Difference, Unity, Proliferation

in Victorian Relativity

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2001 | ISBN: 9780226327327
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226327365 | DOI:
Difference, Unity, Proliferation

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This chapter describes the broadly twofold pattern of intellectual innovation of Victorian relativity that is considered as the inseparable connection between the political and intellectual regimes of society. The modern history of relativity theory extends to the Enlightenment, and especially into Kantian and Humean philosophy. The theme of relativity has identified itself with the dismantling of theological and crypto-theological “absolutes” from the moment it first appeared in Victorian writing. Poincaré urges a fundamental break with the mode of science based on the longing for explanation itself beyond his searching critique of absolutist notions of truth. The twin principles of unity and of “unlimited” multiplicity are thus linked in an indissoluble nexus at the center of nineteenth-century relativity theory.

Keywords: intellectual innovation; Victorian relativity; Enlightenment; Humean philosophy; absolutes; unlimited multiplicity

Chapter.  16604 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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