ON CERTAIN METHODOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY

DOROTHY WRINCH
1922 Mind  
THBBB are many aspects of the Theory of Relativity which involve problems until lately the -exclusive property of Philosophy. Chief arrong these is the problem of Space and Time. In the theory these conceptions are given a definite status. There are now various different views of the characteristics of Space* held by different writers on Relativity; and it is a very satisfactory sign of the vigour of modern physios that such different systems as those of Einstein, Weyl, and Eddington should be
more » ... ddington should be elaborated. The only way of deciding between them will be by means of experimental tests; but at present no experimental test appears to be available to test the theory of Weyl though it is not impossible that some deduction might be made as to the shift of the lines in the spectrum of the sun or perhaps as to the size of the universe. But in spite of the fact that the views of these writers differ and there seems to be no way of deciding between them at present, if we eliminate all the parts of the theory about which there is not agreement, there is still something of fundamental importance in their treatment of the notion of Space. In the language of modern logio, they all alike use " Space " as a description. 1 Space in the theory of Relativity is a constructed entity. To say that space is a description involves many consequences. No description can ever be used as a Pepper name. We see two particular spots of colour and we say "This is darker than that". There is in some sense, a direct relation between the symbol " This " and one of the spots of colour. Whatever this characteristic may be in virtue of which "This" is in direct relation to the thing in the External World to which it refers, it is absent in the case of the symbol for space. There is nothing in the External World to which we can point as being represented by the symbol. And this property of the concept which makes it a description involves a further consequence. Any proposition in which the term occurs is not in its logically simplest terms. It can be analysed further. And we may easily see that the analysis of such a proposition will disclose some propositional function. We may take a simple example to make our meaning plain. Suppose we are contrasting the heights of two buildings. If instead of saying with a wave of the hands " This is loftier than that" we say " The building on my right is loftier than that," we are using a description. For there is no direct relation between the symbol 1 Tha term " Description " U used in the sense explained by Whitehead
doi:10.1093/mind/xxxi.122.200 fatcat:gow64ytmgnbsjfte2rxyt47lea