Why Bohm was never a determinist

In Andrea Oldofredi (ed.), Guiding Waves In Quantum Mechanics: 100 Years of de Broglie-Bohm Pilot-Wave Theory. Oxford University Press (2023)
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Bohm’s interpretation of quantum mechanics has generally been received as an attempt to restore the determinism of classical physics. However, although this interpretation, as Bohm initially proposed it in 1952, does indeed have the feature of being deterministic, for Bohm this was never the main point. In fact, in other publications and in correspondence from this period, he argued that the assumption that nature is deterministic is unjustified and should be abandoned. Whereas it has been argued before that Bohm’s commitment to determinism was connected to his interest in Marxism, I argue for the opposite: Bohm found resources in Marxist philosophy for developing a nondeterministic notion of causality, which is based on the idea of infinite complexity and an infinite number of levels of nature. From ca. 1954 onwards, Bohm’s conception of causality further weakened, as he developed the idea of a dialectical relation between causality and chance.

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Marij Van Strien
Radboud University


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