Reference and Analysis in the Study of Time

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Grosholz, Emily / R
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conference paper description
Our best hope of understanding time may lie in looking at what happens when referential and analytical discourses fail to be wholly reconciled: to what extent are they unified (and how is that unification possible) and where and why does that unification fail? Thus we may learn something important about time by studying the debates between Leibniz and Newton, or the current attempts of scientists to integrate quantum mechanics and general relativity. Scientific language used in the study to elaborate and systematize abstract thought is, clearly, very different from language used by scientists working in the laboratory, field and observatory. Texts that announce important ideas, bringing two or more spheres of activity into intelligible relation, are therefore typically heterogeneous and multivalent, a fact that has been missed or misunderstood by philosophers who equate rationality with the kind of discursive homogeneity required by formal logic.Philosophers of science need to ask new questions that bring the work of combination itself into focus.