Abstract of Summer Research–A Philosophical Investigation of Metaphysics of Space and Time

I am Yonghao Wang, a sophomore, and I go by Abe. I came from China to study philosophy and Linguistics here. My summer research will be on the Metaphysics of Space and Time.

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy which studies “being” and existence. It asks about what exists and how things exist. Space and time are two beings that are exceptionally interesting. We cannot touch, hear, see, taste or smell space and time, but we seems to know that they actually exist. But are we right about it? If so, how do they exist? Immanuel Kant, who was one of the most famous philosophers in the world, argues that space and time are not objective but subjective to human understanding. Human have the concepts of space and time because they are the two necessary conditions for humans to have empirical knowledge about the external world. The representation of objects is necessarily based on our concept of space, i.e. that we cannot know anything about objects if our minds cannot imagine the objects being in space; the representation of events and relationships between events (e.g. causality) are necessarily based on time, i.e. that we cannot know something happens if we cannot use the framework of time. Kant is not necessarily right about space and time, but we do see that an understanding of space and time is essential for an understanding of being and existence in general. Therefore, this research means to explore the nature of space and time in order to lay a concrete foundation for the understanding of metaphysics. Research questions include:

1) Is the concept of “now” subjective to human beings or objective in nature?

2) Is time travel possible and how?

3) Is space dependent on objects or are objects dependent on space?

More questions may be discovered and investigated as the project goes on.


  1. haoyukuan says:

    Hi Abe, this is a really interesting topic. I am also curious about how the concept of time and space itself is perceived in our daily life. However it seems to me that we can perceive time and space on a sensual level. Suppose I am cooking dinner. Then I would know that time had past by the smelling of the food. We are able to perceive the changes in different materials, thus time itself.
    Suppose time functions completely against our human instincts that we are uncapable of perceive it on a sensual level, then what is the purpose of studying them?