THE TRADITIONS OF SCIENCE
1. Traditional Scientific Concepts. 1·1 What is a physical explanation? The answer to this question, even when merely implicit in the scientific imagination, must profoundly affect the development of every science, and in an especial degree that of speculative physics. During the modern period the orthodox answer has invariably been couched in terms of Time (flowing equably in measurable lapses) and of Space (timeless, void of activity, euclidean), and of Material in space (such as matter, ether, or electricity).
The governing principle underlying this scheme is that extension, namely extension in time or extension in space, expresses disconnection. This principle issues in the assumptions that causal action between entities separated in time or in space is impossible and that extension in space and unity of being are inconsistent. Thus the extended material (on this view) is essentially a multiplicity of entities which, as extended, are diverse and disconnected. This governing principle has to be limited in respect to extension in time. The same material exists at different times. This concession introduces the many perplexities centering round the notion of change which is derived from the comparison of various states of self-identical material at different times.
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Publication information: Book title: An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge. Contributors: Not available. Publisher: Unknown. Place of publication: Cambridge. Publication year: 1919. Page number: 1.
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