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Most of the books on science tell that quantum theory and general relativity are the fundamental theories in science. This has always sparked a question in my mind. What does it mean to be "fundamental"? is it depended on your philosophical view (reductionistic or holistic)? If possible, I would like some philosophy involved in the answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ fundamental = "a central or primary rule or principle on which something is based" $\endgroup$ – Farcher Oct 29 '17 at 9:19
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    $\begingroup$ A fundamental theory is one from others can be deduced. For example, the Standard Model explains not only the behaviour of quarks and electrons, but also how atoms are made up, and how chemistry (and hence biology, etc) works. What's fundamental now may not be so in the future, e.g. if we get proof that String Theory is correct. $\endgroup$ – hdhondt Oct 29 '17 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to PSE. you ask If possible, I would like some philosophy involved in the answer. There is a site for this point, PhilosphySE, I doubt many physicists would give you a philosphy based answer, it's chalk and cheese, to be polite about it :) $\endgroup$ – user171879 Oct 29 '17 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ Another examples are: fundamental or elementary particles and fundamental interactions/forces. Fundamental particles are particles that have no internal structure. Every composite particle is made up of fundamental particles. Fundamental forces are forces that cannot be reduced to other forces or that cannot be described in terms of other forces. $\endgroup$ – Andrei Geanta Oct 29 '17 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Farcher How do you decide if something is fundamental or not $\endgroup$ – user8839370 Oct 29 '17 at 20:34

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