I'm new to this site and just saw that someone asked a question (over 5 years ago ago now) on why boundaried objects in the macro world (that we experience everyday as macro sized, but which must ultimately be made up of an organization of many micro components) are not experienced by us, nor thought of by most scientists, as displaying quantum behaviour.

Quantum Particles as Conceptual Entities:



We put forward a possible new interpretation and explanatory framework for quantum theory. The basic hypothesis underlying this new framework is that quantum particles are conceptual entities. More concretely, we propose that quantum particles interact with ordinary matter, nuclei, atoms, molecules, macroscopic material entities, measuring apparatuses, ..., in a similar way to how human concepts interact with memory structures, human minds or artificial memories. We analyze the most characteristic aspects of quantum theory, i.e. entanglement and non-locality, interference and superposition, identity and individuality in the light of this new interpretation, and we put forward a specific explanation and understanding of these aspects. The basic hypothesis of our framework gives rise in a natural way to a Heisenberg uncertainty principle which introduces an understanding of the general situation of ‘the one and the many’ in quantum physics. A specific view on macro and micro different from the common one follows from the basic hypothesis and leads to an analysis of Schr¨odinger’s Cat paradox and the measurement problem different from the existing ones. We reflect about the influence of this new quantum interpretation and explanatory framework on the global nature and evolutionary aspects of the world and human worldviews, and point out potential explanations for specific situations, such as the generation problem in particle physics, the confinement of quarks and the existence of dark matter.

There were lots of answers but I didn't see any answer that mentioned the ideas of the theoretical physicist Diederik Aerts https://arxiv.org/pdf/1004.2530.pdf who put forward an idea that I certainly thought rang true and that also seems to answer several related unanswered questions in quantum physics ... and beyond.

His idea is basically that quantum entities are not definable by size but rather by type; they are 'signs' or 'conceptual entities' or just 'concepts' (that can occur at micro or macro levels of reality) and that these quantum signs use 'bits of matter' as their carrier (ie an organisation of many individual micro 'carrier particles' each carrying a communicable quantum (package) of 'concept' or 'sign'can occur on any scale (depending on how many are occurring together as one organised system ... but most scientists think of only the tiny carrier part as the quantum particle.)

He also thinks that human 'thinking' ('consciousness'and 'calculation', I suppose) hasn't evolved culturally sufficiently to pick up on all the component parts. We just perceive 'the whole organisation' at the macro level but that doesn't mean every little quanta of 'sign' + 'carrier' isn't happening. Plants on the other hand 'sign' or 'message' or 'make better use of quantum concepts' just much better than a man-made quantum computer can hope to do for a while yet ... not least of all because (most) plants can do their 'thinking' and decision making to achieve photsynthesis at surface-of-the-Earth temperatures http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/plants-use-quantum-computing-gain-efficiency-doesnt-one/

Please check out the first link I have given above to get a clearer idea of what he proposes, as I will have to read it a few more times to crystalise my own understanding and hence expression of what he is saying ... though I know I like the general gist of it.

I am wondering if anyone else has heard of Diederik Aerts and his quantum theory and if so does anyone have an opinion on it? Thanks.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Note that asking for opinions is explicitly verboten as per site policy, seen here. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ He covers a lot of areas in his many, many papers. I don't have the background to fairly assess them, but as they say on CNN, "my gut says" this is not mainstream, or experimentally measureable, so not physics. $\endgroup$
    – user163104
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 3:25

1 Answer 1


Aerts has made a career out of incorrectly identifying the essence of quantum mechanics as being about questions whose answers don't exist before they are asked (or something like that), and then incorrectly calling other things which allegedly have this property "quantum" (even though they are not).

His starting point seems to have been the "vessels of water model" (see figure on page 12 of the paper you link), which very definitely does not explain Bell correlations.

Later he got into cognitive science. He and collaborators want to explain a common cognitive error as in fact being due to "quantum cognition". As I recall, the explanation was quite unconvincing, but even if it that was how it worked, it would not inherently warrant the name "quantum".

Skimming the paper that you link, I see that he also proposes a peculiar dualism in which "Quantum entities are signs exchanged ... between entities made of ordinary matter". And elsewhere he explains that by "ordinary matter" he means fermionic or baryonic matter. Well, fermions in general, and baryons in particular, behave quantum-mechanically too, so his division is apriori implausible.

So to sum up I'd say his philosophy of quantum mechanics is pretty weird and thoroughly wrong, and has been a very small source of confusion amongst people outside physics who took his misdefinition of quantumness seriously.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 This is a rhetorical comment only, but the author seems imo, to be in the same frame of mind as Bohr was, in his later years, applying the correspondence principle to subjects well beyond its original physics based usefulness. $\endgroup$
    – user163104
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ YGood answer. I've not read Aerts but his theory as stated by the OP makes no scientific or physical sense. His philosophy seems to not even be dealing with physics, which in some semi-realist point of view (semi because I don't mean the strict realism of classical physics, just that some of these quantum physics things we observe reflect or are or represent reality) always deals with things (and more generally equivalent energies, and where and when), even if in a strange quantum way. Saying that it's all concepts is not physics. It's not even philosophy, just nonsense musings. IMHO of course $\endgroup$
    – Bob Bee
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 4:50

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