Critical Notices/Études critiques

Graham Nerlich: The Shape of Space

C.A. Hookera1

a1 University of Western Ontario

Space (better: space-time) is a particular, the particular thing structuring our world. It has shape. And size. And reference to space and its properties is fundamental to physical explanation. This, in a nutshell, is Nerlich's position. Espousing it Nerlich marches against the tide of philosophical opinion which dominated the first half or more of this century.

His arguments are laid out in a wholly enjoyable book: clearly and simply written, ‘meaty’ in argument and lucid in explanation. The book does not have the same technical scope in theoretical physics as do its relevant companions (e.g., Earman et al. [2], Grunbaum [3], Sklar [16], Winnie [18]). Rather, the book is a sustained argument aimed at establishing the theses with which I began and its content has been selected accordingly. But the clarity of presentation and consistency of argument recommend it as a major contribution to the field. It is especially to be recommended to the non-technical philosopher. And there is another important reason for commending it: much of the argumentation of the book is not to be found elsewhere, it fills an important gap in the field. I need hardly add that I find myself in sympathy with Nerlich's position.