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Author Topic:   The Ultimate Question - Why is there something rather than nothing?
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 640 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 16 of 366 (624870)
07-20-2011 1:17 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Adequate
07-20-2011 1:58 AM


Self-inconsistent?
Dr Adequate writes:

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.

Are you sure about this one? Isn't a "state"* something? Don't we have a problem with the idea of nothingness existing, as this would give it the state of existence?

To put it another way, wouldn't nothingness involve the absence of everything? But isn't absence a state, meaning that in nothingness something is present? Therefore, not everything is absent.

Have you got a headache yet?

Dr Adequate writes:

My own opinion is that the question is unanswerable, and indeed can only be asked because the English language allows us to talk nonsense.

The word nothing may be a nonsense term. Whenever we use it to describe a real area (there's nothing in the room; there's nothing in space) there is always actually something.

If I'm right, then the answer to your question would be "necessity". Pure nothing can't be real, because reality is something.

*Nothing is No thing. I just looked up "thing", and the fifth definition in the first online dictionary that came up uses your exact phrase: "state of affairs".

a fact, circumstance, or state of affairs: It is a curious thing.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/thing

No-thing perhaps would be a curious and self-inconsistent thing, and a strange state of affairs.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-20-2011 1:58 AM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by AZPaul3, posted 07-20-2011 1:33 PM bluegenes has responded
 Message 23 by ZenMonkey, posted 07-20-2011 5:26 PM bluegenes has responded

AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 4081
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 17 of 366 (624873)
07-20-2011 1:33 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by bluegenes
07-20-2011 1:17 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
Are you sure about this one? Isn't a "state"* something? Don't we have a problem with the idea of nothingness existing, as this would give it the state of existence?

For the purposes of the OP I took "something" vs "nothing" to mean the the presence vs absence of matter/energy, not "ideas".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by bluegenes, posted 07-20-2011 1:17 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by bluegenes, posted 07-20-2011 2:39 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 267 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 18 of 366 (624880)
07-20-2011 2:18 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by AZPaul3
07-20-2011 1:17 PM


Re: Two Speculations
I rather think any notion of a universe coming into existence is an assumption of something.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by AZPaul3, posted 07-20-2011 1:17 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by AZPaul3, posted 07-20-2011 5:42 PM Dr Jack has responded

bluegenes
Member (Idle past 640 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 19 of 366 (624882)
07-20-2011 2:39 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by AZPaul3
07-20-2011 1:33 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
AZPaul writes:

For the purposes of the OP I took "something" vs "nothing" to mean the the presence vs absence of matter/energy, not "ideas".

"Nothingness" may actually just be one of our ideas. I'd be the last person to suggest that "ideas" would exist without matter and energy, and without biological creatures there to have them. Try GDR for that. But I suppose I am talking about abstracts.

The difficulty seems to be that if we try to conceive pure nothingness, we come up with something. We have phrases like " there was nothing but emptiness". In that phrase, emptiness is seen as the exception to nothing; as something.

If we use a phrase like "in the beginning, there was nothing", we've used a tense of the verb "to be", and turned "nothing" into something which existed, because it "was".

Someone might claim "there could be such a thing as pure nothingness", but they've implied that nothingness would be a thing (not a no-thing) if it did exist.

Maybe we don't have the language to cope with real "nothing" (another contradictory phrase).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by AZPaul3, posted 07-20-2011 1:33 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by AZPaul3, posted 07-20-2011 3:53 PM bluegenes has not yet responded
 Message 21 by 1.61803, posted 07-20-2011 4:14 PM bluegenes has responded

AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 4081
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 20 of 366 (624895)
07-20-2011 3:53 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by bluegenes
07-20-2011 2:39 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
If we use a phrase like "in the beginning, there was nothing", we've used a tense of the verb "to be", and turned "nothing" into something which existed, because it "was"

Your headache is contagious. Stop it!

Take two Advil, have a little lie down and think "matter/energy, matter/energy, matter/energy". You'll be fine in the morning.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by bluegenes, posted 07-20-2011 2:39 PM bluegenes has not yet responded

1.61803
Member
Posts: 2838
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 21 of 366 (624899)
07-20-2011 4:14 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by bluegenes
07-20-2011 2:39 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
"nothing exist" is a oxymoron. Is that right?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by bluegenes, posted 07-20-2011 2:39 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by bluegenes, posted 07-20-2011 5:51 PM 1.61803 has responded

GDR
Member
Posts: 4814
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 22 of 366 (624926)
07-20-2011 5:20 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Dr Adequate
07-20-2011 12:55 PM


Dr Adequate writes:

That would count as something. You don't answer the question by postulating one thing which explains everything else.

OK.
Does consciousness count as something?
Does intelligence or wisdom count as something?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-20-2011 12:55 PM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by PaulK, posted 07-20-2011 5:45 PM GDR has responded
 Message 31 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-21-2011 12:21 AM GDR has not yet responded

  
ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 2673 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 23 of 366 (624929)
07-20-2011 5:26 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by bluegenes
07-20-2011 1:17 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
bluegenes writes:

To put it another way, wouldn't nothingness involve the absence of everything? But isn't absence a state, meaning that in nothingness something is present? Therefore, not everything is absent.

