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      The Worldview of Relative Simultaneity         (MURAYAMA Akira)

Relativity and Four-dimensional spacetime

[The Latter half] ---- Philosophical Examination ----

8. Problems in the Quantum Theory

(3) Abstract Universality and Concrete Individuality

   In fact, many unsolved problems remain despite experts in physics all over the world long working toward solving the problems. Still, I am seized with an irresistible impulse to think about those problems as an individual. This is also what I am.
   I can neither support Everett's many-worlds interpretation nor subjective idealism. I aspire to secure the objectivity of specific historical facts. My thinking may be ultimately wrong. It is impossible to completely deny this possibility. Though some people may say that this is just my wish, I do stick to the idea that specific historical facts are shared objectively without being limited to my consciousness. (Probably, many people say that this is totally obvious, but the current situation is serious. Many years have already passed since these obvious things faced a crisis.)
   In addition, I do not want to stick to outmoded ideas, just refuting facts found in theoretical physics. Subjects discussed in the theoretical physics world are not reserved for theoretical physicists. They are related to all people. Therefore, I do not take the stance that such things have nothing to do with us. Whether correct or not, as a generalist I think the following.
   Generally, elementary particles, such as electrons, do not have their own identities in principle. Macro materials like bearing balls can be regarded as individually different objects, however identical they may look, and this is a major characteristic of macro materials. In contrast, electrons can be considered only as members of general electrons. In principle, individual electrons do not make any particular difference. However, in terms of the interactions between electrons and their surroundings, each case in which individual electrons are observed is completely individual and constitutes part of the material world's history.
   When an electron passes through the double slits and leaves its trace on the screen, this is absolutely an individual historical fact. (This is true unless you accept Everett's many-worlds interpretation. If you take that stance, you will have to say, "This is a completely individual and historical fact for my universe.") It is a macro incident and a one-off event in history. When an electron passes through the double slits and appears on the screen (at least, it is its trace of interaction with the screen), the event is confirmed as a historical one. What position and order each electron is plotted on the screen differs with experiments and it is a kind of historical fact that cannot be drawn from the law of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics presented a set of statistical laws by comprehensively abstracting facts of its history, which facilitated statistical predictions. This does not mean that specific predictions about individual tests are possible. However, historical facts about each experiment result are determined.
   Next, if the trace positions of observed electrons are determined during the double-slit experiment, is it also determined how each emitted electron will be plotted? Of course, this cannot be exactly predicted, but is it determined?
   The process of electrons being emitted and reaching the screen is not an object of observation and cannot be discussed in principle. The process is usually expressed as a coherent state (superposed state of various cases) in quantum mechanics. However, it is possible to discuss what position on the screen future electrons will appear. Is this determined or undetermined?
   Here, let's return to the discussions based on the relativity of simultaneity in four-dimensional space-time. That reasoning suggests that if you think past experimental results have been determined, you will have to think that what position future electrons will appear is also pre-determined. This is because in the eyes of another person approaching the tester from far away at the same time as the present of the tester, the tester's future is the past and has to be determined. To the person distant from the tester, electrons' observation points and the end time of the experiment belong to the past and have already been determined. Even if you change the experimental way and observe which slit electrons pass through, it is also determined as a historical fact. (Information on the results cannot be obtained at the point of time due to the limit of light velocity, though.)
   This reasoning reminds me of universal disputes in medieval scholasticism, that is, the argument over nominalism and realism. Realism, which is based on Plato's idealism, represents the thinking that universality exists prior to individual things. This concept was postulated by Johannes Scotus Eriugena (810-877) and Anselmus de Laon. In contrast, nominalism represents the thinking that what actually exists is only individual things and that universal concepts are just general signs and names added later to individual things. This stance was espoused by Roscelinus Compendiensis (1050-1125) and William Ockham (1280-1349).
   The discussion about what actually exists is universal or individual can be expressed as follows from the perspective of the law of quantum mechanics. Does the existence of the abstract and universal law of quantum mechanics control individual elementary particles and their movements? Or was the law of quantum mechanics created by abstracting the existence of individual elementary particles and their movements, that is, four-dimensional specific things and formulating it as a law through human conception?
   Nominalism was, on the whole, related to materialism. (It also seems related to subjective idealism and agnosticism.) However, it is Kantianistic to deny the objective existence of universal laws and think that they were created by human cognition. Materialism looks upon universal laws as an attribute of objective existence. Certainly, it is wrong to reduce physical laws to human recognition and thinking frameworks. However I do not support the stance that abstract laws exist as things like pure ideals, independently of specific existences, and that they make up specific events. What really exists is specific events. I can imagine that they involve some kind of mechanism in which human recognition gives them abstract interpretations and perceives them as universal laws. My opinion, however, is that the mechanism is not an attribute of individual things but part of entire correlations.
   These attitudes make no particular scientific difference with regard to present and past events and they are quite common. What actually matters is future events. The point is whether this stance can be applied to future events as well.
