32 thoughts on ““Taking Heisenberg’s Potentia Seriously” Featured on Science News Blog

  1. Exceptional clarity and timeliness! This paper addresses the consequences of a peculiarly connected, but still potentially comprehensible universe. Bravo to all of you! Combined with your other recent work, this has helped bridge a gap in my visualization of ‘simple’ polarization entanglements, “weak” measurements and their implied entanglements, and coherent quantum entities. Good stuff! ;-)

      1. I’ve only done a first pass on that paper, but yes. It sent me scurrying to read your other work to better understand your terminology and justifications. I now have wrinkled printouts of PTI & Relativity (2012), Heisenberg Potentia, and Status of Measurement Problem from September. I’ve printed, but not read Weak Measurements from March, though with a quick scan I think I get the idea. I’ve been stuffing your papers in a pocket and bring them to work to read during lunch and on breaks.

        I will tackle your co-authors’ work, but your work is easier for me to read.

        Long story, but I actually own a hard cover copy of Cramer’s Quantum Handshake, so I saw you referenced there. And this summer I came across a sly wink from Roger Penrose in reference to some ‘interesting work by Ruth Kastner’ in his Fantasy, Faith and Fantasy. I didn’t get a chance to try to see who you were until I saw Taking Heisenberg’s Potentia Seriously while scanning the Arxiv newsfeed. And … that lead me here.

      2. Correction. In this Universe, Roger Penrose has not mentioned your work. My bad. In my mind that does nothing to diminish the importance of your work!

  2. Awesome paper Ruth! I stumbled upon while researching ideas related to Kauffman’s last book “Humanity in a Creative Universe” (also awesome). Using the terminology that you use in the paper, it still seems to me more of a principle theory than a constructive theory where one can “see physical processes at work.” It’s certainly true that “imaginability must not be made the test for ontology,” but can you propose some kind of intuitively visualizable model? If potentia are ontologically real, they are “things” in a mathematical space that is also ontologically real. How to model that space and it’s interaction with space-time as-we-know?

      1. Thanks for replying Ruth, I have both your books, will go through them again. How does the Relativistic Transactional Interpretation relate to Kauffman’s ideas on free will and an open universe embedded in a wider realm of possibilities? Free will seems to require (hidden) non-randomness, where does that come from?

  3. RTI is a theory about quantum systems, but I interpret the quantum systems as the potentiae. That is, they are not spacetime actualities. RTI details how the quantum potentiae become actualities through the process of ‘measurement’, which isn’t really ‘measurement’ in classical terms, but rather the emergence of spacetime events (which are the actualities).
    Re free will, RTI does not go into free will specifically, but it leaves room for it. I discuss that briefly on pp 182-8 of “Understanding Our Unseen Reality”. For more technical details, see http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/11893/

    1. Reality is our creation. There is no objective reality independent of the observer. Recent experiments on delayed measurements using satellites is not in disagreement with this view.

      The potentials as embodied in the state vector may not be seen by the observer. However, it is the observer who decides on what he wants as reality. The sensory perceptible world has been considered to be the reality but it has to give away to other interpretations of :”reality”/

      Nalin de Silva

      On Sat, Oct 28, 2017 at 1:50 AM, Transactional Interpretation wrote:

      > rekastner commented: “RTI is a theory about quantum systems, but I > interpret the quantum systems as the potentiae. That is, they are not > spacetime actualities. RTI details how the quantum potentiae become > actualities through the process of ‘measurement’, which isn’t really ‘me” >

  4. Thanks, but that’s a metaphysical position that is not at all obligatory. Recall the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Their perceptions and theories about what they sense are limited, but there’s still an elephant out there.

    1. Is there a reality independent of the observer. ? Is it possible to demonstrate that there is a reality independent of the observer without appealing to an observer?

      On Sun, Oct 29, 2017 at 12:18 AM, Transactional Interpretation wrote:

      > rekastner commented: “Thanks, but that’s a metaphysical position > (idealism) that is not at all obligatory. Recall the parable of the Blind > Men and the Elephant. Their perceptions and theories about what they sense > are limited, but there’s still an elephant out there.” >

  5. Is it possible to demonstrate that there is no reality independent of the observer? This is why these are metaphysical positions, and it’s inadvisable to make dogmatic assertions either way. We simply don’t know. But we can certainly point to situations (such as the Blind Men and the Elephant) where the men would be wrong to conclude that there is no reality independent of their observations. Which is why they would not want to dogmatically assert such a claim.

