It just means that any system of coordinates can be be used to describe the world - as long as it is emperically confirmed! And gravity is no longer an invariant factor i.
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For example, Euclidean geometry can be used to describe the spacetime between the galaxies, where gravity is neglible; we need non-Euclidean geometry when dealing with things like orbits of planets. Ultimately, geometry became physics and Einstein's general theory shows us how geometry in sense IS space time : the curvature of spacetime is determined by physical phenomena i. The physical proof of the objective existence of spacetime, in the sense that experiments and observations in physics have shown us the reality and nature of spacetime. This is truly amazing, if you think about it deeply.
To illustrate this last point, consider that Einstein's general theory of relativity not only described all of the earlier relevant theories in physics, but also predicted the existence of particular, unobserved phenomena: - The bending of light rays due to the curvature of spacetime, confirmed by the expedition of Eddington in In other words: physical phenomena tell us in what type of universe we live - an Einsteinian universe.
How beautiful! I find another thing very beautiful, which is mentioned early on in The Philosophy of Space and Time. This is the long time it took for people to wake up and realize that Euclid's geometry was only one of many geometries possible. And even after this, it took years for people to realize the importance of the existence of all these systems of geometry for philosophy and science. The beauty of this lies in the fact that even thousands of years of 'certain' knowledge - philosophers tried to model all of science on Euclid!
Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant - can be plain wrong.
ISBN 13: 9780486268514
Well, not really wrong, in the all or none-sense, but limited. For millennia the most intelligent people thought that Euclid's geometry described the world; nowadays, the most plain but interested and motivated people can learn how Euclid's geometry 'only' describes the parts of our universe which are most empty- by approximation. All of the important parts of our universe are governed by a totally different system of geometry. Ironic, and highly telling for the progress of human knowledge. Still, I wonder if we are zooming in on certain knowledge.
Never before have we had so many fundamental theories and so much sophisticated apparatus to do experiments and observations with.
The Philosophy of Space and Time
Personally, I don't believe in the endless pursuit of knowledge; the history of science allows us a careful positive induction: it seems that we perfect our theories - at least in physics, chemistry and biology - by the year. Somewhere there's a limit of what there is to know: the question is if we, as human beings, will be able to grasp these ultimate truths. Looking at modern physics - with pure mathematical i. Food for thought A last remark. Great thinkers like Locke, Hume and Kant saw Euclid's geometry as analytical knowledge. In other words: one could know everything of geometry by applying Reason i.
All of this was deemed to be certain knowledge, as opposed to empirical knowledge, which we only gather via our senses, which are obviously fallible, and thus this knowledge isn't certain. This is why I find the history of philosophy as well as science interesting: Reichenbach clearly shows how the developments in twentieth century physics especially general relativity have shown us that geometry isn't analytical but, on the other hand, is highly arbitrary and should be verified by experiment and observation.
In other words: the downfall of what was, for millennia, the textbook example of certainty i. Euclid's geometry turned out to be the key to the biggest scientific progress since Newton. Now we know that even mathematics is subjected to scientific rigour and hence, should be tested by experiment and observation. Of course there are mathematicians and physicists who think otherwise, but I doubt if the mainstream would take this view seriously nowadays.
These major breakthroughs and in Thomas Kuhn's words paradigm-shifts are what makes science and philosophy interesting. If anyone reads this review and has more knowledge on these topics than I seem to possess: what are the main points in Reichenbach's treatment of space and time that are outdated? And what does modern science and philosophy tell us about these particular points? I would be grateful for any comment.
And if I made any mistakes in my review or misinterpreted some fact, please correct me! Dec 31, Jaza42 rated it liked it. Some of the topics in this book are treated with great nuance. Some others are depicted erroneously. In particular, the claim that the distant stars solve the twins paradox because their gravitational effects cause a time dilation is totally wrong.
Nevertheless, this book also contains some brilliant ideas, such as the use of colour as a tool for depicting higher dimensional spaces. I am glad I read it, but I am also glad it's over. Mar 18, Jhc rated it it was amazing. If you are not satisfied with your order, just contact us and we will address any issue.
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