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Can nothing not exist?


wucko
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Not in it's entirety no, but as the gentleman above me also expressed, as a concept, we can understand it as the opposite of everything we know.

 

Because we are beings living inside existence, made of existence. And I'm not talking in a religious sense, though you can take it that way if you wish. What I mean by that is we exist, and so does, conceivably (key word), anything that we can imagine, with the exception of fantastically crazy things that violate the laws of physics.

 

So we, as creatures born, raised, and educated in existence, and knowing nothing else, cannot conceive of it except as the opposite of everything we know. For to completely imagine non-existence within only the frame of reference of existence is impossible. But since it can still be understood to be a concept, even if we don't know it's particulars, enough of one that we could invent a word specifically for it ("Nothing") then it must exist.

 

And yes, I realize that therein lies the paradox, but that (to me, I cannot speak for others) proves it's truth. Because we are playing to a bit of a play on the word "existence" itself. We are saying that something that is the opposite of existence must exist, because existence cannot exist without it. Do you understand the paradox?

 

The problem here is this: for "non-existence" to be definable and to be a propriate description of some status of the world, it is already understood we know what existence is, how it can be defined, and how we can distinguish between "existence" and "non-existence"

 

The problem thus is that OUTSIDE of that context, the context in which the words "existence" and "non-existence" have any meaning, we can no longer speak about "non-existence", since the distinction between "existence" and "non-existence" is not even there.

 

In the Science of Logic, by Hegel, where he first explains how he arrives at his first primary concepts (as an answer to the question he himself raisis as to "with what should philosophy begin?", he says about Being and Nothing that they are not to be understood as only seperate from each other (and each others opposites), but that they can only be properly understood within this union of opposites (which we can call a "dialectical unity of opposites").

 

Further Hegel explains that with pure Being and Nothing, nothing is intuited or determined by it. They are only empty, abstract notions, they do not refer to some specific (determinate) instances of Being or Nothing.

In that sense they are indeterminate and are still nothing, and so Being and Nothing are on the inset (while at the same time something to be distinguished) the same. That is the same indeterminated-ness.

They have no seperate truth inside itself, but only a combined truth which is Becoming, because in the notion of Becoming (or Ceasing-to-be) it is already understood that Being and Nothing spontaneously pass over into each other. In that notion, in the notion of Becoming, it is already understood that Being and Nothing are in fact not seperate but in which their unseperatedness is assumed.

 

Further. For a more proper understanding of the abstract concepts of Being and Nothing, we can better take a practicle example of some practical situation.

For instance take a chair or table, made of wood, standing in your living room or so. That is some determinate something/being.

But with it, we can imagine it's material history, it's process of becoming a chair, and also have no problem imagining it's future inexistence (as a chair that is).

For example, we could have been presented a picture of the tree or forest, in which the trees grew from which the chair was made.

That is in fact a situation of some previous state of the world in which that particular chair did not exist (it was a "nothing"), and we can also imagine how the chair came to be, how the not-being-a-chair in the form of the uncut tree and manufactured by a carpenter into the chair, take place.

Also we would have no problem in imagining the chair either as becoming broken down to it's biological components or else as burnt up in a fire or some other way the chair may end.

So the non-being of such determinate objects, those determinate "nothings", namely the chair before it became a chair, or the chair after it ceased to be a chair, which thereby are the non-beings of that chair, can be imagined quite vividly without problem.

 

But neither the abstract form of Being or Nothing, as indeterminate forms and taken as seperate notions, can be imagined, since they don't have any truth or meaning of themselves, they only exist in their unity which is becoming (or ceasing to be).

Edited by robheus
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Hey, my apologies for not contributing with my earlier post, but I felt that I was beginning to get defensive, and that is a terrible state of mind to try and communicate with others in.

 

If I may chime in here?

 

Now as I staed above, I beleve the best way to approach things is by paradox (and you can take that or leave it, that's your choice as a thinking human being), but in that vein I'd like to toss in here.

 

What I interpret you both as expressing is that duality is not, in essence, the highest concept and there is a state of perfection and unity above that. You may call it the self, or Advaita Vedanta, or even the Buddha consciousness would not be too much of a stretch. However, if you would be so kind as to allow me to use a term from my own lexicon, I'd like to call it"all that is". Which is everything concievable, all at once, in a non-dualistic form. It is one thing that encompasses everything.

