Space and Time

In modern science we can talk of space and time as two separate concepts, but in most of the cases what we mean is space-time. You see, the two are inseparable… at least in working conditions. Space depends on time and time on space. The two work together to bring us the most basic conditions of reality. But there are some questions which have to be answered when we take this viewpoint.

First, can we manipulate time? No. Not yet anyway. Yet, we can manipulate space. What does that imply about the space-time relation? Are we able to manipulate time through our manipulation of space? That might be the case, but there has been almost no scientific or philosophical concern with a question like this. Observation proves that time changes; space also changes, but it does so over time. Therefore, can space change without time? It does not seem to be a question really, because is we have space without time, it would be standing still, therefore change would be impossible. Does that mean that one of the characteristics of space is changelessness? We use the term ‘eternal’ for space which is timeless or not susceptible to time. Yet, that does not mean that eternity or necessity imply changlessness. It seems that we cannot use the term ‘eternal’ when it comes to space then… perhaps only to ideas or spiritual conceptions?

The logical question which comes up then is whether time can change without space. At first, we would say that it can, because time can flow without any perceptible change in space. That is because we base our observation of space on the things within it rather than on the concept itself. This suddenly becomes one of those questions which cannot be answered because no one has been able to discern what space is qualitatively rather than quantitatively. This will be addressed again below.

Another characterization which bothers me is that time is eternal, but is space also eternal? Scientists would say yes and the space-time link seems to suggest so. As the universe expands, it creates space-time, because there is no space outside the universe and no time outside space. The difference is that when time changes, we can measure it. Space is another matter because it can be either full or empty. This makes space as a concept eternal in time, but contingent in content. Therefore, space is eternal in time and time is continuous in space.

To finish this off, think about the following: time is indicative of change in space (a quantitative change), while space is constitutive of time’s change (a qualitative change). So, thinking space without time is possible but it is not an existential possibility.


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