Einstein's theory of relativity was the big ground breaking discovery of the 20th century, and one of the most influential of all time. He laid the foundations not only of all the physics and cosmology that came later but also of much of metaphysics. Many philosophers have meditated on the profound implications of relativity, see for example Adolf Grünbaum

I was wondering if seminal publications exist that examine the implications of modern cosmological theories, string theory, holographic principle, brane cosmology. Thanks in advance.

  • This is a bit broad to answer here, but I will give a word of warning: be extremely skeptical of anyone discussing the philosophical implications of physics and especially of quantum mechanics. The vast majority of them are crackpots. A useful litmus test: if they try to tie quantum mechanics to consciousness or free will, especially if they think that the observer in the double slit experiment needs to be a person as opposed to a photosensitive resistor or something, they have no idea what they're talking about. (If they pass that litmus test, they're only probably crackpots.)
    – Ray
    Aug 15 '19 at 16:58

Philosophy of QM is a large subfield of philosophy of science. Philosophy of cosmology is smaller but still significant. Here are some relevant Stanford Encyclopedia articles:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmology/ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quantum-field-theory/ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quantum-gravity/


On the whole philosophers have been bamboozled by QM and little work has been done. The pioneers explored various ideas but it all went quiet when Behaviourism became popular.

My top recommendation would be the book Quantum Questions' by Ken Wilbur. This collects together the writings of a number of famous physicists and their thoughts on what the data means.

If you can do the maths there is also The World According to Quantum Mechanics: Why the laws of physics make sense after all by Ulrich Mohrhoff. He explains QM within the framework of the Perennial philosophy.

You may also find the writings of Hermann Weyl on the Continuum useful.

There is an impressive book by Michael Redhead 'Incompleteness, Nonlocality and Realism, but I'm unable to understand most of it and don't know what it's for.

Outside of the non-dual community I've seen no philosopher address modern physics. My view would be that it cannot be addressed unless we abandon Newton for the philosophy of non-dualism, which means that in professional academic philosophy it cannot be addressed and there is a dearth of literature.

The philosophy department seems to have lost touch with the physics department in the early 20th century, but perhaps it's just that I haven't noticed the work being done. Other answers here will hopefully make this clear.

  • 2
    > Outside of the non-dual community I've seen no philosopher address modern physics. With all due respect, this is nonsense. There is an entire discipline in philosophy called philosophy of science. Yes, these philosophers have heard of and work on modern physics. An example of someone worth looking into is Jeff Barrett faculty.sites.uci.edu/jeffreybarrett . Look around for the philosophical circles he cites, etc. There is probably less work on string theory, M-Theory, etc., partially because the status of these theories is so much less established than relativity, QM, etc. Jul 24 '19 at 16:29
  • @transitionsynthesis - The page you link to gives no indication that this researcher is doing more than looking at the measurement problem. I see no evidence he's looking at the wider issues or making any progress. I have no doubt there are modern philosophers working on the interpretation of QM, but I don't know of any and have not heard a word about anyone who's making progress.
    – user20253
    Jul 25 '19 at 10:40
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    First of all, the measurement problem is the fundamental philosophical problem for interpreting QM. Moreover, the person I linked has a paper, for example, on the status of mind-body dualism vis-a-vis QM and several papers on the structure of space-time. I'm baffled as to how this fails to address "wider issues" in the philosophy of QM. What more fundamental philosophical issues could there be than the measurement problem, the status of consciousness, the structure of spacetime, etc.? Moreover, it would be helpful to know what you consider progress and how you know it when you see it? Jul 25 '19 at 17:09
  • @transitionsynthesis - In a paper he discusses the problem of deciding which form of dualism best explains QM. I would say that this is not advanced philosophy and that no form of dualism explains it, which is why there is so little progress among dualists. But your complaint is reasonable. I wasn't suggesting that physicists we're not thinking about this stuff, just that their philosophical view is usually unworkable and the philosophy department is no help. I feel Schrodinger would support my view if he was around.
    – user20253
    Jul 25 '19 at 18:27

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