Book Review: The World in the Wave Function - The Metaphysics of Quantum Physics by A. Ney [Book Review]

CHEOLHAK, Korean Philosophical Association 156:211-224 (2023)
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(English translation from the text in Korean) The assertion that both humanity and the external world share a fundamental unity has gained increasing recognition, particularly in light of the growing discourse surrounding quantum physics. This perspective draws parallels with conceptual frameworks found in Western idealism, Eastern Buddhism, and the philosophy of Zhuangzi. In examining the current state of scientific inquiry, one cannot overlook the profound impact of quantum mechanics on the field of physics, alongside the rising influence of quantum technology in shaping our information-driven culture. These developments are ushering our contemporaries into an era of heightened engagement with an extended reality. However, amidst this transformative landscape, a notable tension emerges. While we have made significant strides in understanding the world through the lens of classical mechanics, the central thesis positing the essential unity of ourselves and the world seems to encounter unease and perplexity. A conspicuous discord arises when we consider that our lived experiences of humans and objects occur solely within the confines of three dimensions, while we are confronted with the assertion that these three dimensions are considered 'abstract,' while eleven dimensions are held to be 'fundamental.' This disjunction between our experiential reality and its explanatory framework gives rise to a pressing question that beckons exploration. In response to this challenge, various endeavors have been undertaken to bridge the perceptible gap. One such undertaking is exemplified in the work of A. Ney, titled "The World in the Wave Function: A Metaphysics for Quantum Physics." Ney takes as her primary inquiry the profound question of how the macroscopic realm can be intricately constructed from the microscopic realm, a question that stands at the forefront of quantum physics. In her pursuit, Ney endeavors to illuminate her thesis, positing that both we and the objects that populate our reality are composed of wave functions. This review aims to provide a comprehensive overview of Ney's work, encapsulating the content of its initial half. Subsequently, it will offer a critical analysis in the latter portion, engaging with the merits and potential limitations of her proposed metaphysical framework.

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