Immanuel Kant and Quantum Field Theory

The 18th century German philosopher contributed numerous important ideas to the advance of philosophy. Some of Immanuel Kant’s most well known concepts concern epistemology and logic regarding how people think about the world they experience. The world people experience cognitively, interactively, the world of sight and sound as Rod Sterling might have said, is phenomenal in Kant’s lexicon. One may consider it with a posteriori, a priori and synthetic a priori judgments. The phenomenal world exists in contrast to the noumenal. The noumenal is the world as it really is in-itself (to borrow Sartre’s terminology). There is quite a difference between the world and things of the world that are perceived by humans and the things or substance of the world as it actually is for-itself.

Quantum field theory is a way of describing the fields in which quanta of energy occur. The electromagnetic field is one such field and the Higgs field is an example of another. The Higgs field is of especial interest these days because its description is mostly undefined and its existence allows particles of other fields to slow down enough to have a third dimension instead of just two dimensions as they are flattened travelling at a velocity near the speed of lights where Einstein’s special theory of relativity kicks in to affect mass and energy. To a certain extent Kant’s phenomenal world is comparable to the actual world of the mass of the Universe that has three dimensions because of the action of the Higgs field on all particles.

It is said that mass is convertible to energy and vice versa and that mass is a secondary quality of energy. Like the phenomenal world of appearance that is present when humans observe it with select cognitive capabilities and with a particular molecular composition that allows certain kinds of interactions with non-self mass/energy, the world that physicists observe of the quantum realm in field theory descriptions of where packets of energy known as mass probably occur is a phenomenal world with somewhat deeper structural characteristics than the more general and topological phenomenal realm of experience. Maybe the boundary or frontier of the deepest intuited noumenal realm keeps moving back to deeper, unfathomable regions more remote from common sense.

Kant’s noumenal realm today might be thought of as that of pure, unknowable energy for-itself that emits all of the energy and fields that appear as a phenomenal world and Universe. If the noumenal realm of pure energy is unknown, so is its nature. Pure energy for itself may be conscious and without spatial or temporal location; it could be without dimensions or any determinative quality that would reduce it to a finite status. If it were thought of as a string-cable of pure energy there could be an infinite number of Universe-phenomenalities-for-others that arise in an infinite number of spaces, perhaps like solar flares from a star- the topic is interesting to consider, and one of the challenges is that the possibilities lead readily to theological speculations in addition to the problem of considering a no-dimensional, non-space-time pure energy being in-itself as the basis for all fields that exists as they run through their thermodynamic quantity of original energy.

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