 

Now with that in mind, the idea object that you both seem to be expressing is well... everything, and therefore not tied down to one point of view for it encompasses everything, and you can't have only one point of view on everything. So what I've been getting around to (in my usual rambling and roundabout way) is that in the eyes of "All That Is" you are both correct. For there are as many ways of looking at everything as there are things in the universe, because each can only see everything from one angle, because they can only be in one place at once. None are incorrect, or better/worse than the other, simply different. An analogy would be the famous painting where one person may see two faces, another may see a vase. Both are looking at the same object, and both are completely correct. A bit of a paradox, but I've already touched on that. :P

 

So if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion? You may wish to try looking at each other's viewpoints in the mindset of "What knowledge can I gain from this different viewpoint?". Respectfully, you may try thinking in a manner of "this AND that" rather than "this OR that". Take what they have said and integrate it into your own, already existing viewpoint (not negate in any way, but rather) to expand upon it. Take what you already know is true, and build upon it.

 

But as I said, your right as thinking beings is to make up your own minds, and I would never be so brazen as to insist you must think only one way.

 

 

P.S. - I found a link to the painting I spoke of here, for those visually-minded people like myself: (http://www.opticalil...ir-of-face.html)

Edited by Just Some Guy
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  • 2 weeks later...

It seems to me that when the day comes that everyone participating in this thread agrees on what it means for something to exist the answer to this question will come quickly.

 

<br /><br /><br />I disagree. IT might verywell be that the universe is jus one big quantum state. Before "time" it might very well be that the universe was described by a static quantum state. The big bang might just have been that state going from a static state to a time dependant state. So in the big picture the universes quantum state was always time depenant. The big bang might therefore have been the universes quantum state going through a change of state. I.e.

 

[math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math]

 

where

 

t < 0 ===> [math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math] = [math]|Psi®>[/math]

 

and

 

t > 0 ===> [math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math] = [math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math]

 

Hi! Your thinking is not so easy to follow.

The topic is Ancient! A fellow named Parmenides

gave around three thousand years ago

a satisfactory treatment of the problem.

 

He claimed that the statement:" Nothing is." is self contradictory and therefore not true!

Not much of his texts have survived only the claim but not the proof so lets try ourselves:

 

We begin by firmly claiming that: Nothing is!

Eh... we are saying that it indeed is so that nothing is!

Oh! Arent we saying that it IS so that it IS so that nothing is?

We are actually saying that something IS when we are saying that nothing is!

But if something is... then nothing is not...

So it is really so that we have proved that something is and nothing is not.

 

If we change the tense used in the proof

we can likewise prove that nothing was not

and that nothing will never be.

 

This is Logic as Ancient as we can trace it :)

Edited by sigurdV
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The Doctrine of Being, or Ontology

"Being is the Absolute" marks the beginning of Philosophy

Pure Being for Hegel is the pure essentiality expressing the internal

dynamics of a shape of consciousness which is as yet quite unself-

conscious, unaware of itself. To grasp this as an object in order to deter-

mine its internal dynamics, Hegel must enter into it so as to be able to

execute an immanent critique. But how can he do this if Pure Being rep-

resents such a shape of consciousness, standing at the very beginning of

the development of self-consciousness? The history of philosophy pro-

vides the key to this kind of critique.

Philosophy is a part of a formation of consciousness which produces

concepts which are responsive to logical critique as well as voicing a con-

ception of the Absolute proper to the given shape of consciousness. So

the history of philosophy manifests just the series of concepts which he

required for the Logic. However, history is subject to contingencies and

externalities and even if a social formation exactly corresponded to this

pure essentiality, no real philosopher is going to be able to perfectly ex-

press the spirit of their times. But Logic is not an empirical science.

Provided we are clear on the object we are considering, we can conduct a

kind of thought experiment to determine a series of categories corre-

sponding to an idealised history of philosophy.

 

This paragraph from the Doctrine of Being in the Shorter Logic is rele-

vant to us here:

"In the history of philosophy the different stages of the logical idea as-

sume the shape of successive systems, each based on a particular

definition of the Absolute. As the logical Idea is seen to unfold itself in

a process from the abstract to the concrete, so in the history of phi-

losophy the earliest systems are the most abstract, and thus at the same

time the poorest. The relation too of the earlier to the later systems of

philosophy is much like the relation of the corresponding stages of the

logical Idea: in other words, the earlier are preserved in the later: but

subordinated and submerged. This is the true meaning of a much mis-

understood phenomenon in the history of philosophy – the refutation

of one system by another, of an earlier by a later. Most commonly the

refutation is taken in a purely negative sense to mean that the system

refuted has ceased to count for anything, has been set aside and done

for. Were it so, the history of philosophy would be, of all studies, most

saddening, displaying, as it does, the refutation of every system which

time has brought forth. Now although it may be admitted that every

philosophy has been refuted, it must be in an equal degree maintained

that no philosophy has been refuted. And that in two ways. For first,

every philosophy that deserves the name always embodies the Idea:

and secondly, every system represents one particular factor or particu-

lar stage in the evolution of the Idea. The refutation of a philosophy,

therefore, only means that its barriers are crossed, and its special prin-

ciple reduced to a factor in the completer principle that follows.