   The past is given to us as specifically determined knowledge. Therefore, we can find laws from the past by abstracting specific empirical facts, and in fact, we have done so. In contrast, the future is not given to us as a set of determined knowledge. The direction of information transference can only be one way from the past to the future (at least, in the world we know now). The wall of light velocity is an intractable obstacle to that. Therefore, we do not and cannot abstract specifically determined future knowledge at all. In response to this situation, we estimate future events on the basis of our comprehensive empirical knowledge about past incidents. We usually produce specific facts in accordance with laws embedded in our brain. If future events happen in accordance with the time frame of the present and past as expected, we judge that our laws based on empirical knowledge are right. We interpret that those laws are truths and that our recognition has reached the truth (at least within the limit of something unknown).
   Based on this recognition, we come to imagine that our intracerebral laws actually exist objectively outside our brain and that they create specific future events. This is nothing more than imagination. We can determine exclusively objective existences of specific events distributed in the direction from present to past, which do not involve the pure existence of abstract laws.
   Each and every grain of sand on the beach has its own distinctive shape. It is impossible to formulate a general law to derive the origin of their shapes. The shapes of individual sand grains are tightly related to their history. Their history involves their interactions with many other grains of sand and streams of water. To explain why and how those sand grains came to take such shapes, it is necessary to describe their historical incidents in detail. However, if you focus on a dune at a particular place in a particular time zone during a particular season, you are likely to be able to formulate a law about the shape of the sand hill as a pile of sand grains.
   The existence of laws often makes us speculate that there is a hidden God's will and the fundamental essence of the universe, but in fact, principles appear quite naturally. If you try to write computer programs that produce a sequence of completely random numbers without any rule, you must not write at least random software. However random and complicated the program is, a certain rule will inevitably be drawn at a certain phase. To produce a sequence of random numerical values that does not have practical problems, you have to follow the mathematical algorithm of pseudo-random numbers, that is, a mathematical rule. This suggests how difficult it is for us to break away from laws.
   If there is any function of copying certain structures at a certain level of space-time, some consistent pattern will be observed. However irregular things seem, their aggregation will show some pattern at an abstract level. In addition, if their systematic complication exceeds a certain threshold, self-organization will emerge, which will lead to new rules in another phase.
   It may be appropriate to think that the idea that particular substantialized laws cause specific incidents is a kind of phenomenon that occurs in our thinking.
   Now, let me return to the relativity of simultaneity. If past events are specifically determined, future events also have to be determined like that. Essentially, the act of creation is not a matter of objective worlds on the basis of the objective existence of four-dimensional space-time. This is a phenomenon based on actions in our consciousness and all things from the past to the future exist in specifically determined forms. Therefore, the idea of creation is unthinkable. Human consciousness seems to scan those events in the direction from past to future. That is why the concept of creation exists only in our consciousness. In essence, the time frame comprised of the past, present and future can be established only in relation to our consciousness and is not an attribute of objective worlds. Most authoritative physicists appear to agree on this point.
   In accordance with this reasoning, I think that problems in quantum mechanics can be logically explained. The law of quantum mechanics is the theoretical abstraction of elementary particles' occurrence processes with regard to both the past and the future, from which, phenomenal probabilities are derived. During this process of calculating probabilities, theoretical models in superposed (such as coherent) states are applied. What actually exists is specific phenomena and theoretical laws are their comprehensive models of abstraction.
   Many physicists do not have a particular emotional attachment to individual electrons and molecules. Rather, they are particular about universal laws on the entire universe. Einstein believed in the existence of ultimately universal laws that could completely deduce specific phenomena. I think many physicists working on quantum mechanics have also tried to give credit for the law of quantum mechanics in terms of its credible existence. They placed too much emphasis on the subject and even deemphasized the objective existence of specific observed facts. The idea that the coherent model, in which electron passes through both double slits, is the real existence and individual events, such as what positions individual electrons are observed, depends on the observation of observers is based on a pursuit of universal existence and objectivity at the risk of individual existences and objectivity.
   Probably, some specialists ridicule my amateurish argument. My ideas may be irresponsible, but I am baffled by those themes as a layman while physicists have special arguments like theological debates. That is why I am tempted to present universal debates on quantum mechanics.
   I do not intend to claim that I am the first person to insist that the complete determination model from the past to the future will offer a breakthrough for logical difficulties in the observation problem of quantum mechanics. Countless physicists have already argued about the model. Many people know that. However, the model is hardly accepted.
   Generally, natural science is predicated on the assumption that the repetition of the same experiment under the same condition always causes the same result. Natural science seeks to discover laws on these repetitive phenomena. The field of study reasons specific situations by applying these general principles to specific conditions. That is, the study conducts the following reasoning: "If things were like that, they would end up being like that." Specialists in quantum mechanics call the reasoning pattern the counterfactual definiteness (CFD) assumption. The reasoning based on such an assumption is largely accepted and used as a valid one. However, some physicists argue that the denial of this assumption will lead to solving difficult problems concerning Bell's theorem. With respect to this issue, Nick Herbert presents the following counterargument in Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics (*4).

