- May 18, 2015
The end of the "Golden Week" holiday marked the halfway point through the EuroPhilosophie Program. The three days beginning from 11 May saw a series of lectures from Professor Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond, physicist and Professor Emeritus of the University of Nice. The lectures, entitled "Epistemology", were true to their name in reaffirming the basic notions and methods of physics from a philosophical perspective, and finally they ventured beyond the rudiments of the philosophy of science with a discussion of the theory of relativity.
The first session, by way of introduction, disussed the "negative philosophical discoveries of physics" (Merleau-Ponty). Modern physics, from its outset, made numerous discoveries of new phenomena, These, at the same time, negated previous philosophical explanations about the world such as heliocentricism. From the end of the 19th century, however, the reach of modern physics extended further, to shake up even the general categories of human thought. In other words, it forced a reexamination, from a basic philosophical viewpoint, of the substantiality of time and space, and materiality.
The second session, on the following day, began with a quotation of well-known words from Galileo. In his The Assayer (1623), Galileo compares the world to a book that is written in the language of mathematics; it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language. What, then, is the language of mathematics? The problem of the relationship between physics and language was central to this second lecture. In the classical period of physics, and indeed in the 19th century, much serious effort was put into devising an annotation for physics, whereas, since the 20th century, this has become a simpler matter (an example given was the term "Big Bang"). We were shown how this trend has also exerted influence over the attitude towards research itself.
The session on the third and last day used a geometric handling of time-space to discuss the theory of relativity. The outcome of theorisation on n-dimensional space, that goes beyond the fourth dimension, was explained using spherical geometry and Euclidean geometry. On top of this, the approach was used to explain Einstein's building of his theory of relativity by treating the speed of light as a measure of time, Bergson's critique on the theory of relativity: the theory of time, and the twin paradox. As conclusion to the lectures, it was shown that this theory - taking a geometric approach to time-space - should, then, be called "chronogeometry" rather than "theory of relativity".