Happy New Year! …and the latest on RTI

I’m celebrating the advent of 2021 with a post featuring the very latest theoretical developments supporting the Relativistic Transactional Interpretation (RTI):

The Relativistic Transactional Interpretation and The Quantum Direct-Action Theory

This material is based on Chapter 5 of the forthcoming 2nd Edition of my book The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: The Reality of Possibility (Cambridge University Press, 2012). The 2nd Edition is expected to be available in the fall of 2021. This material is somewhat technical. Comments and questions always welcome!

7 thoughts on “Happy New Year! …and the latest on RTI

  1. So this is my third time trying to get WordPress to accept a comment. The previous two have been lost due to a major problem with WordPress. I am going to type this in Word and transfer it to the Comment section so that it is not lost yet again.

    I have recently completed an online study of ‘John Deely’s Semiotics’ in the Lyceum Institute, as well as a study and careful examination of the ideas of David Bohm—which is ongoing and energized by the recently released film ‘Infinite Potential. The Life and Times of David Bohm.’ I have particularly focused on Bohm’s idea of ‘Soma-Significance’ as a key construct to describe how physical body and relational mind are deeply entwined. In recognizing that ‘substance’ and ‘relation’ are equiprimordial fundaments for existence, in that relations are defined between substantial relata, and that the organization and ordering of substance is by way of relation, one can recognize the element of physicality in ‘soma’ and the element of relationality in ‘significance’ given that ‘significance’ and ‘meaning’ are fundamentally relational and semiotically derived and that semiotics can then be understood as the science of relationality. In the West, since Descartes and Newton, ‘science’ has been exclusively the study of the material with emphasis of Cartesian Nominalism and its associated Dualism directing science to focus on the ‘physical’, and it has been quite successful in doing so to the point where we have gained understanding of the structure of the material down to the subatomic level. Although the dominance of a nominalistic emphasis, with its associated spin-off ‘-isms’ of materialism, individualism, phenomenalism and sensationalism, has placed the focus on the materially observed ‘object’ from the perspective of an immaterial observer existing entirely outside of the system of study. This nominalistic perspective of the separated observer is an illusion created by thought and what Schopenhauer termed the ‘principle of individuation’ through which thought as internal denotative language engenders fragmentation. The problem with nominalism is that it claims that only the physically existing actual constitutes the real, that there is no such thing as a real potentiality as an influence on the actual, and that fragmentation is the way through which the operation of the world can be discovered. This leads to significant problems which are now evident all around us across this Pale Blue Dot that we inhabit. This is because a dogmatic ‘scientism’ based exclusively on Cartesian nominalism is seriously flawed and presents a significant threat to the advancement of science and civilization, and has led to a massive elevation of existential risk on a global scale. It implies what Charles Sanders Peirce called a deterministic ‘Necessitarianism’–a world lacking any form of mediation, demanding certainty and intolerant of vagueness. The alternative posed by Peirce was “a nuanced realism that distinguished reality from physical actuality and that could admit general and abstract entities as reals.” Peirce held that to eliminate the reality of potentiality from ontology, as is required by the nominalism inherent in thought, “is virtually to eliminate the ground for scientific prediction as well as to underwrite a skeptical ethos unsupportive of moral agency.” And when thought and the ‘principle of individuation’ are given full sway, and affective experience is overridden, then what we end up with is a disastrous and destructive path to moral depravity, totalization and skeptical nihilism. Which appears to be exactly the path that we are on.
    But there is, indeed, another way. Which is to give full recognition to the relational, to the semiotic, to the action of signs, and to recognize a relational foundation in consciousness rather than a physical foundation in materiality. And that point becomes apparent in the context of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity which are means of the restoration of the relational to total legitimacy on at least a par with materiality. So that RTI as a means of integrating these two fields is of critical importance. And I come at this from the perspective of brain science where the Divided Brain Theory of Iain McGilchrist as presented in his book ‘The Master and His Emissary. The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World’ and the documentary film, ‘The Divided Brain’, makes it clear and consistent with the general idea that the relational approach and the physical approach are separately predominant in the two cerebral hemispheres, with the right hemisphere primarily connected to the relational reality of QuantumWorld and the left hemisphere primarily connected to the physical actuality of ManifestWorld, and the implementation of a nonveridical ‘interface’ with the underlying reality, an interface that includes the connection to a space-time manifold that forms the primary contextual structure of the interface and allows for the embodied autopoietic capabilities of self-maintenance and reproduction. (cf. work and ideas of Donald D Hoffman) And that these two perspectives are then brought together through a coordinated mediation through signals carried by the fibers of the corpus callosum that connects the two hemispheres.

  2. So where I get ‘lost’ is in the labyrinth of the myriad of different QM ‘interpretations’ that are out for evaluation and perusal. And what criteria does one use to judge one interpretation versus another? I think it gets ‘hairy’ pretty quickly, and I am guessing that there are no ‘clear-cut’ criteria for saying which interpretation is ‘right’ and which is ‘wrong’. So what are the criteria for judging the relative value of any particular interpretation? From Copenhagen to deBroglie-Bohm, to QBism, to RTI. I am guessing there are probably a few more!? According to Wikipedia, there are at least 19 different interpretations of QM! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics with an interesting table of different comparison criteria.

