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to propose to interpret a principle which practical concern only of the physicist. it the particular space. . time concepts with which deals and movement — are metaphysical. have tried to time and expound the reformed concepts of space and movement which are the justification and the foundation of the new working formulae. It is the mathematician and for needs no apology. though the principle of relativity has been formulated by mathematicians and physicists purely in as a working principle mathematics and physics. In this account of the principle of relativity I have dealt only with the philosophical I and historical aspect of the problem. and the essential concern of philosophy.— PREFACE may seem a bold undertaking on the part of one who can claim no acquaintance with the It higher mathematics and no familiarity with the experimental work of the physical laboratory. however.

"What I have tried to show is the exact meaning in philosophy of the new concept of the frame- work of nature. its Professor of the College de France. article." the Philosophical Review of full January 19 15. when M. even in non-mathematical terms. the placement of light from stars observed in the eclipse observation. or the shift of the spectral lines.)." Aristotelian introduced in the subject to in the Society a paper read the Session of 191 3-14 {Proceedings of the Aristotelian I PREFACE have not attempted to indicate or explain. My purely interest in the principle of relativity is philosophical. for example. Since then the has philosophical received importance of the principle . and I contributed an "The Metaphysical Implications of the Principle to of Relativity. at the first became acquainted with International Congress of Philosophy at in Bologna 191 1. XIV. revealed philosophical importance entitled " L'evolutlon de I'espace et I remarkable paper du temps. Society. I but it is not casual or it accidental. in a Pierre Langevin. the formulae themI selves. tried to show how Einstein worked out the formula of the predis- cession of the perihelion of Mercury. have not.

Time College and in Movement " King's the spring of this year (1920). Broad. My thanks are due to Professor T. P. who have rendered special service in reading Nunn me are not of course responsible my proofs. until the preparation of my courses " History of 1 Modern of lectures on the Philosophy " delivered in 91 8 me of to read and 19 19 at King's College. C. led anew the works of Descartes and problem impressed Leibniz that the quite special historical interest the me. and Dr. London. The main on idea was developed in a course of lectures " Historical Theories delivered of at Space. It is I this historical aspect of the principle to which have tried to give expression in this study.PREFACE recognition. It vii was not. They for my views or for the accuracy of any of my statements. . D. however.


Time I PAGE and Movement i CHAPTER The Antinomy of II 24 Movement CHAPTER Atoms and the Void III 40 CHAPTER The Vortex Theory IV 57 CHAPTER V The Problem of Gravitation 77 CHAPTER Leibniz and the VI is Theory that Space the Order 96 OF Coexistences .CONTENTS CHAPTER Space.

CONTENTS CHAPTER The VII PAGE Modern Leaders Scientific Revolution and its 119 CHAPTER Conclusion : VIII is in what Sense the Universe 153 Infinite?- INDEX 164 .

I TIME AND MOVEMENT is The new theory of Einstein which principle of relativity it is known as the general is perfectly simple when once difficult understood and peculiarly to understand. This arises from the fact that the human mind. and particularly in its well-balanced to emotion. a kind of mental giddiness experi- enced. to reason in its ordinary attitude of reflection. subject is and superior its always ready to revise it conclusions. its is required not merely to revise to conclusions but actually amend is premises. with the assurance consequent on the continual progress and constant acceleration of its advance in the . When.CHAPTER SPACE. The wonderful structure of physical science. moods. firm a feeling of insecurity as its though the ground on which conclusions are based and from which they derive their whole strength had begun to shake and prove unstable. its however.

to concern wholly solely our knowledge. which appear principle that conditions. and the mistakes and illusions which may arise in regard to our knowledge. puzzling psychological problems and even perplexing philosophical questions concerning them. time and realities movement and to seem the direct self-revealing ordinary man is the necessity of having theories about them difficult to appreciate. It is because these concepts are rejected by the new the revolution in science is so profound and far-reaching. seems jeopardy the moment real doubt is thrown on concepts of absolute space and time and as its in the movement. this is a theory But then of knowledge. and the . as everyone knows. Space. have held that space and time are forms of perception which mind possesses as pure a priori cognitions. when we and reflect on them. but these all seem.2 last PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY two centuries of the modern period. There are indeed. We may know perfectly well that many philosophers. the following Kant. As to the realities as the themselves they present themselves simple and obvious framework of the objective world of our daily experience and as the subject-matter of mathematical and physical science.

time and again. But such opinions are dismissed by us as logical problems which concern meanings and which leave the facts of experience unaltered. 3 that know- ledge is of phenomena and not of things in themselves.the man of seems like a sudden upheaval of the . not by a speculative philosopher but by a mathematician and with physicist. time and reality. To is the metaphysician there is versive or revolutionary in the practically new identical with principles which have. but to science it . all movement do not correspond new principle and that the laws of nature require which on the rejection of space and time nothing subprinciple. It is therefore with considerable perplexity and with unfeigned surprise that the scientific world has received the evidence put forward. that some philosophers have denied the reality of movement. too. while others have denied the reality of everything which is not movement. that our ordinary accepted notions of space. been formulated in philo- sophy. ancient and modern. leaves the whole reality of physical science unaffected. it to be reformulated on a rests primarily as constant factors. We may know.BASIC CONCEPTS conclusion which Kant drew from it.

In 19 1 7 Einstein formulated the generalized relativity. as the ether of space was generally supposed If there is no zero system with reference to which absolute velocity can be measured. and that the constancy of the velocity is maintained by a variation of space and time.4 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY on foundations structure of which the whole stupendous modern first science has been reared. correlate observations for systems tively to relativity. The special principle of or the restricted theory. two distinct J^'stages. of the earlier principle to include the law of gravitation and by implication all . translations rotations and not to or non-uniform is translations. in 1 905. expressed \^ '^ the acceptance of the consistently negative results of experiments contrived to determine absolute velocity by reference to a fixed system at rest. that it constant for every is unaffected by the translation of a reference-system relatively to other systems. The special principle that the velocity of the prois pagation of light in vacuo observer. new principle of This was the extension laws of nature. The formulation. Einstein's principle of relativity has i>'^'. we have moving is to rela- one another. such to be. so called because it applied only to uniform rectilinear of reference-systems.

It also rejected the postulates of Euclid as impracticable. but they They do upset new and notions our complicate and render difficult necessary reconstruction of the world-view. To make importance us. before trying to follow the its problem from origin. and therefore have not give us old notions the none of the simplicity of new discovery of the hitherto unknown. to indicate clearly the special two facts which the take to and the general established. and the denial that any spatial or temporal dimensions are uniform and all absolute for systems of movement. is the full significance to of this new to principle appear in and show its it philosophical discloses the world-view the aim of the present historical study. It relatively to one involved the rejection of Newton's concept of the attraction of masses acting at a distance from one another in a uniform space and even flowing time. and all proposed to determine facts universal laws as observational to be deduced from the movements of various systems another.A It NEW WORLD-VIEW all 5 accepted for the laws of nature the impossi- bility it of any absolute standard of reference. . It will be sufficient. principle be conclusively They are both negative facts.


first fact is

that the velocity of light





and yet absolutely uniform




of his

system, and whatever the direction of


ment of

translation relatively to other systems.


nature of




whether we accept the corpuscular or the undulatory theory,


we know that light is propagated movement radiating outwards in every





thus always



of a sphere.



of the

propagation of light in empty space was dis-

covered in




of the



the telescope revealed the

of Jupiter and enabled calculations to be

moons made

by comparing the time
the planet

table of the satellites for


at its nearest point

and when




interval of time

and the

distance traversed, both being
velocity of light.

known, gave the

It is a velocity

terrestrial distances is negligible,

only becomes

of account in the great spatial intervals which
separate planetary and stellar masses.



no other means than that of light signals to
enable us to determine the simultaneity of events,

and yet

light signals are themselves subject to

the observers at distant points


the interval required for their transmission between


are using




space and time are absolute, as


ordinarily suppose, then




intervals are varying

by reason of the


of the observers relatively to one another,
quite clear


and evident

that the velocity of light



must vary correspondingly.

But experiments

specially designed for the

proved conclusively that the velocity of

of light does

not vary,



uniform for

observers whatever the relative

movement of




which they are






suppose that two observers of the same events are
in different systems of reference,


that each

observer, thinking himself at rest, sees the other

system moving with a translation of 100,000
miles a second, that
velocity of light in


more than

half the

be rational to conclude,
expect to find, that

empty space. Now it would and we should naturally
these two observers comsignals, the

municated with one another by light

velocity of the propagation of the light signal

would be more than twice

as great, in the direction

of the uniform movement, for the one observer




would be

for the other.



found not

to accord with experimental fact.

So the principle

of relativity declares that the velocity of light

however the conditions of the observer

vary by reason of the translation of the system,

and that space and time are

different for different


ordinary reason this

a paradox.


accepted the



without any attempt to explain
ance or illusion.
relativity to


as appear-


formulated the principle of

accord with the result of the experiprinciple



then, that the velocity

of light

constant and that space and time are


not at present inviting attention

or challenging criticism

the evidence for

this fact, so subversive of ordinary ideas

and up-

setting to our habits,
definitely as possible
in the case of the



trying only to state as

what the



velocity of light


the infinitesimal fraction of

represented by any

it, is

velocity of translation, the fact, if we accept

negligible as applied to our

common terrestrial
Sound, for



it is



indeed to reconcile with

our experience of velocity generally.

a propagated

the source of sound

movement, but when moving with us, as when

and that space and time are variable. all which had previously baffled attempts to . The special is. systems. upon a fact or rather a negative discovery. The proof of the new it principle rests on the fact that has been found to account for a well-known discordance between the astronomical calculation for the precession of the perihelion of Mercury and the actual observation. general theory of relativity goes It much upon is yf extends the principle to It rests all the laws of nature. or restricted of / is relativity then all that the velocity of light constant for observers and independent of their system of reference. wrongly perhaps. 9 naturally we adapt ourselves to the idea that the sound waves are not spreading with equal velocity forward and backward. — a discovery which not due test as in the case of special relativity to definite experiments but the result of the successful application of the principle to the formulation of a new law of gravitation. The further. spread out from the car we are not moving with principle them. that the in the car are waves of sound. We think. dependent on the relative translation of . when we lower velocity than when moving at a in their direction.CONSTANT VELOCITY we are talking in an open motor-car.

we raise an object and then release this as it drops. regard the floor as fixed in relation to the earth. drawn. But the earth. enabled a prediction to be made was the as to the deflection of the light from a star passing near the sun during a total eclipse. of gravitation If called equivalence. to is which the rotating on and the room are attached. it explain. and the released object floor its falls to it. it is axis. We explain an instance of a law of gravitation by which bodies attract one another in a definite relation of their mass and distance. want rather to the make the fact which theory. it is is alleged as the basis of the \ new As applied new theory it. however.lo PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY Further. with the I details of these tests of the I principle which to am now plain concerned. A further prediction analysis by Einstein that the spectroscopic atoms vibrating of in the gravitational field of the sun compared with the analysis of similar atoms on the earth would show a shifting of the present not been lines at towards the red end of the spectrum has verified is and is the subject ^J of research. wc by the attraction of the earth. also travelling on its . It not. We say. which verified in the observations of the eclipse of sun in May 19 19.

say that the released object floor of the remained and that the room is moved to The theory of equivalence that there alternative is no way of deciding between the whether in fact descriptions. and force cannot have the nature which discovery Newton of supposed. another observer would have the equal right to decide positively for the other.1 EQUIVALENCE orbit solar It is 1 at many is miles a second. fell to the floor or the floor rose to the If one observer had the right to decide positively for the one. follows that space cannot have the properties which Euclid required. that there might be an observer who would at rest it. therefore. If the principle be accepted. and that contradictory descriptions of such it movement are really equivalent. The the discovery can only be compared in importance with the Copernicus that . namely. is that there line no way of determining the actual in their which two objects follow movement towards one another. the object object. moving in the system. and the whole stellar system clear. it completely negatives the idea that forces of attraction are exercised by bodies on one another in the sense supposed in Newton's law. If this ' / negative fact be established.

they are also images. in themselves. lack the concreteness of objects and They are a framework form physical tinuity to universe its and give and content. But space and time events. are due to the inherent logical and metaphysical difficulties they present. and the persistence of the problems they give throughout the whole history of philosophy. But space and time are not only concepts. ancient and modern. this completely. As concepts they judged by their consistency or inconsistency.12 earth PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY is not at rest but undergoing a diurnal rotation on its axis and an annual revolution round the sun. a relation so fundamental that our whole existence depends on it. In studying the theories of space and time it is very important to take into account the imagery which It is is supplies to the concepts their content. They are indeed for all of us realities with which we feel we are in direct relation. though of the conare not abstractions. For imagery . The dominant rise to place they occupy in philosophy. Space and time are concepts of the mind. usual to neglect that philosophers lies The reason never reveal the imagery which behind and supports the concepts they analyse.

his reflections borrow their shape and draw their content from it. revolve round it and the for always return to re-form a philosopher's theories But when we study treat we them in mathematical images. Homer. The an imaginative background of his thoughts. and proceed though the world-view were of no importance. as whatever may is be. in this method. Pari passu with the evolution of the concepts of space and time has evolution of their images. substituting signs We suppose there is a special advantage power of detaching the sign completely from as the image a in which it arose. Every philosopher his reflection"" from the stand-point of world-view is his world-view.IMAGES AND CONCEPTS we have been an to 13 go to the poets. As soon adapt it we our grasp man's concept we it to own imagery. in their concepts of its starts Aquinas and Leibniz are reality. A familiar is illustration the way in which the Bible interpreted in Christian households. The concepts are detached from the imagery of the writers and fitted on to the homely imagery of the reader whatever be. it may We study in the philosophers their logical . it. imagery Dante and Milton are of their as distinct in the expression of a world-view as Aristotle.

Wells's which tion. we forget that the poets express the imagery which the philosophers require to embody the their concepts. the world picture presented to us in Outlines of History Mr. for example.14 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY and abstract concepts. Science has advanced. filled I from anything the imagination of a previous genera- have chosen Newton as an illustration because as we are accustomed to accept his concepts essentially modern. but his concepts remain of universal application. Yet how inadequate the world-scheme of Milton's Paradise Lost appears to us to-day and how his imagery to embody . Newton's age hardly is so near our own. that we its how much fantastic imagery has changed. When we we take discuss to-day the theories of no account of the world-view which itself to presented him and of its complete differ- ence from our ordinary world-view to-day. in principles the poets their imagery. it and imagery in which we clothe becomes outworn and cast aside. read poetry in conjunction with philosophy. If we would its reconstitute thought of an its historical period we must Newton. is How completely different. as compared with the Greek and appreciate Mediaeval ages. Our the world-view is continually changing.

and willing the bare outside of this world. His own works and their works at once to view." Unlike Dante's world. and offering. that seemed Firm land imbosomed without firmament. in order and arrangement. Reaping immortal fruits He then surveyed Hell and the gulf between. To On stoop with wearied wings. the familiar background of Newton's thoughts. however. its espied from afar by Satan. From the pure empyrean where he sits High throned above all height. and Satan there Coasting the wall of heaven on this side night In the dun air sublime. . It 15 was. happy garden placed. heaven and hell have is no direct connexion with our universe. and ready now feet. in ocean or in air. Uncertain which. which in vast space. " Now had the Almighty Father from above.IMAGERY modern concepts. yet an ordered conceived as a system of sun and planets swinging system with laws of nature imposed upon it. bent down his eye. of joy and love. yet the only in the two Of mankind. rest for wearied wings and a sphere Strikes for concerted in action. But what as us particularly such imagery. On Our two first Earth he first beheld parents. It is a new creation.

and necessary conditions all of experience. both as being direct data of experience. To an outside observer the tide would mean only the unalterable shape a plastic body in rotation would assume of the mass. is which we should now deem appears to us and makes that the distant observer surveying it our world sees as it no allowance spatial for systems of reference. have withstood change. Take the case of the familiar phenomenon of the ebb and flow of the tide which gravitation. the fundamental notions of space and time and movement. Our and temporal coordinates are of Satan. The importance which it of imagery and the way in concepts qualifies may be illustrated also in a somewhat different way. in spite of the changing position of Throughout the whole history human thought.1 6 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY that compared with adequate. also those essentially of God and This was Newton's view. while imagery and concepts have been changing continuously. all its minute and dependent circumstances. They . rise we explain by the concept of tides For us the mean an in alternate and streaming of the water fall one direction and a with and streaming in the reverse direction.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM 17 appear to us as the framework of our universe. intimately Although space and time are bound up with all sense experience. We cannot. everyone who turned his thoughts upon them has found that they present insoluble problems and offer the strangest paradoxes. neither void nor extension direct experience or a datum of sense-intuition. in Space is Imaged But either its by its negative character as the void or by character is positive as extension. there is no actual sense experience of space and of time. for example. And yet from the very beginning reflective of our historical records of has human thought. still Of A more surprising and even disconcerting . space and of time there are no impressions. from this incongruence of percepts and concepts of space and time that the psychological problems regard to them arise. Neither our images nor our concepts of space and time are identical with anything spatial It is or temporal which we perceive. satisfy in regard to the ideas of them a demand such test. whatever the content and the nature and the history of that universe be. as Hume proposed for a universal produce the impression which has given rise to the idea.

