Friday, 27 March 2009

A Natural Instinct of Economy

“When we speak of a cube with trimmed corners—a figure which is not a cube—we do so from a natural instinct of economy, which prefers to add to an old familiar conception a correction instead of forming an entirely new one. This is the process of all judgment.” [1]

It is also, if care is not taken, why judgement is apt to go awry, since we are often so impressed with an old familiar conception that we fail fully to appreciate the significance of a new one for which it is meant to bring understanding.

[1] Ernst Mach, “On the Economical Nature of Physical Inquiry”, Popular Scientific Lectures, tr. T.J. McCormack (Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Co., 1898), pp.201-2.

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