© 2018

Relativity without Spacetime

  • One of the first critical studies on the theory of geometrically merged space and time in Einstein's theory of relativity

  • Analyzes mathematical representation in physics historically

  • Applies Jacob Klein's seminal scholarship on the modern symbolic concept of number to a theory of physics


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. The Concept of Minkowski Spacetime

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Joseph K. Cosgrove
      Pages 11-33
    3. Joseph K. Cosgrove
      Pages 35-64
  3. Part II

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 65-68
    2. Joseph K. Cosgrove
      Pages 69-100
    3. Joseph K. Cosgrove
      Pages 117-122
  4. General Relativity Without Spacetime

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 123-123
    2. Joseph K. Cosgrove
      Pages 125-162
  5. Time Without Spacetime

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 163-163
    2. Joseph K. Cosgrove
      Pages 165-178
  6. Joseph K. Cosgrove
    Pages E1-E1
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 179-193

About this book


In 1908, three years after Einstein first published his special theory of relativity, the mathematician Hermann Minkowski introduced his four-dimensional “spacetime” interpretation of the theory. Einstein initially dismissed Minkowski’s theory, remarking that “since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity I do not understand it myself anymore.” Yet Minkowski’s theory soon found wide acceptance among physicists, including eventually Einstein himself, whose conversion to Minkowski’s way of thinking was engendered by the realization that he could profitably employ it for the formulation of his new theory of gravity. The validity of Minkowski’s mathematical “merging” of space and time has rarely been questioned by either physicists or philosophers since Einstein incorporated it into his theory of gravity.  Physicists often employ Minkowski spacetime with little regard to the whether it provides a true account of the physical world as opposed to a useful mathematical tool in the theory of relativity. Philosophers sometimes treat the philosophy of space and time as if it were a mere appendix to Minkowski’s theory. In this critical study, Joseph Cosgrove subjects the concept of spacetime to a comprehensive examination and concludes that Einstein’s initial assessment of Minkowksi was essentially correct.


spacetime physics philosophy of science Minkowski Einstein

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.PhilosophyProvidence CollegeProvidence, RIUSA

About the authors

Joseph K. Cosgrove is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Providence College in Rhode Island, USA.

Bibliographic information