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Author Topic:   The Ultimate Question - Why is there something rather than nothing?
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 51 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 286 of 366 (628442)
08-09-2011 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 285 by PaulK
08-09-2011 1:49 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
PaulK writes:

bluegenes writes:

The possibility of the existence of nothing as an alternative to something is implied in the question. Don't you agree?

No, I don't. The question as asked does not rule out necessity as a possible explanation, even by implication.

Your answer doesn't make sense.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 285 by PaulK, posted 08-09-2011 1:49 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 287 by PaulK, posted 08-09-2011 2:50 PM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 10841
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 287 of 366 (628443)
08-09-2011 2:50 PM
Reply to: Message 286 by bluegenes
08-09-2011 2:47 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
quote:

Your answer doesn't make sense.

You mean that you don't understand it. Let's try again. The question does not deny - even by implication - that it might be the case that it is necessary that something exists.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 286 by bluegenes, posted 08-09-2011 2:47 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 288 by bluegenes, posted 08-09-2011 3:01 PM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 51 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 288 of 366 (628444)
08-09-2011 3:01 PM
Reply to: Message 287 by PaulK
08-09-2011 2:50 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
PaulK writes:

You mean that you don't understand it.

No. I meant what I said.

PaulK writes:

The question does not deny - even by implication - that it might be the case that it is necessary that something exists.

I know. Look up the word possibility.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 287 by PaulK, posted 08-09-2011 2:50 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 289 by PaulK, posted 08-09-2011 3:11 PM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 10841
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 289 of 366 (628445)
08-09-2011 3:11 PM
Reply to: Message 288 by bluegenes
08-09-2011 3:01 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
quote:

No. I meant what I said.

Then you're wrong.

quote:

I know. Look up the word possibility.

Then you know that the answer makes sense - and answers the question as written.

If the problem is that your question is ambiguous then it is up to you to clarify.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 288 by bluegenes, posted 08-09-2011 3:01 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 290 by bluegenes, posted 08-09-2011 5:57 PM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 51 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 290 of 366 (628462)
08-09-2011 5:57 PM
Reply to: Message 289 by PaulK
08-09-2011 3:11 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
PaulK writes:

Then you know that the answer makes sense - and answers the question as written.

The question is clear. You say that you disagree, then make a statement that doesn't contradict mine.

That doesn't make sense.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 289 by PaulK, posted 08-09-2011 3:11 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by PaulK, posted 08-09-2011 6:08 PM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 10841
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 291 of 366 (628463)
08-09-2011 6:08 PM
Reply to: Message 290 by bluegenes
08-09-2011 5:57 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
quote:

The question is clear. You say that you disagree, then make a statement that doesn't contradict mine.

Since I gave a perfectly valid answer to the question as written, and since you reject it as not making sense then either you don't understand the answer or your question was ambiguous and the answer does not fit the meaning you intended. It has to be one or the other.

So tell me precisely what sense of "possible" is intended in your question.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 290 by bluegenes, posted 08-09-2011 5:57 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 292 by bluegenes, posted 08-10-2011 2:56 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 51 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 292 of 366 (628507)
08-10-2011 2:56 AM
Reply to: Message 291 by PaulK
08-09-2011 6:08 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
PaulK writes:

bluegenes writes:

The possibility of the existence of nothing as an alternative to something is implied in the question. Don't you agree?

No, I don't. The question as asked does not rule out necessity as a possible explanation, even by implication.

You answer that you disagree. You then state (correctly) that the "question as asked does not rule out necessity as a possible explanation, even by implication".

That doesn't explain "no I don't", which was why I said you weren't making sense. From the perspective of the questioner, the two statements are compatible.

So, why do you disagree that the question implies the possibility of the existence of nothing as an alternative to something?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 291 by PaulK, posted 08-09-2011 6:08 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 293 by PaulK, posted 08-10-2011 3:35 AM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 10841
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 293 of 366 (628511)
08-10-2011 3:35 AM
Reply to: Message 292 by bluegenes
08-10-2011 2:56 AM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
quote:

You answer that you disagree. You then state (correctly) that the "question as asked does not rule out necessity as a possible explanation, even by implication".

