PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

THERE are periods in the growth of science when it is well to turn our attention from its imposing superstructure and to carefully examine its foundations. The present book is primarily intended as a criticism of the fundamental concepts of modern science, and as such finds its justification in the motto placed upon its title-page. At the same time the author is so fully conscious of the ease of criticism and the difficulty of reconstruction, that he has attempted not to stop short at the lighter task. No one who knows the author's views, or who reads, indeed, this book, will believe that he holds the labour of the great scientists or the mission of modern science to be of small account. If the reader finds the opinions of physicists of world-wide reputation, and the current definitions of physical concepts called into question, he must not attribute this to a purely sceptical spirit in the author. He accepts almost without reserve the great results of modern physics; it is the language in which these results are stated that he believes needs reconsideration. This reconsideration is the more urgent because the language of physics is widely used in all branches of biological (including sociological) science. The obscurity which envelops the principia of science is not only due to an historical evolution influenced by the authority which attaches even to the phraseology used by great discoverers, but to the fact that science, as long

-xvii-

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