This is to no new discovery.'' standard by which we will. such knowledge depends on movement. his New Theory of Vision Berkeley proved that the sense of sight cannot yield a perception of distance or give us knowledge of the third this the theory dimension of space. and movement involves time well as space. It is indeed a commonplace of philosophy and even of the modern science of psychology. is to enable us to anticipate tactile sensation. are measure time Try in what way we we can never by direct perception arrive at the notions of absolute space and time which yet we imagine and conceive be the basis of the reality of nature.1 8 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY image and concept of space to the axioms. give us knowledge of distance. not spatial fulfil fact is that while and time lates completely the Euclidean postu- and conform exactly gives one of our senses us and temporal In experience conformable to those conditions. One of the large problems in contemporary psychology con- cerns the nature and origin of the perception of . any more than visual sensation. But will sensation will not. then as what to is the absolute . If so. and based on the purpose of which tactile that visual perceptions are a language of signs.

which are however into two main groups. itself and the mode of its activity A genetic theory has been held by most of the older. on the other hand.THE PERCEPTION OF SPACE space! 19 fall There are numerous theories. They The genetic named theories derive our notion of space from sense experience which is not itself spatial. of it the theory expounded by of Psychology. derive from the mind in experience. The it nativistic theories. case of sight by the overlapping of successive stimuli on the retina and in the case of touch tactile by the reversibility illustra- of series of tion is impressions. the genetic and the nativistic theories. as well as by many of the present. tactile but a character belonging impressions which later causes the mind body. by means of inference and mental construction. to locate It is them in particular points of the from these impressions that oUr . Herbert Spencer according to is (Principles 178). Another the well-known local-sign theory of Lotze. generation illustration of modern psychologists. which the perception of space explained physiologically in the simply an interpretation of the simultaneity of sensations. The to local sign is not a localization or extension in the sensation itself. is An ii.

matics or The into introduction into pure mathe- pure physics of a subjective .20 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY is mind supposed by the theory to construct the nativistic theory is perception of space. is is applicable to sensible quality. in Principles p. is called by other psychologists Extension a extensity. extensity tions. which it has prided has therefore upon come to mean the uncritical assumption of absolute space and time. science. not extension. This character. i34fF. It is only a revolution in physical and it is a complete revolution in science.) that there are sensations to which the character of voluminous- ness distinctly belongs and which are thereby able to give the mind direct perception of space. ii. to its objects. The character of physical science. as outside their sphere and completely indifferent to them. that term being only physical objects. An example of the view of expounded by William James Psychology (vol. It is a character of sensa- not then in philosophy nor in the science is of psychology that the principle of relativity revolutionary. because mathematics and physics have seemed justified in rejecting. the problem of the relation of the objective mind itself.

subjectivism.. The general principle of relativity now proposed by Einstein acknowledged. SUBJECTIVISM betrayal of the very principle on 21 element seems not only a sacrilege but a downright which science its is based. proposed a reform of mathematical procedure. however. for it involved. into-the arcana of physical science. the bane of the physicist. impossible to abstract It shows that it is from the mind of the . no relation whatever to any question of general philosophical or metaphysical theory. but a new is constants new set of equations involving and new variables.. not the correction or improvement of the accepted equations. objective It has been supposed that in basis lies purely the strength of physical is science and that to this objective basis due the steady and rapid and continuous progress which is often vaunted as presenting a favourable con-^ trast to speculative philosophy. to concern the most fundamental philosophical concepts of the nature The essence pf it ig <-n intrnHnrf^ of the universe. It it was said. a reform which was radical indeed. When the it principle of relativity was first formulated was generally put forward concerned as a methodological principle applicable only within the sciences and with simply.

are to reject but which would this flow. there an absolute space which would be void. if they were removed. and that behind the events which succeed one another in our consciousness. not because pure space and pure time not because are undiscoverable. it We is inference not because found to be useless. there is an absolute time which might lose all distinction if there still were no events. requires us to give up the assumption of an of a system. which our experience and our science has seemed with such assurance to affirm. \ In this lies its The study of nature has revealed to us that the nature we . increasing that beneath the objects we perceive. The in new principle not it a a belated discovery of our positive ignorance is new advance strength. knowledge. all absolute standard of reference for the measure- ment of the velocity It rejects all the inference.22 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY and independent in observer and treat his observations as themselves absolute It their objectivity. they exist. but not abolished. failed to do so. we can never by direct perceptive means become acquainted physical with them. juxtaposed is in the external world. but because experiments if which ought to have revealed them have uniformly is .

common to all observers and The work of physical science own private to is to co- ordinate the observations of observers. 23 not independent of the mind which reality There is no absolute physical in its which a mind may contemplate ditions of his contemplation. has been hitherto supposed. is pure independence of the contemplator and the con- The new principle \ that every observer as is himself the absolute. . each of whom there is uses his co-ordinates and for whom \i no common measure. There is no universe none. the relative. centre of the universe.SYSTEMS OF REFERENCE study studies is it. and not.

whether moving or at rest. 14) says that Zeno " If committed a fallacy when he argued : everything in order to be. he adds. then follows that the flying arrow immobile. and if a body when is displaced occupies at every it moment an equal space. Many philosophers indeed have been equally confident. but a glance at the history of philosophy shows the problem cropping up 24 in some form in . occupy an equal space. that of indivisibles. is any other magnitude. not composed of moments. Neither indeed.CHAPTER II THE ANTINOMY OF MOVEMENT Aristotle in the Physics (vi. Whether argument is or not Aristotle's refutation of Zeno's sound. because time is. must. it is certain that philosophy it generally has not found possible to dismiss the problem of movement in this summary way. Aristotle argues." is It is an error.

can traverse the whole intervening half. the half of the is and so on. the tortoise will have moved and Achilles. The third is that the flying arrow does not at rest.ZENO'S metaphysical reality. for to do so he must is. first reach the point at which the tortoise it but when he reaches on. then follows that each moving procession will traverse . The second that Achilles in his race with the tortoise can rjever overtake it. to infinity. therefore. each composed of equal numbers and equal masses. ARGUMENTS 25 every stage of the evolution of the concept of Zeno's famous arguments against movement are four in number. passing the first in mid course. it can traverse that half. if it is allowed to have a start. move because The fourth is at every moment it is that if there are three processions in the stadium. The first declares that it is impossible that a body can move from it. will have always a step to take. and together they are so compact that those who would refute them look in vain for a logical loophole. one point to another distant from before it it because. one of which remains stationary while the other two move it with an equal velocity but in an opposite parallel direction. space must pass through and before half.

When then Bi reaches Ci will reach Ai . Let suppose be the first A^A^A^Ai.26 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY will an identical space in a time which half and double of itself. it is The The difference therefore identical it is time also is for one and the same interval. . yet it only . spatial is line with all the C's and with half the But B's and C's and A's occupy equal magnitudes. not in the space. CiC^CsQ Let us suppose their position to be AiAiAsAi BiB^B^Bi C1U2C3C4 The Ai A's are stationary. half for the B's and C's what is for the A's . be both The quite last of these arguments in can us to be made clear a diagram. and their position will be AiA^A^A^i B^B^B^Bi C1C2C/3C4 But in reaching this position the C's will in line have been consecutively with all the B's and likewise have with half the A's. and the j6's will been in A's. the C's to the left. BiB^B^Bi and three processions. . the B's are moving to the right.

suppose the divisions of the movement to be units of time first and space. that is. the C's one point moved one to the left) AiA^^Ai BiBgB^B^ Then at the it at the first instant C4 is in line it . in could have been in line with B2 line with Cj Also B^ at one instant in and at the next in with C3 line —but Q ? C2 lies between. with Bi . Suppose the processions to be points and the succession instants. therefore. or itself. but is must have passed B^ which is it and there no instant . when was B^ with Aristotle's refutation of this fourth argument .POINTS AND INSTANTS the half. Suppose the position at a instant to be and at the second instant (when the 5's have point to the right. the time is is 27 identical to the whole. the double of The argument may be which perhaps is put in another form even more perplexing. second instant is in line with B3.

Zeno supposes to be effect that if movement from point to point. leaves Zeno's argument unanswered. opposite to This. in movement and relatively to a vi. means that time is absolute and that of it is occupied in passing a mass at rest than in passing an equal mass moving parallel and it. mass at rest therein lies this the error " {Physics.28 is PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY of particular interest. a Plato and Aristotle. the century which preceded the great philoso- enlightenment represented by Socrates. merely affirming what affirmed. moves in the same time both relatively to a mass . is then you are committed to the contradictory and absurd assertion that the same time different. This might be interpreted an anticipation of is the principle of relativity so far as time cerned. He was pupil of . 14. By he appears to mean that while mass and velocity of a moving body remain constant. possessing the same velocity. however. but clearly the very opposite Aristotle less is con- intended. Zeno says in is real and a body passes from moment to moment. Zeno phical lived in the fifth century before Christ. the time it takes to pass a body at rest and a similar body in movement as is not the same. " The fallacy consists in supposing that the equal magnitude. § 10).

reflection first principles present essentially as It and extremely general. regarding that which everywhere in every respect is changing. that reality versal becoming. however." first the principle of existence. and about that which changes no true statement made . The two schools principles. represented opposite and contradictory According to Heracleitus " becomis ing. as related by Aristotle in the following description " And again they held these views because they all this saw that can be world of nature is in movement. at least. Thus is the uni- doctrine that things flow. their successors that the doctrines of the great developed all into paradox. paradox by Cratylus." according to Parmenides " being. There is a curious outward resemblance between these early speculations and those of modern transcendental is philosophers. The resemblance in the con- and it is a striking illustration of the all way concepts abide identical throughout change simple in of imagery.BECOMING AND BEING Farmenides. founders was. was developed into complete of the Heracleiteans. cepts. the 29 Eleatic head of the famous school of philosophy. as its The rival Ionic school had founder Heracleitus of Ephesus. nothing . themselves to Moreover.

is He It held that nothing moves. The first shows moveit ment to be impossible. space. that reality one and unchangeable. understand as No who one will Zeno's arguments regards him merely a skilful dialectician and ignores the essential fact that he had reached is independently the conclusion that movement not reality but appearance and used the arguments to enforce it. contradictory. the absurd. could not do it even once " (Metaph.30 could PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY truly be affirmed. the second shows third. it who finally did not think right to say anything but only moved his finger. impossible to step for twice into the same river he thought he iv. the and the fourth. that of the professed Heracleiteans. such as was held by Cratylus. The deals only with and the infinite divisibility of space is made . The arguments of his paradoxes. 5). and criticized Heracleitus for saying that it is . first to be unreal. It was this doctrine which Zeno combated. It was this belief which blossomed into the most extreme of the views above mentioned. therefore are not If you seek sophisms nor exercises in logomachy. should be noticed that the four arguments are cumulative in force. his own solution it is quite simple.

and the contradiction lies in the attempt to correlate the passage from one point from one instant or nowhere at all to the next with the passage It to the next. It is shows that measured by points and are infinitely different all instants velocities This blem. discrete points in space are correlated with discrete instants of time. its a in pro- therefore. H. reason that it It is as an antinomy of presents itself to No and one to-day. has changed. for takes into account the it space. that is movement content is appearance with simple . as Mr. In the third. which has origin in the Greek nature speculations and a which the its development of Western philosophy takes rise. The us. The second shows actually in that movement be supposed progress. Bradley not denial does. contradiction breaks out in the concept of velocity. is involves the at paradox that the arrow somewhere no time some time. form. reality. even if he argues. it The fourth combines the other three. it is problem which has persisted problem throughout the whole of that development and is an unsolved to-day. the F. early was Zeno's problem.THE ARGUMENTS NOT SOPHISMS 31 obstacle of if movement. however. the time and the movement. and and equal.

antinomies of reason were The the central point of interest in sophical made by Kant the modern philoit problem. the reality of in particular. . a condition of movement but if is that a thing which moves shall . The for antithesis is : There are no movements. to the mind valid yet they are mutually self-contradictory. as transcends in any is possible experience thing itself . denotes activity it thing is what does. According to Kant's theory antinomies arise when the mind makes It is an object of the whole series of conditions which the constitute the system of the world. not an object of sense intuition nor of understanding. affirms it. The antinomy and the in the concept of movement consists in the fact that the thesis which it. for reality. nature of the mind to present to itself such an is object. so far as concerns the basis of physical science. but the world so presented an object of reason. endure unchanged throughout the movement nothing changes nothing moves.32 of PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY movement and the affirmation of the un- changeable one. is : The a thesis There life are movements. idea The and object of reason it is an of the unconditioned. antithesis which denies as equally present themselves .

mathematical from the other two as dynamical. Our interest in them. We only know phenomena. the world. in lie modern form.THE ANTINOMIES OF KANT unknowable. but they are not objects of which we can possess any empirical knowledge. And the antithesis is The world and no to time limits in space. 33 The objects of reason give rise to Ideas (the soul. is practical not speculative. beginning The The world : has a in time. as which Kant distinguished with these concepts. and is also limited in regard to space. . in our ordinary common-sense concepts of space. Two of the four antinomies. the contradictions which concealed. The antinomies of Kant give which if us. are directly concerned The first deals with the self- contradiction involved in thinking of the world as limited or as unlimited in space thesis is : and time. not things in them- selves. time and movement. and God). which have an important function in theory of knowledge. and their value to us. This antinomy exto everyone in presses a difficulty which occurs It is first moments of reflection. then. has no beginning in relation but is both and space infinite. impossible to think for in that that the world had no moment. or known are consciously ignored.

who have analysed Zeno's arguments in their original simplicity as the denial of the reality of movement. Mr.) World. Bergson {Creative Evolution. xlii. of the External is and Our Knowledge v. chap. series. M.. Mr. There is " a point " here which has universe. but that the paradoxical character of the arguments entirely disappears terms of the when they are expressed in modern mathematical theory of pp. moment reality is a now which ends a and its therefore seems to depend on a now which began the But then. 325-330 and Time and th^t Zeno's conclusion holds it wrong in so far as . Freewill. Yet how can we think the universe without in the very thought suppos- ing an extension outside the limits ? There are two contemporary philosophers.) infinity. how on the other hand can we present to the mind a moment to which there is only an after and not a before ? Similarly series ? in regard to space. Bertrand Russell and M. definite relations to the whole extended The reality of these relations limits limits to the universe.34 case PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY how are we to represent the actuality of for that the present moment. Bertrand chap. chap. Russell (Principles of Mathematics. is ii. holds that Zeno right. Bergson.

the principle of the unchangeable one and the principle of the universal flow. Russell maintains that the paradox is completely solved by the philosophical theory of mathematical continuity. though there but points. there no between one and another. nothing between the points Yet.MATHEMATICAL CONTINUITY denies the is 35 reality of movement. and that his paradox its due to confusion between a reality in essential nature indivisible and the intellectual device of a scheme. According to this theory space and time actually consist of discrete points and instants. When is conceived as infinitely divisible. any two there ingly space this is is between accord- always another. recalling in a striking way the principles which divided the ancient world. . Mr. In an infinite series no two members are next one another. but in any finite portion of space and interval of time the number of for points and instants is infinite. of analysing the old The two modes ment and the reveal argu- antithetical conclusions they reach in that two principles are contending philosophy to-day. the points are not next one another. means is that the series of points interstice is compact. created and contrived for the practical purpose of division and articulation.

the The infinite divisibility implies same of the in this instants. wrong in inferring that therefore is does not move. it is Having defined continuity all way claimed that the supposed contradictions in a continuum composed of elements are comswept away and the foundation laid bare pletely of a reality on which a firm constructive philosophy can be built. movement would be Zeno therefore is impossible. is right in saying that the arrow at rest at every moment it of its flight. no next moment to any moment because between any two there infinitesimals is If there were but there are none. follows. that there no next position to any always another. The answer then to Zeno is as Zeno asks how can you go from one one moment to the next position the transition ? position at at the next being at is moment without in no position at no moment is The answer position. for there a one-one corres- pondence in a movement between the infinite series of positions and the infinite series of instants. frorji is Bergson's way of escape . time and movement. According to this doctrine then it is possible to affirm the reality of space.36 there PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY is no next point of time to any point. the paradox and yet avoid the paradox in Zeno's arguments.

move- ments. because selves is time them- which are wrongly apprehended. for it 37 rests on a metaphysical concept of life and a philosophical theory of the It nature of the intellect. to They or life. the elements are immobilities and movement cannot be generated But there are real out of immobilities. the continuity of space It and time. they are views of There are thus two solutions of the antinomy offered to us in contemporary philosophy. I it mean is that as Bergson presents the problem in indifferent how we space and describe. the intellectual view of while is movement and as true duration change the points fundamental reality of Take the instants of space and time as the elements composing the movement and you there is will be forced to the conclusion that for no movement. the movement. the does not depend on mathematical definition of continuity. Bradley's argument in Appearance and Reality because it can hardly be . and the immobilities into which able to we seem decompose them are not constituents of it.THE TRUE DURATION entirely different. or what terms we define. I have not included Mr. belong essentially reality. for mathematical continuity has no relevance to the problem.

but diction it does so by accepting the contranot and by resolving it. founds an important philosophical doctrine on the antinomy of move- ment.38 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY It classed as a solution. direction and movement can be absolutely deter- mined. It rejects the concept of absolute space and time. This is in effect a reform of the it foundational concept of physical reality. There is. Space and time are not independent of the observer. lies is there no escape from the and the only salvation from the antinomy y in successfully attacking the premises. Space and time are variable. This what Einstein's theory does. or to If we is accept the terms of Zeno's argument conclusion. to other preserves . and there exists no abstract spatio-temporal system by reference to which the duration of a velocity. the antinomy has disappeared without violence done to reason. now offered to us a third and more complete way of escape in the new principle of relativity. however. and gives us a new world-view from which common-sense. or to science. and they vary for each observer with his system of reference and with every change in the acceleration of the movement of that system relatively Our four-dimensional world systems.

VARIABLE SPACE-TIME its 39 uniformity because our units of length. and depth and our unit of time. breadth alter continually. to the standpoint of an or rather to the standpoint of a system at rest relatively to the translation of other systems. . adapting themselves observer at rest.

CHAPTER We early III ATOMS AND THE VOID have seen that in the speculations of the Greeks in nature-philosophy. issued in The conflict of these two principles in the ancient world the synthetic construction of a system which has ever since held sway over the human mind. despite the enormous advance of physical science in modern times. Democritus. an older contemporary of Socrates." the other " being " as the first principle of existence. of This is the in atomic theory of Abdera Thrace. two opposite and contradictory principles emerged and divided the schools into rival camps. 40 . is In so far as the atomic theory a science of nature there is at every point. a most striking consistency between the old atomic theory and the new. and the first formulator of philosophical materialism. and the development of means of extending our know- ledge by experiment. One took " becoming.

