Segments in this Video

Meet the Panelists (02:22)


Debate moderator Hilary Lawson discusses the philosophy that views space and time as mode of thought. She introduces philosopher Michela Massimi, philosopher Huw Price, and theoretical physicist Julian Barbour.

Michela Massimi: the Pitch (04:19)

Massimi references Newton's 18th century absolute time and space debate. Immanuel Kant distinguished our knowledge of space and time from the metaphysical question of whether they are real. She argues that his a priori views of the former are still valid.

Huw Price: the Pitch (03:16)

Price defines an ordinary, human conception of time and a physics conception of time without past, present or future. He argues that we must decide how to use the term when debating its existence.

Julian Barbour: the Pitch (04:37)

Barbour describes Newton's idea of absolute space, and Leibniz's idea that space is the order of coexisting things. He argues that space is the order of coexisting facts, based on algebraic calculations of distance measurements. The angular relationship between facts tells us space exists.

Theme One: Are Space and Time Real? (06:24)

Recent research showing our brains are hard wired to perceive three dimensional Euclidean space reflects a Kantian view that space cannot be independent from the human mind. Barbour wonders whether fish living in shoals have the same spatial awareness as terrestrial species.

Theme Two: Placing Ourselves in Space and Time (06:48)

Price says we should distinguish between conventional and physics concepts of space. He argues that reality is on a continuum between human subjectivity and scientific objectivity. Conceptualizing time as a river or as the present are both valid.

Theme Three: What's Out There? - Part One (07:24)

Barbour agrees with Leibniz's view of time as a succession of coexisting things, or facts. He imagines time as a continual present state; the space of possibilities is all possible "nows." There are many versions of ourselves representing all the moments in which we lived.

What's Out There? - Part Two (06:11)

Massimi says we must use indexicals to position ourselves in space and time. Kant said we can think of empty space but we cannot represent the absence of space. Price says we cannot conceptualize being outside space and time because "outside" is a spatial concept.

What's Out There? - Part Three (04:17)

Barbour discusses Leibniz' idea that all fundamental entities in the world are sentient beings representing different views of the universe. He says we change constantly on a microscopic biological scale, and he believes we are manifestations of the universe, rather than autonomous beings.

Credits: Time, Space and Being: Are Space and Time Just a Human Fantasy? (00:06)

Credits: Time, Space and Being: Are Space and Time Just a Human Fantasy?

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Time, Space and Being: Are Space and Time Just a Human Fantasy?

Part of the Series : Institute of Art and Ideas: Cutting Edge Debates and Talks from the World's Leading Thinkers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
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3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



We think space and time are the structure of the universe. Yet Einstein argued 'space and time are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.' And philosophers, Kant and Heidegger, saw space and time as the framework of thought not the world. Are space and time just a human fantasy?

The Panel

Physicist and author of The End of Time Julian Barbour, Cambridge metaphysician Huw Price and philosopher of science Michela Massimi think outside space and time.

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL115765

ISBN: 978-1-63521-118-4

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.