The Quantum World

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Degrees of Freedom in the Social 'quantum' Imagination

Quantum systems, as we can read about, have a fixed number of particles, with each particle having a finite number of degrees of freedom. In contrast, the excited states of a quantum field theory can represent any number of particles. This makes quantum field theories especially useful for describing systems where the particle count/number may change over time, a crucial feature of relativistic dynamics.

As a sociologist of the ‘quantum’ social imagination, I have to smile at the above. Theories are man-made, and quantum field theory is just another way of saying that possibilities exist. Whatever is possible is only based on what man can imagine and get a number of other people to imagine and then agree that what they imagine is possible. They do this through ‘scientific’ method, which is a laid down set of steps agreed upon as the correct direction to address what might be.

Quantum field theory was conceived of by scientists who in their imagination don’t like when things appear to be fixed; they don’t like absolutes that get the way of else might be possible in their imagination. They like QFT because the quantum fields are continuous quantities over space, as in the idea of excited states with arbitrarily large numbers of particles in them, providing QFT systems with an effectively infinite number of degrees of freedom.

Every man/woman loves freedom. This is known to be 'true' through scientific method in social research; studies on the idea of ‘degrees of freedom’ in one’s life.  Is there a social theory to go with those results? Yes, in fact, many social theories whether intended to or not provide insight into the importance of personal freedom. For instance, Max Weber was the first, at least in my educated opinion, to suggest that choice as in making choices based on a person’s culture and social boundaries actually reveals more about the person and what they consider what it means to be free than any other aspect of social interaction; we are constantly making choices that reveal our limits we set for ourselves and what we want limited for others.  

In more modern thinking, but what is modern, Choice modeling was developed in parallel by economists and cognitive psychologists. The origins of choice modeling can be traced to Louis Thurstone’s research into food preferences in the 1920s and to random utility theory; either of which are not far from Weber’s original rationale. In the human imagination, there is only the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of those who cam before. Basically, choice modelling is Max Weber’s theory on choice.Choice modeling posits that with human choice there is an underlying rational decision process and that this process has a functional form.

Nonetheless, choice modeling does offer something more. It helps us to look at the behavioral context in choice; as a specific functional form may be selected as a candidate to model a certain behavior. Which means that a model form is necessary what Weber called ‘ideal type’ and it is commonly used as a good approximation of utility maximization. The 'ideal type is what human beings strive for and they attempt to maximize their total utility of this through choice.  And since we as humans really love freedom, we strive to maximize this through choice. Ironically, we are still confined by social boundaries, that provide identity and purpose to being. We are faced with degrees of freedom; and, still chose from those but only what we find both freeing and yet limited so as not to lose definition.

Scientists are not out of this social imagination. My point being, regarding degrees of freedom whether we talk about it in quantum mechanical systems and quantum field theories or in the social imagination, is that we have to accept that even in the quantum world certain limits appear because of choice. This applies to the social imagination. The world of quantum is bound too.

But what about the idea of relativistic quantum field theories; didn't it come out of the social imagination? Yes, it did. And it did because of 'degrees of freedom' in it. In the quantum social imagination, some like look at the QFT and possibles in this way...calling for a kind of agitated approach or perturbative (their word) approach to quantum field theory. This appears to allow more freedom as it presumes a full field interaction where there is an approximated agitated expansion in the number of particles involved.

Funny, that the terms are: approximated agitated expansion. Each term in the expansion can be thought of as forces between particles being mediated by other particles. What is difficult for some to accept in opposition to this view is that there is also the notion of a force-mediating particle which itself comes from perturbation theory, and thus does not make sense with the idea of relativistic fields, because even those have bound states.

Given that, limits of freedom exist because of all possible freedom available. Once a choice is made, we understand that something directed that choice suggesting boundaries. We cannot make a truly free choice in this state of social reality. Our choices are bound. Is there anyway to determine that though this applies to social reality it may not apply to the world of quantum systems? No. Because, we bring boundaries into the equation. We exist in the quantum state and cannot escape that which binds us, and that which makes us free...the quantum state of things in the social imagination of God. 

*The Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all things seen and unseen, gives us a choice to make and that is to choose one possible out of all possibles for us... His is optimum = the most favorable degree. 

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