    1. The blind men have their own realities. The observer who perceives and conceives the “elephant” as the elephant is only another reality. As long as we cannot establish that there is a reality independent of the observer, reality itself remains metaphysical, How does one define “reality”?

    2. The blind men conclude certain :”facts” depending on their senses. It could be considered as their “realities”. With our senses we conclude that the real elephant is not what the blind men describe as the elephant.

      The “reality” depends on the senses and we should not conclude what we sense as the reality. The reality .is not independent of the observer.

      On Mon, Oct 30, 2017 at 11:06 AM, Transactional Interpretation wrote:

      > rekastner commented: “Is it possible to demonstrate that there is no > reality independent of the observer? This is why these are metaphysical > positions, and it’s inadvisable to make dogmatic assertions either way. We > simply don’t know. But we can certainly point to situations (” >

      1. Sorry, but you’re still making dogmatic statements that are non sequiturs. I.e. they don’t follow from any argument. In the example of the Blind Men and the Elephant, each makes a theory based on his sense impressions. Nothing about that shows that there is no reality independent of their sense impressions. You’re just asserting that without argument,

      2. Could you define reality please. It will make this discussion purposeful.

        For example is reality the sense impressions of a “normal” person. Then of course the question arises as to who a “normal” person is.

        Is reality the sense impressions of a “normal” person and the scientific theories that are not usually sensory perceptible.

        Or is reality something else?

        Is it possible to conclude by argument that there is a reality starting from your definition of reality.

        Thank you.

        On Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 12:31 PM, Transactional Interpretation wrote:

        > rekastner commented: “Sorry, but you’re still making dogmatic statements > that are non sequiturs. I.e. they don’t follow from any argument. In the > example of the Blind Men and the Elephant, each makes a theory based on his > sense impressions. Nothing about that shows that there” >

  6. I think Nalin de Silva has failed to understand rekastner’s question. It is not possible to start with a definition of what reality is simply because it is not possible to gain direct access to such a reality. Nalin de Silva seem to have confounded an epistemological limitation with an ontological fact. For me rekastner’s argument is very simple: we do not know if there is anything outside the human relation that we can definitively claim to be real, but this means, at least, the equal possibility of the existence and non-existence of such a real

      1. I thank Ian Jones for his contributions. Let me come back to the epistemological limitations and ontological facts in a future comment. Ian Jones states on rekastner’s argument the following : “we do not know if there is anything outside the human relation that we can definitively claim to be real, but this means, at least, the equal possibility of the existence and non-existence of such a real”

        I am afraid rekastner does not say the same. In different comments she has said the following.

        [image: https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/profile_mask2.png%5D Introducing Understanding our Unseen Reality it is stated:

        “This captivating book presents a new, unified picture of the everyday world around us. It provides rational, scientific support for the idea that there may well be more to our reality than meets the eye…”

        What is meant by our reality in this statement? It is clear that according to rekatsner there may be more to reality than meets the eye.

        “Thanks, but that’s a metaphysical position that is not at all obligatory. Recall the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Their perceptions and theories about what they sense are limited, but there’s still an elephant out there.”

        What is meant by but there’s still an elephant out there? Is that elephant real or not? The perceptions of theories of blind men sense are limited. Does it mean that the perceptions and theories of the one who concludes that there’s still an elephant out there, not limited?

        “Is it possible to demonstrate that there is no reality independent of the observer? This is why these are metaphysical positions, and it’s inadvisable to make dogmatic assertions either way. We simply don’t know. But we can certainly point to situations (such as the Blind Men and the Elephant) where the men would be wrong to conclude that there is no reality independent of their observations. Which is why they would not want to dogmatically assert such a claim.”

        Please note that I have not concluded that there is no reality independent of their observations from the parable of blind men. My position is more general and I state that the blind men have their own realities.

        My question is whether “an elephant out there” is the real elephant? Is “an elephant out there” independent of some observer? Can there be more to the real elephant than meets the eye of the “normal observer”? Does “an elephant out there” refers to an elephant relative to “normal observers”?