Ok, so I disagree and I'm right to disagree. What's the problem ?

quote:

That doesn't explain "no I don't", which was why I said you weren't making sense. From the perspective of the questioner, the two statements are compatible

I would say that the falsehood of the claim is a good reason for disagreeing with it. And if you really understood my answer then you've just agreed that your claim WAS false.

Not sure what two statements you're referring to so I'll pass on that bit until you explain.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 292 by bluegenes, posted 08-10-2011 2:56 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 296 by bluegenes, posted 08-16-2011 2:32 AM PaulK has responded

  
kowalskil 
Suspended Member (Idle past 241 days)
Posts: 15
From: Fort Lee, NJ, USA
Joined: 11-27-2010


Message 294 of 366 (628640)
08-11-2011 4:49 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Adequate
07-20-2011 1:58 AM


You wrote:

"Why is there something rather than nothing?
Some initial thoughts:

* God would not constitute an explanation, since God counts as something.

* Indeed, if anything constituted an explanation then the existence of everything was contingent on that thing, then that thing would stand in need of an explanation, and so wouldn't be the answer we were looking for.

* This last consideration makes the question look unanswerable. To explain my thinking, consider that a question beginning "Why ..." invites an answer describing some thing which is an antecedent cause, or at least something with a sort of family resemblance to an antecedent cause.

* Any attempt to prove a priori that there should be something rather than nothing would necessarily involve proving that a state of affairs in which nothing existed would be self-inconsistent. Which it isn't.

My own opinion is that the question is unanswerable, and indeed can only be asked because the English language allows us to talk nonsense. This view does not satisfy me in the slightest, but as I am in the habit of saying, being hungry does not prove that we have bread."

==========================================

Yes, a language does allow us to formulate nonsensical questions. What you are probably asking is "does God exist or not." This question is not nonsensical, provided the word "exist" is clearly defined. God does not exist as a material entity. But God does exist as a spiritual entity.

Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)
.


Ludwik Kowalski, a retired nuclear scientist and the author of a free ON-LINE book entitled “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

It is an autobiography illustrating my evolution from one extreme to another--from a devoted Stalinist to an active anti-communist. This testimony is based on a diary I kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

Why am I distributing these books on-line, instead of selling them for profit? Because I want to share what I know and think about communism. The more people know about proletarian dictatorship less likely will they experience is. Please share the above link with those who might be interested, especially with young people, and with potential reviewers. Thank you in advance.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-20-2011 1:58 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 295 by Dr Adequate, posted 08-11-2011 6:53 PM kowalskil has not yet responded

  
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 12837
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 295 of 366 (628648)
08-11-2011 6:53 PM
Reply to: Message 294 by kowalskil
08-11-2011 4:49 PM


What you are probably asking is "does God exist or not."

I have made it exceedingly clear that that is not in any way what I am asking.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 294 by kowalskil, posted 08-11-2011 4:49 PM kowalskil has not yet responded

bluegenes
Member (Idle past 51 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 296 of 366 (629130)
08-16-2011 2:32 AM
Reply to: Message 293 by PaulK
08-10-2011 3:35 AM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
PaulK writes:

Not sure what two statements you're referring to so I'll pass on that bit until you explain.

What I was thinking was that, as the questioner doesn't know the answer to his question, then both "the possibility of nothingness" and "the necessity of something" could be answers from his point of view.

But the question itself may not be answerable by "necessity", although it would be nice to be able to do so. Even if we appeared to have a good case for necessity on one level (from future physics, perhaps), the questioner can always say "But why are we in a reality in which something is necessary?"

Read that way, the question seems as though it's always unanswerable in any conclusive way.

In this abstract, the author calls the Leibniz version of the question the "Primordial Existential Question" (PEQ). Do you think that he's reading the question in the wrong way?

