Reading Bohr: Physics and Philosophy offers a new perspective on Niels Bohr's interpretation of quantum mechanics as complementarity, and on the relationships between physics and philosophy in Bohr's work, which has had momentous significance for our understanding of quantum theory and of the nature of knowledge in general. Philosophically, the book reassesses Bohr's place in the Western philosophical tradition, from Kant and Hegel on. Physically, it reconsiders the main issues at stake in the Bohr-Einstein confrontation and in the ongoing debates concerning quantum physics. It also devotes greater attention than in most commentaries on Bohr to the key developments and transformations of his thinking concerning complementarity. Most significant among them were those that occurred, first, under the impact of Bohr's exchanges with Einstein and, second, under the impact of developments in quantum theory itself, both quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. The importance of quantum field theory for Bohr's thinking has not been adequately addressed in the literature on Bohr, to the considerable detriment to our understanding of the history of quantum physics. Filling this lacuna is one of the main contributions of the book, which also enables us to show why quantum field theory compels us to move beyond Bohr without, however, simply leaving him behind.
Acknowledgements. Preface. Introduction: Complementarity, Quantum Mechanics, and Interpretation. 1: Complementarity, Epistemology, and Quantum Mechanics as an Information Theory. 1.1. The No-Continuum Hypothesis. 1.2. Quantum Epistemology and Quantum Information. 1.3. From Heisenberg's New Kinematics to Bohr's Complementarity. 1.4. Complementarity, Phenomena, and the Double-Slit Experiment. 1.5. From Bohr's Atoms to Qubits. 1.6. Bohr's Epistemology and Decoherence. 1.7. The Epistemological Lesson of Quantum Mechanics 2: Complementarity, Quantum Variables, and the Relationships between Mathematics and Physics. 2.1. Translations: from Classical to Quantum Mechanics. 2.2. Transformations: from Geometry to Algebra. 2.3. Relations: between Mechanics and Mathematics. 3: Complementarity, Quantum Entanglement, and Locality. 3.1. 'The Peculiar Individuality of Quantum Effects'. 3.2. Formalism, Phenomena, and the 'Cut'. 3.3. EPR's Argument and Bohr's Response. 4: Complementarity, Chance, and Probability. 4.1. Chance and Probability in Classical and Quantum Mechanics. 4.2. Radical Epistemology and Irreducible Probability. 5: Complementarity, Quantum Mechanics, and Quantum Field Theory. 5.1. Bohr, Quantum Mechanics, and Quantum Field Theory: History and Philosophy. 5.2. Creation and Annihilation of Particles: 'Perhaps the Biggest of All the Big Changes in Physics in our Century'. 5.3. 'The Atomic Structure of the Measuring Instruments': Quantum Field Theory, Measurement, and Epistemology. 6: From Physics to Philosophy, from Philosophy and Physics. 6.1. Introduction: Thought, Knowledge, and Concepts in Physics and Philosophy. 6.2. Nonclassical Epistemology and Its Concepts. 6.3. Epistemology and Invention of Concepts: Bohr and Einstein between Kant and Hegel. 6.4. The Discovery of Quantum Mechanics and the Critique of Concepts in Heisenberg. 6.5. 'The basic Principles of Science': Nonclassical Epistemology, Scientific Disciplinarity, and the Philosophy of Physics.6.6. Conclusion: Chaosmic Orders.
References. Name Index. Subject Index.
From the reviews:
"This book seems to be an attempt to engage in a careful analysis of Bohr in a way meant to satisfy critical readers and also support what he here calls 'nonclassical epistemology'. ... Plotnitsky has provided some useful insights regarding Bohr, the book will probably appeal more to those interested in its nonclassical epistemology ... ." (Scott Tanona, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Vol. 40, 2009)
This book offers a new perspective on Niels Bohr's interpretation of quantum mechanics as complementarity, and on the relationships between physics and philosophy in Bohr's work. The importance of quantum field theory for Bohr's thinking has not been adequately addressed in the literature on Bohr. This book provides clarification of Bohr's writings (which usually pose problems of reading), and an analysis of the role of quantum field theory in Bohr's thinking.