A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Formalism

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wilson, mark
preprint description
Attempts to arrange all of classical mechanics upon a self-contained basis encounter difficulties due to "the lousy encyclopedia phenomenon": hard cases involving, e.g., billiard balls, often require that the standard treatments be abandoned in favor of conceptually different accounts. Worse yet, these chains of interdependence often travel in circular loops, where the practitioner is returned to formalisms that she had previously abandoned. However, behaviors of this sort are to be expected if classical doctrine is instead viewed as a "reduced variable" covering of quantum mechanics, which is the point of view that this essay recommends.