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67. Space, Time, and Relativity


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00070.x


Given the central role played by space and time both in our ordinary experience and in our attempts to understand the world by means of scientific theory, it is no surprise that attempts to understand space and time form a central locus of the interaction of philosophy and the physical sciences. In the long history of the discussions of the central topics in the philosophy of space and time, there has been a recurrent dynamic. Central issues in the philosophical problematic in this area are isolated. A number of alternative solutions to the core questions are outlined by the philosophers. At the same time, however, new results are obtained by those developing the mathematical and physical theories of space and time. Reflection on these results forces upon the philosophers a radical rethinking of the very framework in which the philosophical exploration takes place. This dynamic can be seen in three cases: the impact of Greek geometry and physics on Greek philosophy of space and time; the impact of Newtonian physics on the philosophy of space and time in the period of the great scientific revolution of the seventeenth century; and the impact of the development of the theories of special and general relativity on contemporary philosophy of space and time. Anticipations of what later became the doctrine of substantivalism with regard to space can be found in Plato's characterization ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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