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Is reality relative?

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Probius:
I've attached the link to an article about science, but it's really philosophy since it is about a new interpretation of a scientific theory. This new interpretation is currently a minority opinion among scientists, but this may be due to it being so new. Carlo Rovelli has a new way of interpreting quantum theory. His ideas are really out there. Basically, he says that objects do not have an independent existence, but rather exist only in so far as they interact with other objects. Rovelli calls this relational existence.

https://theconversation.com/is-reality-a-game-of-quantum-mirrors-a-new-theory-suggests-it-might-be-162936

james03:
Atheists grasping now that materialism has collapsed.

Because the alternate is God, Who is the Author of reality.

cgraye:
I have not read Rovelli's book on this, but from the articles and reviews I have been able to find on it, this is just another possible way of interpreting quantum mechanics.  Quantum mechanics tells us something about reality, but interpretations of quantum mechanics do not necessarily tell us anything about reality.  They tell us what possible things are compatible with the way we express quantum mechanics, but that may only tell us something about the way we express quantum mechanics, not about the reality expressed by quantum mechanics.

In any case, reality is not relative.  Certain things in reality are relative, including things that our everyday experiences would lead us to believe are absolute.  In quantum theories, things are strange, because they do not correspond to anything in our everyday experiences.  But it is not clear what the objects of quantum theory correspond to in reality, if anything.  All we have are some mathematical abstractions that are good at making predictions about reality.  Their success in those predictions tells us that they are capturing something about reality, but not exactly what.

Even stepping outside the world of quantum strangeness, things are relative.  For example, the length of an object depends on the state of motion of the observer.  And that's not an optical illusion, but a real difference.  And we can't say that any one observer's measurement is any more true than any other's.  However, that doesn't mean that there isn't one observer's measurement that is actually true, just that we have no way of knowing which one.  But even if that is not true, and there really is no observer whose measurement is actaully true, there is still something about that object that is true and absolute for all observers.  It's just something a little more complicated than its length.

The same thing is true in quantum theory - even if certain things in our everyday experience turn out to be things that depend on the observer as well as the object being observed, there is still something about that object that is real and not relative to something else, even if it is not so simple to understand.

Part of the confusion here might be failure to make distinctions between different kinds of reality.  Potentialities are a kind of reality, but obviously a different kind of reality than actualities.  But our descriptions of physical theories don't put things in exactly those terms.  So without that kind of metaphysical tool, we sometimes fumble around trying to explain what we are seeing, and it comes out in strange-sounding explanations like this.

andy:
relative =/= relational

Probius:

--- Quote from: cgraye on July 15, 2021, 08:51:55 PM ---I have not read Rovelli's book on this, but from the articles and reviews I have been able to find on it, this is just another possible way of interpreting quantum mechanics.  Quantum mechanics tells us something about reality, but interpretations of quantum mechanics do not necessarily tell us anything about reality.  They tell us what possible things are compatible with the way we express quantum mechanics, but that may only tell us something about the way we express quantum mechanics, not about the reality expressed by quantum mechanics.

In any case, reality is not relative.  Certain things in reality are relative, including things that our everyday experiences would lead us to believe are absolute.  In quantum theories, things are strange, because they do not correspond to anything in our everyday experiences.  But it is not clear what the objects of quantum theory correspond to in reality, if anything.  All we have are some mathematical abstractions that are good at making predictions about reality.  Their success in those predictions tells us that they are capturing something about reality, but not exactly what.

Even stepping outside the world of quantum strangeness, things are relative.  For example, the length of an object depends on the state of motion of the observer.  And that's not an optical illusion, but a real difference.  And we can't say that any one observer's measurement is any more true than any other's.  However, that doesn't mean that there isn't one observer's measurement that is actually true, just that we have no way of knowing which one.  But even if that is not true, and there really is no observer whose measurement is actaully true, there is still something about that object that is true and absolute for all observers.  It's just something a little more complicated than its length.

The same thing is true in quantum theory - even if certain things in our everyday experience turn out to be things that depend on the observer as well as the object being observed, there is still something about that object that is real and not relative to something else, even if it is not so simple to understand.

Part of the confusion here might be failure to make distinctions between different kinds of reality.  Potentialities are a kind of reality, but obviously a different kind of reality than actualities.  But our descriptions of physical theories don't put things in exactly those terms.  So without that kind of metaphysical tool, we sometimes fumble around trying to explain what we are seeing, and it comes out in strange-sounding explanations like this.

--- End quote ---

I appreciate your well thought out response. I agree that Rovelli's ideas are just an interpretation of quantum mechanics and there are many other interpretations as well. Rovelli's ideas are not mainstream at this point and are even a minority opinion among scientists who are working on quantum mechanics.

I was struck by the idea, though. This man's ideas just grabbed me. I have been studying Buddhism lately and the idea of interdependent co-arising is interesting to me. Rovelli's ideas support this tenet of Buddhism. This tenet goes against the ideas of Aristotle since it would mean that there is no essence under secondary characteristics. Everything is empty and is only composed of the components that make them up. One way I have seen it expressed is, "Therefore, all things are empty, empty of intrinsic reality and intrinsic value; all existence is relational. Whatever the ultimate reality of things, it is inexpressible and inconceivable; therefore empty. All things arise through the co-working of many causes and conditions."

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