What has been written so far on the theme?

  • While Heisenberg's invocation of Aristotle is rather unique, there is an interpretation of quantum probabilities as propensities, which is similar in spirit and quite common. Quine and Popper favored it, for example, among many others. – Conifold Oct 12 '19 at 10:15
  • Thanks @Conifold I cannot see how Quine could favor an interpretation of propensities that is close in spirit to Heseinberg’s potentiae since Quine is an extensionalist (and I do not think that Aristotle’s potentiae are extensional).Could you please clarify me this point? And could you suggest me the article where Quine and Popper talk about propensities (seen almost as Aristotelian potentiae)? Thanks a lot. – Raquel V.Serrano Oct 13 '19 at 17:31
  • The theory itself is similar in spirit since propensities are "tandencies" or "potentia" of things to behave (with stable frequencies). Quine, of course, only accepted it grudgingly, and wanted to extensionalize it. How exactly, he did not elaborate, see Chatti's Extensionalism and Scientific Theory in Quine’s Philosophy, sec. 5 if you are interested. The majority view is that they are inherently intensional. – Conifold Oct 14 '19 at 7:45
  • Hi Raquel, welcome to Phil.SE. Your question is very short, and does not provide enough background and context to bring forth good answers. There's a lot written on the topic, and so every answer will inherently won't be enough. I'd advise you to narrow your question so the community will be able to provide proper answers. – Yechiam Weiss Oct 15 '19 at 19:16

The interpretation of QM via act and potency is most promising so far. You can check the book: Aristotle's revenge by Edward Feser. It is a good book that defends Aristotelian notions of act and potency, but it correctly shows that they are necessary presuppositions for modern science.

Pretty much, QM is a viewpoint of reality where you look almost everything as being in potency, and that notion is closely related to notion of the wave function. On the other hand, the general theory of relativity (via Minkowski spaces) is a viewpoint of reality where you look at everything as an actual being (because spacetime is a manifold and everything already exists actually). As change is a transition from being in potency to being in act, that is the reason why for example, the general theory of relativity is not properly disposed to seek for causes of things (because there is no change from potency to act if everything is in act as it is in general theory of relativity). Much more can be said...check out the book which I recommended.

About many world interpretations Feser (page 320-321) writes the following:

On the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics, observation of the cat famously leads to a splitting of the world into parallel and equally real branches, in one of which the particle has decayed and the cat is observed to be dead and in the other of which the particle has not decayed and the cat is observed to be alive. And the same is true for every other superposition, on this interpretation. Each possible outcome turns out to be equally real, so that there are parallel worlds in which the Allies lost World War II, parallel worlds in which Einstein was a bus driver rather than a physicist, and so on. Or rather, there is just one reality, a multi verse governed by a universal wave function, where the myriad parallel worlds reflect the various possible outcomes represented by the wave function.

Naturally, a common objection to this view is that it is difficult to see how it could be empirically tested, since our branch of the purported multiverse is the only one to which we have access. Another objection is that no one would take such a bizarre view seriously except on the supposition that the nature of physical reality can be read off from the mathematics of the universal wave function. But as I have argued, it is simply a basic metaphysical error to identify the physical world with what a mathematical representation of it can capture. It is also still not clear even on the "many worlds" interpretation whether measurements alone lead to a branching of the universe, or if any interaction does so - and if so, why (Kosso 1998, p. 169). A fourth problem is that if all possible outcomes are equally real, then there is no sense to be made of the probabilities that quantum mechanics assigns to the outcomes - every outcome has the same probability, namely 1 (Koons 2018c; Putnam 2012a). This reflects what the Aristotelian must regard as a deeper problem with the "many worlds" interpretation, which is that it is essentially a variation on Parmenidean monism, in which the world is regarding as a single substance and there are no unactualized potentialities.

On Bohm's interpretation (page 321.):

Then there is Bohm's "pilot wave" interpretation of quantum mechanics, which deals with wave-particle duality by positing two things, particles and waves (rather than one thing that exhibits properties of both), with waves guiding or "piloting" particles. As Koons points out, Bohm's position, like the many worlds interpretation, amounts to a kind of monism insofar as it treats the universe as a single fundamental substance, of which particles are passive components rather than having active causal powers of their own. (Koons unpublished; cf. Lewis 2016, pp. 169-70 on the holistic character ofBohmian mechanics.) Interpreted in a deterministic way, Bohm's position also has difficulty accounting for the probabilities described by quantum mechanics (Koons 2018c, p. 93).

  • Does he address the different “interpretations” of quantum mechanics? There may be a case for potency in some versions of the Copenhagen interpretation (though some other versions are just epistemological, saying it’s useless to ask what goes on between measurements) but I would think the many-worlds interpretation and Bohm’s interpretation are just as “purely actual” as general relativity, neither say that anything fundamentally different happens when a system is measured compared to the periods between measurements – Hypnosifl Oct 12 '19 at 19:08
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    @Hypnosifl Yes he does, he has a compact section on Quantum hylomorphism where he also discusses other interpretations. See my edit for a quote from his book about many world interpretations. I have added a quote on Bohm's intepretation. – Thom Oct 12 '19 at 19:24

Yes, there is some interesting things being written in this direction. I would recommend Dr. Wolfgang Smith as a reference, but there is some mistakes and clarification that are needed in this approach.

The first thing is an ontological distinction between the physical world and our world, and the distinction between the mathematical description and the described reality. Professor Smith make clear where Heinsenberg ideas is going in a right direction or if it is misleading. Maybe the best book to begin is "The Quantum Enigma".

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