Fall 2024

Understanding Space and Time

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-222  |  Physics and Astronomy, as PHYS-222


Jagu Jagannathan (Section 01)
Joseph G. Moore (Section 01)


Philosophy and Physics have been closely linked in our attempts to understand the fundamental nature of reality. The philosopher, Aristotle, articulated a detailed physics, and the physicist, Newton, considered himself a natural philosopher. In this course, we will explore how the combined resources of these two disciplines have been brought to bear on our understanding of space and time. We will consider the physical, and the metaphysical views of such thinkers as Zeno, Aristotle, Augustine, Nagarjuna, Leibniz, Newton, Kant, McTaggart, and Einstein. We will also discuss some more recent writings about the nature of space and time. Among the topics we will explore are:
paradoxes concerning the possibility of motion; the possibilities of space without matter and time without change; the status of symmetry principles and the principle of sufficient reason; the implications of the theory of relativity for our everyday conceptions of space and time; and the possibility of time-travel. In the process of exploring these topics, we will introduce philosophical argument, as well as the basic principles of Newtonian physics and the theory of relativity. No special knowledge of philosophy or physics is presupposed.

Limited to 25 students. Preference will be given by class seniority. Fall semester Professors Jagannathan and Moore. (T)

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given by class Seniority

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Philosophical, scientific and mathematical reasoning, discussion in an interdisciplinary context.

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2024