"Thus the history of philosophy, in its true meaning, deals not with a

past, but with an eternal and veritable present: and, in its results, re-

sembles not a museum of the aberrations of the human intellect, but a

Pantheon of godlike figures. These figures of gods are the various

stages of the Idea, as they come forward one after another in dialecti-

cal development.

"To the historian of philosophy it belongs to point out more precisely

how far the gradual evolution of his theme coincides with, or swerves

from, the dialectical unfolding of the pure logical Idea. It is sufficient

to mention here, that logic begins where the proper history of philos-

ophy begins. Philosophy began in the Eleatic school, especially with

Parmenides. Parmenides, who conceives the absolute as Being, says

that 'Being alone is and Nothing is not'. Such was the true starting

point of philosophy, which is always knowledge by thought: and here

for the first time we find pure thought seized and made an object to it-

self." (Shorter Logic §86n)

Now of course we cannot have the same understanding of Being as

did Parmenides, and that is not really the point. We can determine the

concept of Pure Being precisely in the sense necessary to make the starting

point of philosophy, a concept which requires a thinker capable of philo-

sophical thought, to think rigorously the first concept of philosophy

which is utterly abstract in the sense that it contains nothing introduced

from outside.

So what Hegel needs is not so much a real history as an idealised his-

tory. But in the same sense as any science sets out to determine the

necessary movement, logic goes hand in hand with empirical observation

and thought experiment, as Hegel explained in the foregoing quote.

 

Being, Nothing and Determinate Being

The concept of Pure Being we need, then, is that concept which ex-

presses (that something) is, without any qualification, without attributing

any quality, any here and now, just "pure being," not to be anything, just

to be. So in the terms of philosophy we are looking for the conception of

the Absolute as just Being, not being anything in particular, just Being. A

capacity for philosophical thought is required for this concept, because it is the

ultimate abstraction, and the capacity for abstraction presupposes a cer-

tain development of society, so in that sense there is a presupposition.

But the concept which forms the beginning of the Logic, and conse-

quently, forms the subject matter of the Logic, is the concept of being

utterly indeterminate

After having demonstrated that a beginning can not be made by the

thought of anything, be that intuition or God or certainty or whatever,

Hegel explains:

"The foregoing shows quite clearly the reason why the beginning can-

not be made with anything concrete, anything containing a relation

within itself. For such presupposes an internal process of mediation and

transition of which the concrete, now become simple, would be the

result. But the beginning ought not itself to be already a first and an

other; for anything which is in its own self a first and an other implies

that an advance has already been made. Consequently, that which con-

stitutes the beginning, the beginning itself, is to be taken as something

unanalyzable, taken in its simple, unfilled immediacy, and therefore as

being, as the completely empty being." (Science of Logic §114)

So the Logic begins with the claim that "Being is Absolute." But one

can no sooner consider this claim, and clarify just what is meant by this

concept, Being, namely that it is utterly without determination, and that

one is asked to think an empty concept, than we are driven to the realiza-

tion that Being is Nothing. This is the first and classic example of this

process of sceptical critique. If Being is the Absolute, then the Absolute

is Nothing.

Hegel claims that philosophy proper began with Parmenides. Thales,

who was alive about 140 years before Parmenides, could claim that hon-

or, but the very early philosophers of that time were still tied up with

conceptions which are not yet scientific, ideas about the priority of Earth,

Fire, Water or Air, and so on. But philosophy proper began with Parmen-

ides. According to Parmenides (c. 500 BCE):

"'Thought, and that on account of which thought is, are the same. For

not without that which is, in which it expresses itself, wilt thou find

Thought, seeing that it is nothing and will be nothing outside of that

which is.' [and Hegel comments] That is the main point. Thought pro-

duces itself, and what is produced is a Thought. Thought is thus

identical with Being, for there is nothing beside Being, this great affir-

mation." (History of Philosophy, D1)

And according to Hegel, Being passes over to Nothing. Hegel associ-

ates the claim that God is Nothing with Buddhism. In his history of

philosophy he can't really pin a philosophy of Nothing on Pythagorus,

for whom the Absolute was the One, or any Greek philosopher of the ap-

propriate time. So the history of Greek philosophy did not quite follow

the sequence suggested in the Doctrine of Being.

However, if the truth of Being is Nothing, and as Heraclitus showed

Nothing is something, then the destruction of Being has led in fact to

something, and this insight can be summed up in the maxim: "Everything

is Becoming" or "Becoming is Absolute": Here is how Hegel describes

Heraclitus, drawing on the reports of Aristotle:

"For Heraclitus says: 'Everything is in a state of flux; nothing subsists

nor does it ever remain the same'. And Plato further says of Heracli-

tus: 'He compares things to the current of a river: no one can go twice

into the same stream', for it flows on and other water is disturbed. Ar-

istotle tells us that his successors even said 'it could not once be

entered', for it changed directly; what is, is not again. Aristotle goes on

to say that Heraclitus declares that 'there is only one that remains, and

from out of this all else is formed; all except this one is not enduring'.

This universal principle is better characterized as Becoming, the truth of

Being." (History of Philosophy, D1)

But if Becoming is absolute, something must be becoming, so every-

thing is a determinate being, not some abstraction or just a flow, but a

determinate being, or "Determinate Being is Absolute," or: "Everything

is some thing."

"Being is being, and nothing is nothing, only in their contradistinction

from each other; but in their truth, in their unity, they have vanished as

these determinations and are now something else. Being and nothing

are the same; but just because they are the same they are no longer being and

nothing, but now have a different significance. In becoming they were

coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be; in determinate being, a differently de-

termined unity, they are again differently determined moments."

(Science of Logic §187)

So here we have the succession of the first four concepts of the Log-

ic: Being, Nothing, Becoming, Determinate Being.

Determinate Being (or Being something) turns out to be Quality, and

Quality constitutes the first main subdivision of the Doctrine of Being.

I will not continue the theme of naming the different philosophers

who Hegel associates with the different categories of the Logic, because

the connection gets more and more tenuous as the narrative goes on. Re-

ally, Hegel has abstracted the logic from a study of a large number of

projects, or concepts, and the real history of philosophy bears only a dis-

tant relation to the course of the Logic from here on.

 

Edited by robheus
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This is just bad English, which there is no excuse for because modern English is superior to ancient Greek.

"Nothing" is only something as a concept, but the concept is not based on anything real. "Nothing" is just an empty set who's members cannot have any characteristics because the set has no members. Don't confuse "nothing" with any thing that can be a member of a set; "nothing" is not a thing. The term is only useful when it means "no thing," as in "No thing is both big and small."

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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This is just bad English, which there is no excuse for because modern English is superior to ancient Greek.

"Nothing" is only something as a concept, but the concept is not based on anything real. "Nothing" is just an empty set who's members cannot have any characteristics because the set has no members. Don't confuse "nothing" with any thing that can be a member of a set; "nothing" is not a thing. The term is only useful when it means "no thing," as in "No thing is both big and small."

 

Please read some of the stuff I posted in this topic, which might resolve the issue. There is a difference in determinate nothing and nothing in general or abstract (indeterminate nothing as opposed to indeterminate being). They are two different concepts.

Edited by robheus
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Close your eyes and picture blackness in your mind and your closed eyeballs.

Picture that your eyeballs don't exist.

Picture that their is no noises or feelings.

Picture that the blackness turns into nothing.

WTF it's still black unless for some odd reason you decide to picture white instead of black. I say odd because white is something. And you are even more odd if try to picture pure invisibleness of matter and energy. Because... what you must realize is this:

Realize your mind is doing the Picturing and your mind is something.

So now Picture that you have no mind to Picture no mind.

It is impossible to picture no mind because every time you try to picture no mind you are doing SOMETHING: PICTURING WITH YOUR MIND

NOW GET A BRAIN SCAN AND SAVE THAT PICTURE CAUSE ITS REALLY SOMETHING.

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I decided to remove my post, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to delete it. My apologies for the empty space.

 

The reason you can not delete your post is, because it would then be nothing, but nothing can not exist, or can it?

:o

 

Close your eyes and picture blackness in your mind and your closed eyeballs.

Picture that your eyeballs don't exist.

Picture that their is no noises or feelings.

Picture that the blackness turns into nothing.

WTF it's still black unless for some odd reason you decide to picture white instead of black. I say odd because white is something. And you are even more odd if try to picture pure invisibleness of matter and energy. Because... what you must realize is this:

Realize your mind is doing the Picturing and your mind is something.

So now Picture that you have no mind to Picture no mind.

It is impossible to picture no mind because every time you try to picture no mind you are doing SOMETHING: PICTURING WITH YOUR MIND

NOW GET A BRAIN SCAN AND SAVE THAT PICTURE CAUSE ITS REALLY SOMETHING.

 

What you say is that even when you try to imagine there being nothing, there is still the "I" imagining that, which you can not get rid of.

 

But what does that make you conclude then?

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The problem here is this: for "non-existence" to be definable and to be a propriate description of some status of the world, it is already understood we know what existence is, how it can be defined, and how we can distinguish between "existence" and "non-existence"

The quality of being non-existent is an oxymoron. We define what something is by what qualities it has. If you specify some objects with certain qualities, but no objects have all those qualities, I will tell you that you are talking about an empty set. In other words, you are talking about no thing as opposed to some thing(s).

 

 

For example, we could have been presented a picture of the tree or forest, in which the trees grew from which the chair was made.

That is in fact a situation of some previous state of the world in which that particular chair did not exist (it was a "nothing"), and we can also imagine how the chair came to be, how the not-being-a-chair in the form of the uncut tree and manufactured by a carpenter into the chair, take place.

Also we would have no problem in imagining the chair either as becoming broken down to it's biological components or else as burnt up in a fire or some other way the chair may end.

So the non-being of such determinate objects, those determinate "nothings", namely the chair before it became a chair, or the chair after it ceased to be a chair, which thereby are the non-beings of that chair, can be imagined quite vividly without problem.

 

It's probably not even grammatically correct to say "a nothing" because the meaning of nothing is equivalent to "no thing."

" 'The chair' was no thing," makes sense.

" 'The chair' was a no thing," doesn't make sense.

 

At one point, you used the term "the chair" in contexts where it didn't apply, as when you were talking about the chopped or burnt up chair, so your "chair" must encompass more forms than our normal "chair." It's understandable that you broadened the meaning to include what the chair will become, but that isn't correct.

{the chair | the chair = a chair made from that tree} was an empty set before that tree was made into a chair(s) and after the chair was burnt up.

{the chair | the chair = that wood or its ashy remains} is more akin to your "the chair" because you used the term "the chair" to refer to the cut up chair or its ashy remains.

 

Let us return to the first part of this post.

If the chair is non-existent, it can't possibly have the qualities that would make it a member of a set.

{chair | chair = thing with four legs made for sitting} A chair can't possibly have those qualities if it doesn't exist, so it isn't a chair. It isn't a nothing either because that's improper grammer. Rather, it is no thing because no thing meets the criteria to be it. That is, no thing meets the criteria of being the non-existent chair because all things exist and "nonexistent chair" is an oxymoron.

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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"Nothing" is opposite of "Existence". Therefore, it is illogical and self-contradicting to state, "Nothing to exist"

 

So, from this you can conclude that nothing cannot exist. Existence itself mean something, it cannot be mean "nothing". If there would be nothing, then existence itself wouldn't exist.

 

Whatsoever there would always exist a ONE and not necessarily be with a second. Or in other word, there would always exist a ONE without a second. And this ONE is responsible for all the creation. The whole creation rest on this ONE.

Edited by rajesh_m
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It's true by definition. Time is just a separation of states. You can't be separated from all separation. It's like asking the difference between a duck. "Before" time is meaningless garbage.

Let me introduce "The Philosopher's Stone". A touch stone was once used to determine if a

metal was high quality gold. Softer 24 carat would leave a trace. Alchemy was the metaphors for

things non-physical. The four elements are the dragon's wings (air = temperaments), head (fire =

desires), tail (water = emotions) and feet (earth=senses). Mysteries submerged into alchemy as a

defence against enforced simplification of Christianity around 553 AD (Fifth Ecumenical Council),

which simultaneously rendered hieroglyphics a dead language until the Rosetta stone was

discovered. The coercion by Theodora (wife of Justinian Caesar) was submitted to and accepted for

advantage, but "he who leadeth into captivity shall be lead into captivity, etc."

 

Gold represents incorruptibility and that which remains when purified by fire with the removal

of the dross (oxides of impurities). The Philosopher's Stone is the touch stone of philosophy.

According to legend, it was given to Abraham by Hermes (synonymous with Melchizedek OT,

Melchisedec NT) on a green emerald tablet. Whatsoever is not consistent with this philosophy is

thus purportedly incorrect. It speaks of One Thing being primordial, and all things being thus

created from this One Thing, in very metaphorical terms. Abraham's children are still fighting over

his heritage today, both literally and metaphorically.

 

Firstly: I speak not fictitious things, but that which is certain and most true.

Secondly: What is below is like that which is above: and what is above is like that which is below:

to accomplish the miracle of One Thing.

Thirdly: And as all things were produced by the One Word of One Being, so all things were

produced from this One Thing by adaptation.

Fourthly: Its Father is the Sun, its Mother the Moon, the Wind carries it in its belly, its Nurse is

the Earth.

Fifthly: It is the Father of all perfection throughout the World.

Sixthly: Its Power is vigorous if it be changed into Earth.

Seventhly: Separate the Earth from the Fire, the subtle from the gross, acting prudently and with

judgement.

Eighthly: Ascend with the greatest sagacity from the Earth to Heaven, and then again descend to

the Earth, and unite together the power of things superior and things inferior. Thus, you will obtain

the glory of the Whole World, and obscurity will fly away from you.

Ninthly: This has more fortitude than fortitude itself, because it conquers every subtle thing,

and can penetrate every solid.

Tenthly: Thus was the World formed.

Eleventhly: Hence proceed wonders which are here established.

Twelfthly: Therefore I am called Hermes Trimegistus, having three parts of the philosophy of the

Whole World.

Thirteenth: That which I had to say concerning the operation of the Sun is completed.

Edited by Pymander
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The quality of being non-existent is an oxymoron. We define what something is by what qualities it has. If you specify some objects with certain qualities, but no objects have all those qualities, I will tell you that you are talking about an empty set. In other words, you are talking about no thing as opposed to some thing(s).

 

 

In the abstract sense, being (or: pure being) is not a determination, and hence is not more or less then nothing.

 

It's probably not even grammatically correct to say "a nothing" because the meaning of nothing is equivalent to "no thing."

" 'The chair' was no thing," makes sense.

" 'The chair' was a no thing," doesn't make sense.

 

At one point, you used the term "the chair" in contexts where it didn't apply, as when you were talking about the chopped or burnt up chair, so your "chair" must encompass more forms than our normal "chair." It's understandable that you broadened the meaning to include what the chair will become, but that isn't correct.

{the chair | the chair = a chair made from that tree} was an empty set before that tree was made into a chair(s) and after the chair was burnt up.

{the chair | the chair = that wood or its ashy remains} is more akin to your "the chair" because you used the term "the chair" to refer to the cut up chair or its ashy remains.

 

Let us return to the first part of this post.

If the chair is non-existent, it can't possibly have the qualities that would make it a member of a set.

{chair | chair = thing with four legs made for sitting} A chair can't possibly have those qualities if it doesn't exist, so it isn't a chair. It isn't a nothing either because that's improper grammer. Rather, it is no thing because no thing meets the criteria to be it. That is, no thing meets the criteria of being the non-existent chair because all things exist and "nonexistent chair" is an oxymoron.

 

That is correct of course, the wood before a chair was made out of it didn't have the qualities to call it a chair (although it has some, like the hardness and compactness of the material).

 

But what matters is that the change that is occuring is that the non-being of the chair is formed by the changes performed on the material. So, this is to illustrate that nothing turns into something, if we understand here that something = the determinate being of a chair and nothing = the opposite of that, the non-being of that determinate something, the chair.

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That is correct of course, the wood before a chair was made out of it didn't have the qualities to call it a chair (although it has some, like the hardness and compactness of the material).

 

But what matters is that the change that is occuring is that the non-being of the chair is formed by the changes performed on the material. So, this is to illustrate that nothing turns into something, if we understand here that something = the determinate being of a chair and nothing = the opposite of that, the non-being of that determinate something, the chair.

Is this like the logic being part of existence rather than the material being part of existence? I guess "nothing" exists in that sense, but it only exists at times, not at places. Correction, it may or may not exist for a defined area.

Edited by Mondays Assignment: Die
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That's not logical at all, all we know about is what we can observe, we have no idea of anything other than what we can observe. There are models that postulate that what we see as the universe is really only a small part of something else but these are models and cannot be tested at this time. But to say with any authority that nothing existed before the universe is as nonsensical as saying something exists outside the universe...

Hi Moontanman!

How do we know that all we know about is what we can observe?

Can we actually observe it, or do we somehow reason us to it?

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Hi Moontanman!

How do we know that all we know about is what we can observe?

 

We can't really know anything other than what we observe, how could we?

 

Can we actually observe it, or do we somehow reason us to it?

 

We can theorize about it and see if it matches what we observe but to say anything about things we cannot observe is nothing but speculation.

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We can't really know anything other than what we observe, how could we?

 

We can theorize about it and see if it matches what we observe but to say anything about things we cannot observe is nothing but speculation.

Not all knowledge is about observable things...theres mathematics and logic for instance so I think reason (together with observation) is how we get knowledge in general... I just wanted to point out that we cant observe the principle that we come by knowledge by observing things.

 

What we know about "nothing" seems to come mostly from reason...since it cant be observed. Tricky topic this one.

Im slightly surprised to see you in a thread dominated by Hegelian abuse of logic, wouldnt you just inform us that the first law of Thermodynamics forbids energy to be created out of nothing?

 

 

 

Edited by sigurdV
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The quality of being non-existent is an oxymoron. We define what something is by what qualities it has. If you specify some objects with certain qualities, but no objects have all those qualities, I will tell you that you are talking about an empty set. In other words, you are talking about no thing as opposed to some thing(s).

 

It's probably not even grammatically correct to say "a nothing" because the meaning of nothing is equivalent to "no thing."

" 'The chair' was no thing," makes sense.

" 'The chair' was a no thing," doesn't make sense.

 

At one point, you used the term "the chair" in contexts where it didn't apply, as when you were talking about the chopped or burnt up chair, so your "chair" must encompass more forms than our normal "chair." It's understandable that you broadened the meaning to include what the chair will become, but that isn't correct.

{the chair | the chair = a chair made from that tree} was an empty set before that tree was made into a chair(s) and after the chair was burnt up.

{the chair | the chair = that wood or its ashy remains} is more akin to your "the chair" because you used the term "the chair" to refer to the cut up chair or its ashy remains.

 

Let us return to the first part of this post.

If the chair is non-existent, it can't possibly have the qualities that would make it a member of a set.

{chair | chair = thing with four legs made for sitting} A chair can't possibly have those qualities if it doesn't exist, so it isn't a chair. It isn't a nothing either because that's improper grammer. Rather, it is no thing because no thing meets the criteria to be it. That is, no thing meets the criteria of being the non-existent chair because all things exist and "nonexistent chair" is an oxymoron.

 

What I was trying to explain, suppose we have some determinate something, a chair with some determinate properties, and suppose that something came to be at t = 0 and ceased to be at t = 1. Then we could say that that determinate something did not exist before t = 0 and does not exist after t = 1. But in that case we can also say that a determinate nothing (with the same properties as assumed before) was existent, or rather we could say, the determinate being did not exist.

 

For the determinate being or determinate nothing, the same properties are assumed, so they are exactly the same, only that the one is, the other is not.

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  • 3 weeks later...

hugh, this sort of developed :). Whos right?

 

We can't really know anything other than what we observe, how could we?

 

 

 

We can theorize about it and see if it matches what we observe but to say anything about things we cannot observe is nothing but speculation.

 

there are things that we know, but dont know that we know them.

 

Answering the question "Can nothing exist?":

 

"nohing is" and "everything is not" against "everything is" and "nothing is not". the second statement is a paradox, the firs isnt.

 

to me, this would imply, that the original question isnt correct, that its opposite IS the question: "can nothing not exist"

 

 

 

Nothing can not-exist, but it can exist or not. Or: we cant know wether nothing exists or not, but it can not-exist, and it can also exist or not.

This is my answer. Its quite final

:).

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Interesting question. I believe that the answer is yes. It is possible to define an indefinable phenomenon, and one that might actually be more than an hypothesis. I'm aware that this statement appears to be paradoxical.

 

Everything we can describe, and everything we know, is describable and known because we can distinguish it from it from other things. We can describe it as this or that, big or small, fast or slow, transcendent or immanent, real or unreal, manifest or unmanifest, temporal or atemporal, wave or particle, extended or unextended and so forth.

 

Kant points out that the intellect depends on these contradictory and complementary pairs of distinctions in order to operate, thus in order to describe, and (to cut a long story short) it would follow that the at the very point of origin of the intellect there must be a phenomenon that is not an instance of a category. He calls this the 'proper subject for rational psychology'. On the same reasoning he concludes that the universe as a whole must originate in such a phenomenon.

 

This is a phenomenon that in an everyday sense cannot be described. It must remain an undefined term by definition. You will see why if you try to imagine a phenomenon defined as being in no case ever this or that. It is unimaginable. Our intellect has no way of getting any purchase on it. It would be invisible to physics.

 

We might describe it as not an instance of a category, and this seems to be a description, and it allows us to agree what we are talking about. But speaking rigorously this phenomenon is an instance of a category, as it is a member of the category of phenomenon that are not an instance of a category. Such a phenomenon must be described by the use of paradox and contradiction. This is a comprehensible description of it, in that it identifies it and tells us something about it, and yet it is paradoxical and self-contradictory.

 

Any non-paradoxical description of this phenomenon would have to be false. ('True words seem paradoxical' - Lao-tsu). We can treat it as an hypothetical or real phenonema but either way it would have to be indescribable in a real sense. By definition it would have all properties and no properties, be neither small nor large, hard or soft, timeless or eternal, transcendent or immanent, personal or impersonal, and so on for all the categories of the intellect. It would be both and neither and yet not both or neither. Ordinary language and logic cannot handle it. We have defined it as such.

 

Might such a phenomenon actually exist? If it is not an instance of a category then the answer must be yes and no. At best there would be two possible points of view, neither of which would be fully adequate. Exist/not-exist is a categorical distinction and ex hypothesis and by defintion we cannot apply it to this phenomenon.

 

Re the topic, this could be called Nothing, but only if we add that to the intellect it would have two aspects and must also be called Something. If it is a real phenomenon then a state of Nothingness, as a Nihilist would mean it, would have no location in the possibility space of Reality, and yes would be the answer to the OP's question, or no, depending on how we look at it.

 

At any rate, it's very confusing talking about something that cannot be described.

 

yes, paradox itself can be a signifier or even an instance of objects, i think. It might be of fruition to rethink the original dillema from this point of view - and not in my original path, where i try to resolve the paradox (and actualy fail to).

 

It seems to me that when the day comes that everyone participating in this thread agrees on what it means for something to exist the answer to this question will come quickly.

 

<br /><br /><br />I disagree. IT might verywell be that the universe is jus one big quantum state. Before "time" it might very well be that the universe was described by a static quantum state. The big bang might just have been that state going from a static state to a time dependant state. So in the big picture the universes quantum state was always time depenant. The big bang might therefore have been the universes quantum state going through a change of state. I.e.

 

[math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math]

 

where

 

t < 0 ===> [math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math] = [math]|Psi®>[/math]

 

and

 

t > 0 ===> [math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math] = [math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math]

 

how about this:

 

[math]|Psi(r, t)>[/math]

 

where

 

t <=> ? ===>

 

and

 

t > 0 ===>

 

 

 

Suppose the universe would not contain light, never had, never will and never can. Would then everything be dark (darkness being the absence of light)?

 

No, of course. Since when there is no light at all, neither there is darkness. Darkness only exists in the presence of light, and just means that there are places where light can't travel to, and where there is absence of light.

 

The revserse is also thrue. If there would be light, but no darkness anywhere, you couldn't detect there being light.

 

So light and darkness only exist in their combination as a unity.

 

Similarly this is also true for "being" and "nothing".

 

let us take the second case: there being light and no darkness. We would have no way of knowing, that light as such exists, but we could have detected a set of paradoxes that start to describe something we later call "light". Now, for the purpose of the original dilemma, replace "light" with "everything".

 

In this sense everything as a phenomena is quite in danger of being nothing.

 

 

 

And yes, I realize that therein lies the paradox, but that (to me, I cannot speak for others) proves it's truth. Because we are playing to a bit of a play on the word "existence" itself. We are saying that something that is the opposite of existence must exist, because existence cannot exist without it. Do you understand the paradox?

 

yes, I also understand, that it would probbalby be quite safe to question the existance of "everything". it would also make sense to actually say "everything IS nothing".

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  • 1 year later...

One more step would be required on order to overcome the dualism that still inflicts the theory, which is not yet a full solution for the existence/non-existence or Something/Nothing dilemma. This would be to recognise that the distinction we make between these two extremes, existence and non-existence, is conceptual, not ontological.

 

 

 

IMHO this perticular pair ( nothing - everything ) can also imply ontological incompleteness (in reality itself).

Edited by wucko
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this is amusing.

you guys are are trying to deny nonexistence. it is quite verifiable that it does not exist.

that is the very point of its existence.

this concern for proper wording is astoundingly optimistic.

well, you proved it...

nothing is not real.

wasn't that the reason for it's creation?

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