The it reason is not that it is irrational. as well as bodily. but that has always seemed to destroy morality at its roots and to sap the foundations of religion.PHILOSOPHICAL MATERIALISM The theory of Democritus is 41 the first attempt of Western thought to present nature as a complete self-contained system. has revolted against it. sometimes with contempt. generally with loathing. continual and sustained it to maintain against to what we may have come reason. effort would seem. it Humanity has never held sway for long. internal as external and spiritual as well and objective. mental universe. too often with passionate hatred. Yet to reject materialism on moral and religious . of There would in seem nature to be a bias towards materialism the is it human intelligence. for nothing able to exorcise completely the hold which maintains over ordinary experience. ciple it Its prin- seems eminently rational. from the concept of an eternal and indestructible matter. and it demands. regard as stronger Yet although materialism has always appealed to the intellect human as rational and indeed as enforced in some measure by every practical concern of life. for it It is a pure materialism deduces the whole of the phenomena of the psychical as well as physical.

materialism declares that relation by mere external combination and there will be produced the variety of the According universe including the spiritual values. identical in everything but quantity and shape. more comprehensive. were held to be able to produce. and is be philosophically untenable. to Any this principle which proposes less stands self- deduce that more from the condemned. the According complexity of the universe. infinite and in fact had produced. In every respect and from every is standpoint mind richer. Given something absolutely and deprived of difference. everything its unfortunate which tends to conceal weakness. fails to satisfy Its essential principle not me but stands opposed to what appears to me the most obvious truth. Mind is more than matter. greater.42 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY so far it. to the ancient theory. I reject it solely on philosophical grounds. identical Yet is the essential principle self- of materialism. indivisible atoms. materialism seems consistent with the highest ethical principles and with the purest only religion. . fuller. grounds from serving is philosophy is disastrous to If materialism ought to be on philosophical if it condemned it grounds alone. I frankly confess. by their combinations and movements. For my own part.

simple reducible ultimately to single electrical charges. in the first half of the century before Christ. or at practised as a religious followers as divinely inspired and revered as the least of a philosophy Lucretius lived duty. Democritus was a century earlier The philosophy of Epicurus was an ethical accepted and adopted the atomic theory. He theory of Democritus as the scientific basis of his ethics. De Rerum Natura. a philosopher regarded by founder of a religion.LUCRETIUS to 43 elements. and the in science of nature which he has expounded . still.C. the modern theory. rise in atoms to and give are thought to be able to every form of reality. Epicurus taught in Athens end of the fourth and beginning of the third century B. Lucretius is a true poet. poem Lucretius has presented to us the philohis sophy of Epicurus. In that of the Roman philosopher-poet Lucretius. by mere external combinations molecules. and the therefore belongs to the last period of the Roman at Republic. . Our knowledge of Democritus is derived only from references to him in the classical writings. natural and spiritual. but a very complete account of his atomic theory is enshrined in the great poem.

For this purpose he unfolds the philosophy of his almost divine master. not only as goddess of love but as the goddess cruel who has some influence over the its God of war. to the close with is terrible description of the plague in Athens. and the poem. Could a man in in the concerns be convinced that the Gods have no interest human affairs and cannot intervene life. is a firm belief in the power of philosophy to dispel the principal evils in The greatest misery which humanity endures torture not physical evil but mental due to superstitious fear. He is moved by a deep love of nature and profound pity for human misery and by man's lot. from the invocation to Venus. of his earthly that death is could he moreover be assured a release and not the beginning of imagined terrors. The thought .44 his PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY poem is not directly intended for instruction but to support a moral and religious argument. the two great hindrances to human happiness would be removed. The pleasure which every living creature craves for as part of its nature could at least be enjoyed unspoilt by the poison of superstition. inspired by a melancholy and deep yearning to alleviate the miserable lot of mankind by an effective deliver- ance from superstitious fears.

to the trees would not be constant which produce them. birds out of the sky.NIHIL that runs EX NIHILO 45 through the poem may be gathered have nothing then from a few examples. any tree might bear any fruit. we see that the rose blooms in spring. no seed would be required. Fruits out of the earth. the corn in ripens in If things summer. we shall be able to ascertain correctly what the elements are out of which everything can be produced in and the manner which all things are done without the hand of the gods. any kind of thing might be born of anything. the vintage comes and no time required at came from nothing there would be no for growth. " When we shall seen that can be produced from nothing." " If things come from nothing. fish Men might rise out of the sea. men and ground. But instead autumn." " into Moreover nature its dissolves everything back primitive elements and does not annihilate things. trees certain seasons Infants would grow in once to the •." " If infinite time has not destroyed things it . things all spring a moment from in But none of these events happen step grow by step and growing preserve their kind.


These passages are from the beginning of

can only be that things are indestructible."



book, and introduce the theory of the



for the

show the argument

may be quoted to " The waters, void.
which swim



make way

for the fish

them, they open liquid paths to them because
the fish leave

room behind them into which the Thus things may waters may stream.

move and change among themselves although But, I ask, how can the whole seem to be full. the fish move forwards unless the waters have first made room ? And on what side can the
displaced water go, so long as the fish has not



You must

therefore deny motion


admit that the void
order that motion

mixed up with things
get a start."



science which Lucretius offers us rests

on the theory

things are composed of the
It is

atoms, that atoms can

move by reason of surrounding void and that all phenomena
produced by the movements of the atoms.

not exact science as the moderns conceive science,
for the ancient philosophers,

however acute


observations and precise their descriptions,


ingenious their hypotheses, had neither devised

nor developed the experimental method which
distinguishing feature of






ancient atomic theory arose directly from

the paradoxes of the rival principles of the old



was the great and profound

work of



of genius.



worked out

into a complete system,



perfect expression of materialism

has exerted



throughout the whole

history and development of

Western thought.


can see


the system of Democritus


some simple unchangebeing must support the movement. If
things flow,

being moves, non-being cannot be nought.






therefore if there

movement Movement is



a limit






space, for then



therefore, besides the

atoms there



moving body




at rest, there-


atoms to
of matter

some force which causes the There must be persistence move.






changing form.

The atoms






unchanged beneath the varying wealth of sensory








simplest explanation

the best, and the atomic

theory deduces


the wealth of existence from

absolutely simple beginnings.

helped by









produced by means of the











combinations, so

we may

suppose that the phenomena of the universe with
their infinite variety of colour

and form can be

reduced in the

last analysis to

very simple elements,

almost identical, yet able to produce variety in
profusion simply by combinations.

These simple

elements are the atoms


by uniting and com;

bining they form material objects

by changing

their place they bring about the continual shifting

of phenomenal change.



we know

positively about atoms



cannot see them, nor by any conceivable

means make them evident to the senses. Not only has no one seen an atom, but we can be
certain that

no one ever



for anything large



be an object of sense-perception would

not be indivisible,


concept of indivisibility

seeing that its is indivisible it . another. sonorous. but this are is hot illusion. resistance are due to from it their combinations and movements. This also follows from the concept of them. The is quantity of the atoms limit to for there no the bodies which the universe contains. Also they are eternal and indestructible. weight.THE ATOMS places 49 them far below the limit of perception. They have no shape. and the reality. other quality than their form or is In this alone their difference from one Colour. is infinite. or cold. a body which can be seen of their existence is The fact thus derived from the necessity of denying the infinite divisibility of being. odour. appear to us coloured. fact of indivisibility assures us of their Collected into a group of sufficient members they form and touched. for these qualities the impressions on our sense organs the illu- and therefore appearances.'' change it alter quality.'' How can it How can . sion. Dissipate think of bodies as they must be in . The unchangeableness of the atom follows therefore its nature. It has been and will be what is throughout it eternity. seeing that has none Bodies which are composed of the atoms resistant. PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY and it themselves. and by the clashing. collecting and dispersing of atoms. the . will be seen that they must as consist of atoms and that atoms cannot themselves possess the sense qualities. When. sorting. there have successively formed themselves. will From to time it come about that from time atoms will clash. Such then are the atoms to —how have they come live . It is analogous in to the case of words which alter and change both sound and meaning by the addition or subtraction of a letter or the alteration of the arrangement of the letters. one identical body appears because its different at different moments it is atoms have changed place or because some of its atoms have been lost or gained. natural movement.'' form the world in which we We must suppose that the atom left to itself in the void would have inherent in a it. a movement a weight or gravity which would cause this it to fall for ever in the infinite void. will block one another and form conglomerations or heaps. Our world must be its conceived as such a heap. But just atoms have different forms so the bodies will composed of them to the in be different according arrangement and direction of the atoms them.

very mobile. and this to be a physical alteration. 51 the sun the moon and which are bodies like the earth. thoughts which succeed one another in the soul are the movements of seems to its component explained Democritus have the perception of material objects by a theory that those objects are at every moment emitting on all sides extremely small images of themselves strike which on the organs of sense. and also the living beings on the earth. are composed of atoms." Such then is the materialistic naturalism of the ancient philosophy. objects and worlds. 5). And general it because these thinkers suppose knowledge to be sensation. Bodies and souls. iv. " Democritus It is to this theory that Aristotle probably alludes when any at is he says (Metaph. the stars. the phenomena of nature and the acts of thought are movements . The soul which appears to animate the organized bodies must be supposed to consist of more subtile atoms. The atoms.THE OLD MATERIALISM earth floating in the air. which we may imagine to be round and polished and so comparatively frictionless. at rate says that either there is least it no truth or to us in is not evident. to our senses that they say what appears must be true.

one problem unsolved . This was the problem of direc- Bodies fall. In such a world-view absolute direction could be accepted as fact without introducing direct contradiction. void and time. they there will is pursue parallel nothing to courses from which them will aside and no heaps or conglomerations be formed. anything but atoms. Their natural direction is downwards. and movement the reality of the phenomenal world. not. if the direction of their upward this movement difficulty is is absolute. There remained. that worlds are for ever being formed and unformed. however. atoms are indestructible. He . because their If bodies fall is seem to rise it is either relatively slower than that of heavier bodies or. Apparently was met by supposing that the void that infinite. never has been.52 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY There is of atoms. these are the conditions of is movement. never can be. tion. it led to an important and somewhat inconsistent modification by Epicurus of the theory which he adopted. and that their number is infinite. But If a new difficulty occurred to Epicurus. it is due to a rebound from the clash of colliding bodies. atoms are falling perpendicularly by an inherent natural movement turn in the infinite void.

introduces therefore a
to time




From time

he supposes the atoms show a slight

inclination, imperceptible

and capricious, which



their clinamen.

draws them

from time to time out of the perpendicular and







form masses.
that respect



of such a theory,


physical importance, for in

quite arbitrary, but that



by the need of the philosopher

to find

in nature


basis for the free action of the



This, then, became the accepted form in which


and movement entered into the






concept atoms and the void could not withstand


what principle could a

limit to

be fixed


appeal to perception

impossible for by the hypothesis the perceptible



the appeal to conception any



Shape or form



the notion of whole and part.

It is

not difficult

indeed to show that the concept of the atom

riddled with contradiction, and moreover possesses

no principle by which a synthesis of contradictions
can be effected on the Hegelian method.
It is a



whole without
quality but

a quantity with



It is



even more

difficult to conceive.

It is a

pure negation posited
an absence which

as the very basis of reality.

forms the absolute condition of presence.

occupancy supposes a matter which


mately indivisible

a portion of a space



divisible to infinity.


the other hand, the atomic theory


a baseless speculation





of experience.




rough and ready

practical solution of an insoluble


based on a sound

intellectual principle as

which we may even describe

an intellectual instinct

the principle that

from nothing there

nothing, and the applicato

of this










points, duration

not composed of durationless


very same intuition which makes

the philosopher of


affirm the



experience to be a specious present makes the
natural philosopher affirm the
spatial unit.


be the


ancient atomic theory has


but a






atomic theory.



latter is

not a philosophical

theory though of immense philosophical interest.
It is a

purely scientific theory and not an effort

of the mind to conceive the ultimate constitution of matter based on deductions from the logical
principle of non-contradiction.
It is scientific in

the meaning that

it is

based on discovery,and that
it is

the mathematical formulae by which
are submitted to


the test of experiment,


corrected continually by the results of experiment.
It is

only In the sense that the atom of modern


a conceptual object

which can never

be brought to a direct perceptual
reason that

for the



below the amplitude of the

waves of light and therefore can never be made

to our ordinary illumination,




permissible to Indicate

by the same name.


contrast to the concept of the ancient philosophy

the atom of


physical theory


not simple

and undifferentiated but



discovery of the x rays, and their application to the analysis of crystal structure, with the conse-

quent increase In the range of our direct perceptual
penetration of matter, have indeed revealed In a

manner the nature of molecular and atomic structure, and have to that extent given a surer

which made everything sink . a concept of pure emptiness. does not from the necessity of conception idea of the ultimate nature of physical reality. The value of the ancient theory is that it shows us the form in which space. but it seems to have been taken for granted and not conceptually analysed as space was. fall through the void the ancient fact which is nothing. Time was the other formal expanse which reality required.56 basis PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY to physical science. and this is the fact which we now call gravitation. as relieve it modern world for its compared with the ancient. apparently uncon- sciously. Yet even this vast extension of perception which our possesses. by the very fact that it something. Movement seems ultimately to have been explained by the principle that something is more than nothing and is therefore that the something occupying space must. and which to them meant the weight in the void. is It is clear that to mind which there is one fundamental empirical accepted as ultimate. time and movement infinite provided the scheme of a philosophy of nature. Space was the void.

even Epicurus himself. indeed for the most part rationalistic and materialistic opinion throughout the whole of the pre-Copernican period. Creation and annihilation could only have mean- ing in respect of the grouping of the atoms. the by their very concept absolute. The atheistic necessity character of the theory lay entirely in the fact that its argument dispensed with the of God. As a matter of fact also those who accepted the atomic theory. The It theory was essentially atheistic. to see difficult first why the constitution of nature should have any relation whatever to the question of the origin of nature. the 57 . atoms. did not on that account deny the existence of gods.CHAPTER IV THE VORTEX THEORY The and atomic theory of Democritus supported. The were ultimate constituents of reality. but the reason of is its atheism at is not immediately evident. represented.

. no necessity to postulate a of the Inferno^ il So when Dante sees Democritus among first circle the ancient sages in the he refers to him as " Democrito. Who are the heretics ? They are not the adversaries against whom Athanasius and Augustine struggled in the formation and interpretation of the creeds. and Dante is some centuries before the Reformation and the tion institu- by the Holy Inquisition of the Auto-da-fe. creation or annihilation of an self-contradiction. of nature. che mondo a caso pone. Democritus who ascribes the world afforded to us of the A curious glimpse is medieval mind." to chance. The annihilation of the contradicts the notion of a limit to its divisibility the creation of the atom contradicts the notion of its simplicity. . and the form which materialism and rationalism assumed for it in the scholastic period. of the Inferno). Clearly then if there are atoms uncreated and imperishable whose combinations (like the letters of the alphabet) produce infinite variety. where he describes the punishment of the heretics. in another passage of Dante (Canto X. we have in them a self-sufficient ground The world may have arisen by there is chance creator.58 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY atom would involve atom .

" Apart. not teachers of false doctrine. altogether from the religious and ethical questions involved. guided by Virgil. also the They time. include some famous Florentines of Dante's and Emperor Frederic II.THE EPICUREANS The heretics 59 of a we find are the followers materialistic philosophy. The puzzling fact in regard to the call atoms was what we now could gravitation. who gathered to his court at Naples and Sicily erudite Grecians and Saracens and revived the classical learning. passes along. the sepulchre anxious for news of the living. It be determined empirically and its law . The void was Euclidean space in form. It its purest uncomplicated was absolute in the sense of perfect emptiness. the concept of atoms and the void. furnished to pre-Copernican thought the type of physical reality. rationalists They all. are the who thought the end. they push up the covering stone of Hell. They lie in their tombs on the fiery plain surrounding the fortified walls of the city of As Dante. this life is and that Alas the tomb is " There the wicked cease at rest." ! from troubling and the weary are they discover that " their their fire is worm dieth not and not quenched. however. Dante names them the Epicureans..

forms our earth direction could be fixed but the falling of the atoms in the void was evidently embarrassing. No such tremendous in effect in the intellectual development of our race has importance that which followed If approached this discovery. new methods and reformed concepts.6o stated. If. we would classify scientifically the historical stages in the evolution of philosophy . however. turned science and philosophy in a new direction. was This by the Copernican discovery brought about a most profound and complete revolution in human thought. Putting ourselves at the standpoint of the ancient world-view that we can see no means exist to decide whether the atoms are falling continuously through eternal time in infinite void or whether they are at it rest. Movement would have to be impressed from without and the ground of the self-sufficiency of the atomic theory would be gone. The whole changed of this ancient world-view discovery. to fall is not in the nature of the atom it in the void is difficult to understand why there is movement anywhen or anywhere. PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY and for the conglomeration of its atoms which . and with a new world-view opened to the human mind determining new problems.

and for whom human history led up to. his method and it. . his system are completely determined by Yet the Copernlcan discovery seems a simple enough matter and we are generally inclined wonder how it to could have been possible for mankind to continue so long without someone suspecting that the celestial movements were an appearance consequent on our own translation. faith We understand the shock to the religious those of who had pictured this earth as the scene of a tragedy. the philosopher of that revolution. and followed from. That is in fact what we do when we name Descartes as the founder of modern philosophy. and his principles. for Descartes was the systematizer of that discovery. and indeed our is reading the ancient philosophers that their to remember concepts were con- cerned with an imagery totally different from ours.THE COPERNICAN DISCOVERY to 6i and distinguish them by a central epoch we ought mark all theories as being pre-Copernlcan or post-Copernican. that have we come to unique event. prepared from eternity by the divine source and sustainer of the universe. But so of the easily adapt ourselves to the new world-view that we are unconscious difficulty in change.

condition of the human race. The been discovery came suddenly But the evidence dis- and with something of a shock. - " The philosopher of this It is new world-view was Descartes. it is able to look out on the world through which continually journeying. no mere chance coincidence that Descartes was philosophizing and elaborating a .62 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY Suppose one had been born in a smoothly running railway-carriage. Every ation of relative position of the would appear This was the developed moving system movement of the panorama. that the panorama is without in ceaseless movement. It would and it must alter- seem to one so circumstanced. and brought up to find in it all the conveniences and necessities of life. the for accumulated with such force that the worlditself to it. It as a intellectually through continuously successive ages without ever suspecting that the movement it looked out upon in the panorama its of the heavens might be an appearance due to own translation. view adapted and we are no more able to-day to return to the old world-view than are able we when we take a railway journey to believe is that our carriage at rest and the landscape moving. covery it having made.

principles. the obscure and confused ideas of sense was indiscoverable in their nature. and both the direct outcome of the Copernican discovery and its revolution in the world-view. is It then not to sense but to the clear and distinct ideas of the mind. It and harmonized was imperatively must be a return to absolutely first Descartes laid down two principles of philo- sophy. to reason. A new concept of new aspect of the truth and reality on which the universe could be rationalized called for. senses and obscure ideas. but their not to lead to truth but to preserve the body. and greater validity than. distinct Why the clear and ideas of understanding should possess superiority over. one subjective and one objective. Descartes fell back on the proof of the existence of God and the impossibility of our conceiving that in the case .DESCARTES'S new system of NEW METHOD when 63 the universe Galileo was experimenting to prove the earth's movement. deceptive. first The principle is that the intellect alone its by can are the clearness and distinctness of furnish a criterion of truth. the source of confused ideas The belief. that we must turn for true knowledge. and seem purpose The is senses do indeed induce to furnish an assurance of truth.

of clear and distinct ideas — a principle which no longer appeals to On this distinction between sense and intellect was founded the well-known method of Descartes. a mechanistic not a The universe It materialistic system. not the outcome of the behaviour of atoms in a it void. is The essence of material substance is extension is alone and there Movement not change of place but hood. Had not that discovery clearly demonstrated that mankind. He proposed to doubt everything which could possibly be doubted in order to discover. Such fundamental truth he claimed to have discovered in the famous Cogito ergo sum. had lived in age-long error . universally and continually. trusting the inter- pretation of direct sense experience. is the mechanical disposition of matter to it resulting from the imparting no void.. 64 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY God could deceive us. as a starting point. It is easy to see the connexion of this with the Copernican discovery. a truth in the clearness it and distinctness of its which was not possible to doubt.'' The second is is principle of Descartes concerns the objective reality of the universe. relative is of movement. idea. change of neighbour- Movement only possible in a plenum . some fact which expressed.

or when it is read. that Movement is. have had a diverse fate in the history of thought. read. the subjective principle new method and the objective principle or mechanistic interpretation. This constitutes the great systematization of the universe in accordance with the revolution in astronomy. While the first has been accepted as marking the beginning of a new period of philosophical speculation so that we regard Descartes as the founder of modern philosophy. and movement down its of the heart and the circulation of the blood in principle. as an intellectual curiosity . system of vortices. it. the fixed stars are similar vortices. it. in the void is 65 self- unmeaning and in a contradictory. neglected and forgotten. The universe a each vortex determining relations to is vortices within and determined by vortices without The solar system a vortex. all and the planets and their satellites are all vortices within to the beating is the vortex.DESCARTES'S MECHANISM movement movement. the second. These two or principles. is the cosmological and physical theory. plenum is a vortex a movement which involves is simultaneously every part of the system and not is propagated from part to part. one having part in the universal first mechanism.

