The task of presenting the case for a new svstem of thought is a difficult one at best, and in order that it may be successfully accomplished it is essential to confine the discussion to the specific points at issue, and to avoid being drawn into controversies regarding matters which, at least for the present, are irrelevant. This is particularly important because the principal interests of most of those to whom the presentation is addressed, the items that they will want to talk about, lie along the periphery of scientific knowledge, the scene of most current research activity, whereas the development of a new system of theory must necessarily begin with fundamentals, and in the early stages will not reach the outlying “fine structure” except in certain special cases. This point should be brought out early in the discussion in order to eliminate the necessity of giving a series of negative answers to questions on the order of “Does the theory explain thus-and-so?”
It should be emphasized that we do not claim that the reciprocal system in its present stage of development is ready to supply the explanations of all of these fine details, and the unavailability of any particular explanation thus has no relevance to the point now at issue. The question that is now up for consideration is whether the claims that we do make can be substantiated, and the only items that have any significance for present purposes are those that have some bearing on this issue. It is essential, therefore, that the claims which we are making on behalf of the reciprocal svstem be clearly and specifically defined. They can be expressed as follows:
- The reciprocal system is a general physical theory, one that derives all of its conclusions in all physical fields from a single set of basic premises—the only such general physical theory that has ever been formulated.
- Within the range of phenomena thus far covered in the development of the consequences of the fundamental postulates of the system, an area which includes the basic features of all of the major branches of physical science and a wide variety of subsidiary phenomena, all of the conclusions that are reached from the theory are consistent with the physical facts that have been definitely established by observation and measurement (although they do not necessarily agree with inferences from or extrapolations of those facts, nor with theories previously devised to explain the facts).
- Because all conclusions are derived from the same basic premises, the entire structure of theory is a single integral unit that is not subject to modification or adjustment. Every comparison of theory with observation is therefore a test of the validity of the theoretical system as a whole. Thus each of the thousands of such tests that have already been made without finding a discrepancy has reduced the probability that a discrepancy will ever be found, and as matters now, stand it is practically certain that the theoretical universe of the reciprocal system is a true and accurate representation of the actual physical universe.
All theories must begin with assumptions. Heretofore we have had no general physical theory. As one prominent physicist expresses it, we have had only a “a multitude of different parts and pieces that do not fit together very well.” Each separate theory—each of the “parts and pieces”—has found it necessary to begin with assumptions about the particular field to which it applies. Thus theories of liquids are based on assumptions about liquids, theories of cosmic rays on assumptions about cosmic rays, theories of the structure of matter on assumptions about matter, and so on. A very significant feature of the reciprocal system is that it makes no assumptions at all about these individual physical fields. It makes no assumptions about liquids, nor about cosmic rays, nor about matter. As stated in I, all of its conclusions about these phenomena are based entirely on the assumptions, or postulates, regarding the nature of space and time that constitute the foundation of the theoretical system. This is a very important point. The mere fact that the development of the consequences of a set of postulates with respect to space and time is able to arrive at specific conclusions about phenomena in all major fields of physical science is in itself a strong indication that the thearetical system thus derived is a true representation of the physical facts.
Claim II is simply a statement that the conclusions derived from the new, theory are consistent with all established knowledge. These conclusions do conflict with many ideas now, prevalent including some generally accepted theories, but this again is irrelevant. Our claim is that the new theory is correct, not that it is better than the theory of limited scope which is now accepted in the particular field under consideration. “Better” is a subjective concept that rests mainly on non-scientific criteria, and is wide open to differences of opinion. In order to present a clear-cut and conclusive case for the new theory it is advisable to stick to the objective facts specified in I and II and to avoid subjective issues.
Likewise there is nothing to be gained at the present time by any argument in support of the validity of Claim III. When we verify Claim II we automatically put the new system into a position where a careful and painstaking examination of the system and its potentialities by the scientific community is unavoidable. Inasmuch as we are aiming at nothing more than this modest objective for the present, the validity of Claim III is not now an issue, although it obviously will have considerable importance in the long run.