Is the World Objective?


The assumption of an objective world underlying all our experiences is deeply embedded in our everyday thinking and in our language, and has been an unquestioned presupposition of the scientific enterprise for at least four centuries. Yet it is well known that quantum physics raises some highly problematic questions in this respect, questions that are still open, almost a century from the inception of the theory. I would like to propose that these questions stem from deep philosophical assumptions and can be answered in a much more coherent way if we understand the notion of an objective world not as a primary reality, but as an emergent aspect of a primary process that can be described as “experiencing”. A coherent description of the appearance of an objective world in the process of experiencing relies on a certain understanding of what is technically known as the “quantum measurement problem”, i.e. the description of the process of observation in quantum physics, which is the key problematic aspect of the theory. I will propose that the basic features that characterize a quantum observation have a much wider scope, and describe in fact all acquisition of information by an “embodied observer”, in short all experiencing happening in the world. By applying to this larger context work I have done in the more technical frame of the quantum measurement problem it can be shown that the nature of the process of experiencing is such as to inevitably generate the appearance of an objective world. Thus the objectivity of the world, although not primary and ultimately real, is an intrinsic consequence of our “experiential embodiment”, i.e. of the fact that we are in the world and all our experiences correspond to physical happenings in the world. When examined in this perspective, the “paradoxes” of quantum physics are an invitation to abandon the metaphysical assumption of the primacy of the objective dimension of reality. A philosophical position much more in tune with quantum physics views the process of experiencing as the primary source of both subject and object, consciousness and world.

Share and Cite:

Sabbadini, S. (2014) Is the World Objective?. Open Journal of Philosophy, 4, 107-116. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2014.42015.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Bell, J. S. (1988). Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[2] Daneri, A., Loinger, A., & Prosperi, G. M. (1962). Quantum Theory of Measurement and Ergodicity Conditions. Nuclear Physics, 33, 297-319. Reprinted in Wheeler, J. A., & Zurek, W. H. (Eds.) (1983). Quantum Theory and Measurement (pp. 657-679). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[3] Everett, H. (1957). “Relative State” Formulation of Quantum Mechanics. Reviews of Modern Physics, 29, 454-462. Reprinted in Wheeler, J. A., & Zurek, W. H. (Eds.) (1983). Quantum Theory and Measurement (pp. 315-323). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[4] Greenstein, G., & Zajonc, A. (1997). The Quantum Challenge. Boston, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
[5] Jaynes, E., in Barut, A.O. (Ed.) (1980). Foundations of Radiation Theory and Quantum Electronics. New York: Plenum.
[6] Joos, E. (Ed.) (2003). Decoherence and the Appearance of a Classical World in Quantum Theory. Berlin: Springer.
[7] Kim, Y., Yu, R., Kulik, S. P., Shih, Y. H., & Scully, M. (2000). A Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser, Physical Review Letters, 84, 1-5.
[8] Lanz, L., Prosperi, G. M., & Sabbadini, A. (1971). Time Scales and the Problem of Measurement in Quantum Mechanics, Nuovo Cimento, 2B, 184-192.
[9] Ou, Z. Y., Wang, L. J., Zou, X. Y., & Mandel, L. (1990). Evidence for Phase Memory in Two-Photon down Conversion through Entanglement with the Vacuum. Physical Review A, 41, 566.
[10] Sabbadini, S. A. (2006). Persistence of Information in the Quantum Measurement Problem. Physics Essays, 19, 135-150.
[11] Schrodinger, E. (1935). Die gegenwartige Situation in der Quantenmechanik. Naturwissenschaften, 23, 807-812, 823-828, 844-849. Reprinted in Wheeler, J. A., & Zurek, W. H. (Eds.) (1983). Quantum Theory and Measurement (pp. 152-167). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[12] Scully, M. O., & Druhl, K. (1982). Quantum Eraser: A Proposed Photon Correlation Experiment Concerning Observation and “Delayed Choice” in Quantum Mechanics. Physical Review A, 25, 2208.
[13] von Neumann, J. (1932). Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (pp. 347-445). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Reprinted in Wheeler, J. A., & Zurek, W. H. (Eds.) (1983). Quantum Theory and Measurement (pp. 549-647). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
[14] 14Hamlet (1.5.167-8).
[15] Wigner, E. (1967). Remarks on the Mind-Body Question. Originally Published in Good, I. J. (Ed.) (1961). The Scientist Speculates (pp. 284-302). London: Heinemann. Reprinted in Wheeler, J. A., & Zurek, W. H. (Eds.) (1983). Quantum Theory and Measurement (pp. 168-181). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.