On the Success and Limitations of Reductionism in Physics

Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)


Reductionism in physics is understood here as a methodological reductionism. It involves the attempt to reduce explanations to smaller constituents and to explain phenomena in terms of relations between more fundamental entities. Responsible for the great success of reductionism in physics are a number of underlying principles and tools that we shall illustrate with examples from different branches of physics, and in particular condensed matter physics. After achieving a deeper insight into these successes one might be tempted to claim that physics is able to explain “The World” and establish a “Theory of Everything”. In response to this we shall point out some concrete limitations of reductionism, while at the same time highlighting the necessity of other disciplines in both the natural and social sciences if we are to achieve a full understanding of the plethora of phenomena they deal with. In conclusion we indicate that although one may attempt to develop a universal theory of complex systems, such a theory would not be able to explain complex systems in all their facets.


Dark Matter Renormalization Group Gauge Field Coarse Scale Parallel Transport 
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.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jacobs UniversityBremenGermany

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