Adolf Grünbaum abstract


This message is a reply to:
 Message 293 by PaulK, posted 08-10-2011 3:35 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 297 by PaulK, posted 08-16-2011 1:17 PM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 10841
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 297 of 366 (629229)
08-16-2011 1:17 PM
Reply to: Message 296 by bluegenes
08-16-2011 2:32 AM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness
quote:

What I was thinking was that, as the questioner doesn't know the answer to his question, then both "the possibility of nothingness" and "the necessity of something" could be answers from his point of view.

That doesn't make a lot of sense. If you had been suggesting something as trivial as "the questioner doesn't know that it is necessary that something exist" then what's the point ? Any non-rhetorical question implies (not assumes !) that the questioner doesn't know the answer.

quote:

But the question itself may not be answerable by "necessity", although it would be nice to be able to do so. Even if we appeared to have a good case for necessity on one level (from future physics, perhaps), the questioner can always say "But why are we in a reality in which something is necessary?"

You know, I already dealt with this way back at the start of the thread...

quote:

In this abstract, the author calls the Leibniz version of the question the "Primordial Existential Question" (PEQ). Do you think that he's reading the question in the wrong way?

That's a DIFFERENT question.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 296 by bluegenes, posted 08-16-2011 2:32 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 298 by bluegenes, posted 08-17-2011 3:33 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 51 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 298 of 366 (629342)
08-17-2011 3:33 AM
Reply to: Message 297 by PaulK
08-16-2011 1:17 PM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness/interesting angle on the O.P. question.
PaulK writes:

That's a DIFFERENT question.

Yes. But Leibniz also asked: "Why is there something rather than nothing", and asked for "a full reason why there should be any world rather than none".

Grünbaum approaches all three questions in a similar way. These questions are not your preferred "Why are things the way they are?" The clause "rather than nothing" is central to the O.P. question. A specific alternative to the current reality, "nothingness", is suggested.

Grünbaum attacks the "nothing" alternative. Some of the things he says are similar to some things I've been saying. He sees "nothingness" as being largely a religious invention, and claims that people have it the wrong way round. The Christian philosophers who ask the question tend to express amazement that there's something, and to regard "nothing" as simpler and more natural. He argues the case that there's no logical reason or empirical reason to perceive nothing as "natural".

As I pointed out further up the thread, it's far more reasonable to regard "nothing world" as requiring a creator god then "something world". We have no empirical evidence that it ever could have existed, and it's faulty logic to perceive "nothing" as "easier" than something, as I tried to explain with my forest/not forest analogy.

But here's Grünbaum in a brief article making his case.

Grünbaum pdf

This is certainly relevant to the way in which the question "Why is there something rather than nothing" comes up on EvC discussion boards like this one.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 297 by PaulK, posted 08-16-2011 1:17 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 299 by PaulK, posted 08-17-2011 3:42 AM bluegenes has responded
 Message 304 by Dr Adequate, posted 08-17-2011 9:04 PM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 10841
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 299 of 366 (629344)
08-17-2011 3:42 AM
Reply to: Message 298 by bluegenes
08-17-2011 3:33 AM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness/interesting angle on the O.P. question.
Wrong again. Leibniz's question is about why contingent entities exist, which is different in subtle but important ways.

Also, the problem with your attack is that it obscures the importance of the actual question, which does not rely on the assumption that nothingness is more likely or even possible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 298 by bluegenes, posted 08-17-2011 3:33 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 300 by bluegenes, posted 08-17-2011 4:28 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 51 days)
Posts: 2812
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 300 of 366 (629347)
08-17-2011 4:28 AM
Reply to: Message 299 by PaulK
08-17-2011 3:42 AM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness/interesting angle on the O.P. question.
PaulK writes:

Wrong again. Leibniz's question is about why contingent entities exist, which is different in subtle but important ways.

Leibniz also asks the O.P. question word for word, and Grünbaum attacks it for the same reason. He realises the importance of the clause "rather than nothing".

"Why is there "x" rather than "y"" is not the same as asking "How did "x" come about".

Here's cosmologist Sean Carroll agreeing with Adolf Grünbaum, and reading the question in the same way. Sean Carroll


This message is a reply to:
 Message 299 by PaulK, posted 08-17-2011 3:42 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 301 by PaulK, posted 08-17-2011 4:51 AM bluegenes has responded

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