On the Mathematical Representation of Spacetime: A Case Study in Bewitchment by Algebra

Joseph K. Cosgrove, Providence College

Type Conference Proceeding


This paper argues that the concept of “Minkowski spacetime” (specifically, the so-called “spacetime interval”) is a physically incoherent, notational artifact of the symbolic method of representation employed in mathematical physics. I show that the concept of Minkowski spacetime, generalized in general relativity as a “semi-Riemannian manifold,” is unnecessary to the formulation of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and that therefore, the aforementioned notion of “spacetime” should be discarded as a concept of mathematical physics, as it does not and cannot give a true description of the physical world. It follows that spacetime physics can provide no support for the philosophical concept of so-called “block time” or “eternalism.