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Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (Princeton Foundations of Contemporary Philosophy) Hardcover – July 22, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0691143095 ISBN-10: 0691143099 Edition: 1st Ed.

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Foundations of Contemporary Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st Ed. edition (July 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691143099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691143095
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013

"Taking up the conceptual foundations of classical and modern physics, Maudlin explains in a clear manner how Einstein's special and general theories of relativity emerged from Newtonian mechanics and Galilean relativity. . . . This is a solid work that deserves careful study and rewards readers accordingly."--Choice

"I would highly recommend Philosophy of Physics to anyone who wants to get a deeper historical and philosophical perspective on the nature of space and time, as well as to any physics student who has been confused by the twin paradox."--Robert M. Wald, Physics Today

"Maudlin has successfully undertaken a very difficult task: to write a book about the physical theories of space and time, accessible to every learned person with genuine interest in philosophy and the foundations of physics, with little mathematical prerequisites but without betraying the physical theories. We are really anxious to read the second volume of his work."--Chrysovalantis Stergiou, Metascience

From the Back Cover

"Exceptionally clear and comprehensive, this engrossing volume will be extremely useful to students. Most introductions to space-time and relativity are written by physicists, but readers interested in a careful examination of the philosophical foundations of the subject are much better served by starting here. I had fun reading this book."--Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time

"Maudlin adroitly guides readers through the mathematical, physical, and philosophical subtleties of Newtonian physics and special and general relativity. The book is filled with lucid and original observations, and succeeds in presenting material that was previously only accessible to those who could stomach significant amounts of differential geometry. A major contribution."--David Wallace, University of Oxford

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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In it he provides an experimental set-up that shows in what sense his SR predicts and explains the constancy of the speed of light.
Marvin J. Greenberg
I imagine the book would also appeal to those with more knowledge of both subjects, as the author suggests that some of his positions are controversial.
Michael
Certainly any physics, math, or engineering student will find this book "easy" in the sense of not needing any mathematical heavy lifting.
K. Long

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Michael on July 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This isn't "philosophy of physics for dummies" by any stretch, but for someone who last took physics in 1975 and who only has taken an intro to philosophy course, this was an excellent overview of historical and modern philosophy of the physics of space and time. The author uses next to no math (thank goodness) and his prose expositions are clear and to the point. I imagine the book would also appeal to those with more knowledge of both subjects, as the author suggests that some of his positions are controversial. I'm looking forward to part 2 on matter based upon his exposition of space and time in this volume. Highly recommended.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Colin Temple on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A concise, accessible, enjoyable, responsible and rewarding survey of the historical development of the physicist's conception of space and time.

I say it's concise because this volume weighs in at about 200 pages and covers spatial/temporal geometries from Aristotle, Newton, Galileo and Einstein.

There's certainly a bit of math in the book, but not so much as to exclude the layperson. The descriptions and diagrams provided are about as clear as they can be, given the subject.

I say it's responsible because the author makes use of clear arguments, makes assumptions and missing pieces clear and follows up with recommended readings.

The text is rewarding because it clears up many misconceptions about the theories it covers and gives a fresh, clean take on the subject. I can certainly say this book helped sharpen my understanding of special & general relativity.

There's more physics than philosophy in this text. It serves as an excellent description of space and time for a philosopher. I don't see that it would give the physics student a strong philosophical hook, though it's certainly more philosophical than the average physics text. (The exception would be a relatively sizable discussion of the correspondence between Leibniz and Clarke on Newtonian absolute space, which I enjoyed having studied that debate previously.)

Overall a worthwhile read for anyone looking for an introduction to philosophy of physics, or anyone who could stand to improve their understanding of the theories presented.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kevin W. on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First, it should be understood that this is not so much a philosophy of physics as it is physics for philosophers. This volume does not so much cover the many philosophical issues that have arisen from millennia of trying to know the rules governing the material world. Instead, it introduces the scientific issues that underlie these questioning traditions.

That said, this is a brilliant introduction to the enigmatic field of physics, tilted toward the philosopher's perspective. Most of the writers here are physicists not philosophers. But the tone is not overly mathematical. It is refreshingly buoyant, dwelling more in the realm of meaning and presence than in the cold interplay of systems.

Somehow I am reminded of Parlett's THE Book of Word Games -- perhaps it is the pleasure that this kind of inquiry creates, rather than any topical connection.

Highly recommended for philosophers, the philosophically inclined, or those simply wishing to understand what physics may MEAN -- not simply SAYS. For those who wish to be filled with the brilliant lines, spaces, and internal structures that physics and its philosophical implications can create in the soul.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Long on June 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Back in my student days, one of my housemates was a philosophy student. When we'd talk physics I'd invariably start writing equations, and he'd always pepper me with questions about what was *really* happening behind all that math. His questioning on the fundamentals really helped sharpen my thinking about physics.

Tim Maudlin's "Philosophy of Physics" will similarly hone your thinking, at least for the narrow part of physics it covers (space, time, relativity, and kinematics). The issues of inertial versus non-inertial frames, the postulates of relativity, time dilation, and Lorentz contraction are "simple" in the sense that any good physics undergraduate can do calculations with them competently, but the careful definition and interpretation of these concepts has sometimes stumped even first-rate physicists. Maudlin does a nice job of clearing up some of the misconceptions about these topics found in popular physics texts.

Very little math is used. Certainly any physics, math, or engineering student will find this book "easy" in the sense of not needing any mathematical heavy lifting. Don't let that simplicity fool you into thinking it's a mindless read, or worse, not worth reading at all: this is a book about clear thinking about subtle concepts, not about struggling through mathematical complexities.

It's a well-written book with clear explanations. I highly recommend it to every scientist who wants to understand relativity and mechanics at a deeper level.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen E. Robbins on February 23, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is an interesting mind trip. Maudlin starts us at the base problem - the problem of absolute space and absolute motion, Newton's affirmative position on this absoluteness - his spinning bucket proof, his two globes linked by a cable - his argument with Leibniz, Leibniz versus Clarke, Galilean relativity. Soon we are introduced to the general schema in which Maudlin's view is framed throughout (to be modified in its special relativistic version) - this is the stack of time slices of space-time. A point in the same position (same space coordinates), slice after slice, is a motionless point over time - it traces a straight line through the stack of slices. A point in linear motion (one space coordinate changing) traces a straight line at an angle relative to the former. A point accelerating (a force must be applied for this) traces a curve through the stack. Transforms take us from one time-slice to another - a topological transform preserves the continuity of the lines, an affine transform preserves the straight lines - though now the line of a static point might be angled (moving) and vice versa. There are no absolute motions, no absolute points in space. And thus we come to special relativity (STR), where we realize the ride is about to become rather strange, for Maudlin announces that all standard explanations are wrong, in fact, even Einstein misstated things, having presented the theory in terms of the equivalence of inertial frames and the constancy of the speed of light, leading to the Lorentz transformations which relate one set of coordinates to another - an approach Maudlin argues, that "has already run off the rails.Read more ›
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Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (Princeton Foundations of Contemporary Philosophy)
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