{jctv}//spacetime// Back to philosophy




An early attempt at a Spherology

Because the medieval universe is finite, it has a shape, the perfect spherical shape, containing within itself an ordered variety. Hence to look out on the night sky with modern eyes is like looking out over a sea that fades away into the mist, or looking about one in a trackless forest - trees forever and no horizon. To look up at the towering medieval universe is much more like looking at a great building. The "space" of modern astronomy may arouse terror, or bewilderment or vague reverie; the spheres of the old present us with an object in which the mind can rest, overwhelming in its greatness but satisfying in its harmony. That is the sense in which our universe is romantic, and theirs was classical. The Medieval Model [of the Universe] is vertiginous. And the fact that the height of the stars in the medieval astronomy is very small compared with their distance in the modern, will turn out not to have the kind of importance you anticipated. For thought and imagination, ten million miles and a thousand million are much the same. Both can be conceived (that is we can do sums with both) and neither can be imagined; and the more imagination we have the better we shall know this. The really important difference is that the medieval universe, while unimaginably large, was also unambiguously finite. And one unexpected result of this is to make the smallness of the Earth more vividly felt. In our universe she is small, no doubt; but so are the galaxies, so is everything - and so what? But in theirs there was an absolute standard of comparison. The furthest sphere, Dante's maggior corpo, is, quite simply and finally, the largest object in existence. The word "small" as applied to earth thus takes on a far more absolute significance.

C.S. Lewis, quoted in W.H. Auden,  A Certain World, A Common Place Book, 1970

Voor opa was het doodgaan

[...] niet zoiets als nacht:

Het was de steeds grotere ruimte

Die hij voor zichzelf had bedacht.


Willem Wilmink, (1936) “Opa” uit: ik had als kind een huis en haard (1996)


Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub; It is on the hole in the centre that the use of the car hinges We make a vessel from a lump of clay; It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful; We make doors and windows for a room; It is these empty spaces that make the room liveable; Thus while the tangible has advantages; It is the intangible that makes it useful

Lao Tzu (c. 550 BC) Chapter 11 of Tao Teh Ching

Possible Subjects

The Substance of Space Empty Space: Nothingness Full Space: Ether The In-Between Mythical Space: Breaking Space Epiphany/ Hierophany Event & Initiation Sacred and Profane: Hierarchy Axis Mundi Transcendence & Allegory Erotic Space: Desire/Voyeurism/Fantasy & Film Dimensional Space: Space-Time & Measurement Carving, Moulding, Shaping and Cutting Space: Ontology of Matter & Style Flowing Space: Movement and stillness, Continuity and Division Conceptual Space: Thought and Memory as Landscape; Narrative, Travel and Architecture Measuring Space: Space-Time & Light Philosophical Space Simile & Metaphor Analogy A history of Space Describing space Experiencing space Consuming space Producing  space

