# Re: Why is there something rather than nothing?

```Roger,
Sorry to butt in, but I was also thoroughly confused. It seems to me that
you are re-discovering zero "0",  as representing a concept of the absence
of any thing.```
```
If you mean that zero is our concept of non existence, and that zero is
defined, not by its attributes, but by the absence of them, then you must
define zero = not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, ad infinitum. This would make
zero, or non existence, an infinite description of every single thing that
we can identify in existence or having form, as having non existence. It
would actually make zero, or non existence, pure potential in its defining
process from an absolute reference.

I believe that trying to define something by describing what is not, doesn't
really define it other than conceptually. If I say that zero is something
because I have a concept of what it's not, it doesn't really make it
something. I think the concept of zero is a powerful one, but then we made
into something, made it have meaning after a decimal period: in 50 it is
something that multiplies 5 times 10. Going back to the "concept" of non
existence of zero, division by zero is inconceivable and if you divide by the
definition of zero, the calculations would take you through infinity: 1/(not
1), 1/(not 2), 1/(all the "possible" definitions of what it is not).

Defining zero as a state, not as a concept, can only be done in my view, as
an infinite iteration of possible states. Although it is true that
non-existence is lack of time, it is only partially true, a partial state.
To truly define non-existence, you would have to define a set of all that it
is not: no time, no matter, no energy, no ideas, no mathematical constructs,
and no each of the etcs to infinity.

Regarding the subjectivity of non-existence and its dependence on an
observer, I would say that I agree that zero is defined relatively to the
observer/observation: How many *apples* do I have? Zero *apples*. How much
time do we have? Zero *time*. What *is* zero? (changes from relative (state)
to absolute (concept)) = zilch, nada. Zero is the absence of any thing;
think of "any thing" (iteratively through infinity) and the lack of it is
zero.

Non-existence could, I agree, be defined as a boundary of what is. But then
again we break into relative and absolute definitions: The non existence of
1, is the state of all minus 1. The non-existence of all, would be the
boundary of all that is, in which conceptually, zero is at the center - not
outside- the number line.

In a way, this definition of zero (both relative and absolute) goes well
with particle physics in that each individual "form" in essence, is both
existent and non-existent before it is observed. It seems to me that it is
potentially both, until a relative observer identifies one thing,
automatically differentiating its non-existence. Bringing consciousness into
the equation, I wonder if self-observance makes a difference or if the
observer needs to be outside the observed.