" was the famous challenge which he threw down to the theory of atoms and the void. we can translate it to mean that the variety and the uniformity of the universe are a function of systems of movement. there was no of metaphysics and It such dissociation philosophy and " Give physics. of neighbourhood of extended (3) that nature is and a plenum. not change of place systems is an independent expanse but the relative change . interconnected and inter- dependent. own time and during the development of Cartesianism in the half century which followed. To under- stand it we must examine it a little more closely the three distinct doctrines.66 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY But in Descartes's with no relation to present physical or metaphysical science. me matter and movement and I will make a world. is The is first of these doctrines fundamental. is Extension not the empty place in which there . (i) that is extension (2) that move- ment in is relative not absolute. there is no void and movement in a plenum a vortex. Keeping in mind that for Descartes matter is extension. was the vortex theory which established the fame of Descartes. on which the essence of matter rests. It the ground of Descartes's rejection of the void. science. These are .

if attribute shape — —can be from is colour. not on account of self-contradiction in the concept of indivisible particles or shape but no parts. weight. it is the essential attribute of for this is matter. thought absent. possible if Movement would be im- the constituents of matter had un- alterable shapes. if and when matter moves is extension moves. more The rejection of the atoms is They are geometrically imhaving form possible. as instanced is by rarefaction densation. The is direct argument is that extension the only attribute which inseparable and indistinguishable from material substance.REJECTION OF THE VOID is 67 or is not matter. . and so deny that still it is a void. The apparent and conof contradiction that the extension of any matter is variable. but on account of their unchangeability. Every other resistance. direct. easily explained as the disposition a matter's extension in relation to other material extensions. sonority. we abstract itself its material substance annihilated. but extension. Extension being the essence of its material substance. Extension fills. not the quantity of emptiness matter that it is To say of it empty space to extended is to endow with the essential attribute of material substance.

in the cabin of our when wind and stream are transporting the The earth may be considered at to France. its regard anything as in nature at rest. in so far as fixed by The common it notion is that a body moves when defined. Nothing has it is permanent place except our thought. Descartes argued. There a are no fixed immovable points. We ship ship rest are at rest. we are at rest and not moving when the members of our system keep their relative posisay tions We notwithstanding in that the whole system may be itself movement of translation or in a may be not moving but borne along movement. The Copernican theory had merely Descartes saw that it substituted a heliocentric for a geocentric astro- nomical hypothesis.68 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY The second doctrine concerned the relativity of movement. But this is not rest in what we mean by ordinary experience. is at Nothing if rest in the whole system of nature in a its being at rest means being carried along in moving system and not being movement. Strictly movement not change of place but . to no longer possible then. raised the metaphysical problem of movement. for example. changes is its place in a void. if we mean that it is carried along its path like a ship through the solar system It is on the ocean.

possible in a is move if every Movement.'' In geometry are we measuring vacuum. they asked. When I push a boat beach it is it merely convenience which makes me express as a movement of at rest the boat relatively to the as a beach and not movement of the beach for its relatively to the boat at rest.MOVEMENT part of matter or of a IN A PLENUM it is 69 change of neighbourhood. place is the place into which to ? already occupied is contended. Indeed. we did not carry our how could we have are not a science of geometry. if in moving extension with us. in plenum. of the series moves into the place of the Such movement is really changing place and not passing through a void which does not change. The third doctrine had main argument the defence. Where. for without it is impossible. The . The argument movement is of the atomists had been that there must of necessity be the void. against the atomists. Descartes plenum if the chain of last moving members complete so that the first. we measuring extension. of the concept of the possibility a who denied of movement it. the translation of a body from the neighbourit is hood of bodies with which neighbourhood of others. it in contact into the We can only define off a relatively.

though opposed to the universally accepted was a necessity of thought and a great advance In mathematical and physical method. Now we rest as suppose define following the as common place. We say. must be parting company with the Descartes had Either earth at a prodigious velocity. and remaining same then to we see at once that for anything on the earth it be at rest. cubes.— 70 figures circles. PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY we construct and study in geometry triangles. His philosophical theory. for no means exist of measuring vacuum. spheres — are measurements and constructions of the extension which moves with the earth. squares. or it is vacuum existing independently of substance. that moving that. actual as well as logical. extension is an attribute of material substance and it accompanies in all its changes. for example. notion. movement in the change of place. arise if we attempt to interpret geometry in terms of vacuum. therefore the choice of two alternatives. is the opposite of resting. If he chose the latter he must sacrifice geometry. of that movement and indifferent to Endless complexities and con- tradictions. not of a supposed vacuum independent it. notion. When 1 move about a ship I am really moving I notwithstanding that to the observer on shore .

The it is till rational deductions empirifirst is that everything remains as something changes second is that every body which is continue moving in a straight line. different would be hopelessly complicated and for different observers. my pocket. it. The as system is a vortex with the the sun centre. 71 the are the beating of revolving wheels of the watch in my heart. though the tracing of them on a chart. against an absolute background. By these two laws he accounted for . like These are bounded by the fixed stars which our own sun are centres of revolving systems. extending beyond It is orbits of the distant planets. regular movements. There are two laws of nature which Descartes formulates. other vortices. cally They are verifiable. The moved tends to The rationale of the second law is that the straight line being the shortest line measures the force.CELESTIAL MECHANISM may be at rest . The first law explains how bodies get involved in vortex movements. The tial application of this principle led to the construction of the magnificent scheme of celesor rather cosmical mechanism which amazed intellectual and held spell-bound the latter half world of the of the seventeenth century solar its — the vortex theory.

Yet has passed away so completely that it is hardly remembered even as a stage in the "evolution of scientific theory. capturing the imagination than one intellectual generation. in modern physiological concepts. of more it of a single genius. it. such mastery of minute in the Principia. the mechanism which Descartes sub- for the old materialism. The picture of the physical universe as a system of vortices. the one case as in the other there are important . They are not careering through space but being carried along with the moving system. is and with such assurance. said. I have not its dealt with details but tried to bring into relief essential features. the solar vortex. are at rest so far as their planets. It It was the constructive work enjoyed a brilliant vogue. that is. projected it They have been caught up in may have been from other vortices in and sent travelling in a straight line until they became involved Such stituted is our system. he concerned. as far no doubt removed from our present imagery spirits of physical reality as the descriptionof the organism controlled by the animal is in Descartes's Les passions de Fame far removed from our Nevertheless. described with detail.72 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY The sky is the planets in the solar vortex.

to see that there can be no simple reversion.THOUGHT AND EXTENSION principles insisted on 73 from the neglect of which suffered. interesting to note principles how it was anticipated in the which suggested to Descartes the vortex is theory. to We have only to remember however that the whole development of physical science has. is The It is principle of relativity tion in reality the rationaliza- of the electrical theory of matter. science has distinctly In outward is resemblance Descartes's world-view is extra- ordinarily like that which of presented to us by the general it principle relativity. and that this concerns a continuity of experimental discovery in a realm of phenomena entirely unexplored by the matheof maticians. The concept of the vortex itself a quite striking anticipation of the modern concept as intel- of the "field of force. astronomers. and mechanicians the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. come to centre round the electro-magnetic theory. in recent times." Descartes lectual distinguished two ideas and therefore not subject to the deceptive appearance which characterizes the ideas depen- . So much in rejecting so that appears at first as though Newton's concepts we are simply returning those of Descartes.

is From this it follows that movement relations relative and concerned only with the of material systems to one another. but he thinks. completely with the modern theory of It is curious that the duration of the universe did not impress Descartes as having anything like the importance which he attributes to its extension. the fact of duration simply shows dependence on God. If duration is the essential attribute of that this substance this a substance. recognizes that the universe endures. by reason of anything in its its essence.74 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY These are thought and dent on sense perception. Time is as necessary as space for a . So far physical theory concerned the important conIn Descartes's cept is extension. is theory that it is extension the essential attribute of matter is denied that there any void or pure space within Extension it which matter moves. This accords relativity. is not something it moving matter leaves behind or of which exchanges one quantity for another. it is He not. is we must conclude God. By these concepts he distinguished the essence of the two substances which to we refer as familiarly as is mind and matter. The moving its mass or system carries its extension within all movement. extension. but Descartes does not himself draw conclusion.

is From the historical standpoint this of peculiar significance. and in the concept that movement and rest are . but time plays the part of independent variable.EXTENSION AND DURATION mechanism. it machine. appears not as the essence of the universe. and reIt formed our view of the universe. was not until three centuries later that a reform of our concept of the duration of the universe. moment moment depended on and sustaining power. parallel to the Copernican place. To us extension and duration are correlative and inter- dependent. any more than the time the is measures part of the contrivance. but only as that which necessary to to its existence. 75 Without time the machine cannot has no grip on the reality of the clock work. therefore. in the concept of matter as extension. then. It concept the of its extension took followed great biological discoveries of the nineteenth century. Its continuity from a creating It is. The Darwinian revolution in theory brought as complete a our conception of time in as the Copernican theory had produced of space. revolution celestial brought in a The great Copernican new concept of the incidentally spatial it mechanism. our conception duration To is Descartes.

or any attribute that may need variable. is follows that the diversity and endless variety of the material universe must be due to function of movement. that Descartes's system anticipates the principle of relativity.76 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY the concept of translation as relative to the parts of the system. character whatever. such as the void. . means constant and that no other attribute of matter Any other attribute which matter it may have. and in members and the rejection of any absolute zero. affording a standard for the measurement vortex- of absolute velocity. in order that It we may apprehend all it. The doctrine that material substance consists in extension alone does not exists mean that pure extension materially without It any other quality or that extension is is. movement and not stuff a direct This follows simply from is the fact that extension and there- fore cannot harbour occult properties — essences or forces. together with mutually dependent on systems of reference.

for He 77 was a mathematician . He conducted no investigations in the manner. should have worked out a hypothesis of the system of the universe complete detail. and his philosophy mental philosophy. Newton himself was an example. down to the minutest in There is no greater contrast the history of western intellectual development than his system presents to the method and philosystem it.CHAPTER V THE PROBLEM OF GRAVITATION It a is a curious thing that Descartes who proposed new method of is is philosophy. the distinctive form of which universal doubt. he described This does not mean that experimentalist. and the principle of which unless that nothing must be accepted as true its evidence is presented to the mind with a clearness and distinctness which excludes doubt. sophical of Newton which completely as the experi- supplanted Newton's method was experiment. of Galileo.

on the other hand.78 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY and as all like Descartes. while his philosophy is entirely neglected. and the other it great works of his contemporaries. who was equally famous to his contemporaries and immeis diate successors as a speculative philosopher. for its antiquarian Newton. which was and the supremely important thing to his contemporaries and his successors. in comparing these two great minds and the work they accomplished. It is test of positive experimental also curious. has his secured physical a permanent place system. cealed is book for all but advanced mathematicians. now remembered as a great mathematician and as the discoverer of the universal law of gravitation. unless had first submitted to the proof. is Even first- our knowledge of his great discovery hand. if interest. is entirely rejected it is studied only. Locke's Essay on Understanding. . the Human a con- Spinoza's Ethics. not The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica is not a classic which takes a place with Hobbes's Leviathan. to observe that while the speculative philosophy of Descartes in literature. studied. that he insisted on in his natural philosophy was that nothing should on the it be accepted true clearness and been evidence of the pure idea.

was published in 1686-7. strange there should little direct study of the work of one of the greatest geniuses our country has produced.NEWTON'S PRINCIPIA and our knowledge of Newton's discovery enshrined in a moral tale 79 is concerning his reflection It is on the be so fall of the apple. the written in work of many years. and his years system reigned unchallenged. Latin and bearing the same title as Descartes's famous work. Newton was born in 1642. The famous story . It presented his theory of gravitation and his formula of the universal law. and was therefore when Descartes died. It was after his death (1727) and in consequence of the publication of Voltaire's£/(?W(?«^ de la Philosophic de lation 1738 and the transof the Princifia Philosophiae into French in Newton some years later that Newton's " Philosophy " triumphantly deposed the Cartesian vortex theory and became the accepted eight years old basis of physical science. of study and research were those during which the Cartesian The Principia Philosophiae. It is further of interest to note that though Newton in his life-time won immediate and unelected President questioned recognition —he was of the Royal Society twenty-five years in succession — his views never obtained wide or important acceptance.

married to a Fellow of the Royal Society intimate friends. country " (he had withdrawn from Cambridge the to who was one of Voltaire's " One day The story is Newton in the retirement of : Woolsthorpe on account of the plague). in the year 1666. something very like is it must the have happened. When. The authority for the story it Voltaire. usually implied.8o that PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY this was a sudden discovery following a fall meditation set going by seeing an apple in the orchard of Woolsthorpe (from a tree which was shown to visitors for it about a century. falling apple or whatever may have been. we take the anecdote in its historical setting we see at once that. however. What is certain that it circumstance. and which after had fallen through decay was carved generally rejected if up as is into souvenirs). whether it be legendary or not. who had heard from Madame Conduit. did not originate the meditation but broke in upon is it. that Certainly we suppose. nothing can well be more improbable than the story. a niece of Newton. time was Newton at the of a poetical and impressionable turn of mind and awakened by a simple occurrence to the thought of the mystery underlying natural processes. is as legendary and mythical. " seeing .

is this force ? bodies in proportion to their mass . they are to in to in distant. whatever this not the same as that which keeps the satellites . then. that these secondary planets are weighted towards the centre of their near. that reci- according the the the square of their A body close moon's earth position and a body must both weigh on the earth that exact accordance with law. he asked on all himself. less is more in proportion as they are as in proportion procally distances. must be power of acting from where the moon is right to the centre of the earth. fell 8i the fruit falling from a tree in the orchard. by the inferences drawn from Kepler's laws.'' planets moving round the sun and the Jupiter in their orbit round that planet it Now has been shown. be." . It acts What. orbits. accord- Madame Conduit into deep meditation as to the cause all which thus draws bodies in a line which if prolonged would pass almost through the earth's centre. is it If so. then this force fall. and not to fruit their surfaces it would were it act on this now it falling from this tree so removed that to had three thousand or ten thousand fathoms If this be so.THE APPLE STORY ing to the story which his niece told me.

at right The centrifugal force of a vortex causes the heavy it.'' falling It flashed across him that here was a phenomenon in flagrant violation of Descartes's vortex principle. it quite certain therefore that it if was not a falling apple was some analogous circumstance which originated in Newton's mind the doubt concerning Descartes's principle and led to the formulation of the new law and to the return to the concept of absolute space and time . that the cube of the distance of each planet from the sun is . body held by when released.82 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY This story shows clearly the subject of Newton's meditation. But why should that be disturbed by the apple . in particular the third law. By every reason alleged by Descartes the apple ought to have flown upward and outward and not to have fallen downward. as the stone in a sling brings to is when for example at released. by surfaces in changing relations consequent on It is movement. proportional to the square of its time of revolution is But what strikes Newton that weight must be determined by mass and distance. and not. as Descartes's principle required. He was pondering over Descartes's system of celestial movement. to leave it angles to the axis of rotation. This once mind the laws of Kepler.

as regular gether to compose a plenum. As there is is no void. involve relative change throughout the mass and the effect must be that the shape of the figures will alter and continue to alter till they become entirely The more and the finer the spheres become the more easily will they pass one another in moving and their velocity will tend to increase spherical. for only such to- Suppose now that movement is originated. the one and only essence of matter is extension. In rejecting the concept of atoms and the void Descartes had no need to with weight as an essential endow matter attribute.ORIGIN OF as THE VORTEX 83 the basis and framework of the physical dearer universe. on the theory. such as fit cubes or hexagons. if it consist of separate parts uniform in character. will conceive parts. Without movement If this is pure homogeneity. that is to say. . we conceive matter at rest its we must of necessity figures. it must. To make little this it will be well to look a closely at the way in which Descartes con- ceived the vortex to have worked in bringing about the distribution of matter in the solar system. and therefore no distinction between space and matter. as matter not con- ceived as in space or space as containing matter.

