Quantum Field Theory, its Concepts Viewed from a Semiotic Perspective

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Dosch, Hans Günter; Müller, Volkhard F.; Sieroka, Norman
preprint description
Examining relativistic quantum field theory we claim that its description of subnuclear phenomena can be understood most adequately from a semiotic point of view. The paper starts off with a concise and non-technical outline of the firmly based aspects of relativistic quantum field theories. The particular methods, by which these different aspects have to be accessed, can be described as distinct facets of quantum field theory. They differ with respect to the relation between quantum fields and associated particles, and, as we shall argue, should be interpreted as complementary (semiotic) codes. Viewing physical theories as symbolic constructions already came to the fore in the middle of the nineteenth century with the emancipation of the classical theory of the electromagnetic field from mechanics; most notably, as we will point out, with the work of Helmholtz, Hertz, Poincaré, and later on Weyl. Since the epistemological questions posed there are heightened with regard to quantum field theory, we considerably widen their approach and relate it to recent discussions in the philosophy of science, like structural realism and quasi-autonomous domains.