A Presentation and Defense of Anton Marty’s Conception of Space

  • Ingvar JohanssonEmail author
Part of the History of Analytic Philosophy book series (History of Analytic Philosophy)


Newtonian mechanics has a container conception of space. Space is regarded as an empty receptacle in which all material bodies exist. For a long time, most defenders of this view claimed that it must be mind-dependent. Anton Marty is the first modern philosopher to argue both that physical space is mind-independent and that it has the features characteristic of Newtonian physical space. Moreover, he works out a number of metaphysical implications of this view. Therefore, Marty ought to be given a prominent place in the history of conceptions of space. As shown by Graham Nerlich, a container conception can be defended even after the twentieth-century revolutions in physics. By bringing Marty and Nerlich together, the paper claims that a container conception of space/space-time should even today be taken seriously in the philosophy of physics.



This paper was once part of a paper where also perceptual spaces were discussed. For a number of important comments of all kinds on any of the earlier versions, I would like to thank Jan Almäng, Ann-Sophie Barwich, Clare Mac Cumhaill, Olivier Massin, Kevin Mulligan, Graham Nerlich, Ingemar Nordin, and Kristoffer Sundberg. The participants in the conference “Anton Marty and Contemporary Philosophy” (Geneva, June 15–17, 2017) made me realize some pedagogical problems. For some appropriate critical comments on the penultimate version I would like to thank an anonymous referee. At last, a large extra gratitude goes to Kevin for thirty-five years of intermittent philosophical exchange. Without these discussions, not even the first version of this paper could have been written.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Umeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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