He supposes other our planets may have come from is systems and been caught up in the solar vortex. forming the denser masses which are off thrown in and become line celestial bodies travelling are a straight until they captured by some vortex that into which they enter. gests that the sun spots are a kind of collects He scum which spherical on the surface of the mass of matter. the finer dust the firmament and is the air element or is transparent matter. is the luminous or element and composes the sun. The fine spherical it matter has collected at the fire fills centre. which composes the crust of the place of this matter is The sug- somewhat unsatisfactorily explained in the system of Descartes. lastly there opaque matter earth. And he also supposes that the earth itself a vortex within the solar vortex with a similar . in is what has actually happened our system.84 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY There dust will continually. according to Descartes's of the world. eventually be formed very minute and perfectly spherical particles. which the particles particles cleave an will and denser the which on be driven outwards and form a dust of vortex natural sphere. a very will fine through easy way. history the circumference This.

There is an active power which impresses on all bodies a tendency to move towards one another. And lastly. The obvious diffi- which Descartes never saw. the heavier the and which discovery. and the opaque crust on the circumference. Descartes's theory therefore offered an explanation it why the planets do not fall into the sun. not why is radial to the centre from every point on the circumference. The power is called attraction refer to the centre. is is only obvious to us since Newton's that according to it matter on the circumference the greater should be its tendency to obey centrifugal force and fly off. culty of this theory. air 85 the the fire element at its centre. could explain why movement is centrifugal or centriit petal at the equator. gravitation when we when we refer to . but had no explanation to offer as to why they keep It a constant position in the solar vortex. element surrounding this.THE INVERSE SQUARE structure. it made no attempt to explain the behaviour of heavy objects on the surface of the globe. In the celestial bodies this power acts in inverse ratio of the squares of the distances of the centres of the masses and in direct ratio of the masses. Let us now turn to Newton's theory of gravitation.

till long after Newton had conceived to confirm the theory the idea. fall liberated on the to the earth in direct line The same force probably acts on the light emitted by luminous bodies. correct And yet there had been a earth. But . that he was able and formulate the universal of is law. was Here is Voltaire's account. to to the centre. Norwood. but we are ignorant in what proportion and have no means of discovering. It is this power which causes surface of the earth. The account it his difficulties. which Voltaire has given us. To determine attraction of the earth amount of the on the moon he must know the " the radius of the earth and the distance of the moon. light of special interest for the as well as throws on his character on his method. Newton at the disadvantage that the only data he possessed on which to base his measurement of the earth were the faulty calculations of English pilots who reckoned sixty English miles to a degree of latitude. the true amount being more nearly seventy. It was not.86 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY fall the bodies which to the centre. more measurement of the An English mathematician. however. bodies. had in 1636 measured fairly accurately a degree of the meridian and had discovered it to be about seventy miles.

notwithstanding that the analogy with the other stars had appeared to so probable. Newton did not up it try to supplement his theory by forcing nature to accord with his ideas." Later on more exact measurements were in made France giving twenty-five leagues as a degree of the earth. The as wars which had England (always disastrous for science as for general prosperity). This gave the distance of the moon as sixty radii of the earth and was exactlv what was the demonstration of his required to give theory. and there was was nothing available but the vague estimate of the pilots. and though it seemed to little short of demonstration. had buried in oblivion the only exact measurement of the earth which then existed. Employing this measurement it found that the moon was too near the earth and the expected equations did not come out right. Newton is Newton's theory ling that the moon is travelat the by its own inertia in a straight line and . This example of weight to good faith alone deserves to give great his opinions. civil it 87 although this measurement had been made thirty was unknown afflicted to Newton.NEWTON'S DIFFICULTIES years before. He gave make come so his great discovery.

could be the source of the sensation of light. it raised the whole problem of action a distance. the influence being mutual. the composition of the forces giving the moon's orbit. and fact this was a constant phenomenon. No emanation passes from the sun is to our organs of sight. By applying Kepler's formula he could calculate the exact amount of the gravitational force. In this way the Cartesians explained how the sun. at Further. proposed the very thing which to their principle was most abhorrent. but case the propagation was instantaneous by reason of the continuity of matter in the vortex. influence. Gravitation was an occult and the Cartesians would accept no explanation which was not wholly intelligible and explicable by the aid of simple mechanics.'' theory unacceptable reason is the It Cartesians The main clear. though distant. bell rings at the is The same moment at which the cord pulled. According to the Cartesians a body in in every might exercise pressure on another body. but a pressure exerted and propagated through the transparent .88 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY attracted same time being by the force of gravity towards the earth's centre. or the weight of the moon on to the earth at its distance from the earth's centre. this Why was .

The new system required a framework of absolute . be seen then that Newton's discovery a complete revision not only of the demanded special hypothesis of the Cartesian vortex but of the whole philosophical concept on which the Cartesian mechanism was based. is pervaded with a subtile substance. was puzzling and even disconcerting if it to it Newton. in which the masses in the solar system move. an ether. propagated through intervening depresses the liquid element on the surface of the earth causing at a distance it to bulge in the tidal wave.ACTION AT A DISTANCE matter of the firmament. forces Attracting and gravitating determined of the by the distances inverse ratio of the squares between the centres of the masses. were clearly incompatible with the concept of a material substance whose essence was extension alone and whose form was determined by relative movement within a self-contained and self-suiEcing system. and although take place in fact has to be accepted. explained the tides. through which the influence of attraction and gravitation It will is conveyed. yet he inclined to the hypo- thesis that the space. In like 89 manner they medium. on the principle that nothing is impossible to God. Action The the pressure of the moon. masses.

through . is He re-affirms the void and a matter which it atomic in the sense that may be impressed with movement (for to deny the atom would be in effect. From universe the standpoint of physical science the gain seems enormous. Newton therefore takes us back to the old atomic theory. exercised The problem which " inclination " versal is Democritus and produced Epicurus's arbitrary hypothesis of an replaced with this law of uni- gravitation. But is not a simple return. remains a mystery in natural philosophy. as we have seen.90 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY space and time —space which was independent it of. The mysterious force of attraction. We are provided with absolute standards of reference and appear to have no obstruction to the unlimited advance. is The whole scheme and settled of the simplified on a basis of common-sense. the masses acting it. which observation and experiment have required us to accept. and indifferent to. to it deny the possibility of movement). There ancient is a notable advance in the fact that the theory of gravitation has completely overcome the difficulty regarding absolute direction. on one another within and a time flowing indifferently to the changes which measured.

for most conduced to the end which he formed them. and as such proportions to space. a being incorporeal. raised very serious difficulties in To Newton himself the materialism difficulty. the close of his questions in the Optics he says " Do not these phenomena of nature that there present. discerns and understands everything most " . of his system presented no He to held firmly to the necessary existence of God. hard. matter in tence." the beginning he says. seems probable to me. omni- who in infinite space as in his sensorium sees. God in formed matter in massy. is make it clear. " that solid.THE SENSORIUM experimentationj of exact knowledge. living. did and therefore eternal and " It not trouble him. moveof such sizes and figures. 91 But the new concepts philosophy. . creation or annihilation of matter to and the seemed him come easily within his conception of the power of God." But space and time themselves relation —what At : was their to God is ? All existence depends upon them and they depend on nothing and their non-existence unthinkable. impenetrable. and with in able particles such properties.'' intimately and with absolute perfection . The its old difficulty of the atomists that very concept was a necessary exisindestructible.

his idea of the relation of is it God God not in space and space does not contain God. is part of God's nature. of a correspondence between Leibniz and Newton's most famous disciple. What Newton intended by the must. and ambiguous expression and of course not allowed to go unchallenged. all knows and sees at every point is and in points of space. a correspondence which was only interrupted by Leibniz's death. for the doctrine was that allowing. Leibniz criticized this as being tanta- mount to making God's relation to the world analogous to the relation of the soul to the body. It subject. that The Newton was.92 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY By the term sensorium Newton expressed to infinite space. and when therefore we affirm of God that he is omnipresent we mean terms. however he might wish to conceive God's relation to nature^ . in 17 15-16. that he acts. It was a was the difficult. Space therefore God's sensorium. as we impossibility of expressing God's nature in human we have to admit that nothing can act. in human relation difficulty Descartes's to theory of the real of the for soul the body. Clarke. The sensorium would nature then represent in God's in what the pineal gland represented nature. know or see where it is not.

It also brings out the beauty of his personal character. great light is shed on his own conception of the nature its of his work and on relation to philosophical theory by the closing passage of the Principia Philosophiae which I will quote. To go back tation as a to the distinctive work of Newton and the formulation of the universal law of graviconsequence of his discovery. for we should have a say that if or a God had time chosen place different for creation. has ignored these philosophical difficulties and framed its concepts on the supposition of absolute space and time. and this Physical science. " So far I have expounded the force of gravitation by I celestial have in phenomena and by those of the sea. Space time then is is not where God to places masses. identical. and this pure assumption has come to be a common-place of every day thought. the different places and times would have been not different but involves absurdity. but no way attempted to assign the cause. however. . and not when God different elects to create them.EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY the 93 as absolute existence of space and time physical realities was fundamental for his con- ception of gravitation as the attraction of masses.

not deduced from phenomena hypotheses. from the phenomena and I make no For whatever is is . any diminution of it proportion to the quantity of the surfaces of the particles of matter (as mechanical causes do). experimental philosophy. whether they presuppose occult qualities or mechanical qualities. without activity .94 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY a That force comes from to the centre of the power which penetrates and acts not in sun and of the planets. have no place in. diminishing always in exact ratio according to the square of the distances. and acts according to the laws And that it that it applies to all I have expounded and movements of the celestial bodies and of our sea. In this philosophy propositions are deduced from pheno- mena and inference. according to the quantity of solid matter action extends on all and its sides to immense distances. the mobility their and the impetus of bodies and the laws of movements of gravity have been set down." " I have not tried to deduce the cause of these properties of gravitation hypotheses. a hypothesis and whether they are metaphysical or whether they are physical. but . it is shown that gravity really exists." . general propositions are obtained by Thus the inpenetrability.

now . refracted." . how in animals the limbs are moved by to wit. pervading heavy them by whose force and actions the particles of bodies are mutually drawn together at minimal distances. in These cannot be expounded at a few words.HTPOTHESES NON FINGO " It is 95 not now possible to add anything concerning the very subtile bodies and latent in spirit . and the contiguous cohere . and concerning electrical bodies acting at greater distances. •. inflected. and experiments present there are not to sufficient by which determine accurately and demonstrate the laws of action of this spirit. and how light emitted. attracting now is repelling neighbouring bodies reflected. by the vibrations of this spirit propagated through the solid threads of the nerves from the external organs of sense to the brain and from the brain to the muscles. and also is how it warms bodies and how all sensation excited and volition.

we now have a principle 96 of attraction which . whatever their nature. in the scientific conception of Newton could actually is offer no ex- planation of gravitation. Instead of the purely fanciful theory of the clinamen proposed ad hoc by Epicurus. which draws them out of their path. But though restored it the in old concept of atoms and the void seemed doing so to supply just that principle. ignorance of in the which had constituted the gravest defect ancient theory. but he definitely established the fact. and whatever the velocity of their movement in it. whatever its direction. There an influence or force in masses. and the this force is proportional to the distances of it masses.CHAPTER LEIBNIZ IS VI AND THE THEORY THAT SPACE THE ORDER OF COEXISTENCES of Newton's discovery of the law of The effect gravitation was to reinstate the old theory of atoms and the void nature-philosophy.

viz. A second fact was also plainly inconsistent with the vortex theory. the fact that the planetary orbits are ellipses and not circles. for in giving matter God was endowing of its the creation with the principle order and arrangement. The vortex . then nowhere else but at the equator should the falling body be directed if it to the centre. It lent itself to theological interpretation also. as 97 an and tested by weight actual experiment. The success of the new physical discovery in upsetting the mechanical theory of the vortices was complete. The explain gravitation at the equator.DISPROOF OF THE VORTEX however mysterious. The vortex theory there- fore is inconsistent with the fact that a body falling freely towards any point on the surface of if the sphere pursues a line which continued would carry it to or near the centre. for there the centrifugal line of force is at right angles to the axis if and passes through the centre. The vortex sistent with the gravitation movement is inconphenomenon in two vortex will distinct particulars. can be formulated invariable law. but sphere round its the revolution of the axis is the cause of this force. and also weight be centripetal force should decrease to zero at the poles.

98 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY circular will explain tricity. if Matter according to this theory movement to be possible. the angles. rapidly and completely superseded the did not correct it or supplement it. It philosophy. movement but not eccenwas also pointed out in A theoretical difficulty Descartes's theory of the origin of motion and the possibility of its origin at rest is and development in a plenum. as it was called by con- temporaries. alters the it Before the move- shape of the cubes by fracturing their displacement. Philosophiae of Newton became had what the Principia Philosophiae of Descartes . by gradthis But how could ? process start without first creating a void The movement of ment the cubes cannot alter their relative position without creating void. It its did not borrow and incorporate some of while adding principles The Principia new ones of its own. be conceived it as disintegrated. must. set Now going Descartes in this supposed that movement plenum would cause the cubes to become spherical ually wearing off the angles. must cause and the slightest displacement destroys the plenum. us say cubes. Being a plenum will consist let of closely packed figures with plane surfaces. The new old.

a contemporary philosopher and rival mathematician was opposing the philosophy of Descartes on grounds. but measur- and capable of developing a mechanism. of mind to matter.THE NEW PHYSICS been. Nature was a complete celestial system of forces residing in masses. While Newton was working out the great discovery which was to give a physical system destined to supersede the apparently firmly established system of Descartes. time. and Newton reigned able in its The new principle was an active force resident effects in masses. . purely meta- physical Leibniz (1649-17 16) con- centrated his criticism on Descartes's conception of substance and in particular strove to present a rational theory of the relation of the soul to the body. by mutual The forces manifested causing the themselves influences masses to relative move and successively positions in change their an even flowing. It 99 came to pass that Descartes died in his stead. their concepts of the relation of God to the world. of It is especially in God the to the world. Newton was most sensitive. that philosophical principles of Leibniz and on this point and Newton are antagonistic. distributed in an infinite and absolute void. absolute.

He God could find no ground for regarding God's power over matter could create it as limited to its disposition. we have the anthropological concept. But what was God's their to an infinite and absolute space and in time ? Were . or annihilate relation it at his pleasure. The to theological problem which seems to us engage almost exclusively the philosophical of the seventeenth century has so speculation changed its form in it our philosophy to-day that as an we incline to regard outgrown mythology. however. Wherever God is acting he is. All that It is.loo PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY did in Newton difficulty not his to recognize any theological that nature concept such as which seemed materialistic make the old atomism essentially and atheistic. and Newton took refuge In the attribute of omnipresence. but in the issue between idealism and naturalism we have kept all that was essential in the old theistic The challenge of the old theology to problem. just as discarded is vital an issue to-day. physical and metaphysical theories was whether .'' they not very nature limitations The only alternative was to make space and time the nature of God. This was the meaning of the theory that space is God's sensorium.

But while Newton argued from is what the universe to what God's attributes must be. who spread the fame of Newton's I discovery and who.THE THEISTIC PROBLEM God was in loi conceived in them as a possibility or as a necessity. is a living Newton was conGod. for a shortcoming or defect in creation would imply that it would . Voltaire. had he any need of that hypothesis. believed not only that a supreme and being exists. infinite such an existence can be deduced from the fact of the universe. When Leibniz argued against the void that the concept of such a reality was inconsistent with the attributes it . as have tried to show. could not Leibniz on the contrary move one step without it. Both Newton and Leibniz believed but that the necessity of God. of power and goodness in God. did secure its more than anyone to triumphant acceptance. God is to what the universe must vinced that there than Laplace. knew well the intellectual the philosopher he satirized. but no more later carried who a hundred years out and developed his principles. pointed his advocacy by the wit and mirth-provoking Leibniz. Leibniz argued from what be. Voltaire satire is with which he treated strength of Leibniz the Dr. Pangloss of Candide.

I02 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY imply room for a possibility of creation which had been unfulfilled and would mean that the world was not the best possible received difficult . This is incon- sistent with the idea of a perfect God. com- pound a composite is To suppose void then to suppose that something is essential to the perfection of the system left unprovided for or unfulfilled. The world God has created not a patchwork of but a city of active workers. whelmed with accumulated niz appear a kind of made Leibpopular It is Don Quixote in the philosophy of the eighteenth century. the argument was with laughter. it To-day we find it to think could ever have been put forward in seriousness. Yet a study of Leibniz's his It thought will monads rests show how upon it. and only so In the perfect city every citizen realizes individuality life his own or and in doing fulfils the higher of the community. Pangloss. not an abiding-place for souls to to dwell or a stage whereon display their souls activities. the existence. stuffs is whole concept of the is his principle is of continuity. Voltaire's his biting satire of Dr. The creation in. the world is souls. preserving philosophical conviction unshaken when overdisasters. . exist.

If we divest his movement doctrine of the peculiar it theological see form in which he clothed we the origin of his theory in the profound dissatisfaction with the materialist attempts to give a rational explanation of the universe. and on one side bitter. The revolution is which his concept of substance marks. it replaced the notion of stuff with the notion of force. But there the analogy ends. activities. He is the founder of modern idealism. In one instance only they appeared as rivals. The atoms of Leibniz are forces. to some extent Newton's It analogous to the revolution natural which discovery produced in philosophy. against the conception in sophical application. substituted the concept of a dynamic for that of a static reality. at least the recriminations were This was the dispute concerning the . has absolutely none its scientific and philo- Leibniz inaugurated in the most momentous modern philosophy.LEIBNIZ satire AND NEWTON 103 evident enough to us that whatever force the may have against particular theological or it even religious theories. just as the masses of Newton attract and repel. presented in philosophy than No greater contrast is the divergency of these contemporary philosophers.

