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Metaphysics of "Spacetime"
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Author:  theJack [ Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Metaphysics of "Spacetime"

One of the things I appreciate about Aristotle's method is that he waits to do metaphysics until after he has done physics. Likewise, one of the things I detest about modern physicists is that they so often seem to bring a poorly preconceived metaphysic to their physics.

In that spirit, I'm wondering about how an A-T might think about the whole 4D spacetime construct. Some preliminary remarks, I don't see any sort of conflict whatsoever with a theory of special/temporal relativity and an A-T view of time as the numbering of motion before and after. In fact, you might even, with a bit of massaging, find that such a theory might even be strongly implied if not entailed (the older Newtonian view of time could well presuppose something like a Platonic view of time as a separate entity, a real "thing" or "container", which seems problematic for a variety of reasons, both philosophical and scientific). Also, if we reject time as a thing-proper and understand is defining an accidental relation between things, then we could probably well dispense with (at least the necessity of) Einstein's block-theory of the universe.

So given all that, I'm curious about what A-T theorists might say with respect to our modern, scientific understanding about spacetime, especially when talking about ideas like gravity "bending" and "warping" spacetime. Further, while QLP seems to be experimentally ruled out (given its predictions about different wavelengths of light traveling at different speeds), the quantization of gravity seems intuitively meaningful -- spacetime isn't continuous so much as it is discrete. But are we not now getting back into a bit of extreme realism. Might not an A-T just think in terms of relata between real things (where those are things like "time" and "location", etc) rather than trying to really define, as an entity in itself, the "canvas" of spacetime?

Would any particular theories fit more comfortably in an A-T understanding of physics? Does the A-T understanding strongly imply anything about subjects currently questioned (e.g., quantum gravity, the nature of gravity itself (i.e., a force carried by particles, etc), etc.? Has anything been meaningfully written on the subject? I do know that some physicists are rediscovering at least pieces of Aristotle's esesntialism, though they haven't seemed to really appreciate the value of teleology yet. As a physics and philosophy fan, these are the sorts of things I wonder about from time to time, and hearing physicists keep telling the same stories and making what seem to me unnecessary leaps can be a bit frustrating at times.


Author:  Peetem [ Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Metaphysics of "Spacetime"

Jack -

Feser discusses this subject in a fair amount of detail in his book, "Aristotle's Revenge - The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science"

I haven't yet gotten to that part of the book (Chapter 4 - Space, Time, and Motion), so I cannot provide commentary. Needless to say, the read is very dense and difficult for someone like me who not studied philosophy, but is right up your alley. :D


Author:  theJack [ Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Metaphysics of "Spacetime"

Oh, Lord -- I'd entirely forgotten that Feser had written that and that it was on my reading list. Thanks much. It's now on my Kindle. :)

Author:  Peetem [ Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Metaphysics of "Spacetime"

Once you read it (Feser - Aristotle’s Revenge), if you get a chance please debrief on the answers to the questions you originally posted.

The odds are very high that I won’t be through that chapter by the time you have finished the book and I’m very curious to hear what Feser says.

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