Ontic and epistemic descriptions of chaotic systems

Atmanspacher, Harald
May 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 517 Issue 1, p465
Academic Journal
Traditional philosophical discourse draws a distinction between ontology and epistemology and generally enforces this distinction by keeping the two subject areas separated and unrelated. In addition, the relationship between the two areas is of central importance to physics and philosophy of physics. For instance, all kinds of measurement-related problems force us to consider both our knowledge of the states and observables of a system (epistemic perspective) and its states and observables independent of such knowledge (ontic perspective). This applies to quantum systems in particular. In this contribution we present an example which shows the importance of distinguishing between ontic and epistemic levels of description even for classical systems. Corresponding conceptions of ontic and epistemic states and their evolution will be introduced and discussed with respect to aspects of stability and information flow. These aspects show why the ontic/epistemic distinction is particularly important for systems exhibiting deterministic chaos. Moreover, this distinction provides some understanding of the relationships between determinism, causation, predictability, randomness, and stochasticity in chaotic systems. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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