The letter remained unanswered. The sad thing is that one generous word from Newton would have closed the for Leibniz addressed to him a personal matter. and the way universe.I04 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY which each claimed to have difFerential calculus discovered. To say that the atom indivisible and impenetrable and yet extended . Divisi- part of the concept of extension. Newton which he was and Newton gave substance in to the charge. intellect are the The fundamental and both are principles of the law of identity and the law of flagrantly violated sufficient reason. Leibniz's philosophy was a doctrine of the true atoms of nature. appeal. which they combine old form the con- The by its atomic theory stood contradictions demned unsolved and constituted therefore a continual offence against human reason. When writings Leibniz published his work it he was charged with having stolen published from un- of known to have seen. Leibniz resented the charge bitterly and defended himself against it. in the theories of bility is atoms and the void. In declaring anything extended we are predicating of it an is infinite divisibility. an innuendo in the Preface to the Optics. in the mode of their to activity. which he evidently believed.

They are They are the subjects of experience and is their activity is perception. for they are indivisible and without parts. but reason saved tion me from the imaginaImagination which makes sport of us. atoms entities. The minutest corpuscle is actually sub- divisible to infinity. in the last I will quote his own account written of his life. " When year I was a youth I accepted the void and the atoms. are the monads. There are atoms. but These spiritual they are not extended or parts of extension. we want like mind but this is to fail to rise to a knowledge of the greatness and majesty of the author of nature. and contains a world of new a creatures if which would be absent from the universe is. the nonplus ultra. To doctrine Leibniz was led by considering the contradictions in the old concept of atoms and the void.THE MONADS is 105 a self-contradiction. fastens it our meditation as were with a nail. the corpuscle were the atom. We our want nature its to stop where our imagination reaches nature to be finite limit . that body all in one piece and with no subdivisions. . The universe this mirrored into each monad. limits our researches." . makes us think we have found the ultimate first element.

io6 It PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY is important to notice here that Leibniz the conceives monads to be In their number actually infinite whereas the as in its nature finite. surely God could put some matter there without derogating at all from other things. It follows then that he is would do consequently there : no completely empty space subdivisible. to Leibniz's I article have already referred as argument against the void argument which being is derogatory to the perfection of God. allusion to that it Here an I quote because connects it with his general doctrine. here are those of I base on the perfection God and on the principle of sufficient reason. The same argument is proves that there is no corpuscle which not Such was Leibniz's attitude theory. " Leaving aside other reasons against the void I and atoms. the void. It is atom was conceived interesting to see also how this concept of the nature of the monad is connected with the rejection of the other of the old theory. to the old atomic What then was his position with regard . Now imagine to yourself a space completely empty." all is full. assume that every perfection which God could put into things without derogation to the other perfections he has put there. so.

to the doctrine of Descartes

his earliest


period his interest and his research was turned

inward on the mind rather than outward on nature.

The main

point of the Cartesian system which

him was the theory of the

relation of

mind and body. In

that relation the irreconcilable

nature of the dualism of the two substances, each
distinguished by an essential and mutually exclusive attribute,

most pronounced.







monistic philosophy of Spinoza only served to

emphasize the poverty of the concept.
train of


thought was probably along some such
It started

line as this.

with the concept of


and creation not
as presenting the


an assumption introduced to

explain the existence

and origin of the world, but
definite form.

problem of existence and origin

most complete and


matter and movement, could he then, as

not, for




what God has created are

finite individuals

active subjects, moral agents.
activities are the real existences,

These individual
and the universe
have to

wholly composed of them.

What we

study then

the nature of these active substances,



of nature,



one another and how they come to

relations to

form a world.

Take then my own





monad, an

active centre, an agent, the



mirrored into that centre, focussed


whole universe consists of

my activity consists in perceiving. The my perceptions, but
massed together,

only an infinitesimal portion of these are clear and
distinct perceptions, the rest are

confused, obscure and undiscerned.



aware of myself as perceiving.


monad, the monad which
But then





in relation to a


my mind


dominant monad, and


complete hartotally


with the body, and yet this body


it ?

distinct in its nature
It consists

from the mind.

What is

of monads but of inferior


are infinite in number, for no

principle exists

which imposes a limitation on

them, and yet each

individual, an active centre

mirroring the universe from
In this relation of
a harmony, and


point of view.

mind and body




an original harmony.

cannot have been brought about by chance for

of the essence of the relation.

Here then


this fact of

mind and body


have a



compound, decomposable

to infinity,

and yet

and therefore


consisting of simple elements which are individual


this is typical


the whole universe and reveals

nature and
it is

The harmony
by an


pre-established, for
If the universe

the essence of the reality.
into existence

act of creation the

came harmony

entered into the creative design and was brought
into existence with the universe.

Such with


necessarily theistic

form seems



to be the train of

thought which produced in



the idealist principle which he

proposed to substitute for the materialistic principle,

condemned on the ground




contradiction and secondly of failure to satisfy

the principle of sufficient reason. the




are alike in their nature they differ in

their degree.

This difference of degree


concerned with the ideas of the monad.




in a necessary relation to all parts of the

universe for

ideas are relative to the whole
further, the


from one another
for this

monads do not differ the number of their ideas,
they differ only in the


is infinite,

degree of clearness which their ideas

Accordingly Leibniz supposes a hierarchy of the

monads based on

the clearness or obscurity of

which have some (3) finite clear but no distinct ideas . as the monad. which have confused and also some clear and distinct ideas. minds. blended heap. There are degrees therefore of confusion its and obscurity ranging from upper limit in the all absolute adequacy of the perceptions of God. obscure. The meaning consists in its that. there are no windows by means of which anything can come mind contains the universe. The supreme is or uncreated monad. God. taking my own is for example. has only adequate ideas. : There (i) are three classes of created monads Simple monads. elements of matter which have no clear thought (2) the souls of animals. . that activity the perceptions in which their wholly consists. their ideas. mind. Just PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY is. or in or pass out. the great mass of my perceptions outside these are a confused. the consists of an sound of the waves on the seashore infinite number of small sounds. each Leibniz said. but in blur of one agglomerated undifferentiated mass. to take one of his illustrations. the whole universe no passing as perceptions. But whereas I have certain clear ideas and certain distinct ideas. the . there beyond perception. which are not heard the by me as each clear and distinct.

Each body. annihilate he has not done and he pre- serves its extended and indivisible parts as the the products of the universe. .'' but of what are these extended parts composed They are actually divisible to infinity. not the Now to say that is extension is suiBcient reason of extension simply to argue . " as The opinion of Newton is perhaps as modest human opinion can be. that there is an extended and impenetrable existing thing into the inner nature of which we enter . Setting out from the principle of sufficient reason he tries to penetrate even into the deepest origins and into the inexplicable nature of the elements. confusion of perceptions in the simplest monad. God it : can divide it to infinity or he can so. is therefore you can never find anything which extension. It is limited to is. is composed of extended and divided parts. basis of all " Perhaps on the other hand no bolder theory than that of Leibniz has ever been put forward. and its iii lower limit in the indefinite. believing that the elements of matter are material. possibly complete.THE DOCTRINES COMPARED of whose ideas are clear and distinct. he says. The as difference between Newton and Leibniz is to the nature of the elements of matter brought out with clear decision by Voltaire.

that is. even were the concept of outside tent with the affirmation of the monad. cannot be juxta-positions in a space external to them and indifferent to them. Matter is therefore an assemblage of simple beings. is For Leibniz therefore space distinct exist for idea. if we describe them as an assemblage.112 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY and affirm nothing at all. belongs to our confused and obscure perception. neither a clear nor a and consequently space does not It God. in a circle The ground in or cause of extended beings must be non- extended beings. and it cannot fall outside the consis- monad." If I have succeeded in making the doctrine of it the is monads understood. is The not a universe mirrored into each active centre particular part of some vast expanse conceived as is a container. and in fact is denotes the obscurity and confusion which inherent in . The monads being non-extensive but all-inclusive activities. quite as will be seen that the it inconsistent with it is concept of absolute space or void as that extension is with the concept the essence of material substance. in simple beings or monads. Space therefore a reality which must ceives fall it within the universe as the monad per- mirrored. their relations.

Neither is a reality. and creation the bringing into existence of active subjects. founded in wisdom and is in power. our clear and distinct ideas stand out. It is 113 the mode in which we present to our mind ideas as co-existent with our clear and distinct the infinite residue of indistinct perceptions. to construct complex systems or direct simple movements to complex trary it is on the conis purely a spiritual need. represented in supreme God. but not in part. as against a background. There is then a complete contrast between the two conceptions principle of the as a — the idealist universe of Leibniz. it is an order. irrational. time the order of succession. the materialist universe of Newton. both are names for the confused blur of perceptions against which. Space the order of co-existences.THE NEED OF CREATION our view of the universe. effects. In this respect as it holds precisely the same rank is time. not something which is. first is The ultimate infinite universal mind. . so fitted into is the scheme by their degree. that no one reduncan dant and no possibility unrealized. ical His need of creation not a mechanrational or some impulse. Space therefore is not a thing. perfect need. God create or annihilate the universe. so perfectly harmonized in their range.

and in its pre-suppositions unquestionable advantages practice. Logically and metaphysically it riddled with contradictions. It was an unfinished correspondence. Leibniz's life was in the last years of (17 15-16) and in Newton's old age that this theistic problem was discussed in the correspondence between Leibniz and Clarke. one of the most valuable of the philosophical remains included in the editions of Leibniz's works. as it Divested of its theistic is." which since of Voltaire has mainly served as a theme for jest. setting. indifferent to the theistic however little importance it may seem the theory to have had for his successors. Newton could not be difficulty. This was the famous concept " the best of all possible worlds. and these appear in its most strikingly theological consequences. will answer any Newton's conception itself to on the contrary it has has commended in is the scientific mind. It Hence of the sensorium. interrupted by death. that as a metaphysical research into the nature of reality and the origin of our it concept of external nature. and studied should be. logical challenge.114 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY only as a whole. for it was Xhe occasion of this correspondency vfj^s a .

according to them. Indeed the machine which God that has it made is so imperfect.NATURE AND GRACE letter 115 which Leibniz wrote to the Princess of afterwards II. But God uses in order to be conscious if God is in need of means in it order to be conscious of things. There are many who hold corporeal. he said : " It seems that even in England natural religion has grown very weak. that souls are corporeal and others himself is who even hold that God Newton says that space is the organ which of things. reveals the defects of his Like watchmaker he In watch by the number of times he has to correct and retouch vigour is it. They cannot be his production. for according to them God as now a and again to wind up his work we wind up watch which would otherwise stop. my view the same force and everywhere in evidence. Wales. requires polishing up every now and again by a special effort. wife of George in 1715. had enough foresight to give his work perpetual motion. a and even needs regulating. passing from one thing to another according to laws of nature . these follows that things cannot wholly depend on God. Queen In it Caroline. not. Newton and has every his followers have a still odder notion of God's work.. it God has seems.

eternal then it is it and infinite. If space is a real thing. But then space has parts —how is. God ." The sting of this letter so far as it concerns Newton is the reference to the theory of the sensorium. theological but in its philosophical meaning. Space marks in terms of possibility an order of things which exist in the same time so that they . wise it is on account of grace. Either it God himself or it is an attribute of God. is the idol of some modern English. idola pecAs.ii6 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY If and the perfect order pre-established. Real absolute space. not in its He uses the word idol. and he quotes Lord Bacon's idola iriMs. his immensity. he declares. The Princess asked Newton to reply to it and he commissioned It is in his disciple Clarke to defend him. as these writers contend. " is purely is relative as also time Space an order of co-existences as time is an order of successions.'' " Space for me. To judge other- is to entertain a very low idea of God's wisdom and power. the correspondence which followed that Leibniz expounds with great clearness his theory of space. he explains." does that apply to he says. and they must is identify with God. performs miracles it is God not because nature requires them.

theory of relati- " If space were no it co-existent things. Were it otherwise there sufficient reason for the would be no world being here not there. and when the movement ceased nothing would sustain a shock." When we see several things perceive the order in which they we one another. now not then.THE OPPOSING PRINCIPLES exist is 117 together. more than the order of would follow that should God make still the whole world move in a straight line it with any velocity he liked to choose. would be always in the same place. not in together stand to The manner of their existing question. both are conceived as the true principles which underlie the science of nature. ciples are directed to researches. but which sounds the negative to us almost as an anticipation of result of the Michelson-Morley first experiment which led to the vity. In Clarke's reply there occurs a remarkable passage intended as a reducHo ad absurdum. intensity and most emphatic expression. . between a nature-philosophy based on a materialistic principle and a nature-philosophy based on a Both prinmathematical and physical spiritualistic or idealistic principle. the distinction." We in have then in the contrast between the principles of Newton its full and Leibniz.

Still is more strange is it that physical science itself seeking a principle which will enable it to co-ordinate observations from individual centres of experience (monads). .ii8 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY a Neither has stopped dead. absolute standards of reference independent of the observers. and recognizing In of having. So far as experimental science is concerned the principle of Leibniz has been rejected absolutely. without the aid the impossibility of. neither has ceased to undergo development. but each has chosen separate and a widely divergent path. It is two hundred with a shock of surprise that we are receiving to-day a challenge to that principle which seems to question the very foundations of the concept on which it is based. effect we are proposing in mathematical and physical science to abandon Newton's philosophy and adopt that of Leibniz. at times with contumely and scorn. while Newton's principle has seemed to be confirmed by the sure last advance of science during the years.

is is a particular vice of speculative is The exact contrary true. of It is the whom we may who 119 take Descartes and on Hume as types. it is its essential feature method that he and by no other it is means can he advance. for the assumptions he introduces into his premises will assuredly re-appear in his conclusions. are entitled to inscribe their banners Newton's often quoted motto. philosophers. It the scientific experimenter who makes hypohis theses. the On the other hand his philosopher who vitiates method the moment he proceeds to make hypotheses. . and it is no reproach to does so.CHAPTER VII THE MODERN SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION AND ITS LEADERS It is curious that we should associate the maxim hypotheses non Jingo with the scientific method of experiment. and suppose that the making of hypotheses metaphysics.

an absolute time and an velocity. an infinitely variable. shall endeavour to show that Einstein. It will in definite is and positive terms what the new principle without reference to the experiments which have called for it. He was indeed a true philosopher in fact. because they are based on experi- ence and confirmed by experiment. be well to begin by stating and the formation of a principle in conformity with them.I20 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY This does not mean that Newton was vainly boasting. spatial or temporal. in this new theory of his respect follows great y predecessor. can be simply and arithmetically calculated and expressed postulates as variations of velocity. infinite. that is. are applicable and universally Observational deformations of Euclidean figures . and his attempt to interpret it without any respect for preconI ceived opinion. is the acceptance of paradoxical facts in spite of the paradox. Euclid's valid. The relativity principle of the classical mechanics supposes an absolute space. for the it new theory is not a hypothesis. in his formulation of a gravitation. Transformations of measurements for different systems of reference. his his simple and direct acceptance of disregard of its conflict with accepted theory.

that a velocity which . and the it easily explicable due to conditions of the that in a observer. we have moved through you is in half the time lived through by me. ing that We express this relativity by saythe same space. sixty miles an hour for you. and that which is constant and is. travel. I Let me illustrate by supposing Edinburgh. but the apparent stretching of the space and time for me. say thirty miles an hour for me. y the special principle and the general principle. are simply adjusted by taking into account the velocity of the train. The special relativity principle based on the fundamental concept that space there is variable is one finite velocity and that time is variable. The The not intensive but extensive. also a limiting velocity. perspectives. definite was confined to a phenomenon. — the space and the time have not varied. the velocity of the propagation of light in vacuo. they are identical for each of us.THE CLASSICAL MECHANICS are as 121 apparent. say from London to slow train while you travel the same route by an express. This the commonly accepted principle. The new principle of relativity has two difference first is X stages. The second is to all the application of the same principle laws is of nature. not real. and their apparent contraction for you.

When then there are observers of the same events. or measur- or estimating intervals between is events. is that of the propagation velocity as The concept limit is of this constant and as a it not as arbitrary as as at first appears to the uninitiated.122 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY is cannot be exceeded. relatively to one another. for are absolutely dependent matter of fact we on light signals ing distances. same but the difference due to the movements is of the two systems. It is easy to illustrate. in the space and time which are different. moving uniformly relatively to one another (as in the two trains). for sending messages. is Let us go back to the two According to the classical mechanics one other. double the velocity of the relativity According to the principle of is the velocity of each identical because in each . but each observer employs a standard which supposes his own system at rest. each observer sees the light signals propagated with the velocity. This constant velocity of light. but to which the approach infinite. railway journeys. The to special principle of relativity that observers in systems relation moving uniformly in one another do not use the same standards in measuring space and time dimensions. in different systems of reference.

in in but our destination moved it and in doing so traversed double the space double the time in coming to me that did coming to you. two journeys neither I nor you moved to us. affects the concept of the laws of the It declares that when other movement is of a system relatively to systems non- uniform. that in our at all. show that it is a simple alternative to the common-sense view and logically an exact equivalent. relativity principle The special was confined translation to the consideration of observers in systems of reference in uniform movement of as. it in particular to rotational systems. for relatively to one another example. what is also fact. It is simply equal to saying. in the is two trains.SPECIAL RELATIVITY train is 123 difference the observer is at rest. These are elongated for the traveller in slow train. To but common-sense reflection will this appears contradictory. shortened for the traveller in the express. The general relativity principle the extension of the special principle to non- uniform systems. the peculiar quality which the observer experiences as influence or force can find an equivalent expression in the motion of the system . The the in the space and the time. and nature.

in the two previous uses of the illustration I supposed the movement uniform. The rotarise tional to the movement of a system which gives phenomenon which an observer at it rest within is. depth) field are not all Euclidean. But now suppose . to return to the illustration of the train journeys. moving non-uniformly deduces that for relation It further non-uniform systems the spatial coordinates (length. or to moving and the destination regard the train as moving and the not destination as fixed. that falling the of loose bodies towards the centre of rotation. might appear to an observer in another system to be simply the movement the rotating of system itself towards in all other to systems it. in the other that space and time do not change but velocity does. little and there was consequently showing that the train as it difficulty in is exactly equivalent to regard moving. breadth. am trying to state what the without explaining the grounds for adopting Thus. describes as weight or gravitation.124 for PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY an observer in another system. observers I is In a gravitational space for warped or curved. For the moment principle is it. that the space In the one case we shall say is and time vary and the velocity constant.