Space, OED Speis, sb ME. [Aphetic – (o) Fr. Espace L. Spatium. I. Denoting time or duration 1. Without article: Lapse or extent of time between two definite points. 2. Time, leisure, or opportunity of doing something. II. Denoting area or extension. 1. Linear Distance: Interval between two or more points or objects. 2 Area or extent sufficient for some purpose. 3. Metaph. Continuous, Unbounded, or unlimited extension in every direction, regarded as a void of matter
space (spâs) noun a. Mathematics. A set of elements or points satisfying specified geometric postulates: non-Euclidean space. b. The infinite extension of the three-dimensional field in which all matter exists. 2.  a. The expanse in which the solar system, stars, and galaxies exist; the universe. b. The region of this expanse beyond Earth's atmosphere. 3.  A blank or empty area: the spaces between words. 4.  An area provided for a particular purpose: a parking space. 5.  Reserved or available accommodation on a public transportation vehicle. 6.  a. A period or interval of time. b. A little while: Let's rest for a space. 7.  Sufficient freedom from external pressure to develop or explore one's needs, interests, and individuality: “The need for personal space inevitably asserts itself” (Maggie Scarf). 8.  Music. One of the intervals between the lines of a staff. 9.  Printing. One of the blank pieces of type or other means used for separating words or characters. 10.One of the intervals during the telegraphic transmission of a message when the key is open or not in contact. 11.Blank sections in printed material or broadcast time available for use by advertisers.
to space, verb, transitive 1.  To organize or arrange with spaces between. 2.  To separate or keep apart. 3.  Slang. To stupefy or disorient from or as if from a drug. Often used with out: The antihistamine spaces me out so I can't think clearly. verb, intransitive Slang. To be or become stupefied or disoriented. Often used with out: I was supposed to meet her, but I spaced out and forgot.
Space Thesaurus space, expanse, expansion extension, spatial extension, extent, superficial extent, surface, area, volume, cubic content, continuum, stretch, continuity, space-time, time, empty space, emptiness, depth of space, abyss, depth, roominess, unlimited space, infinite space, infiniteness, infinitude, infinity, sky, aerospace, airspace, outer space, interstellar space, heavens, world, length and breadth of the land, vastness, immensity, vastitude, geographical space, terrain, open space, open country, green belt, wide horizons, wide open spaces, plain, upland, meadowland, campagna, veld, prairie, steppe, grassland, outback, hinterland, region , wild, wilderness, wilds, waste, desert, everywhere, ubiquity, presence, quantity: area, volume, extension, space, greatness: expanse, area, volume, capacity, space, disunion: interval, breathing space, space, opening, hole, breach, break, rent, rift, tear, split, inclusion: capacity, volume, measure, space, measurement, infinity: infinite space, outer space, space, time: span, space, period, room: room, space, accommodation, district: green belt, space, size: extent, expanse, area, space, distance: distance, astronomical distance, light years, depths of space, space, interval: interval, distance between, space, opening: hiatus, lacuna, space, interval, gat, gap, open space: open space, space, air: open air, open, out of doors, exposure, space, plain: bush, veld, range, open country, flat country, rolling country, space, notation: line, ledger line, space, brace, print type: space, hair space, quad, storage: storage, storage space, shelf-room, space, accommodation, room, space, interval, space out, place at intervals, set apart, crack, split, start, gape, dehisce, open, win by a head, win by a length, win by a mile, clear, show daylight between, lattice, mesh, reticulate, arrange: grade, size, group, space, grade: stagger, space out, space, graduate, open: space out, space
Makom Hebrew makom and Greek topos (τόπος). The literal meaning of these two terms is the same, namely “place,” and even the scope of connotations is virtually the sameEither term denotes: area, region, province; the room occupied by a person or an object, or by a community of persons or arrangements of objects
Chaos (Physica, Book 4, Chs. 1-5) Aristotle suggests (208b 29) that Hesiod's “Chaos” was one of the earliest (Greek) designations for space, or perhaps universe, and he also quotes line 116 of Hesiod's Theogony: “First of all things was Chaos, and next broad-bosomed Earth.”
Cosmos Homeric, The basic meaning in Homer is “order,” and throughout the length of antiquity this original meaning remained active amidst many figurative ones. This “order” began to be “universe,” by way of “world-order,” in the following saying of Heraclitus of Ephesus (Diels, frag. 30): This cosmos did none of the gods or men make, but it always was and is and shall be; an ever living fire, kindling in measures and going out in measures (Kirk and Raven, The Pre-Socratic Philosphers, 1984, p. 199)
Apeiron Infinity without a direct suggestion of space. Anaximander, the younger compatriot of Thales, denoted by it a generative substance of the universe (Kirk and Raven, Ch. 3)Aristotle's Physica. Book 4 of this treatise is made up of three essays, on place (Chs. 1-5), on void (Chs. 6-9), and on time (Chs. 10-14). Now, immediately preceding these essays (Book 3, Chs. 4-8) is an essay on apeiron, as if to indicate that there is a close link between infinity and space (and void)
Kenon (“Void”). Early Pythagorean philosophy, identified space with kenon, which literally means “void.” in the Physica, Aristotle has a passage about Pythagoreans which links kenon with apeiron (“infinity”), pneuma (“breath”), ouranos (“heaven”), and arithmos (“number”): The Pythagoreans, too, held that the void exists and that breath and void enter from the infinite into the heaven itself, which as it were inhales; the void distinguishes the nature of things, being a kind of separating and distinguishing factor between terms in series. This happens primarily in the case of numbers; for the void distinguishes their nature (Physica 4, 6; 213b 22-28; Kirk and Raven, p. 252)
Pneuma Breath
Chora and Topos In Plato's creation myth in the Timaeus space-in-the-making, that is, space in its cosmogonic nascency and formation, is called chora (χω̃ρα), but after its creation has been completed it is called topos
Spatium Latin, space (English), espace (French), spazio (Italian), espacio (Spanish), etc. Cicero uses the expression spatium praeteriti temporis, in the meaning of: “the space (i.e., interval) of time gone by,”