If you can imagine even an absence of absence, I think that that would come pretty close to the idea of true nothing.


Your beliefs do not effect reality and evidently reality does not effect your beliefs.
-Theodoric

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
-Steven Colbert

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.
- John Stuart Mill


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by bluegenes, posted 07-20-2011 1:17 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 4081
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 24 of 366 (624934)
07-20-2011 5:42 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Dr Jack
07-20-2011 2:18 PM


Re: Two Speculations
I rather think any notion of a universe coming into existence is an assumption of something.

I can see that but I won't admit it and I'll ask anyway.

Why?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Dr Jack, posted 07-20-2011 2:18 PM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by Dr Jack, posted 07-21-2011 4:27 AM AZPaul3 has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15022
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 25 of 366 (624935)
07-20-2011 5:45 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by GDR
07-20-2011 5:20 PM


quote:

Does consciousness count as something?
Does intelligence or wisdom count as something?

Even if you discount abstract entities as counting as "something" it is hard to say that intelligence, wisdom or consciousness existing without some concrete entity that is in some way intelligent, wise or conscious.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by GDR, posted 07-20-2011 5:20 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by GDR, posted 07-20-2011 10:38 PM PaulK has responded

  
ZenMonkey
Member (Idle past 2673 days)
Posts: 428
From: Portland, OR USA
Joined: 09-25-2009


Message 26 of 366 (624937)
07-20-2011 5:49 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Dr Adequate
07-20-2011 1:58 AM


Specify.
Which of Aristotle's four causes are you asking about? If you're asking about the efficient cause, then that's a physics question, I suppose, and you can assume natural, unguided forces are sufficient. If you're asking about final cause, that's going to have to assume a creator or at least some extrinsic purpose to the universe. An atheist isn't likely to grant that as a necessary or even justifiable assumption.

Since I love examples, let's try this one. You can answer the question "Why does it rain?" by referring to the efficient cause: the precipitation cycle. But if you want to go for the final cause, you'd have to come up with something like: "Because God wants the plants to grow."

At least that's the way I see it.

For reference:

quote:
There are four such causes: the form of the object (which will be altered during a change), the matter underlying the object (which will usually not be altered during a change), the agency that brings about the change, and the purpose served by the change. These are called, respectively, the formal cause, the material cause, the efficient cause, and the final cause.


Your beliefs do not effect reality and evidently reality does not effect your beliefs.
-Theodoric

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
-Steven Colbert

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.
- John Stuart Mill


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-20-2011 1:58 AM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

bluegenes
Member (Idle past 640 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 27 of 366 (624939)
07-20-2011 5:51 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by 1.61803
07-20-2011 4:14 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
1.61803 writes:

"nothing exist" is a oxymoron. Is that right?

Yes. And the O.P. question "Why is there something rather than nothing" implies that nothing could "be", giving it existence.

I basically agree with Doc A. in the O.P. that we can't really sort the question out. However, it wouldn't make much of a thread if we didn't try. So, I'm trying to make the case for pure nothing being self-inconsistent.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by 1.61803, posted 07-20-2011 4:14 PM 1.61803 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by 1.61803, posted 07-21-2011 11:12 AM bluegenes has not yet responded

bluegenes
Member (Idle past 640 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


(1)
Message 28 of 366 (624942)
07-20-2011 5:55 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by ZenMonkey
07-20-2011 5:26 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
ZenMonkey writes:

If you can imagine even an absence of absence, I think that that would come pretty close to the idea of true nothing.

I can imagine an infinite regression of absences of absences of absences, but isn't that rather a lot of nothing?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by ZenMonkey, posted 07-20-2011 5:26 PM ZenMonkey has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by frako, posted 07-20-2011 7:19 PM bluegenes has responded

frako
Member
Posts: 2813
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 29 of 366 (624947)
07-20-2011 7:19 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by bluegenes
07-20-2011 5:55 PM


Re: Self-inconsistent?
And that nothing is something its the absence of nothing, i say nothing is impossible "unnatural" there always has to be something even if it adds up to nothing.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by bluegenes, posted 07-20-2011 5:55 PM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 35 by bluegenes, posted 07-21-2011 3:14 AM frako has not yet responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4814
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 30 of 366 (624967)
07-20-2011 10:38 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by PaulK
07-20-2011 5:45 PM


PaulK writes:

Even if you discount abstract entities as counting as "something" it is hard to say that intelligence, wisdom or consciousness existing without some concrete entity that is in some way intelligent, wise or conscious.

How do you know that?


Everybody is entitled to my opinion. :)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by PaulK, posted 07-20-2011 5:45 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by PaulK, posted 07-21-2011 1:22 AM GDR has not yet responded

  
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