Lost in Space and Time: A Quest for Conceptual Spaces in Physics
In this chapter, I investigate whether dimensions in physics are analogous to quality dimensions (in the sense of Gärdenfors P, Conceptual spaces: the geometry of thought, 2nd edn. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000, 2004) and whether phase spaces are to be considered as conceptual spaces (as proposed by Masterton G, Zenker F, Gärdenfors P, Eur J Philos Sci 7:127–150, 2017). To this end, I focus on the domain of force in classical physics and on the dimension of time from classical to relativistic physics. Meanwhile, I comment on the development of abstract spaces with non-spatial dimensions, such as conceptual spaces, which is itself part of a long history of conceptual development.
KeywordsConceptual space Dimensional analysis Phase space Philosophy of physics Relativity theory Time
I am grateful to the organizers and participants of the workshop “Conceptual Spaces at Work” (2016) for giving me the opportunity to present and discuss my early ideas on this topic. I also thank Joel Parthemore, Danny Vanpoucke, and an anonymous referee for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this text. Part of this project was supported by a grant from the FWO (Research Foundation – Flanders) through grant number G0B8616N.
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