   Another way of gauging the plausibility of the non-CFD objection to Bell's theorem is to ask about the kinds of conceivable worlds in which CFD would be a patently invalid assumption. One such non-CFD world is a universe where only one history was ever possible in the first place. To speak of hypothetical results in such a one-track world would be nonsense. This kind of non-CFD world is strictly deterministic in Newtonian clockwork. Because of the absence of real choices, Bell's theorem cannot even be formulated in a strictly Newtonian universe.

   The book presents the point that this argument is likely to lead to the denial of free will, which is difficult to accept. (This reference book describes the observation problem of quantum mechanics clearly and closely so that general readers can understand.)
   Hue Price keenly argues that the introduction of the advanced action (action from the future to the past), of which many people were afraid, would lead to fatalism. In this sense, his idea is unique. However, he avoids mentioning the concept of freedom, thinking that it is too far from physical subjects.
   I have also been baffled by this concept of freedom. At the same time, I feel the concept is approached in too simple a way despite the fact that physicists presented drastic critical arguments about fundamental concepts, such as space, time and determinism, throughout the twentieth century.
   In addition, space-time determinism based on the relativity of simultaneity is not contradictory to the fact that the principle of non-local relationship was discredited by Bell's inequality and subsequent experiments. This is because it is not causal determinism based on Newton's and Laplace's ideas. Of course, the determinism pattern does not deny the existence of causal correlations among various phenomena all over the world, but does not attribute its base to causal relationships.
   The question is if it is appropriate to simply treat this deterministic worldview as the denial of freedom and if it is truly worth considering more closely from various perspectives. I will examine the concept of freedom later.
   It is undeniably wrong to forcibly apply a macro image like a pinball, which exists independently in a particular place at a particular time with a certain amount of momentum, to an image of elementary particles like electrons. Though it must be so, it may be the lack of discreetness to forcibly regard the probability-based wave function models in the superposed state as a real existence.
   I cannot completely address all problems in quantum mechanics in this book, but I can say the following. The heart of the matter is how to interpret past events. Are past events all specifically determined? Are they undetermined and do they exist in innumerable numbers? Or are they just a series of facts observed by my consciousness? The same judgments made about the past have to be applied to the present and future as well. A logical conclusion is from the relativity of simultaneity. There are only three worldviews compatible with the relativity of simultaneity: space-time determinism, many-worlds interpretation and solipsism. I have deliberated on this for a long period of time and concluded that could not be denied.
   Personally, I do not want to choose the many-worlds interpretation and solipsism. I would prefer fatalism to such solitary worldviews. Therefore, I will choose determinism more than anything else even if there is not only one physically authorized theory. If my thinking is not correct, I will next return to square one and seek the many-worlds interpretation. I will not employ an easy Science Fiction-based opportunistic stance. Therefore, I need to be ready to break away from common worldviews. If my thinking again fails, I will return to square one and then explore solipsism as the last resort. However, if I take this stance, I may not say anything. I may silently ponder the meaning of saying something. Additionally, I may come to the conclusion that the theory of relativity is wrong and that thus, the relativity of simultaneity is also wrong, although this scenario is the most improbable. In this case, I will be excluded from the physical world together with Einstein and other physicists, but I have no remorse.
   However, I do persist in denying the idea of totally separating physical worldviews from daily ones because I do not find any clear criteria for separating them. Of course, I have to be critical of cheap reductionism. In addition, physics cannot always deal with every aspect of the world. In my opinion, philosophy plays an important role in not only declaring that physics just deals with the world's foundations but also in specifying in what sense it constitutes the foundations and to what extent it can be based on rules. This interpretation involves various attitudes and my idea is just one of them. It is also conceivable to seek some clear criteria for separating physical worldviews from day-to-day ones. Furthermore, it is thinkable to refuse the pursuit of monothetic worldviews with systematic consistency. I will continue to stick to systematic monism on the regulative principle to carry out philosophical explorations.

(*4) Refer to Nick Herbert (1985), Quantum Reality Beyond the New Physics, p. 237, translated by Hajime Hayashi (1990), Hakuyosha Publishing Co., Ltd.


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