 at 19:01

3 Answers 3

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The book "Große Physiker" by Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker deals with this question in the chapter "Platon" pp. 48-72 (which discusses the Timaios dialog), but already the preceding chapter "Parmenides" deals partly with it, because it discusses Parmenides as portrayed by Plato in his Parmenides dialog.

But to disappoint you, large parts of what Plato said are even interpreted as prescient of developments from quantum mechanics, like the role of symmetry Plato expressed by referring to the Platonic solids (for how else could he have talked about symmetries without knowing the concept of a group). What is identified as the crucial difference is the role of time, which was cyclic for Plato, but is open for quantum mechanics. And the theory of relativity where space and time intermix was completely absent in the philosophy of the old Greeks.

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  • Thanks for this answer! I wasn't aware of it. Jan 10, 2019 at 7:24
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Plato situated the real as an essentially mental experience. There are no perfect physical circles, only mental ones. So I think he would have no problem with QM, relating reality to the sophistication of tgw observer

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"Quantum theory needs an observed to become 'real', to be a thing (us making the measure). Plato thought about the reality independent of a subject."

According to Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics ("Many Worlds Interpretation"), which is gaining popularity among physicists as far as I can tell, observer or "measurement" does not play any significant role.

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  • Always funny to read here about the 'extensive conceptual developments' developed in between Plato and now! Quite amusing.
    – user37981
    Oct 8, 2020 at 17:16

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