Philosophy of Nature, the Puzzle of the Universe, Space-time, and Einstein


Dr. Ronald Muller

Saturday, July 30, 9:30-3:00 p.m.

Ambrose House of Studies

736 East Cork Street, Kalamazoo, Mi 49001

Please join the Newman Community for a day of inquiry and discussion regarding philosophy’s oldest question: What is the Cosmos?

In light of the stunning discoveries of modern physics and astronomy, Dr. Ronald Muller will direct a morning and afternoon seminar concerning the intersection of metaphysics, philosophy, mathematics, and physics in the quest to understand the ultimate fabric and dynamic structure of the universe.

With reference to Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kant, and Einstein, the seminar will examine the traditional concepts of space, time, and matter then explore the contemporary understanding of these realities  in recent  theories of relativity, space-time, and gravitation.


· The starting point: Realism or Idealism?

· Space and time in Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton

· Material reality and the uniform laws of physics

· Understanding the nature of gravity: Galileo and Newton

· Understanding the nature of light: the Michelson-Morley Experiment

· Einstein, Special Relativity, and the Invariant Speed of Light

· The space-time Matrix

· The General Theory of Relativity: gravitation & the curvature of space

· Minkowski space and Lorentz transformations

· The expanding universe


9:30                meet and greet

10:00-11:00   First session

11:00-11:15    break

11:15-12:15    Second session

12:15—1:00    lunch

1:00 –2:15     Afternoon session

Recommended background reading

Albert Einstein, Relativity

Bertram Russell, ABC of Relativity

Martin Gardner,  Relativity for the Million

James A. Coleman, Relativity for the Layman

Sir Arthur Eddington, Space, time and gravitation: an outline of the general relativity theory


What is the universe?  What is it composed of?

Does the universe exist apart from the mind or is it in some way constituted by the mind according to how the mind thinks?

Is the universe governed by uniform physical laws?

Is there a center of the universe? Can the universe expand infinitely?

Is space a mental construct as Kant proposed or a plenum existing in the physical world?

What is the relation between space and bodies occupying space?

Can empty space exist?

What is time if not the progression of the present into the future?

At this moment of time on the earth (the present) is there a corresponding moment, a corresponding “present,” on distant galaxies?






The Seminar


The Cosmology seminar is offered as a propaedeutical introduction to the philosophy of nature concerning the whole of nature or the universe.  The seminar is intended for students and scholars with diverse backgrounds in the liberal arts, the humanities, theology, law, medicine, philosophy, and science.


Registration fee: $25.00— includes  refreshments, lunch, and photo-copy materials.


To register for the seminar -> Click here