Adventures in Quantumland w/ Ruth E. Kastner

Scott Ferguson is joined on the Superstructure podcast by Ruth E. Kastner, philosopher of physics and research associate at the University of Maryland. In their conversation, Ferguson and Kastner explore metaphysical resonances between Modern Monetary Theory’s approach to money and Kastner’s “Transactional Interpretation” of quantum physics.

Setting the stage for their dialog, Ferguson and Kastner critique orthodox commitments in both economics and physics to a pre-relational individuality: what medieval theologian John Duns Scotus famously called thisness or, “haecceity.” When being is contracted to mere haecceity, they argue, causality is reduced to local and unidirectional events in a manner that overlooks global conditions of possibility. In contrast, Ferguson and Kastner affirm an irreducibly relational ontology for monetary and quantum theory alike. This relational ontology comprises broader patterns of potential, which orthodox methods have rendered imperceptible. It also takes seriously non-local notions of causality, especially that unfamiliar all-at-onceness that Albert Einstein once derided as “spooky action at a distance.” 

Along the way, Ferguson and Kastner consider a host of interdisciplinary analogies–for example, between monetary receivability in heterodox economics and so-called “absorber waves” in the Interaction Interpretation of quantum mechanics. At the same time, however, they remain careful not to collapse distinctions between political economy and quantum theory. Far from impractical navel gazing, such speculations harbor very real worldly consequences for interdisciplinary theory and practice.  

For more information, check out Kastner’s website as well as her recent paper on “Quantum Haecceity” mentioned during the podcast. 

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Music: “Yum” from “This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone But Me” EP by flirting.
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