Relationship all the way down

Time exists, argues Lee Smolin Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe . Space, though – space is secondary, an emergent property, a manifestation of some deeper reality. What might that be?

In his NYRB review of Smolin’s book, James Gleick anwers: “For space, the deeper reality is a network of relationships. Things are related to other things; they are connected, and it is the relationships that define space rather than the other way around. This is a venerable notion: Smolin traces the idea of a relational world back to Newton’s great rival, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: ‘Space is nothing else, but That Order or Relation ; and is nothing at all without Bodies, but the Possibility of placing them.’ Nothing useful came of that, while Newton’s contrary view—that space exists independently of the objects it contains—made a revolution in the ability of science to predict and control the world. But the relational theory has some enduring appeal; some scientists and philosophers such as Smolin have been trying to revive it.”

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