The experiment which for the formulation of a has occasioned the ' revolution in our fundamental concepts and called new out basis of a philosophy of nature was carried is by Michelson and that year. we shall ask. it Morley in 1887 and for described in the PhilosoIt phical Magazine December of has been so often described since that will be .'' ingrained common-sense is The reply / not an argument. is merely a matter of choice If not. if is worth our while. but an experiment. and in so describing declare it it he would have an equal right to true. then. the floor which moved might Yet this is exactly how it appear to an observer in another system.GENERAL RELATIVITY that the train is 125 brought to a stop by the sudden application of the brakes and that the seat. always find an equivalent describing the way of it phenomena of movement Is ? ( in place of the one to which we are accustomed. Suppose then we understand the principle and accept it it to the extent of admitting that we can. traveller will is thrown heavily from difficulty in his There be making him take the view it that he was all the while at rest. that was the seat which moved from him and towards him. what the necessity for disturbing our principles .

The principle easily explained. and the famous Michelson-Morley experiment was contrived with the primary intention of testing its reality as is a physical existence. only when the undulatory theory of light was formulated. there has been a steady and continuous evolution of scientific knowledge. y Newton and to himself it felt the force of the objection. and on the foundations he laid down. If then we consider the earth as at rest we must suppose the ether to be . action a distance which wholly it involved is a concept of something unimaginable. It was. purely conceptual. was made by Leibniz. With the extension of the dis- coveries of electro-magnetic phenomena this ether tended to become one of the fundamental concepts of science. an ever deepening insight. however. marked by an ever widening range. and an ever surer inclusiveness. The earth is in a movement of translation relatively to the sun amounting to about 30 kilometres a second. ether of space The theory of the became a necessary hypothesis. however. filled meet supposed that space might be with a subtile etherial matter. Since Newton.126 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY it sufficient to allude to here and go straightway to the principle of it. The theoretical objection to his theory of graviat tation that the concept of.

travel our projectile will therefore 40 kilometres in a second and will return in the same time. and to reach and return from us suppose. distance went that and back. it will go and return in two seconds. it is and returns Across the stream the flow will be equal to a retardation of 10 kilo- metres a second. and that our signal unretarded would travel 50 it kilo- metres a second. across the stream. that is. is let the stream flowing 30 kilometres a second. it measured 40 will require two seconds. it will have the full retardation and therepoint. the same it time in which. up the stream immediately and across reflected it. for will its have the 30 kilometres a velocity of 50. Now time is easy to calculate the difference in required for any given uniform propagation to reach a point and return in a direction which crosses the stream.THE EXPERIMENT streaming past it it 127 at the equivalent velocity. that an equally distant point in the direction of the stream. it It is true it will return in half a second. but it second added to own will . Thus. fore will travel only 20 kilometres at the in the first second and to arrive kilometres. from which points to us. and that we project to a measured point in each direction. Now suppose it is directed up stream. for instance.

has a velocity approaching 300. the source. it must move with the system which in relative translation (exactly as Descartes supposed). let us now it consequences. is A second consequence the that we must suppose This is the velocity of light in vacuo to be unaffected by movement of still. If to suppose an ether is to suppose infinite ethers. ether is In the first place is negatived the hypothesis. but the calculation was worked out to an accuracy. There no ether if by ether meant something occupying If there be ether is space and at rest relatively to the matter which moves through it. then the hypothesis is useless and may be dismissed. which made it still quite certain that the retardation would be result revealed. To the great surprise and deep disappointment of the experimenters the was negative.128 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY In the be that half-second later than the other. This was the famous experiment look at its . Along each axis the return was simultaneous. more if fundamental for if there be no ether or the ether be perfectly frictionless. the velocity. actual experiment a beam of light was sent to a Light mirror and reflected back along each axis. .000 kilometres a second. and within a margin of error.

known It as the Lorentz-Fitzgerald con- assumed that the dimensions of that the aT solid body moving through the ether undergo slight changes. from the velocity when the source the experiment proved case. hypothesis is primarily nothing but a simple ad hoc device for giving expression to the negative result of the experiment.THE CONTRACTION THEORY when the source is 129 moving. Fitzgerald. ought to be different is at rest. -7 A hypothesis to account for the negative result of the experiment was put forward independently by the late G. moving body is auto- matically contracted In the line of the direction in which exactly it is moving. and that to this contraction Is equivalent and counterbalances the be seen that such difference which would otherwise be manifested It will In the velocity of light. the space and time dimensions in order to keep the constant ratio must themselves vary. F. Professor It is of Physics in the University of Leiden. A. Dublin. Professor in Trinity College. Lorentz. generally traction. it yet to be the same in each A third consequence is that as the laws of nature remain constant for observers in moving systems. and is little more than an acknowledgment and way of stating positively . and H.

but as a four-dimensional continuum in which the three dimensions of space and the dimension of ." which has since address on become historical. such a contraction. to however. as hitherto. to which it is indifferent. A his much more radical interpretation was given by Hermann Minkowski lamented death in 1908. or as physical fact.I30 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY It has. universe is to be conceived not. in an " Space and Time. as a three-dimensional continuum enduring in a one-dimensional time. shortly before at the age of forty-five. the fact observed. to laboratory test. by measuring the electrical resistance of metal rods both across and in the direction of their translation. These experiments have proved negative and have caused the abandonment of the hypothesis by physicists. been possible is submit the question whether there in reality. in so far at least as it purports to be the actual explanation of the phenomenon. In it he formulated a new mathematical theory which embodied in a complete form the principle. the necessity of which had been revealed of in the negative result Minkowski proposed a the experiment. new mathematical scheme of the universe in The which time entered as a dimension.

strength. The beauty of this theory first that its apparent strangeness when to give pro- pounded tends obviousness . The universe must be conceived as an assemblage of events.THE FOURTH DIMENSION observers in systems of reference 131 time are the axes of coordination by which the moving relatively to one another relate the constituent factors of the universe. by four coordinates. Hence- forward space and time as independent things must sink mere shadows and the only thing sort of subsistence is which can preserve some his a kind of union of the two. for way to familiarity and when we come to think of it we recognize ence is that the world of our living experi- four-dimensional. that is." He An then developed argument. the events the assemblage of which is is the universe. The opening at sentences -^ of the address (delivered Cologne on Sepin physical tember 21. 1908) have been often quoted as marking the beginning of a new epoch " The observations concerning space and I time which am about to expound are the results of experiments in physics. Therein lies their They go to the root to of matters. event is deter- mined his for every observer from the standpoint of system of reference and in relation to that system. theory. three for space and .

observers in one system of reference will measure a certain distance separating 'the two events in space and a certain interval separating them in time. but the four axes themselves will each undergo variation. These measurements will not accord with made by observers in other systems of reference who will measure the same events from their own standpoint and will find different distances and different intervals. but Minkowski showed that the fourth dimension was necessary to explain experience on the ordinary common-sense plane. simplicity of The it Minkowski's scheme won for general admiration and made the adoption of the principle of relativity easy in mathematics. something like that produced . Each observer those will keep constant the ratio between his co- ordinates of measurement in passing from one system to another.132 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY Suppose two events to one for time. occur. spoken a creepy emotion. writes : "A mystical shudder seizes the nonis mathematician when a fourth dimension of. Einstein. refer- ring to this four dimensional theory of Minkowski. A fourth dimension of space had hitherto been always associated with the attempt to rationalize the claims of spiritualistic phenomena to actuality.

and no of the known to exceed Some radio-active substances give off particles which approach it—the/3 particles to — but though they attain known 99 per cent. How it is it to be reconciled However surprising may be to have to acknowledge that we can find no evidence of the absolute movement of a material system nor discover the direction of that movement by experiments made within . velocity it is a finite velocity. paradox.000 kilometres a second. This appears direct . Now is suppose that relatively to our- selves there a system being translated at the rate of 1 50. The velocity is of light in vacuo 300. however. is — for observers in that system as for us light propagated at the uniform a finite velocity of 300.'' self-contra- diction. it.ABSOLUTE RELATIVITY by a stage experience effect.000 kilometres a second. of the velocity they are not to reach it.000 kilometres a second." There was. 133 Yet there four is no more obvious space-time commonplace than is that our world of everyday a dimensional continuum. a deduction of the experi- ment which presented the aspect of complete This was the constancy of the velocity all of light for of all observers and in its independence velocity is variations the relative of a system.

in fact com- pensated by the deformation of the axes of coordination used by one observer as seen by another. uniform or non-uniform in relation to one another. did not for him It indicate an agnostic position. It is in regard to this problem particularly important. But how velocity is the rejection of absolute movement finite compatible with the affirmation of a constant ? According is to Einstein this it incomis r patibility purely apparent. Einstein from the first accepted the negative It result of the experiment. to affirm that a velocity is finite identical for all observers in all systems of translation.134 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY it the system. is more than surprising. Thus to an observer in a system moving relatively and uniformly to us at half the speed of light our proportions are foreshortened to half what . as definite absolute zero. is He accepted the negative evidence proof of the non-existence of an absolute standard. or movement or fixed measured from an unknowable. for it seems downright absurd. and he proposed to reject the postulate that an absolute standard is a necessity of thought. did not merely mean that an absolute movement. this that the work of Einstein is His philosophical attitude towards is paradox specially deserving of notice.

Already. It is the not based on a new experiment but In 1917 on an application of the principle of the original experiment to all the laws of nature.THE THREE TESTS tion of light our unit is 135 they appear to us. and his is correspondingly half that of ours. however. so that measuring the propaga- double that of his. result. and those used by the observer in the in the rapidly appear halved in their proportion to the observer slow moving system^ which Einproblem its The special principle of relativity stein formulated in 1905 had in view this but only in regard to the velocity of light and independence of the movement of the source.000 kilometres a second. new conception of The a general principle of relativity. which formulates new law is of gravitation in place of the law of Newton. this it had seemed it to him that if its principle be true it is not limited in application and probably implies an entirely physical reality. Einstein had thought out the three means by which his new theory could be brought to the . Each observer at therefore finds the light propagated the same velocity of 300. but the kilometres used by the one appear to the observer in the rapidly moving system moving system elongated to double their length.

the It had law also been suggested that require Newtonian may its an infini- tesimal alteration in mathematical formula to make is it bring out the result correctly. PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY First that it would account for the dis- cordance of the as motion of the perihelion of Mercury. But the planet idea of the existence of an unknown minor now generally agreed to be so improbable as is almost to amount to the certainty that there none . and an alteration of the mathematical formula to make the calculation of Mercury's period come right would make other calculations work out wrong. He predicted that the light of stars near the sun that the deflection would be deflected and would . Einstein's formula gave the exact result without upsetting the calculations in any other case. The second means was the displacement of stars in the gravitational field. calculated on the Newtonian formula in fact. Its and as it is found to be cause had been sought for in vain in the supposed presence of a mass of matter between the orbit and the sun. In this case Einstein's theory based on the principle of Relativity has been so triumphantly vindicated that to ticians many mathema- and physicists it is sufficient of itself to establish the principle.136 test.

. had mass. I will now try and explain by is. illustrations the new principle Let us suppose. that travelling railway from the window of a smoothly carriage a stone in the train is dropped. and was the occasion of the extraordinary public interest in the new theory. difference of the gravitational to show a shifting of spectral lines towards the red end of what the spectrum. means proposed and is has so far not passed the ject of research the sub- and of much discussion. 137 be twice the amount which Newton's law. An observer is watches the same event from a position which fixed in respect of the moving system of the train. by reason of the field.FIXED AND MOVING SYSTEMS lated for the mass light.'' For him it follows a curve.'' the shortest distance between two points Is there any way . watches For him it follows a straight course to the ground. would give. This prediction was verified of the Eclipse Expedition of in the observations May 1 9 1 9. Which is is right Is there a real straight line which . and that an observer its fall. then. if as Newton thought possible. The third test. calcu- and velocity. The vibration of atoms on the surface of the sun compared with the vibrations of atoms on the earth ought. Einstein says.

From this it follows an event (dropping the stone for from the carriage in window) which one observer occurs one and the same its place. then the point which is observed from one system of reference will not correspond another. observers take positions is equidistant from the point where an event for the purpose of recording it to take place simultaneously.system regarded as at that rest. Let two observers be placed at an equal distance from a point on an electric railway at which it is . Now suppose that time not space and that is in question. If end by a whole it distance in we consider the at event as single. it with is its place as observed from This the principle of relativity as applies to space. that each must use the coordinates he carries with him and that these adapt themselves to accord with every system of refer- ence he enters. for another observer its has beginning separated from space.138 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY his observa- by which each observer can so correct the apparent line declares that there tion that he can discover the real as distinct ? from The principle of relativity is no way of deciding between the two observers. and that each observer therefore measures an event from the standpoint of his own .

The due velocity of light so dispro- portionate to any conceivable velocity of the train that the effect to that difference could only be expressed in thousands of millionths of a second in time or of an inch in space. Therefore. but. at the 139 arranged that a break in the circuit shall be indi- Each observer will see the flash same instant. the principle can be If the precise made clear by the illustration. as the timing it with light signals. cannot be in the same for two observers equidistant the moving train. the other will a correspondingly longer route to principle of relativity is The ) therefore that simultaneity has no absolute meaning.SIMULTANEITY cated by a flash. moment of the emission of the signal is (the electric spark) the same for two observers it equidistant on the permanent way. No two events which on one happen at the same moment for observers system of reference can be simultaneous for observers in another system. two events . all the same. but on the train instead of moving true on the permanent way. because during the propagation will one observer have advanced to meet the have receded. is It is that in such case. difference will not be possible to make any is appreciable. giving travel. Suppose now that two other observers are similarly situated. it signal.

and difference in the appearance of events to observers. for another are before and far we have been It following the special teaches us that. is When. however. after. trary to the notion of classical mechanics. but there is nothing in it peculiarly subversive of our ordinary concepts. there is no distance is in space and no interval of time which invariable and independent of the system of relative movement to which the observer is attached.HO which So PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY for one observer are simultaneous. and to phenomena inappreciable gravitation in ordinary experience. the applied not only to systems moving uniformly in relation to one another. such as electro-magnetic propagations. con- principle of relativity. but also to and the ordinary laws of nature. according to which all differences in all the observations of events. Indeed to many mathematicians once as it seeming to offer commended itself at a much better scheme on which principle to undertake the organization of the science of nature. it touches the science and mathematics of common . are calculable in terms of a constant space and time and a variable velocity. It takes us a long way in the direction of a new coordination of nature on a philosophical principle.

There to have like the is something fundamental in our experi- ence of weight. Now it is easy enough / imagine that the phenomena of gravitation to observers in other systems.EQUIVALENCE life. brings over us a feeling of giddiness at and makes it seem impossible once to attain a new equilibrium. It is precisely this that the general principle of relativity affirms. 141 It is then that it disturbs our feeling of at-home-ness in the universe. Suppose. to which the reader may be into. and that this equivalent of what movement the exact we experience as force — this is very difficult to accept. is entirely free from any force of field. be detached and transported bodily some distant region so remote it from masses of matter that attraction. Let us suppose no gravitational it We shall have to think of as artificially held together and the objects in it as fastened by cords . to take one of Einstein's illustrations. Without man in the folk tale we should feel who was induced it to barter his to shadow. Without it the world would seem no substance. may be unknown but to suppose that they may observe the identical as phenomenon which we experience yet observe it weight and not as weight but as the movement is of the system. a room. such as that in sitting.

reaches it. imagine that cord outside this Let us now thereby room is is attached by a hook to a w^hich being pulled. as seen it by the outside observer. will wards. for the loose objects might contain would follow the direction of any chance movement which might be imposed on them. and we. At once loose objects will lie and remain lying on the will floor. room it will seem then that objects have suddenly become heavy and that they fall downwards by their weight. drawing the room in a definite direction. What appears to the observer in a . and free suspended objects if hang downfloor.142 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY it or such like means. will the floor This what Einstein means by equivalence. we would rise from the have to put forth an effort sufficient to produce a movement in excess of the dragging movement. it To If an object is detached fall will not. If we suppose ourselves still sitting or standing on the floor it will not be by reason of our weight but by attachment or holding on. remain immobile is till on the floor. but to observers outside the whole phenomenon will be a simple consequence of the dragging movement and us in the explicable in terms of it. The hook being attached all to the ceiling that definite direction of the ceiling will be upwards.

movement of the apple will be its fall towards the centre of the rotating earth. and the gravitational this the space which surrounds rotational system. To an observer attached to the system. completely subversive of our ordinary ideas. regarding the firmament from the standpoint of his system at rest. by an observer on the system taking the standpoint of himself at rest. [: will appear to an observer in another system as the movement of the rotating mass to the object at rest. rest. . the firmament this is in movement. Very curious consequences a follow. as observed from the rotating system. field is The gravitational then the moving firmament. Gravitation is phenomenon which is connected with a rotafield is tional system. But to an observer on another system at for whom the first system is rotating. that is 143 as the attraction of the object to the centre of the rotating mass.' THE GRAVITATIONAL FIELD rotating system as weight. the detached object (the apple) ceases to the rotating system and remains at fore to the first observer the will move with There- rest. but to the second it be the movement of the earth towards the apple. object Consequently apple) for observer an (Newton's detached from his system moves with the firma- ment.

