Cosmic hylomorphism: a powerist ontology of quantum mechanics

William Simpson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primitive ontology approach to quantum mechanics seeks to account for quantum phenomena in terms of a distribution of matter in three-dimensional space (or four-dimensional spacetime) and a law of nature that describes its temporal development. This approach to explaining quantum phenomena is compatible with either a Humean or powerist account of laws. In this paper, I offer a powerist ontology in which the law is specified by Bohmian mechanics for a global configuration of particles. Unlike in other powerist ontologies, however, this law is not grounded in a structural power that is instantiated by the global configuration. Instead, I combine the primitive ontology approach with Aristotle’s doctrine of hylomorphism to create a new metaphysical model, in which the cosmos is a hylomorphic substance with an intrinsic power to choreograph the trajectories of the particles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal for Philosophy of Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • Primitive ontology
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Powers
  • Hylomorphism


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