The Excluded Middle might just be Possible


Is it possible that logic will allow for a “middle” state? Aristotle’s Law of the Excluded Middle has often been cited as the reason that there can be no middle ground in scientific thought, and by some people’s extension, in public discourse. A thing is either correct or it isn’t. A state is either “A” or “Not A”, it has to be one or the other if there is an external absolute reality to the observer. Ultimately there can be no muddle of state, no middle ground.

Except that ain’t necessarily so.

Stuart Kaufmann begins on the NPR Science blog by examining the phenomenon of Quantum Mechanical interference patterns. (My daughter Kenney and I were talking about this last night at dinner, she’s just starting to study Quantum phenomenon in her physics class.) The fact that particles like electrons, muons, protons, etc, show interference patterns is proof that they have an inherent wave nature. The fact that these same particles come in quantum chunks is pretty strong evidence that they’re particles. So which are they? They’re both. They are both “A” and “Not A” at the same time.

Kaufmann writes:

“[C]ontrary to Whitehead, Possibles, if Quantum Mechanics deals with Ontologically real possibles, can interact instantaneously acausally across space.

Then recall C.S. Pierece telling us that the Actual and the Probable live in the world of Aristotle’s ‘Law of the Excluded Middle: A or Not A, there is nothing between them. The Middle is excluded. But as Pierece pointed out over a century ago, the Possible exactly avoids Aristotle’s law of the excluded Middle: A is true, A is Possible, A is false.  A is possible lies smack in the middle of A is true and A is false.

Then recall that confirming the violation of Bell’s inequalities demands either non locality, or alternatively demands giving up the ‘definiteness of counterfactual statements. So consider: ‘ A happens then B happens. If  A had not happened, B would not have happened’. This is a definite counterfactual.

Try the same with Possibles, ‘A happened and B possibly happens and simultaneously B  possibly does not happen, but if A had not happened, B possibly would not have happened and simultaneously B possibly would have happened!’  This is not a definite counterfactual statement!

Thus, we can consider that treating what is waving in the Schrodinger wave as an ontologically REAL Possible, is interpretable as saving locality in physics at the price of accepting that reality is both an ontological Real Possible and an Ontologically Real Actual.”

Read the full article here.

Perhaps we need to rethink what is possible?

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...