No(-)Justification Justifies The Everything Ensemble
In this message, I present my "no-justification" of the hypothesis
that everything exists. The no-justification argues that no
justification at all is needed to accept the hypothesis. This provides
a new and very satisfying approach to the Everything ensemble.
1 Hitherto proposed justifications
In this first section I give a brief overview of some existing
justifications for the Everything ensemble. The reader familiar with
the topic may skip this section.
Several thinkers have come independently to the hypothesis that---in
some sense or another---everything exists. The justifications they
have found in favor of this hypothesis vary as do their intellectual
backgrounds (philosophy, computer science, mathematics or physics).
When I myself developed the hypothesis, I found three
justifications which I call respectively the 'metaphysical approach',
the 'generalized Copernican principle' and the 'no-justification'. The
main justifications supported by contributors to the everything-list
are the 'zero information principle' and 'arithmetical realism' (also
called 'mathematical Platonism'). Another justification is due to the
analytic philosopher David Lewis:
"Why believe in a plurality of worlds?---Because the hypothesis is
serviceable, and that is a reason to think it is true."
For most philosophers Lewis's justification was not convincing. Much
more attractive to many thinkers is arithmetical realism, assuming the
objective existence of all mathematical objects. The zero information
principle bases upon the observation that the Everything has no
information content. Russell Standish writes:
"There is a mathematical equivalence between the Everything, as
represented by this collection of all possible descriptions and
Nothing, a state of no information."
This justification is impressive since it shows that Everything is---
in some sense---not more than Nothing. It thus provides a striking
argument against the critics' objection that supporters of the
Everything ensemble postulate too much additional ontology.
As a last example, I mention the generalized Copernican principle. The
idea is to give up the categorical difference between our world and
all other possible worlds: Everything is equally real.
2 Remarks on new fundamental theories
Before starting to explain my no-justification of the Everything
ensemble, I want to summarize some important statements in advance
which concern all new fundamental theories. Taking seriously the
approach given by the no-justification, it will turn out that the term
"Everything exists" is logically meaningless. Nonetheless I'll still
use the term without questioning its outstanding significance. The
only thing that changes is the term's role within our thinking. It
will no longer be an integral part of the fundamental theory, but
merely a link from the fundamental theory to our 'everyday theory'.
As a typical example of such a relation may serve Einstein's theory of
general relativity. The concept of mass---or to be more precise, the
energy-momentum tensor---is no integral part of general relativity, it
is replaced by the curvature of spacetime. Einstein's famous field
equations that relate the curvature of spacetime to the energy-
momentum tensor, are thus meaningless insofar as they only 'define'
the energy-momentum tensor. In principle, we could abandon the concept
of mass and energy and use the curvature tensor instead. So, would the
theory of general relativity lose anything if we removed Enstein's
field equations? The answer to this question is twofold. As a
mathematical theory, general relativity would remain complete and as
rich as it is today. But as a physical theory it would lose its
meaning, i.e. it would lose its explanatory and predictive power. This
is because a mathematical theory (in the case of general relativity:
Spacetime is a smooth 4-manifold with a metric tensor and such and
such properties) does not give a physical interpretation by itself.
The term "physical interpretation" means that we have a procedure how
to interpret elements of the theory as elements of our everyday
theory. A physical interpretation serves as translation from the
theory's mathematical language to our concrete everyday language.
Einstein's field equations link general relativity (with the curvature
of spacetime) to special relativity (with the energy-momentum tensor)
which is itself linked to Newtonian mechanics (with the usual concept
of mass and Euclidian space). Newtonian mechanics is understood in the
everyday theory. We see from this that Einstein's field equations are
part of the physical interpretation in the sense described above.
The everyday theory, of course, is only a vague concept that allows us
to exchange information about events in the world that surrounds us.
Though, it is not clearly defined.
The no-justification is the most satisfying justification for the
Everything ensemble I know. I even think that a more satisfying
justification is impossible in principle. So what is it about? The
crucial point is to try to get to the bottom of our understanding of
'existence'. In our everyday theory we use 'existence' as a property:
Some things 'exist', whereas other (imaginable) things don't. The
origin of this practice lies in very pragmatic reasons. It makes sense
to separate things that are 'accessible in principle' from things that
are not. This relation between 'us' and 'things which are accessible
in principle for us' was falsely understood as an objective property
of those things. I feel Wittgenstein's hands slapping on my back when
I tell you that 'existence' is nothing else than a linguistic
confusion. Strictly speaking, the concept of 'existence' doesn't make
sense. I encourage you to abandon it. If we take the right point of
view, the problem of having to find a "theory of everything" doesn't
The amazing result of these simple considerations is that we get the
Everything ensemble gratis! We don't need any postulate. But how is
this transition made? At this point I remind you of the second section
of this article: The Everything ensemble, or the statement that
everything exists, is the interpretation of our new perspective in the
everyday theory. In our everyday theory, we use the concept of
'existence' as a property of things. A property p is given by the
ensemble of (imaginable) things that have that property. Thus we can
identify the property p with the ensemble of (imaginable) things
having that property.
The no-justification argues that it doesn't make sense to introduce
'existence' as a property, or expressed in another way, that it is not
possible to meaningfully separate (imaginable) things that have the
(hypothetic) property that they 'exist' from (imaginable) things
without that property. This leaves us with two options if we still
want to use the concept of existence given by the everyday theory:
that the ensemble of (imaginable) things is empty or that every
(imaginable) thing has the property that it exists. The property is
degenerate, it does not separate some (imaginable) things from others.
Since, in our everyday theory, we say that things surrounding us
exist, we must consequently take the second option: that every
(imaginable) thing has the property that it exists. This is the
Everything ensemble. I repeat that the statement "everything exists"
can be seen as a definition of the new (and degenerate!) property of
existence: for an imaginable thing, to exist doesn't mean anything
else than being an imaginable thing. From our new perspective, it's a
tautology. But it is the interpretation of the new perspective in the
In this last paragraph it can be seen that the no-justification has a
lot in common with the zero information principle. I wrote that, if we
want to introduce the property of existence, than this property must
be degenerate (given by no entity or given by the ensemble of all
entities). In other words, there cannot be any information separating
some entities that exist from other entities that don't.
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