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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 92, Issue 1, Winter 2018

Robert C. Koons
Pages 159-178

Hylomorphic Escalation
An Aristotelian Interpretation of Quantum Thermodynamics and Chemistry

Defenders of physicalism often point to the reduction of chemistry to quantum physics as a paradigm for the reduction of the rest of reality to a microphysical foundation. This argument is based, however, on a misreading of the philosophical significance of the quantum revolution. A hylomorphic (from Aristotle’s concepts of hyle, matter, and morphe, form) interpretation of quantum thermodynamics and chemistry, in which parts and wholes stand in a mutually determining relationship, better fits both the empirical facts and the actual practice of scientists. I argue that only a hylomorphic interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM) is able to treat thermodynamic quantities, such as temperature and entropy, as genuinely real, which in turn provides grounds for the reality of the direction of time and of molecular structure.

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