Thanks Roger for the article and for allowing me to think outloud,
Pilar

On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 1:49 AM, Roger <roger...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> David,
>
>   I believe you're right that I misspoke in my previous posting.
> Thanks.  What I meant was that if we consider non-existence itself and
> not our mind's conception of non-existence, then that non-existence
> itself (ie, that complete lack of all matter, energy, time, space,
> ideas, mathematical constructs, and of minds to try and conceive this
> lack of all.) completely defines or describes the entirety of what is
> actually "physically" present.  There's nothing else there other than
> the complete lack of all.  Because it is the complete description of
> what is "physically" present, it is an existent state.  I put
> physically in quotes here not to try and linguistically reify non-
> existence, but because in order to even consider non-existence itself,
> we have to have some physical condition to refer to.
>
>    Overall, what this means is that our mind's conception of non-
> existence is of just plain "nothingness".  But, non-existence itself
> is actually an existent state and can really therefore be called
> "something" instead of "nothing".  This means that non-existence
> itself really does have a referent in actuality (the phrase you
> mentioned previously).  Thanks.
>
>
> Roger
>
>
>
>
> On Aug 10, 11:40 am, David Nyman <da...@davidnyman.com> wrote:
>  > On 9 August 2011 18:16, Roger Granet <roger...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > > So, when I say that
> > > "non-existence is the complete description of what is present",
> > > by necessity, I'm jumping back and forth between two meanings of
> > > non-existence.  The first "non-existence" in the phrase refers to
> > > non-existence itself and "what is present" is our mind's conception of
> > > non-existence.  We're stuck having to do this because we exist, but
> > > non-existence itself, and not our mind's conception of non-existence"
> > > doesn't have this dependence.
> >
> > I've read the above several times and, sadly, I still have no clear
> > idea of what you could possibly mean.  You say that: "what is present"
> > is our mind's conception of non-existence.  Substituting this in your
> > formulation then gives:
> >
> > "non-existence is the complete description of our mind's conception of
> > non-existence".
> >
> > Is this what you meant to say?  If so, I can see why you say it is an
> > "existent state", but I still can't see how you defend such a state as
> > equivalent to "radical absence of all states".  Indeed, the two ideas
> > seem in direct contradiction.
> >
> > David
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > David,
> > >     Thanks for the feedback. I'm not suggesting that
> > > absence contains a property or definition because I agree that it would
> then
> > > not be non-existence.  I'm suggesting that non-existence is the
> complete
> > > description/definition of what is present and can therefore be
> considered an
> > > existent state.  Also, because we're talking about non-existence, we
> have to
> > > reify it (by saying "it is", "what is present", etc.) in order to even
> > > discuss it, but non-existence itself doesn't have that property.  So,
> when I
> > > say that
> > > "non-existence is the complete description of what is present",
> > > by necessity, I'm jumping back and forth between two meanings of
> > > non-existence.  The first "non-existence" in the phrase refers to
> > > non-existence itself and "what is present" is our mind's conception of
> > > non-existence.  We're stuck having to do this because we exist, but
> > > non-existence itself, and not our mind's conception of non-existence"
> > > doesn't have this dependence.
> > >     Thanks!
> >
> > >                                                             Roger
> >
> > > ________________________________
> > > From: David Nyman <da...@davidnyman.com>
> > > Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 9:49 AM
> > > Subject: Re: Why is there something rather than nothing?
> >
>  > > On 9 August 2011 07:36, Roger <roger...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > >> I always like to distinguish between the
> > >> mind's conception/perception of a thing and the thing itself.  So, I'd
> > >> say that a thing can exist even if its properties are unknown to us
> > >> (ie, to our mind's conception of the thing) but those properties have
> > >> to be known, or be part of, the thing itself in order to be properties
> > >> of that thing.  I think this is real important in thinking about
> > >> "nothing" or non-existence.  Next to our minds, which exist, nothing/
> > >> non-existence just looks like the lack of existence, or nothing.  But,
> > >> non-existence itself, not our mind's conception of non-existence,
> > >> completely describes or defines what is present and is therefore an
> > >> existent state.
> >
> > > Agreed on the distinction between a conception and what it (may)
> > > ultimately refer to.  However, I'm not really convinced of its
> > > centrality in this case.  The "nothing" that is here juxtaposed with