The shortest distance for one observer will not be is the shortest distance for the other. or. Con- sider. realize this relativity can we make allowance observers . .144 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY the nearer the object in the field It is clear that is to the rotating its system the greater is the velocity call of observed movement. force is What we inversely an the attractive decreasing exact in with distance the equivalent of the movea gravitational field. is This enables us to see what non-Euclidean. what the same will \ thing. ment system of bodies as observed from a standpoint of a rotational at rest. the postulate that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. work out the perspective law for each This what we imagine we are always engaged in doing. for example. the straight line drawn by the one But when we not appear curved to the other. observer is meant when field it is affirmed that space in the gravitational field is In the gravitational the either at rest in the firmament relatively to the rotational system or else at rest on the firma- rotational system relatively to the moving ment.'' \ for the appearance to different and is . In neither case can Euclid's postulates be fulfilled or Euclid's axioms hold true.

attached to us. is The illusion persistent. We it is are therefore perpetually under lies the illusion that the absolute criterion us. . Can anyone really think is the smoothly running railway carriage r at rest while the landscape is in movement We fail therefore to see that though tion aids us in representing our as relative rest. inseparable from us. It is so easy to represent our system of reference in movement movereality by means of our imagination. and we carry with us. that we have come to cease to think of the firmament as in ment and. though the it still appears so. from that standpoint that our measurements are made. we translate appearance our automatically into the of own movement. it our imagina- own movement at is never brings us to a system at absolute rest That necessary standpoint of a system must be within the observer himself and It is the condition of his observation. the axes of coordination which we apply to the universe.FIXED CENTRES Is it 145 that not a commonplace of psychology is visual space not real space ? The principle of relativity shows us that this supposed power of correcting appearance by reference to an intellectual absolute is illusion. without whereas indissolublv part of our nature.

and we distinguish It is as noumenal persistent from the phenomenal. . not in reality. this illusion of a real space.146 It is PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY just as if we supposed its it. But the space we think real is not the space we perceive by any of our senses. appearance only. the centre of a circle to be independent of to circumference and free move about within it. sun and the the same size as a threepenny though they cover the same amount of visual extension as this object held at arm's length. nevertheless really exists and our suppose it must underlie and condition it experience. warped or distorted. but in It is affirmation of a space with such properties that makes the general principle of relativity appear paradoxical. that the We do not think. for example. moon are in reality bit. space we think and and this space Euclidean. even indeed to come outside and survey Common that experience offers us an example of a persistent illusion in regard to space. real is purely conceptual is The ideal. it which makes difficult so disconcerting to us and so to accept the notion of a space which its may be curved. noumenal not phenomenal. We do not encounter we are convinced it it inexperience. We think we know by actual experience real space.

We may make the concept of curvature in space clear by simplifying for the purpose of illustration the scheme of the principle. that in is to say. An observer at rest on the earth sees the firmament in a continuous movefrom ment from ment sees west to east to west. the centre of a gravitational this field will and the limits of side. Let us abstract. which takes . An observer in the firmaits the earth rotating on axis east. of propagation or of translation.WARPED SPACE If. Let us suppose then that instead of manifold gravitational fields there exists one only. from everything which we nature except the rotating it earth and the surrounding extension relative to will call the firmament. therefore. we accept the negative result of the physical experiments we are bound to reject as pure exists illusion the notion that Euclidean space beneath the world of sense perception. 147 however. be the earth's axis on the one and an this external imaginary limit of a space purely It is clear that Euclidean on the other. it on one of be Any movement. at rest because every observer will be the two systems. gravitational field within space must be warped. The surface of the earth will then be field. The gravi- tational field will now consist of two and only two systems of reference.

Similarly. The curvature of space therefore physical fact. Space is not a third somewhat place. once takes place in the circulating firma- any object to be detached from the rotating earth. the course of that straight must by its spatial condition curve in its path through the earth system and curve direction in the reverse when it passes through the firmament system. Now let us suppose a straight line drawn in the line from within the earth system to any point firmament system. and what possible . The and universal space simply denotes the continuity of these two systems in the relation of movement rest for in one another.148 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY place in the gravitational field in must be occurring Suppose then the space of one of the systems. any object detached from the its firmament takes place in the rotating earth. not subjective appear- ance.'' ground can there be The essence of the principle of relativity the explicit denial of such an absolute space and the recognition of the impossibility of interpreting facts position of is on the sup- its existence. it at its ment. reality which these movements are taking it To affirm would simply be for that is to deny the of one of the movements. Any line which is the shortest between two points for an observer in one system will .

a heavy as Three hundred years ago it was discovered that body such as lead and a light body such wood follow the same identical course in the same with identical time in the gravitational field. viz. fall when and allowed to all with the same initial velocity frictional obstructions removed. but is not a proof that absolute space exists.GALILEO'S DISCOVERY not 149 the be the shortest for an observer in other. never The significance was . is that the universe a single gravitational field. He may demur that is my I conclusion that there real curvature of space in the gravitational field follows only because have started with an arbitrary hypothesis. Someone may still object. The on reply is that the conclusion does not f^epend this hypothesis and it is only introduced for simplicity and to enable attention to be directed on the is essential point. as for air example in the vacuum produced by an of this discovery pump. that systems moving uniformly and non-uniformly one another. this only increases the relatively to difficulty of correlating observations. Admit it that the universe consists of infinite infinitely complicated. No doubt this difficulty has been the guiding motive in the it evolution of the concept of absolute space.

the ground what is affirmed by the fall theory of equivalence. science will not us be satisfied with the simple explanation that the magnet draws the iron across the empty space. and the hypo- thesis in that answer is that the earth exercises a direct influence attraction.I50 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY It is precisely thought out. causing it to move toward the magnet. As an explanation this modern physics because it admits the notion of action at a distance. bodies undergo an acceleration which does not . on the stone. is When we see a let magnet attract a piece of iron. In gravitation we have an the exact analogy and at the same time contrast. Why go .'' does a stone to is when let The usual answer because it was lifted off the ground. tional important The (as contrast is that in the gravita- field Galileo's experiments proved). called the force of strength of this force was found The to vary with the distance according to the well- known Newtonian has not satisfied law. in the study of electro-magnetic The advance phenomena has no action at a led to the conclusion that there distance. science requires us to see in phenomenon a property or character of the intervening space which it names the magnetic field. It is this and not the magnet which influences the iron.

SPACE AND INFINITY depend on this 151 their material or constitution. more striking than in the concept of For Newton space is an infinite. Space and time. are deposed. baffling the to at mind form a consistent scheme of nature. and on rest. least from of their dominating position physical for in the is mathematical and sciences. of space and time determine and which yet is not circumscribed. which can only be present to the . immensity. pends on the relative systems of position or standpoint of for his necessarily assumed by the observer own system. of the framework in every effort which throughout the whole history of philosophy have been the stubborn realities of the universe. the principle of relativity is a return to the concept which Leibniz indicated and which was abandoned by the scientific successors of Newton. showing to be a phenomenon which demovement. And in way the principle of relativity explains graviit tation. What kind of world is finite is it then that we live in ? A world which in so far as the concepts it. It a triumph philosophy. The principle of relativity enables us without doing violence to the laws of thought and without contradicting experience to dispute the Euclidean axioms. absolute. In nothing is the contrast space.

. because God is an intelligence with adequate ideas and with no obscure perception. then say that for the materialist space the fundamental reality and the universe for the relativist. I presupposes hand. space on the other not is a limitation of the observer's appre- I ^hension of the universe. Let us drop the theological expression and state the same contrast in scientific terms. Infinity is the laffirmation of space but its disappearance.152 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY For Leibniz God wholly without the conceived as is perception of an infinite God. alone of intelligent beings perception of space. \ We shall is it .

change which has taken which may take place. to rise and . scientific disturbs our general methods no more than the Copernican For mankind the sun continues theory disturbed the practical adjustments of the human mind. So concerned the principle of revolution in the world-%'iew has profoundly aspects of far as life aifected which most of us are relativity may seem a matter of small importance. dealing with infinitesimals which in the ordinary business of life are It entirely inappreciable.CHAPTER CONCLUSION Every : VIII IN WHAT SENSE r IS THE UNIVERSE INFINITE mankind in those depend upon reason. .is set. seasons. in astronomical will Xewton's law of the inverse square economic not cease to be a practical rule for engineers and mechanicians for all projects. or theor. men have of any irrespective place. We reckon the times and the alwavs done. and will do.'.

depends its upon them for applicability. the beginning. and appeals It is justified exclusively to the pragmatic test. that the take the form and find the new world-view must imagery for. a new it concept of the nature of the continuity and infinity of the universe. is " As it was in now. if Einstein's formula comes be recognized as theoretically perfect. therefore — I its effect will will conclude with an of some of these higher interests in the principle. simply a precise form of expression for the spatial and temporal concepts. however.154 nor PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY will it cease to commend itself by to its simplicity. In religion. In the world-view as has found expression in religion and philosophy hitherto the concept of infinity has been inseparably associated with the ideas of space and time. world without end. It is the liturgical expression of this depends on the notion of the absolute- ness of the spatio-temporal order. and ever shall be. The matheis." idea. . and in philosophy of as it life — philosophy indication concerns technical mankind generally and not as metaphysics or theory of knowledge be profound and far-reaching. matical definition of continuity and infinity as we have seen. It new seems to me of.

boundlessness and absence of limits. postulate on which it rejects the is based. The new for it principle of relativity goes behind and beneath the mathematical definition of infinity.MATHEMATICAL because it INFINITY 155 works. So however. The principle of' relativity declares that there is no absolute magni- tude. . finite and yet not circumscribed. seen that the we have new is principle definitely rejects the It concept of infinity. of the contradictory \ We are offered place pseudo-concepts of endless extension and limitless duration the concept of a truly infinite universe. but it only works in so far as we accept in advance the postulate of an external world in space and time. that there exists nothing whatever which can claim to be great or small in its own nature. we have do only with the negative aspect of the principle.'' The answer to me in seems clear and manifest. What has it to offer on the positive side . when its and so far as infinity applied to Euclidean space and imagery. So far as the mathematical principle postiilates rests on the Euclidean means. ' The of infinity of the universe is based on the nature life and consciousness. gives us in fact what to common-sense is a new paradox to — a world which far.

whatever I my it. I as may illustrate my meaning if I now give with much imagery as the concept will admit my In doing so I idea of the nature of the infinity and continuity of the universe. so that one mind or monad can be in a relation of magnitude to another one monad does not do not apply to mind. occupy more or less space than another. at I. Space and time dimensions monad has no dimensions. they are variants. its dimensions remain constant. A . measured by relation to other systems. am not a point an instant. change it and there no limit to the may undergo. its but however great the change. That system may change. system of reference. Space and time are not containers. universe constant. nor are they contents. will set aside all questions of detail and all special problems in . nothing whatits ever which in own nature is short or long.156 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY is also there no absolute duration. the observer. I coordinate my universe from my own standpoint of rest in a system of reference in relation to which all else is is moving. as that is. pass into it or out of as it changes. so keeping my spatial points and my units of measurethe dimensions of my . Consequently. so temporal instants change ment vary.

on the other by our concept of the stellar . but is on one side limited by our concept of the atomic system. I start. Whether of the world course world.REAL CONTINUITY order to set out the scheme with as lity as possible. then. appears as a certain range of possibility of experience. all. 157 genera- much then. but it A philosophical is problem of fundamental importance in this fact of intercourse. is the condition of intercourse or inter- the condition of the existence the to we think of the world as common Our world say. its limits have it been pushed out by our advancing science. The systems of reference appear to us to have practically every- common and we are able consequently to have intercourse with one another. from the monadic concept. to refer to the actual events as common. his Everyone has which from own system of for reference within his standpoint of rest therein he may correlate events which happen him with events which happen thing in for his fellows. or to be precise let each of us my world. activity and a certain is This world definitely limited. We all belong to the order of self-conscious minds. involved need not interrupt our attempt to form a world-view.

there is the animal world. does not feel feels smallness. small in size as It is obvious that a to its is judged by me. that Now imagine. the standard of it measurement in reference to objects to be great or small. that imagine that our mind can enter the living its its organism of bird or insect or microbe. folk-tales. For example. the vegetable world. and whom I am it a Brobdingnagian. in the the power to manner of we have pass from our is. to the The subject passing new system of reference must therefore which judges necessarily bring with its it its norm. own system into any of these. still memory our former reflect experience. and can only be a change in the object of experience. each containing within less different it count- ranges of activity and innumerable possibilities of experience. there are infinite systems of reference. using the word infinite here in its ordinary discursive meaning. life We have then only to on the nature of change and consciousness to see that the in the system of reference cannot be a change in the subject of experience. possess range of activity and enjoy continuing by experience. creature. my greatness. and the microbian world. the insect world. the protozoan world.158 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY Within these limits system. for its norm .

an atomic . bounded. it is pass from one system to another certain that my space and time units must vary. Let us. can imagine present. is Even the the minutest microbe far removed from the atomic limit. each of which finds in bodily If then organization the I norm of its dimensions. — — at least we as a universe precisely like the and its limits will be as now. So that case the electron of the atom has become for us a planet which will appear to us. unless they do. easily conceivable. body. boldly imagine that the change It is of system carries us right to the limit. said. however. within subjects its our of ordinary perspective myriads of experience. there is no conceivable way of effecting the exchange of standpoint.CHANGING SYSTEMS supplied by living its 159 its own instrument of There are in fact activity. we have one Now we have admitted that there are limits to our universe. We have to imagine our proportions reduced to the ten thousand trillionth and we are within the atom. for. or. it. and the mythical beings whom poets have created are well within the stellar limit. We are by the atomic system on side. increased to the is same amount and the earth first as far below the in the limit of perception as an electron. the stellar system on the other.

that the principle of relativity is a philosophical principle which is not only called for by the need of mathematical and physical science for greater precision in the field new it of electro-magnetic theory in which is is continually advancing. as it has always been found. is after only for me that the standard I constant. It will be found. to an larger or independent external observer smaller absolutely.i6o PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY stellar system on the one hand. It will be said that I have not escaped from the dilemma of the I old mathematical infinity. in This the way which the infinity of the universe presents itself to me when space and time are recognized as variable and not constant. seems to me. because though carry may my norm of measurement as the inseparable adjunct of consciousness and vary my space and it is time through all infinite change of system. but destined to give us a new world-view. become But it is precisely this idea that there can be an independent observer in an absolute system of reference that the principle of relativity negatives It and rejects. that the poets with their . system on the And will in the other case the present stellar system is have become an atomic system. a other. therefore. I shall be challenged however.

Whether we approach actual experience the problem of that objectivity from the abstract i standpoint of physical science or from the concrete! standpoint of philosophy. i6i and the philosophers with their speculative hypotheses. which makes an object or event. The continuity of the universe can only be a continuity of consciousness. and the mode of transmigration also this continuity is imaginatively presented to us in the old eastern myth of the of the soul and the Christian (may we not of the say ?) in mystery Incarnation. in spite of all its is the same. THE NEW WORLD-VIEW mythical interpretations. we adopt mathematics and physics the principle of relativity (and have we any air choice ?) the obstinate. that in every reflection on our we are directly conscious of an objectivity which we distinguish from our subjective activity of knowing. is it This If is not a mystical doctrine. then..l claim to independence. Space . is. resistant form of the objectivity of the physical world dissolves to thin and disappears. the result Ultimately. nor in esoteric. have led the way in this new advance. that an object or event it in substance or in life form. derives from the activity of the or mind for which alone it it possesses the meaning. I conclude.

reabsorbed into the atmosphere. infinitely deformable. reality of the universe. what is or may become common its observers in the relations between their standpoints. meaning of the On a in morning we may see the watery vapour the air we breathe condense into a small cloud and then rapidly disappear. The world-lines are not thingsthey are only an expression for to different in-themselves. Carried to logical conclusion the principle of relativity leaves us without the image or the concept of a pure objectivity. do not they at last bring us in sight of an irreducible objectivity ? minimum of self-subsistent No. A closing illustration will perhaps serve better than argument to bring philosophical frosty home to the reader the principle. Concrete four-dimensional space-time becomes a system of world-lines. as is The ultimate it. rigid framework. Imagine that at such a moment we all should undergo a sudden transformation of our .1 62 PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY its and time. sink to shadows. as the substratum of this but the perception-actions of infinite individual creative centres in mutual relation. philosophy apprehends manifested in life is the activity which is and not a mind. and the objectivity of the universe dead core serving activity. And these world-lines.

. a a slow age-long and obeying the law of the inverse The change would be a new space and new time. undergoing evolution square. as ourselves because with the alteration proportions the ratios remain conexpress itself in the The change would objects. comparison with our present Would changed that the it ? appear to us that we ourselves had The change in principle of relativity declares change could not possibly be experienced in by us stant.WHAT DOES NOT CHANGE proportions so that our infinitesimal in 163 new dimensions become state. new dimensions of The at little globules of water which composed the cloud would now appear as stars and planets immense distances from one another.

38. 114 Conduit. Berkeley's Theory of Vision. William. 15. 20 Dante. 99 fi. 51 Eclipse expedition of 1919.. 92 Voltaire. Dante's descrip- Einstein. The Correspondence witli Leibniz. INDEX Aristotle. 101. 58 x Descartes. Dispute concerning the discovery of the Calculus. on Zeno's Problem. of Madame. 141 EucUd's Postulates. loi Leibniz. ' Kant. H. Kepler.. 19 Heracleitus. 92. 24. 4. 58. 31 Claxke. 29 Hume. 75 vi)emocritus. F. 17 Hypotheses non jingo. 34. 10. 29. 136 i.. tion. Professor G. 129 Galileo. Epicurus. 40 ff. 150 80 Contraction Theory of Fitzgerald and Lorentz. 129 Copemican Discovery. F. 94. 133 fi. The Story Newton and the Apple. 2. 36 Bradley. 43. 27. 10. 29 Genetic Theories of Spaceperception. 3 The Antinomies of Reason. 82 Laplace. 33 . 59 Equivalence. the Disciple of Heracleitus. Correspond- ence 114 164 fi. 104 . 32. V6ofE. 52 Epicureans. 59 Darwinian theory compared with the Copemican discovery. 149. 18 Bergson on Zeno's Problem. . 144 Fitzgerald. with satirized by Clarke. 61 fi. Cratylus. 11. 119 James..

Monads. 147 World-lines. 34 Miclielson-Morley experiment. 14.INDEX Lorentz. Theory of the. 116 Spencer. 19 Spinoza. 79. Russell. . Milton. The Apple of the Vortex theory. loi. 6. 24 sensorium. 80 . 77 story. Theory of Space-perception. 107 Velocity of Light. 121 fi. 66 fi. Voltaire. Herbert. 20 Sensorium. Local-sign theory. 161 fi. 91. 165 Perihelion of Mercury. 91. 85. 43 B. 125 fi. 29 . Pannenides. 15 Minkowski. fi.. 136 Hon. 19 Lucretius. in 97 fi. 130 fi. 129 Lotze. Bertrand. 116 of Space. Theory Warping Zeno. 10. 105 Nativistic theories of Spaceperception. Newton.

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