Poincaré on the Construction of Space-Time

  • Robert DiSalle
Part of the The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS, volume 79)


One of the enduring challenges for the interpreter of Poincaré is to understand the connections between his analysis of the geometry of space and his view of the development of the theory of space-time. On the one hand, he saw that the invariance group of electrodynamics determines a four-dimensional space with a peculiar metrical structure. On the other hand, he resisted Einstein’s special theory of relativity, and continued to regard the Newtonian space-time structure as a sufficient foundation for the laws of physics. I propose to approach this question by considering the privileged position that space plays, according to Poincaré, in our conception of the physical world, and particularly in the construction of the fundamental concepts by which physical processes submit to objective measurement. Poincaré’s position results from granting the concept of space an epistemological priority that, in the face of modern physics, it was unable to sustain.


Inertial Frame Relativity Principle Absolute Space Spatial Geometry Light Travel 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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