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Eddy ChenEddy Keming Chen

Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy

Keming Chen received his Ph.D. in philosophy, MS in mathematics, and graduate certificate in cognitive science from Rutgers University in 2019, where he received the Harvey Waterman Medal of Excellence for exceptional achievements and significance in academic research and scholarship. He was also elected a fellow of the newly established John Bell Institute for the Foundations of Physics.

He has done research at the intersection of philosophy, physics and mathematics, including topics such as the applicability of mathematics in the physical world, the meaning of quantum mechanics, and the status of physical space. One of the research projects he will focus on in the near future is the development of a unified understanding of quantum physics and the direction of time.

Chen has published a series of journal articles on the topic that are expected to lead to a monograph titled “Time’s Arrow in a Quantum Universe.” He also has research projects on decision theory, philosophy of mind and cognitive science, as well as Chinese philosophy.

A highly rated instructor, Chen designed and taught the first Chinese philosophy course at Rutgers University’s philosophy department. At UC San Diego, he will teach undergraduate courses in philosophy of physics, metaphysics and Asian philosophy. He will also teach graduate seminars in philosophy of quantum mechanics, the direction of time and the nature of scientific laws.

What excites you most about coming to UC San Diego?

I love the people here — the students, the staff, and the faculty members are so friendly and helpful. I’m also excited about the college system at UC San Diego, and I’m proud to become a faculty member at the Eleanor Roosevelt College.

Why did you choose your field of study?

My main areas of research are philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, and metaphysics. When I was in high school, I was really puzzled about the very basic questions in physics and mathematics: What is space and time? How to really understand quantum mechanics? What kind of things are numbers and other mathematical objects? How can abstract mathematics (such as complex analysis) be so effective in physics?

I later realized (in college) that I could actually pursue these questions in the philosophy classrooms. I love philosophy both for its breath and its depth: I can think about any domain of human knowledge and I don’t have to shy away from the foundational questions.

What advice do you have for students who choose to major in arts and humanities?

Some of the most interesting questions lie at the intersection of different disciplines. It’s very natural to find yourselves asking questions that no one has asked before. You may need to use resources from different areas to solve those questions.

You are at the right place for that — UC San Diego has so many world experts in almost every discipline. Faculty members would love to learn about your projects and any questions you may have about their research.

How do you view your role relative to the greater regional community?

I am excited to join the vibrant philosophical community in Southern California. I am also looking forward to participating in many local opportunities for public outreach and philosophy education.

Tell us something about yourself that is not normally mentioned in your bio.

I have two cats. They regularly feature in my lectures on philosophy of science. But neither of them is Schrödinger’s cat.