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Author Topic:   The Ultimate Question - Why is there something rather than nothing?
PaulK
Member
Posts: 14753
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 301 of 366 (629349)
08-17-2011 4:51 AM
Reply to: Message 300 by bluegenes
08-17-2011 4:28 AM


Re: Creating absolute nothingness/interesting angle on the O.P. question.
Again, their answer is great for defusing the claim that we must assume some additional cause, but it really doesn't answer the question.

And in the abstract you linked to, Grunbaum is very clear that the question is about contingent entities, which is, as I said, different (because it sweeps the important issue of if and how necessary entities exist under the carpet)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 300 by bluegenes, posted 08-17-2011 4:28 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 302 by bluegenes, posted 08-17-2011 5:20 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 302 of 366 (629354)
08-17-2011 5:20 AM
Reply to: Message 301 by PaulK
08-17-2011 4:51 AM


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

And in the abstract you linked to, Grunbaum is very clear that the question is about contingent entities, which is, as I said, different (because it sweeps the important issue of if and how necessary entities exist under the carpet)

Have a read of the pdf that I linked to, and you'll see what I mean about Liebniz asking three questions, including the O.P. one, and how Grunbaum's answer applies to that very question. (That seems to be the very same lecture that Carroll's blogging about, BTW).

PaulK writes:

Again, their answer is great for defusing the claim that we must assume some additional cause, but it really doesn't answer the question.

It makes the case that there is no reason to believe that "somethingness" itself requires a cause or explanation. That the question is a fabrication which invents this exotic, magical world called nothingness, and then asks why it isn't there.

Why the hell should it be? Why should the Land of Oz be there rather than Kansas?

When you mentioned OOL as a comparison, it seems that you might be thinking of the question as "how did our particular 'something' come about?" - whether life, the known universe as it is or whatever else. Such questions are significantly different.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 301 by PaulK, posted 08-17-2011 4:51 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 303 by PaulK, posted 08-17-2011 5:38 PM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 14753
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 303 of 366 (629439)
08-17-2011 5:38 PM
Reply to: Message 302 by bluegenes
08-17-2011 5:20 AM


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

Have a read of the pdf that I linked to, and you'll see what I mean about Liebniz asking three questions, including the O.P. one, and how Grunbaum's answer applies to that very question. (That seems to be the very same lecture that Carroll's blogging about, BTW).

I've now read it and Grunbaum is really clear that Lebniz was talking about contingent entities.

quote:

It makes the case that there is no reason to believe that "somethingness" itself requires a cause or explanation.

What's the difference between saying that there is no explanation and taking it as a brute fact, which is the answer I actually argued for way back at the start of the thread ?

quote:

When you mentioned OOL as a comparison, it seems that you might be thinking of the question as "how did our particular 'something' come about?" - whether life, the known universe as it is or whatever else. Such questions are significantly different.

No, I had in mind looking for explanation rather than simply sticking with conventional wisdom or ignoring the question. WHich was the context in which I raised the point.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 302 by bluegenes, posted 08-17-2011 5:20 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 305 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 2:07 AM PaulK has responded

  
Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16086
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 304 of 366 (629455)
08-17-2011 9:04 PM
Reply to: Message 298 by bluegenes
08-17-2011 3:33 AM


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

Well, this is true so far as it goes.

Certainly nothingness can't be necessary, because there is in fact something.

The question of whether it is more probable than something seems remarkably ill-conceived. What would that even mean? --- it suggests a state in which there was neither something nor nothing and one of them was somehow selected.

But unless something can be shown to be necessary my original question still stands.


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 307 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 2:46 AM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 305 of 366 (629642)
08-19-2011 2:07 AM
Reply to: Message 303 by PaulK
08-17-2011 5:38 PM


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

I've now read it and Grunbaum is really clear that Lebniz was talking about contingent entities.

Yes, in that essay he's addressing the "contingent" version, which is what theists always come up with when they realise that the more general one (our O.P. question) cannot be answered by "God", because god's something.

But that's not why I linked to the article. It's because the line that Grunbaum takes towards the "null world" applies to both questions. The "null worlds" aren't quite the same, but the same arguments work for both.

I've been taking a similar line here, but you accuse me of misreading the question when I do so.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 303 by PaulK, posted 08-17-2011 5:38 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 306 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 2:24 AM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 14753
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 306 of 366 (629646)
08-19-2011 2:24 AM
Reply to: Message 305 by bluegenes
08-19-2011 2:07 AM


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

Yes, in that essay he's addressing the "contingent" version, which is what theists always come up with when they realise that the more general one (our O.P. question) cannot be answered by "God", because god's something.

