Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I realize this question is very broad but may be I will still get a helpful answers. References and textbooks for the development of the technical and mathematical aspects of QFT abound. However, I never came across a source dealing with the conceptual issues of QFT. I am interested in stuff like, the meaning of Gauge symmetry, Spontaneous symmetry breaking, interpretation of renormalization group, etc. Are there any reference that deals with these issues mainly?

share|improve this question
A reference which doesn't cover the example topics you mention, but does discuss conceptual issues in QFT in general is Paul Teller's "An Interpretive Introduction to Quantum Field Theory" –  twistor59 Oct 10 '11 at 11:32
When they teach you about "bare" particles, do not believe them, do not think it is an intrusion of aliens in "our theories"; it is a modern way to hide conceptual issues. –  Vladimir Kalitvianski Oct 10 '11 at 20:04

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

B. Falkenburg, Particle Metaphysics, Springer, 2007.

Also by T.Y.Cao (BTW, NitinCR's suggestion is a compilation of articles by various authors from a number of points of view), Conceptual Developments of 20th Century Field Theories, Cambridge UP, 1997.

S.Y.Auyang, How is Quantum Field Theory Possible, Oxford UP, 1995.

Try the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on QFT, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quantum-field-theory/, which includes (not too) many citations to books and papers. For conceptual issues on Physics generally, this is one place to look.

share|improve this answer

There is a book, edited by T.Y. Cao, a rather notable philosopher of science at Boston University, that might be of interest. The title is "Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory". A. Zee's "Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell" is also a very good reference, and the series by E. Zeidler are really worth reading through.

share|improve this answer

It's not a book, but it might be helpful: The Conceptual Basis of Quantum Field Theory by Gerard 't Hooft

The file is on his web page: www.phys.uu.nl/~thooft/lectures/basisqft.pdf

share|improve this answer

Look at Tom Banks' book Modern Quantum Field Theory: A Concise Introduction

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.