> > > "something" is surely intended to rule out any state whatsoever,
> > > including any "properties" or "definitions" thereof.  For example, in
> > > the face of such "radical absence", even the truth that "17 is prime"
> > > would be in abeyance (although I suspect Bruno might say that this is
> > > evidence enough that the concept fails to refer).  To be sure, given
> > > the brute fact that there IS "something", such radical non-existence
> > > may indeed be excluded as a matter of fact.  That is, the IDEA of
> > > "nothing" as the radical absence of any state of affairs whatsoever
> > > may indeed lack any referent in actuality.  But notwithstanding this,
> > > any less radical proposal fails to exhaust the concept at its logical
> > > limit (e.g. in your very reliance on the formulation "defines what is
> > > present").  And the dizzying prospect of that ultimate conceptual
> > > limit is, rightly or wrongly, what troubles us when we encounter the
> > > canonical question.
> >
> > > David
> >
> > >> Brent,
> >
> > >>    Thanks for the comment!  I always like to distinguish between the
> > >> mind's conception/perception of a thing and the thing itself.  So, I'd
> > >> say that a thing can exist even if its properties are unknown to us
> > >> (ie, to our mind's conception of the thing) but those properties have
> > >> to be known, or be part of, the thing itself in order to be properties
> > >> of that thing.  I think this is real important in thinking about
> > >> "nothing" or non-existence.  Next to our minds, which exist, nothing/
> > >> non-existence just looks like the lack of existence, or nothing.  But,
> > >> non-existence itself, not our mind's conception of non-existence,
> > >> completely describes or defines what is present and is therefore an
> > >> existent state.  Thanks!
> >
> > >> Roger
> >
> > >> On Aug 8, 1:59 pm, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> > >>> On 8/7/2011 11:40 PM, Roger wrote:
> >
> > >>> >      Hi.  I used to post to this list but haven't in a long time.
>  I'm
> > >>> > a biochemist but like to think about the question of "Why is there
> > >>> > something rather than nothing?" as a hobby.  If you're interested,
> > >>> > some of my ideas on this question and on  "Why do things exist?",
> > >>> > infinite sets and on the relationships of all this to mathematics
> and
> > >>> > physics are at:
> >
> >
> > >>> > An abstract of the "Why do things exist and Why is there something
> > >>> > rather than nothing?" paper is below.
> >
> > >>> >      Thank you in advance for any feedback you may have.
> >
> > >>> >  Sincerely,
> >
> > >>> > Roger Granet
> >
> > >>> > (roger...@yahoo.com)
> >
> > >>> > Abstract:
> >
> > >>> >     In this paper, I propose solutions to the questions "Why do
> things
> > >>> > exist?" and "Why is there something rather than nothing?"  In
> regard
> > >>> > to the first question, "Why do things exist?", it is argued that a
> > >>> > thing exists if the contents of, or what is meant by, that thing
> are
> > >>> > completely defined.
> >
> > >>> Things that are completely defined are mathematical abstractions:
> like a
> > >>> differentiable manifold or the natural numbers.  One might even argue
> > >>> that an essential characteristic of things that exist is that they
> can
> > >>> have unknown properties.  But perhaps I'm misreading what you mean by
> > >>> "defined".  Maybe you just mean that things that exist either have a
> > >>> property or not, independent of our knowledge.  So Vic either has a
> mole
> > >>> on his left side or he doesn't, even though we don't know which;
> whereas
> > >>> is makes no sense to even wonder whether Sherlock Holmes has a mole
> on
> > >>> his left side.
> >
> > >>> Brent
> >
> > >>> > A complete definition is equivalent to an edge or
> > >>> > boundary defining what is contained within and giving substance and
> > >>> > existence to the thing.  In regard to the second question, "Why is
> > >>> > there something rather than nothing?", "nothing", or non-existence,
> is
> > >>> > first defined to mean: no energy, matter, volume, space, time,
> > >>> > thoughts, concepts, mathematical truths, etc.; and no minds to
> think
> > >>> > itself, not our mind's conception of non-existence, is the complete
> > >>> > description, or definition, of what is present.  That is, no
> energy,
> > >>> > no matter, no volume, no space, no time, no thoughts, etc.,  in and
> of
> > >>> > itself, describes, defines, or tells you, exactly what is present.
> > >>> > Therefore, as a complete definition of what is present, "nothing",
> or
> > >>> > non-existence, is actually an existent state.  So, what has
> > >>> > traditionally been thought of as "nothing", or non-existence, is,
> when
> > >>> > seen from a different perspective, an existent state or
> "something".
> > >>> > Said yet another way, non-existence can appear as either "nothing"
> or
> > >>> > "something" depending on the perspective of the observer.   Another
> > >>> > argument is also presented that reaches this same conclusion.
> > >>> > Finally, this reasoning is used to form a primitive model of the
> > >>> > universe via what I refer to as "philosophical engineering".
> >
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