Space-Time Substantivalism

Graham Nerlich

in The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780199284221
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Space-Time Substantivalism

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Space-time evolved from space and time. Newton never formally defined either of them, but his penetrating Scholium to the Definitions is the classic source of sub-stantivalism. Einstein reshaped both concepts in the special theory of relativity (STR) of 1905, so that both temporal and spatial intervals vary with a change of reference frame. In 1908 Minkowski's interpretation of STR introduced a four-dimensional space-time in which differences in uniform motion correspond to differences of direction among time like lines and only force-free worldlines are straight. In the general theory of relativity (GTR) Einstein banished gravity as a force acting across space on bodies, recasting it as the curved semi-Riemannian geometry of space-time.

Keywords: space-time; sub-stantivalism; special theory of relativity; temporal intervals; spatial intervals; four-dimensional space-time; general theory of relativity

Article.  14190 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Science

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