From The Life of the Cosmos by Lee Smolin.
Does the world consist of a large number of independently autonomous atoms, the properties of each owing nothing to the others? Or, instead, is the world a vast, interconnected system of relations, in which even the properties of a single elementary particle or the identity of a point in space requires and reflects the whole rest of the universe? The two views of space and time underlie and imply two very different views of what it means to speak of a property, of identity, or of individuality. Consequently, the transition from a cosmology based on an absolute notion of space and time to one based on a relational notion – a transition that we are now in the midst of – must have profound implications for our understanding of the place of complexity and life in the universe.