What is Fundamental?

  • Anthony Aguirre
  • Brendan Foster
  • Zeeya Merali

Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Anthony Aguirre, Brendan Foster, Zeeya Merali
    Pages 1-4
  3. Emily Adlam
    Pages 5-12
  4. Matthew Leifer
    Pages 13-25
  5. Alyssa Ney
    Pages 27-36
  6. Dean Rickles
    Pages 37-47
  7. Tejinder P. Singh
    Pages 75-84
  8. Sabine Hossenfelder
    Pages 85-94
  9. Sean M. Carroll, Ashmeet Singh
    Pages 95-104
  10. Ken Wharton
    Pages 135-146
  11. Mozibur Rahman Ullah
    Pages 147-168
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 179-187

About this book


Are there truly fundamental entities in nature? Or are the things that we regard as fundamental in our theories – for example space, time or the masses of elementary particles – merely awaiting a derivation from a new, yet to be discovered theory based on elements that are more fundamental? This was the central question posed in the 2018 FQXi essay competition, which drew more than 200 entries from professional physicists, philosophers, and other scholars. This volume presents enhanced versions of the fifteen award-winning essays, giving a spectrum of views and insights on this fascinating topic. From a prescription for “when to stop digging” to the case for strong emergence, the reader will find here a plethora of stimulating and challenging ideas - presented in a largely non-technical manner - on which to sharpen their understanding of the language of physics and even the nature of reality.


award-winning essays FQXi essays Foundational Questions Institute fundamental entities in nature Strong Emergence Fundamental elements of theory Randomness in physical theory Quantum ontology Is quantum mechanics fundamental? Recognizing a final theory Irreducible explanatory structures

Editors and affiliations

  • Anthony Aguirre
    • 1
  • Brendan Foster
    • 2
  • Zeeya Merali
    • 3
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentUC Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA
  2. 2.Foundational Questions InstituteDecaturUSA
  3. 3.Foundational Questions InstituteDecaturUSA

Bibliographic information