Aristotelian ideas have in the past been applied with mixed fortunes to quantum mechanics. One of the most persistent criticisms is that Aristotle’s notions of potentiality and actuality are burdened with a teleological character long ago abandoned in the natural sciences. Recently this criticism has been met with a model of the actualization of quantum potentialities in light of Aristotle’s doctrine of ‘spontaneous events’. This presumably restores the nowadays acceptable idea of efficient causation in place of Aristotle’s original doctrine of the ‘four causes’. In this article I challenge the model by arguing that when properly scrutinized Aristotle’s final cause poses no problems for an Aristotelian reading of quantum mechanics. Final causes in fact provide a better ontology for quantum mechanics than spontaneous causation. The idea of ‘spontaneity’ is unanalyzable and therefore of little use in quantum mechanics. In addition, it is ontologically sterile in the context of quantum measurement, as shown by a historical and conceptual review of the role of efficient causation in experimental physics.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10838-020-09500-y
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,975
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.

View all 45 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Quantum Mechanics Without Probabilities.Peter Mittelstaedt - 2001 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 8:189-200.
Time-Symmetric Quantum Mechanics.K. B. Wharton - 2007 - Foundations of Physics 37 (1):159-168.
Quantum Mechanics, Interpretations Of.Peter J. Lewis - 2016 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Added to PP index

Total views
23 ( #489,877 of 2,498,240 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #282,621 of 2,498,240 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes