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Posted by Harvey on October 3, 2001 19:39:32 UTC

Alex,

Such a view that dismisses the atomist view is called idealism. Not considered to be a reputable viewpoint ever since Bertrand Russell blasted F.H. Bradley.

However, quantum physics has come along since then and, I think, has found a middle approach to idealism versus physicalism. No longer do we talk about 'cause' in the same way. As I understand quantum causality, a determinant cause does not exist for a quantum event. Hence, we should be cautious in saying that quantum structures are caused by mathematical structures in a mechanistic sense. Thus, the whole issue of reduction is problematical since it is founded on classical concepts of reduction and cause.

Rather, I think we can say quantum particles are instantiated by mathematical/quantum laws and that this instantiation is a type of reduction (i.e., from directly physical/material to mathematical). To say that this is idealism is a little different than how Berkeley conceived of idealist notions. First, we aren't talking about mental relations but mathematical relations, and we aren't talking about a mechanical reduction but something non-classical.

I'm sure there is a body of written literature on this subject and when and if I come across it I'll certainly let you know. Although, I don't think of myself as an idealist.

Warm regards, Harv

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