Topic: Space and Time. Philosophical debates concerning the nature of space and time have accompanied the development of modern physics since the scientific revolution. Is space absolute as Newton thought or is it just a collection of relations among objects as Leibniz contended? In what sense does Einstein’s theory imply that space and time are relative to observers? In this course, we’ll seek to understand the foundations of our theories of space and time in physics in order to answer these questions. We will use both historical and ahistorical methods. First, we will learn some basic features of modern geometry that we can use to describe space, time, and motion as precisely as possible. Second, we will read classical and contemporary works by physicists and philosophers, using geometrical techniques to make sense of their differing views on the nature of space and time. Although we will use mathematical methods, no background in mathematics is assumed or required. Prerequisite: one PHIL course.
TEXT: No Textbook Required (course materials will be available on Canvas).