Limits of the Criticism of Simple Location: Contemporary Independence

  • Milič Čapek
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 7)


Two important qualifications concerning the criticism of the fallacy of simple location are necessary. Although it is true that what we used to call the ‘displacement of a particle’ is in truth a change far transcending the local region in which a particle seems to be located, the Bergsonian term ‘la transformation universelle’ should be understood only in a metaphorical sense. In using this term Bergson apparently overlooked the finite velocity of gravitational and electromagnetic disturbances. The spatio-temporal deformation of which the particle is a center is precisely spatio-temporal, that is, it is a processand not a thing. It spreads itself in all directions, but this spreading is not instantaneous and thus it cannot be ubiquitousin the strict sense of the word. Both Bergson and Whitehead were probably misled by Leibniz’s famous saying about each monad mirroring the whole universe. While they were both correct when they regarded Leibniz as rightly anticipating the fact of universal cosmic interaction, they apparently forgot, as Leibniz himself did, that this ‘mirroring’ takes time. It is true that faint gravitational and electro-magnetic actions penetrate into even the darkest corners of the universe, but this does not mean that the actions of eachspatio- temporal region pervade eachother region. The finite velocity of all causal actions — we can as well say the finite velocity of every field — simply forbids it.1


Modern Physic Causal Action Rigid Connection Compact Body Finite Velocity 
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  1. 1.
    Cf. my article ‘Simple Location and Fragmentation of Reality’, The Monist 48(1964) 195–218.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    E. Le Roy, ‘Continu et discontinu dans la matière: le problème du morcelage’, in Continu et discontinu. Cahiers de la nouvelle journée, No. 15, Paris, 1929.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    P. Langevin, ‘Le temps, l’espace et la causalité dans la physique moderne’, Bulletin de la Société frangaise de philosophie(séance du 19 octobre 1911), pp. 23–24.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    A. Einstein, Essays in Science, Philosophical Library, New York, 1934, pp. 110–111.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    J. Wahl, Les philosophes pluralistes d’Angleterre et d’Amerique, Paris, 1920, p. 126.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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