So it is a different question.

quote:

But that's not why I linked to the article. It's because the line that Grunbaum takes towards the "null world" applies to both questions. The "null worlds" aren't quite the same, but the same arguments work for both.

That depends on what you mean by "work". It doesn't "work" to provide a real explanation,merely hinting that the "brute fact" explanation is quite possibly correct. Grunbaum is only interested in defusing the question as an argument for God, not in finding the answer.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 305 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 2:07 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 308 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 2:59 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 307 of 366 (629649)
08-19-2011 2:46 AM
Reply to: Message 304 by Dr Adequate
08-17-2011 9:04 PM


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

The question of whether it is more probable than something seems remarkably ill-conceived. What would that even mean? --- it suggests a state in which there was neither something nor nothing and one of them was somehow selected.

That view would mean that every thing is always contingent. The theists make the mistake of seeing nothing as simple and therefore "easier" for reality to achieve than something. Hence the probability mistake.

Inventing alternative realities, then asking why this one is here in their place, can be seen as a rather silly thing to do, as I've suggested earlier in the thread. Regardless of the reality suggested, the question can never be answered.

Why is this world as it is, rather than being heaven?

I'd never heard of Grunbaum until the day before I mentioned him here, but I was very pleased that the first modern philosopher I found discussing the question was viewing it in a similar way. We don't really have any empirical or logical reason to propose "nothing world". It's our myth, like heaven.

Dr Adequate writes:

But unless something can be shown to be necessary my original question still stands.

I think that the question as asked in the O.P. probably has built in unanswerability. It would innately apply itself to any answer given. If we made a case for "x" being necessary, the question becomes "why "x" world rather than nothing world".

Unanswerability of that kind is usually seen as being a problem in the question (a bit like asking a bachelor why he beats his wife).

So, Leibniz rephrases it as: "Why are there contingent things rather than no contingent things. That leaves it open for a "necessary "x" answer.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 304 by Dr Adequate, posted 08-17-2011 9:04 PM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 308 of 366 (629650)
08-19-2011 2:59 AM
Reply to: Message 306 by PaulK
08-19-2011 2:24 AM


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

It doesn't "work" to provide a real explanation,merely hinting that the "brute fact" explanation is quite possibly correct.

The question (both forms) accepts the fact of there being something rather than nothing, so what is "brute fact" actually saying?

PaulK writes:

Grunbaum is only interested in defusing the question as an argument for God, not in finding the answer.

Did you miss the bit in which he dismisses the O.P. version as an invalid question? If a question is unanswerable, it can still be examined.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 306 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 2:24 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 309 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 3:36 AM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 14753
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 309 of 366 (629652)
08-19-2011 3:36 AM
Reply to: Message 308 by bluegenes
08-19-2011 2:59 AM


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

The question (both forms) accepts the fact of there being something rather than nothing, so what is "brute fact" actually saying?

That the most basic level of reality exists, not out of necessity, nor because it is caused by something else (impossible, of course) - it just exists.

quote:

Did you miss the bit in which he dismisses the O.P. version as an invalid question? If a question is unanswerable, it can still be examined.

His claim that it is invalid seems to be dealing with the argument for God, not with the question considered more generally. In fact it really only seems to be saying that even if God were a good answer the argument would not have much force. Which is a valid point, but very far from being a valid criticism of the question considered without the religious apologetic baggage piled around it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 308 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 2:59 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 310 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 3:51 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 310 of 366 (629653)
08-19-2011 3:51 AM
Reply to: Message 309 by PaulK
08-19-2011 3:36 AM


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

His claim that it is invalid seems to be dealing with the argument for God, not with the question considered more generally.

No. He suggests that the broad O.P. version is essentially circular. It will ask itself of any answer given.

In fact it really only seems to be saying that even if God were a good answer the argument would not have much force. Which is a valid point, but very far from being a valid criticism of the question considered without the religious apologetic baggage piled around it.

He implies that the "null world", in this case the world void of contingent beings, is an idea that we've inherited culturally from religions that have a creation ex nihilo mythology. You, I, and Adequate may not be religious, but it's still in our cultural heritage.

I think it's important when considering the question to keep at the front of our minds the point that "nothingness" is necessarily a human invention, and not one based on observation.