        On Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 6:07 AM, Transactional Interpretation wrote:

        > rekastner commented: “Yes, of course. Thanks Ian.” >

  7. Of course I’ve argued in my book that there is good reason to think that QM is describing a reality independent of the sense data of particular observers. And in my other writings I’ve provided more details about what this reality might be (e.g., the Heisenberg Potentia paper).
    However, I’ve made no dogmatic statement to that effect. What I was doing was simply countering a dogmatic statement (from the commenter) that there is no such reality. As long as we agree that there is no point in making dogmatic statements either way, then we have no essential disagreement.

    1. Thank you

      On Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 8:23 AM, Transactional Interpretation wrote:

      > rekastner commented: “Just to clarify: while of course I’ve argued in my > book that there is good reason to think that QM is describing a reality > independent of the sense data of particular observers. And in my other > writings I’ve provided more details about what this reality m” >

  8. This is a really awesome paper that has very deep implications, Ruth. It has to do, I think with the reality AND continuity of time and the relationship between potential and actuality and the process through which potentiality actualizes. And the reality of indeterminism with the associated link to the creative possible. It all very closely lines up with the philosophy of Henri Bergson (who had a very famous debate on 4/6/1922 in Paris with Albert Einstein), as well as the ‘objective idealism’ and scientific metaphysics of Charles Sanders Peirce. The link to Peirce, I think, is critical because it also relates to his entire architectonic philosophical system and to his philosophyical ‘centerpiece’ of Synechism, the idea that time and space form a ‘supermultudinous’ non-Cantorian continuum that is consistent with the logic of relatives. That is, a form of continuum that involves a logic of continuity that manifests the global properties of modality, reflexivity and genericity as argued by Fernando Zalamea in his book, ‘Peirce’s Logic of Continuity’…https://books.google.com/books/about/Peirce_s_Logic_of_Continuity.html?id=gzu2kQEACAAJ
    I believe this is all connected to the idea that possibilities are indeed real and that what life involves is what Kurt Goldstein termed ‘self-actualization’ which is the organismic actualization of possibility, of potentiality. The manner in which that process actualizes also, of course, relates deeply to the question of free will in terms of exactly HOW potentiality actualizes in the context of a living organism. I think ti all gets tied together in the whole issue of the reality and continuity of time, and the reality of potentiality in that context. And then one can begin to look at reality through the lens of Peircean ‘scientific’ process metaphysics which is examined in significant detail in a book by Ivo Assad Ibri… https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319663135
    …as well as by others.
    Whitehead referred to Peirce as the ‘American Aristotle’ and Bertrand Russell (1959) wrote of Peirce, “Beyond doubt […] he was one of the most original minds of the later nineteenth century and certainly the greatest American thinker ever.”
    I think there is an opportunity here to connect Peirce’s ‘Synechism’ to RTI in an extremely powerful way, Ruth. And then to think about ways to empirically test the predictions that arise from a careful consideration of Peirce’s scientific process metaphysics such as the fact that everything evolves, that the foundation of reality is Chance (ie. ‘Tychism’ in the phenomenological category of ‘Firstness’), onto which the brute force of interactional necessity is applied (ie. ‘Anancism’ in the phenomenological category of ‘Secondness’) and that there is a mediational element that overlies these two and mediates between them (ie. ‘Agapism’ in the phenomenological category of ‘Thirdness’).
    I think that Peirce would have been deeply interested in RTI and the whole idea that ‘possibility is real’…
    By the way, there is whole other fascinating aspect to this which is the way that the vertebrate brain operates in the general context of these ideas and why the cerebrum is structured as it is. This is actually my central interest and what brought me ultimately to your work. I think that the ‘hidden reality’ of possibility is the realm of the right hemisphere, while the manifest actuality of immediate perception is the realm of the left hemisphere. For some discussion of this, check this episode of the podcast ‘The Hidden Brain’ in which Shankar Vedantam interviews British neuropsychiatrist, Iain McGilchrist…
    https://www.npr.org/2019/02/01/690656459/one-head-two-brains-how-the-brains-hemispheres-shape-the-world-we-see

    Iain is hard at work completing a new book on the metaphysical implications of his work on the Divided Brain Hypothesis that promises to be just incredible, in my humble opinion… you can learn more about his work at his author website…

    http://iainmcgilchrist.com/ and also at the website of a documentary film about his work at…
    http://thedividedbrain.com/

    I really think that this can all be drawn together into a very powerful conceptual framework that spans from the level of the quantum to the level of human experience. Vast indeed!

