Can Classical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?

  • Gabriel Catren
Part of the The Western Ontario Series In Philosophy of Science book series (WONS, volume 74)


We propose a definition of physical objects that aims to clarify some in-terpretational problems in quantum mechanics. We claim that the transformations induced by an objective property of a physical system must leave invariant all the other objective properties of the same system. The uncertainty principle is understood as a natural consequence of the imbrication between objective properties and non-objective properties. It follows from the proposed definition that in classical mechanics non-objective properties are wrongly considered objective. We conclude that, unlike classical mechanics, quantum mechanics provides a complete objective description of physical systems.


Manifold Rosen Nomad Univer 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abraham, R. and Marsden, J.E. [1978]: Foundations of Mechanics, second ed., Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. Auyang, S.Y. [1995]: How Is Quantum Field Theory Possible?, Oxford/New York: Oxford Univer- sity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bergson, H. [1938]: La pensée et le mouvant, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  4. Born, M. [1998]: ‘Physical Reality’, in E. Castellani (ed.), Interpreting Bodies. Classical and Quantum Objects in Modern Physics, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brylinski, J.-L. [1993]: Loop Spaces, Characteristic Classes, and Geometric Quantization, Progr. Math. 107, Boston, MA: Birkhäuser Boston.Google Scholar
  6. Castagnino, M., Catren, G. and Ferraro, R. [2002]: ‘Time Asymmetries in Quantum Cosmology and Boundary Conditions to the Wheeler-DeWitt Equation’, Classical and Quantum Gravity, Vol. 19, No. 18, pp. 4729–4746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Catren, G. [2008]: ‘On Classical and Quantum Objectivity’, Foundations of Physics, Vol. 38, No. 5, pp. 470–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Einstein, A., Podolsky, B. and Rosen, N. [1935]: ‘Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?’, Physical Review, Vol. 47, pp. 777–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldstein, H. [1981]: Classical Mechanics, Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  10. Heelan, P. [2004]: ‘The Phenomenological Role of Consciousness in Measurement’, Mind and Matter, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 61–84.Google Scholar
  11. Hilgevoord, J. and Uffink, J. [2008]: ‘The Uncertainty Principle’, The stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), archives/fall2008/entries/qt-uncertainty.
  12. Kostant, B. [1970]: ‘Quantization and Unitary Representations’, Lecture Notes in Mathematics, Vol. 170, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  13. Lanczos, C. [1986]: The Variational Principles of Mechanics, New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  14. Libermann, P. and Marle, C.-M. [1987]: Symplectic Geometry and Analytical Mechanics, Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Marsden, J.E. and Ratiu, T.S. [1999]: Introduction to Mechanics and Symmetry, second ed., New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Mittelsteadt, P. [2006]: ‘Einstein's Objections Against Quantum Mechanics’, Physics and Philosophy,
  17. Nozick, R. [1998]: ‘Invariance and Objectivity’, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, Vol. 72, No. 2, pp. 21–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Souriau, J.-M. [1997]: Structure of Dynamical Systems. A Symplectic View of Physics, Cambridge, MA: Birkhäuser Boston.Google Scholar
  19. Weyl, H. [1952]: Symmetry, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Whitehead, A.N. [1978]: Process and Reality, New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  21. Woodhouse, N. [1992]: Geometric Quantization, second ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Catren
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche en Epistémologie AppliquéeCNRS/Ecole PolytechniqueParis cedex 15France

Personalised recommendations