We can ask ourselves the O.P. question after inventing nothingness, or save ourselves the trouble by not inventing it!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 309 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 3:36 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 311 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 4:38 AM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 14753
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 311 of 366 (629654)
08-19-2011 4:38 AM
Reply to: Message 310 by bluegenes
08-19-2011 3:51 AM


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

No. He suggests that the broad O.P. version is essentially circular. It will ask itself of any answer given.

I don't remember Grunbaum saying anything THAT wrong. It's not true of any answer based on logical necessity or brute fact.

quote:

I think it's important when considering the question to keep at the front of our minds the point that "nothingness" is necessarily a human invention, and not one based on observation.

You haven't offered any valid reason to think it that important - it's implicit in the question, which is asking why a counterfactual is not the case. It really seems only an excuse to dismiss the question, and one that might easily backfire when arguing against religious apologists.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 310 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 3:51 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 312 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 4:59 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 312 of 366 (629655)
08-19-2011 4:59 AM
Reply to: Message 311 by PaulK
08-19-2011 4:38 AM


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

I don't remember Grunbaum saying anything THAT wrong. It's not true of any answer based on logical necessity or brute fact.

Why is it a brute fact that there is something rather than nothing?

How can "x" be regarded as necessary if there could be nothing?

PaulK writes:

You haven't offered any valid reason to think it that important - it's implicit in the question, which is asking why a counterfactual is not the case.

But, unlike "why is there land right here, rather than sea?" the counterfactual is something we have no knowledge of. The concept of "absolute nothingness" is invented.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 311 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 4:38 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 313 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 5:24 AM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 14753
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 313 of 366 (629656)
08-19-2011 5:24 AM
Reply to: Message 312 by bluegenes
08-19-2011 4:59 AM


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

Why is it a brute fact that there is something rather than nothing?

Now THAT is an invalid question. There is no reason why a brute fact is true, it just is.

quote:

How can "x" be regarded as necessary if there could be nothing?

And that is even worse. If it is necessary that something exist then there cannot be nothing. The question is already answered -unless you are the one assuming the possibility of nothing, despite the answer denying it.

quote:

But, unlike "why is there land right here, rather than sea?" the counterfactual is something we have no knowledge of. The concept of "absolute nothingness" is invented.

But the same can still be said of other questions which are worth asking. For instance why does our universe have 3 "usable" spatial dimensions? We don't know of any other universes at all, but the question still makes sense, and scientists still want to know the answer.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 312 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 4:59 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 314 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 6:19 AM PaulK has responded

  
bluegenes
Member (Idle past 557 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 314 of 366 (629658)
08-19-2011 6:19 AM
Reply to: Message 313 by PaulK
08-19-2011 5:24 AM


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

Now THAT is an invalid question. There is no reason why a brute fact is true, it just is.

Yet the declaration of brute fact fails to eliminate the possibility of "nothingness", so the question can be applied. It recognises the fact that there is something, but asks why "nothingness" couldn't have been the case instead.

PaulK writes:

And that is even worse. If it is necessary that something exist then there cannot be nothing. The question is already answered -unless you are the one assuming the possibility of nothing, despite the answer denying it.

"Necessity" could only be demonstrated in the context of "something world".

I think you fail to see that the question says; "Why isn't there reality "y" rather than reality "x". How is it possible to demonstrate that "x" is "necessary" from inside it? How could you demonstrate that "y" couldn't have been?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 313 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 5:24 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 315 by PaulK, posted 08-19-2011 6:52 AM bluegenes has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 14753
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 315 of 366 (629659)
08-19-2011 6:52 AM
Reply to: Message 314 by bluegenes
08-19-2011 6:19 AM


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

Yet the declaration of brute fact fails to eliminate the possibility of "nothingness", so the question can be applied. It recognises the fact that there is something, but asks why "nothingness" couldn't have been the case instead.

However, the declaration of brute fact, as you put it, has already answered that question. There is no reason, and if you want to argue that there MUST you'll be arguing against yourself and Grunbaum.

quote:

"Necessity" could only be demonstrated in the context of "something world".

False. Since we are talking about logical necessity we CAN'T rely on the assumption of something existing without begging the question.

quote:

I think you fail to see that the question says; "Why isn't there reality "y" rather than reality "x". How is it possible to demonstrate that "x" is "necessary" from inside it? How could you demonstrate that "y" couldn't have been?

If it is possible to demonstrate logical necessity (and remember that I argue it is not ) it is sufficient to show that "reality y" is logically inconsistent as Dr. A pointed out back in the OP.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 314 by bluegenes, posted 08-19-2011 6:19 AM bluegenes has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 316 by bluegenes, posted 08-22-2011 3:23 AM PaulK has responded

  
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