Saturday, May 5, 2018


369. In interaction ambiguity shrinks

I think that in present times one should try to have an ontology that also covers the wondrous world of quantum physics. What am I up against there? I am not sure. There are several interpretations of quantum theory that have long been at at odds with each other, and still are, with fundamentally different implications, each difficult to accept. This is not the place to discuss all that. Can I connect my ontology to any of those interpretations?
The central feature of that ontology is that objects of all kinds, including both material and abstract objects, have an inside (what is in it) and an outside (what it is in), and that they arise, change or vanish in interaction with objects in their environment. They cannot exist without that interaction. 

I do find something like that in the “Copenhagen interpretation” of quantum physics that has been the dominant interpretation for a long time. This concerns the duality of an elementary particle (electron, photon), as being both particle an wave, or “cloud” of probabilities of locations where the particle might be.

In the “Broglie-Bohm interpretation” particle and wave exist at the same time, but in the Copenhagen interpretation there is only a cloud, until it “collapses” into a single location, where the particle appears, upon interaction with an observer-measurer.
In the “Everett interpretation”, interaction does not yield collapse but, on the contrary, an combination of the waves of the interactors into a larger wave, which expands on and on in series of interactions, growing into a wave encompassing the whole world, resulting in an infinity of possible worlds, each with its own superwave.  

Now, in terms of my ontology, would the cloud-particle duality constitute the inside of that object?
The interesting point here is that it is interaction with something outside (the measurer) that changes the state of the object. That is particularly interesting to me since I have spent half my life in srudying interaction between people.
I can only see a possible connection with the Copenhagen interpretation with its cloud collapse, in language, concerning universals. Consider the notion of “chair”. It can denote (refer to) a specific chair, without ambiguity. But that is only one of many specific chairs that constitute the “particulars” of the universal. Thus, the meaning of the universal is indeterminate until it collapses into a specific denotation in a specific sentence in a specific action context. It is in interaction with other words, in a sentence, according to grammar and syntax, that universals are disambiguated, that the cloud of meaning collapses.

I would not know how this cloud could be seen as a wave. But then, in a lecture posted on YouTube, Carlo Rovelli claimed that in quantum physics the wave does not really exist either, but is no more than a way of coding past interactions.

Concerning universals, that makes sense. In my treatment of universals, in this blog, I proposed that the particulars are not merely contained in the universal, and do not “derive from it”, as some kind of “reflection” of a Platonic “ideal object”, but on the contrary feed, constitute the cloud of possible denotations, developed from interaction between people in using the word. So here also, instead of the cloud being a wave, it is a deposit of earlier interactions.
I used the example, in a newspaper, with a picture, of a man using a stuffed cow for a chair, and so this became an additional possibility for denotation, in the cloud. Walking past a pasture with cows, one might then point and say: “look what a beautiful chair”.

There still remains ambiguity, now concerning the sentence as a whole, in differences of interpretation and understanding between people. They also take part in the interaction.   
Quantum theory and language seem to share what earlier I called an “object bias”. The objects involved (elementary particles, words) are seen in terms of objects moving in Newtonian time and space, but they are not like that. Earlier, I used the example of “chair”. A particular chair does not change colour or drop it legs when moved from one room to another, but the universal “chair” does change its meaning from one sentence to another.

Is this of any use? The notion of wave collapse from quantum theory did trigger the idea of a cloud of meaning for universals, and disambiguation, shrinking the cloud to a specific denotation, as a result of interaction, between words in a sentence and participants in discourse. I leave it to the reader to find this interesting or not.