    And then there is Paul Dirac’s statement that endorses the ‘silent approach’ to the whole challenge of coming up with an interpretation that puts the competition to rest. That is, advocating for not even trying to come up with a viable interpretation but, instead, focusing on the ‘more fundamental things’. Like what? This is somewhat concerning coming from a quantum physicist who came up with some really interesting ideas that I think are still of some ongoing value.

    Just looking at the complexity of that table on the Wikipedia entry, it all looks like a pretty ‘hairy’ and challenging prospect to dive in and figure out which of the interpretations to hand one’s hat on… just saying…


  3. IMHO, the plethora of QM interpretations is akin to the situation just after the negative result from the Michelson-Morley experiment that refuted the ‘luminiferous ether’. The ‘paradox’ of length contraction, etc., was ultimately resolved by Einstein who went outside the box and proposed that the speed of light is simply constant in all reference frames and that space/time concepts were not absolute as separate parameters.
    The ‘paradoxes’ of quantum nonlocality, entanglement, indeterminacy, the physical origin of the Born Rule (heretofore a mystery) etc. etc., are resolved in a unified manner in RTI. Currently, it appears only as ‘one of a plethora of interpretations’ because it requires taking a conceptual step that the ‘mainstream’ has been reluctant to take: namely that ‘spacetime’ is not the whole of physical reality, and that fields don’t behave in the local, unilateral manner long assumed by physicists–specifically, that physics needs the direct-action theory of fields as opposed to conventional quantum field theory.
    P.S. For why the ‘Copenhagen Interpretation’ fails due to internal inconsistency, see: https://arxiv.org/abs/1601.07545 In a sense, it’s not really an ‘interpretation.’ It’s simply a refusal to interpret QM being portrayed as an interpretation.

    1. Yes, I had read about this in the past. That Bohr was conservative in what he felt could be conveyed through quantum mechanics and that what one could know was limited due to limitations on the process of knowing itself. Where classical epistemology relates to what is available to reflective, meta-consciousness that is limited to what words can convey. That is, we cannot know reality itself, we can only know what it is possible to ‘know’ about it. Which, in my books, amounts to admitting that we only have ‘half a brain’, ie. the part that speaks. And that there is no other way of knowing. Well triadic semiotics has something to say about that. Meta-consciousness is reflective consciousness, but there is also what I like to call ‘primary consciousness’ which is the consciousness related to affective embodied experience. If we are actually only ‘Talking Heads’ with little homunculi operating a control panel that sends control signals out to body mechanisms, then perhaps Bohr is right. But we are more than that. And I, like CS Peirce, get upset when there is a dogmatic statement that some aspect of experience cannot be investigated scientifically because it is effectively ‘off limits.’
      What becomes clear in systems in which the observer and the observed are inseparable and BOTH are intrinsic parts of the system, then embodiment and relationality are of fundamental significance. That is, as Bohm proposed in his construct of ‘soma-significance’, we a simultaneously physical and relational beings. We are both objects and subjects deeply entwined as part of one existent. This falls out of the science of semiotics, which, in effect, is the science of relationality. Bohr was a nominalist and Bohm and Peirce among others are realists who recognize that there is a significant threat, a fundamental danger, inherent in a Nominalism.that denies the reality of a relational potentiality. I think this dual foundation of existence in the context of ‘Soma-Significance’ is paradoxically what allows us to overcome the limitations of Cartesian dualism. And it turns out that this is a real problem because of the major problems that are precipitated by a nominalism that sees physical actuality ONLY as being real, and denies the reality of potentiality, which, I ,would argue is tantamount to recognizing that consciousness (or ‘mind’ ) as the relational foundation is fundamental, not materiality.

  4. Thank you, Ruth. This is really helpful. My personal feeling is that your idea about the space-time manifold being emergent as a ‘construct’, a composed ‘container’ that has become an integral part of a non-veridical interface that has developed gradually over the course of biological evolution–as maintained also by cognitive neuroscientist Donald D Hoffman– is a valid and important insight. One anatomical structure where this is pretty clearly evident is in the three orthogonal planes of the semicircular canals which sense movement of the head in 3-dimensional space. The physical conditions that have been most consistent during biological evolution, like gravity, and 3-dimensional space, are those which become internalized in the anatomy and function of the evolved mechanisms of the physical body so that the challenges of the autopoietic functions of self-maintenance and reproduction can be successfully met.

  5. And, also, the idea of relationality as a determinant of significance, meaning, and essence, is not a new idea. It can be traced back to the philosophy of the Scholastics and to the concept of the process of semiosis or the action of signs. Not language per se, but the action of any type of sign. A book published in 1632 and written by a Portuguese Dominican friar, John Poinsot (AKA John of St Thomas) titled ‘Tractatus di Signis’ had basically proposed a complete nondualistic theory of signification involving three elements: 1. the sign vehicle (that which represents), 2. the object (that which is being signified), and 3. the Interpretant, which is that for which the relationship of the sign vehicle to the object has meaning.

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