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By Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton is without doubt one of the most generally revered philosophers of our time, whose frequently provocative perspectives by no means fail to simulate debate. In Modern Philosophy he turns his cognizance to the full of the sphere, from the philosophy of good judgment to aesthetics, and in so doing presents us with an important and accomplished advisor to fashionable considering.

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That’s because Plato’s idea has elements of relativity in it. When objects are impressed onto the flux, as Plato puts it rather mysteriously (but in language that fits comfortably with bangup-to-date notions like energy fields) it in turn changes, and in changing affects the objects again. ’ Matter acts on space and space acts on matter. Plato’s idea is pretty much Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in a nutshell, 2,000 years before Einstein came up with his theory! indd 29 7/14/10 10:57 PM 30 Part I: What Is Philosophy?

He starts by reminding his readers that those ‘Pythagoreans’ think . . that at the centre there is fire, whilst the earth, which is seen as one of the stars, moves around it in a circle which produces night and day . . Then he quickly dismissing the idea as ‘impossible’. You can see this, Aristotle explains, by considering the evidence of the eyes, notably that a rock thrown vertically upward falls vertically downward, rather than slightly to one side, as it would if the Earth was in any kind of motion.

In fact, as Einstein says, the only way to approach the core truths of reality is through philosophy. The world really is more complex than people normally think it is. It’s not just the philosophers creating mysteries. ’ – Plato U ntil late in the 18th century, what we now call science was merely a branch of philosophy, the philosophy of nature, studied by people like Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Bacon and Descartes. Nowadays, only the last two of these feature in philosophy books, and the first three are called astronomers – but they all did a bit of both.

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