    1. Thanks, I will look into these references and consider these connections. Fascinating! I too have thought that right brain corresponds to quantumland possibilities and left brain to spacetime actuals.

  9. Bergson gave his paper ‘The Possible and the Real’ at Oxford University in 1920, two years before his fateful encounter with Einstein (covered beautifully in Jimena Canales’ book ‘The Physicist and the Philosopher’). The background and the detail on it and subsequent publication of the short essay related to this talk is given in this paper by Mark Sinclair…
    https://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/603606/2/Archiv%20Bergson%20on%20Possibility%20and%20Novelty.pdf

    And the essay is also translated here: http://bergsonian.org/the-possible-and-the-real/

    Of course, this all also relates to the question of the reality of novelty and creativity. Which, in Peirce’s metaphysics, arises through a mediated interaction between Chance and Necessity. Which sure sounds a lot like the process of evolution. Thus, Peirce’s scientific process metaphysics is sometimes referred to as ‘Evolutionism’ …

    which is covered in this paper by Arthur W. Burks… on “PEIRCE’S EVOLUTIONARY PRAGMATIC IDEALISM”…

    https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/43816/11229_2004_Article_BF00413590.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

    ….. I think this is all extremely interesting and also, I think, of fundamental significance. More later on this. I have to get running to work!

  10. Ruth, I have had email correspondence with Iain McGilchrist about this and I am convinced that it is something that is definitely worth looking further into. I think that the idea of our nonverbal experiential right brain connecting us to reality through perceived possibility and a connection to the temporal continuum while the left brain ‘deals’ with the focal space-time ‘actuals’ is incredibly powerful. And the idea and prospect of linking up quantum mechanics via the RTI vision to the structure and function of the human brain and the fundamental nature of consciousness is really attractive! And it is fully supported by Peirce and Bergson and Whitehead and the concepts of process ontology. Very cool stuff!

  11. Thanks, definitely something worth looking into! As I pursue this idea of spacetime (actuals) emergence, I see (with the aid of the influence network idea of Knuth et al) that ‘rest mass’ is always something hidden in Quantumland. An electron with rest mass occupies a ‘rest frame’ that itself is not really part of the spacetime ‘fabric’; it is defined only by reference to the hidden rest mass. One might associate an internal clock with an electron that gives it its own internal sense of continuous temporality (Hestenes has suggested this in his ‘Zitter Model’). Such a clock, according to RTI, is not part of the spacetime fabric. Timelike intervals associated with different actualized events are always indirect and perspectival, in the sense that they are defined only by reference to two actualized events that themselves are not directly connected by a light signal. It is only the null intervals associated with light signals that are really part of the fabric itself.

  12. By the way, Ruth, I have received your latest book, ‘Adventures in Quantumland. Exploring our Unseen Reality.’ and am really having a great time going through it. The more I read, the more I see some deep resonance with the ideas that come out of Iain McGilchrist’s extensive study of the cerebral hemispheres that is documented in his book, ‘The Master and his Emissary’. I think that the ‘iceberg’ that is above the surface is what is generally available to the ‘conscious’ left hemisphere from which languaged thought and reflection emerges. But that is a limited and biased view of reality that sees the world from the Nominalistic perspective of focality, division, and emphasis on part over whole, where objects are things upon which attention has been focused so as to separate the object from its context and to implement the strategy of ‘what you see is what you get.’ On the other hand, there is all the ‘stuff’ that is ‘submerged’ which the right hemisphere and various subcortical regions are managing ‘behind the scenes’ in a very different way which has a more relational ‘Synechistic’ perspective of globality, synthesis with an emphasis on whole over part, and the addressed challenge is to keep track of the ‘big picture’ and to recognize the critical influence of context.
    I have a feeling that this resonance is going to continue to grow as I continue to read through this book and learn more about RTI!

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