Totality and physics

Quirke, Josh (2023). Totality and physics. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis argues that there is no sense to the idea of an absolutely general physical domain, a view I call physical anti-absolutism. Whilst there are reasons from the logic and metaphysics of totality to cast doubt upon the notion of totality, notably via Cantorian diagonal arguments and Russell’s paradox, these results have hitherto had little influence on the physics of totality—the nature of totality as viewed from our best physical theories. The totality of all physical things, we are told—from loose change to distant galaxies—does comprise an absolutely general domain. After all, the universe is the whole world, the totality of all things, complete; literally, turned into one. How could it be otherwise? If there are entities which lie beyond the total, the total must subsume those entities too; totality never fails to include. Extant discussion in both metaphysics and physics has typically failed to connect the absolutely general domain as viewed by the metaphysician and logician with the absolutely general domain as viewed by the physicist. My aim is to bridge this gap, suggesting why we should consider logical results and metaphysical ideas to apply in the physical setting too. I propose that there are reasons from the physics of Newtonian mechanics, Einstein’s relativistic theories and quantum mechanics to think that that one can always add more to a particular ontology, and thus there is no sense to the idea of an all-inclusive physical domain.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Philosophy
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
Q Science > QC Physics


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