Complementarity: From Physics to Philosophy, From Philosophy to Physics

  • Arkady Plotnitsky
Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 152)


This chapter offers a philosophical discussion of the epistemology and conceptuality arising from Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics as complementarity, or from the interpretation of this interpretation offered in this study. Following the terminology adopted in Chapter 4 in the context of quantum probability, I shall call this epistemology “nonclassical.” As discussed earlier in this study, Bohr’s adjustments of complementarity were sufficiently significant to allow one to speak of several versions of it. Only one of these versions, that developed in the wake of EPR’s argument and finalized sometime in the 1940s, and defined by Bohr’s concepts of phenomenon and then atomicity, appears to fully conform to nonclassical epistemology. It is, in principle, possible to speak of several post-EPR versions of complementarity as well. The possibility of considering several such versions, whether all of them are nonclassical or not, would not, however, affect my argument here. That the one found in “Discussion with Einstein” (1949) and “Quantum Physics and Philosophy: Causality and Complementarity” (1958) is nonclassical, at least in the present interpretation, suffices for an argument, such as the one to be offered here, concerning both the possibility and significance of nonclassical epistemology in physics as based on actually existing theories or interpretations of these theories. In addition, as discussed in Chapter 5, quantum field theory appears, at the very least, to allow for interpretations that are epistemologically nonclassical.


Quantum Mechanic Quantum Theory Classical Physic Quantum Object Quantum Phenomenon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arkady Plotnitsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations