Norman Samish wrote:
> 
>"Why is there something rather than nothing?"
> 
> When I heard that Famous Question, I did not assume that "nothing" was 
> describable - because, if it was, it would not be "nothing."  I don't think 
> of "nothing" as an empty bitstring - I think of it as the absence of a 
> bitstring - as "no thing."
> 
> Given that definition, is there a conceivable answer to The Famous Question?

This formulation is known to be problematic. The second part "rather
than nothing" is at best redundant and at worse meaningless or
contradictory. As far as I know, all alternative formulations are
also problematic for some reason (but everybody is welcome to
propose its own). It might be that there exist no sound formulation
for the question. This does not means that the problem it is
supposed to "points to" does not exist or is meaningless. I imagine
that all of us for which the question is not meaningless share a
common intuition about it even if it cannot be clearly spoken of.
I like the formulation "question of existence" which simply refer
to such a common intuition while it leaves completely open many
issues otherwise closed or biased (just like in "Who created the
world?").

I am not sure that the semantic disctinction between "nothing" and
"no thing" helps much. For instance, it brings in the concept of
"thing" which might not be necessary and lead us in a wrong direction.

I have followed only a small part of discussions in this group and
the following idea might have been proposed and commented many times
but what about arithmetical realism? Answers to the question of
existence often involve some kind of "necessary being" (usually
called "God"). What about the idea that "natural numbers" *have to*
in some way "float around" (in an intemporal sense)? "Being 2"
could make sense even if nobody/nothing exists to figure out that.
An answer to the question of existence would then simply be:
something exists because "this" has to exist (and this is something).
I understood that it is a quite common idea in this group that
"we could be the sons of natural numbers". So, not only the natural
numbers could "have to" exists but it could also be that nothing more
needs to exist for all what we see also exist.

Something wrong? Comments? I would also appreciate references about
the first appearances of these ideas.

Georges.

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