The Quantum Thomist

Musings about quantum physics, classical philosophy, and the connection between the two.
About This Website
What exactly is a Quantum Thomist?

A Quantum Thomist is somebody who is knowledgeable about both quantum field theory and Thomist philosophy, and who believes that a variation of Thomism provides the best possibility for a workable philosophy of quantum physics.

What has thirteenth century superstition got to do with modern physics?

Thomas Aquinas' thought is not superstition. It is a logically rigorous philosophy. That is, it starts from various premises, and reasons from them to reach various conclusions. Some of these conclusions have been used to support various aspects of Roman Catholic dogma, and his work has been incorporated into the best of Roman Catholic theology. The point is, however, that these results of his work are conclusions, carefully constructed from premises drawn from the nature of matter, and what it means for matter to be able to change.

The question we should then be asking is this: are those premises and conclusions consistent with modern science?

Most people's instinctive answer to this is "No." Why? Because they believe that medieval philosophy has been disproved by modern science. They claim that the renaissance and early modern scholars thoroughly refuted classical philosophy, and their arguments were confirmed by the emergence of modern physics. Physicists such as Galileo and Newton were inspired by a set of philosophical principles, and those principles both contradicted Aristotle's premises, led to a physical theory which agreed with experiment, while Aristotle's physics, derived from his own philosophical principles, contradicted experiment. The obvious conclusion was that a (perhaps more developed) variation of the mechanical and empirical philosophy of Galileo, Descartes and Newton was correct, and the older classical philosophy was wrong.

Most modern philosophers therefore take a cursory glance at classical philosophy, read and accept the criticisms of it from the renaissance and early modern periods, and consequently move onto other things. Most people who aren't philosophers don't even look at classical philosophy, but just absorb the view of their teachers.

At first glance, this understanding makes superficial sense. But it is wrong.

We no longer live in the nineteenth century. The basis of nineteenth century philosophy has been overthrown. Why do people superstitiously revere the modern philosophers, when the foundations of their thought has been so completely undermined?

What has this got to do with religion?
The mechanical philosophy naturally leads to the idea of a universe where God either doesn't exist, or doesn't do very much. However, the older philosophy directly implies the existence of God.

If the mechanical philosophy is consistent with science and true, God is absent, and atheism is (ignoring the observational evidence for God) philosophically reasonable, and theism irrational.

If classical philosophy is consistent with science and true, God is ever-present, and atheism is unscientific and irrational.

And if neither philosophy is correct? What then?

What has this got to do with ethics?
What has this got to do with Me?

For many people, philosophical disputes seem dry, boring, abstract, speculative, and wholly divorced from their day-to-day lives. Endless debates about the details of intellectual systems which are wholly unproven to be true. There is a reason they seem like that: most philosophy is dry, boring, abstract, speculative, and detailed. But it is not irrelevant.