Space and time are the most fundamental features of our experience of the world, and yet they are also the most perplexing. Does time really flow, or is that simply an illusion? Did time have a beginning? What does it mean to say that time has a direction? Does space have boundaries, or is it infinite? Is change really possible? Could space and time exist in the absence of any objects or events? Are our space and time unique, or could there be other, parallel worlds
with their own space and time? What, in the end, are space and time? Do they really exist, or are they simply the constructions of our minds?
Robin Le Poidevin provides a clear, witty, and stimulating introduction to these deep questions, and many other mind-boggling puzzles and paradoxes. He gives a vivid sense of the difficulties raised by our ordinary ideas about space and time, but he also gives us the basis to think about these problems independently, avoiding large amounts of jargon and technicality.
His book is an invitation to think philosophically rather than a sustained argument for particular conclusions, but Le Poidevin does advance and defend a number of controversial views. He argues, for example, that time does not actually flow, that it is possible for space and time to be both finite and yet be without boundaries, and that causation is the key to an understanding of one of the deepest mysteries of time: its direction.
Travels in Four Dimensions draws on a variety of vivid examples and stories from science, history, and literature to bring its questions to life. No prior knowledge of philosophy is required to enjoy this book. The universe might seem very different after reading it.
Robin Le Poidevin is Professor of Metaphysics at the University of Leeds.
Preface ; 1. The Measure of All Things ; 2. Change ; 3. A Box with No Sides? ; 4. Curves and Dimensions ; 5. The Beginning and End of Time ; 6. The Edge of Space ; 7. Infinity and Paradox ; 8. Does Time Pass? ; 9. The Cinematic Universe ; 10. Interfering with History ; 11. Other Times and Spaces ; 12. The Arrows of Time ; Concluding Thoughts ; Mr Dunne's Dream and Other Problems ; Further Reading ; Bibliography ; Index