Wed, Dec 14, 2005, 2:30pm Philosophies of Quantum Mechanics
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(Last updated: Tue, Sep 12, 2006, 4:31am)
n 2006, I'm going through a study of the foundation of quantum mechanics. It will first go through non-relativistic quantum theory (QM) and its interpretations and then, probably in the following year, on into quantum field theory (QFT). These are subjects I'm familiar with, but I've been waiting for the right time to dive into a deeper personal study, allowing myself to indulge in the broader philosophical issues as I go.

Just to be clear, by the philosophy of QM, I mean the sober studies on the subject, not the endless popularized pseudo-philosophies on the subject that are out there. I loved reading those kinds of books when I was an undergrad, years ago, but their purpose was more about motivation than real insight.

There's nothing tertiary about interpretation in quantum mechanics proper. What happens in the field is that the interpretation gets buried in convention and ways of talking, but it's all there, and very much open to study and progress.

I'd say that about 50% of this year's study is going into QM with a higher level of mathematics than I've had to use in grad school, and the other half is going to be careful readings in the philosophy of QM from authors that I've not had time before to read.

I'll write up a list of good philo (and some history) of QM books on this page and ask you what books you think should be included in such a list. A sampling of authors here includes: Reichenbach, Bachelard, Capek, Schlegel, Bell, Hughes, Bohm, Castellani, Wallace, Mittelstaedt, Griffiths, Bub.

  • Jim Kinnison (Thu, January 26th, 2006, 11:01am UTC)
    I'm going through a similar program this year finally trying to understand some quantum field theory beyond Bjorken and Drell or Feynman path integrals. I'd be very interested in following along with your progress! Good luck, and keep us posted.

  • Jeff (Sat, January 28th, 2006, 3:10am UTC)
    Jim, Good to hear someone would be interested in this, and I'd be interested in your thoughts as well. I'm going to add a book list and a way for others to easily add books and paper references. When I put up the list of stuff I'm going through, please feel free to add anything you think might add quality to the study.

  • Craig Stevens (Thu, March 30th, 2006, 1:48pm UTC)
    Interesting site along the same lines:
    Gerard ’t Hooft, Theoretical Physics as a Challenge


  • chris (Thu, August 6th, 2009, 1:06am UTC)
    you a good author on quantum theory and it's history i Werner Heisenberg who wrote the book Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science, although it's over 50 years old it's still good in fact quantum theory would be almost nothing without Heisenberg's 'Uncertainty Principle' so that's why i think him and his book should be included in your list.

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