On Space and Time and the body see Herni Bergson, Merleau Ponty

Select Bibliography
  Anthony Vidler, Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture, 2002
1 August Schmarsow, Der Werth der Dimensionen im menschlichen Raumgebilde. - Leipzig, Hirzel, 1896. - S. 44 - 61
2 August Schmarsow, Das Wesen der architektonischen Schöpfung : Antrittsvorlesung, gehalten in der Aula der K. Universität Leipzig am 8. November 1893 Leipzig, Hiersemann, 1894.
3 Bernard, Tschumi, "Questions of Space"
4 Bill Hillier, space is the Machine: A Configurational Theory of Architecture, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999.
5 Christian Norberg Schulz, Urban Space, in Meaning in Architecture,1985
6 David Farell, Krell, Architecture: Ecstasies of Space, Time, and the Human Body, 1997
7 E. Grosz, Space, Time and Perversion, St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1995
8 Edward S. Casey, The Fate of Place, A Philsophical History, Univ. of Calif. Press, Berekeley, 1998
9 Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. Verso Books, 1997
10 Frederick Kiesler, Notes on Architecture: The Space House, Annotation at Randon, Hound and Horn 3 (January March 1934):296
11 Gaston Bachelard, La poetique de l'espace, Paris 1957
12 Georges Perec, Espèces d'Èspace, Paris, 2000
13 Harry Francis Mallgrave, Eleftherios Ikonomou, Empathy, Form and Space, Problems in German Aesthetics, Getty, Santa Monica, 1994
14 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, Blackwell Publishers, 1991, D. Nicholson Smith (Transl.)
15 Hubert Damisch, "The Space Between: A Structuralist Approach to the Dictionnaire," Architectural Design Profile 27, v. 50, nos. 3/4, 1980, pp. 88-89.
16 Iain Borden, Jane Rendell, Joe Kerr with Alicia Pivaro (eds.)., The Unknown City: Contesting Architecture and Social Space, MIT Press, 2001 
17 Iain Borden, 'Playtime: 'Tativille' and Paris', Neil Leach (ed.), The Hieroglyphics of Space: Reading and Experiencing the Modern Metropolis, (Routledge, 2002), pp. 217-33. 
18 Iain Borden, Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body, Berg, London, 2001
19 Jane Rendell, Barbara Penner and Iain Borden (eds.)., Gender Space Architecture: an Interdisciplinary Introduction, Routledge, London,1999
20 Klaus, Benesch and Kerstin Schmidt, eds. Space in America: theory, history, culture. Rodopi, New York, 2005
21 M.P. Pearson & Richards, C., Ordering the World: Perceptions of Architecture, Space and Time, 1994
22 Mary McLeod, "Everyday and "other" spaces," in Architecture and Feminism, (1996) Debra Coleman red.
23 Michel Foucault. Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias. Maart 1967. French journal Architecture/Mouvement/Continuité. oktober 1984. vertaald in het Engels door Jay Miskowiec.
Mike Crang, Thinking Space, Critical Geographies, 2000
25 Mircea Eliade, Sacred Space and Making the World Sacred, 1959
26 Mircea Eliade and Willard R. Trask, The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1987
27 Mitchel W. Schwarzer, The emergence of architectural space: August Schmarsow's Theory of Raumgestaltung, Assemblage, 1991, aug no 15, 48-61
28 Neil Leach (ed.), The Hieroglyphics of Space: Reading and Experiencing the Modern Metropolis, Routledge, London, 2002
29 Paul J. Lane, The Temporal Structuring of Settlement Space Among the Dogon of Mali: An Ethnoarchaeological Study, 1994
30 Paul Virilio, L'Espace Critique, 1984
31 Peter Sloterdijk, Sferen I & II, and Schuim, Boom, Amsterdam, 2002 & 2009
32 Phil J Hubbard, Rob Kitchin and Gill Valentine, (eds.) Key Thinkers on Space and Place, Sage, LA, 2007
33 Reyner Banham, The Architecture of the well-tempered environment, 1969
34 Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time, and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition. 5th ed., rev. and enl. Cambridge, MA 1967: Harvard University Press.
35 William James, "The perception of space", in: The Principles of Psychology, 1890
36 Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, 2001


Contact me at: jacob@voorthuis.net

copyright © jacob voorthuis 1994-2012 All written material on this site is copyrighted.  Please cite Jacob Voorthuis as the author and Voorthuis.net as the publisher.