Does the metaphysics of space and time mostly focus on the implication of general and special relativity, or are there ideas outside of science? I know that the metaphysics of space and time is an active area of metaphysics, but I am wondering if it's mostly based on modern physics, or there are ideas coming from philosophers themselves that are being considered.

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    Metaphysics deals with everything that is not science (science can be said to deal with the physical, not the metaphysical realm). Metaphysics of ST deals mostly with ontological issues, not with problems raising by science. In any case, relativity would be a small topic here. This 1932 article remarks Relativity has raised interest in the metaphysics of ST again, after the publication of the Theory.
    – RodolfoAP
    Feb 12, 2023 at 5:23
  • General and special relativity do not exhaust science, speculations about the nature of space and time are currently fueled more by quantum gravity and string theory. "Philosophers themselves" participate in the process in dialog with scientists, proposing ideas and interpretations, as they should, see e.g. Rickles or Butterfield. Aristotle, Leibniz and Kant, in their time, did the same. What would be the alternative, suck it out of a finger while sitting in an armchair?
    – Conifold
    Feb 12, 2023 at 10:52
  • @Conifold I don't know how much physicists are waiting on philosophers to give them ideas. Physicists themselves are a pretty crafty and inventive bunch on their own when it comes to ideas. What's more, there might be technical details that the philosophers need to master to speak cogently to physicists, which might be difficult given the complexity of current physics. Not saying it's impossible, but suggesting it might not be an essential dialogue for physicists.
    – Frank
    Feb 12, 2023 at 15:28
  • @Frank I suspect that it is, in any case, it is currently actively invited by physicists themselves, see Rickles, pp. 1-3.
    – Conifold
    Feb 13, 2023 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


For any idea coming from the field of philosophy to actually affect the development of the state of the art in the field of physics would require the philosopher to couch his or her idea in the language of mathematics, so it can then be tested for a fit into the mathematical framework currently used to describe the workings of the physical world.

If it has no mathematical description, it's metaphysics, not physics.

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