On 13 August 2011 07:52, Roger <roger...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> My view of philosophy is not so much to argue endlessly about
> these things but to try and use as few assumptions as possible along
> with consistent reasoning to come up with some framework and use it to
> build a realistic model of things and to try and make predictions with
> that model.  This lets philosophy transition into science.

I agree with this sentiment and it's very much the spirit of
discussion on this list.  I do see what you are trying to say, and
indeed the impossibility of a truly "radical absence" - given the
indubitable presence of "something" - has always seemed inescapable to
me.  Of course I am sympathetic to any attempt to derive systematic
results from clearly defined premises.

Nonetheless, the question, as traditionally posed, can still lead to a
different conclusion, albeit one with an ineliminable element of
paradox.  "Nothing" implies the elimination of "absolutely
everything".  This entails that the very point of origin, whatever it
may be, of "the indubitable presence of something" must itself be
eliminated.  Since the elimination of its fons et origo would
logically exclude even the possibility of the thought itself, we have
a stark paradox.  Such "absolute absence" would seem to be something
of which we could truly never have spoken; our permanent silence on
the matter would have been assured.  By the same token, of course, our
very presence effectively eliminates it as a possibility.

I suspect that this insight is in practice the starting point for your
own argument; i.e. that since the presence of anything at all leads
directly to the conclusion that a truly "radical" absence is simply
ruled out, whatever we conceive of as "nothing" must actually possess
definable characteristics.  And that's when things get really
interesting.

David

> David,
>
>    In regard to my point that "non-existence" itself (not our mind's
> conception of non-existence) is actually an existent state, you
> suggest that
>
> equating the "existence" of some state with the "absence" of all
> existent states is a direct contradiction.
>
> But, it's only a contradiction if what we've traditionally called non-
> existence really is a non-existing state.  What I'm suggesting is that
> when we get rid of all the states we've traditionally thought of as
> existing (matter, energy, space, time, volume, ideas/concepts,
> mathematical constructs, minds/perception, etc.), we've always thought
> of what's left as not existing, or non-existence.   But, what I'm
> saying is that we really haven't yet gotten rid of all existent
> states.  What's left is also an existent state, just not one of the
> traditional ones.  It's an existent state because it completely
> describes or defines the entirety of what is there.   Another way of
> saying all this is that "non-existence" is an incorrect term; it's a
> misnomer.  We've always referred to this thing, "non-existence", as
> not existing because that's the only we and our existent minds can
> think of it, as the lack of existence.  But, this "non-existence"
> itself, not our mind's conception of it, doesn't have this constraint
> of being defined in terms of the lack of the traditional existing
> states.  It's on its own, and on its own, completely describes the
> entirety of what is there and is thus an existent state.
>
>    What this all leads me to is that there really is no such thing as
> a true non-existing state.  Even what we've traditionally called "non-
> existence" and thought of as  a non-existing state is, when thought of
> as described above, really just another existing state.  This means
> that the question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" is
> an incorrect way of stating things.  What we've always called
> "nothing" isn't really no-thing or a non-existing state; it also is an
> existent state, or "something".   So, "something" has always been
> here, which is what I concluded in the paper at my website.   All of
> this may seem like an exercise in futility as you mentioned, but why I
> think it's valuable is that:
>
> - It forces us to think about why a thing exists in the first place.
> That is, what is the mechanism or reason for why a thing exists?  What
> I came up with, as described in that paper is that a thing exists if
> what is contained within or meant by that thing is completely
> defined.  This complete definition is like an edge or boundary
> defining what is contained within and giving "substance" or existence
> to the thing.  This is more fully explored in that paper.
>
> - It provides a way, as described in the paper at the website, to
> start building a model of the universe that is similar to ours and
> that contains a symmetry-asymmetry transition (symmetry-breaking), a
> big bang-like creation and expansion of space and a mechanical,
> natural reason for why there is energy in the universe.
>
>    My view of philosophy is not so much to argue endlessly about
> these things but to try and use as few assumptions as possible along
> with consistent reasoning to come up with some framework and use it to
> build a realistic model of things and to try and make predictions with
> that model.  This lets philosophy transition into science.
>
>    Thanks again for the feedback!
>
>
> Roger
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Aug 11, 1:34 pm, David Nyman <da...@davidnyman.com> wrote:
>> On 11 August 2011 06:49, Roger <roger...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>
>> > 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).
>>
>> I'm afraid it still seems to me that, in effect, to equate the
>> "existence" of some state with the "absence" of all existent states is
>> a direct contradiction.  Indeed it may be the case that any conception
>> of such absence fails to accord with any actual state of affairs, but
>> I don't see that your argument excludes a priori its brute
>> possibility, however much the mind may reel from the prospect.
>> Perhaps the problem stems from the almost insuperable psychological
>> tendency for any conceptual reference whatsoever (in this case
>> "non-existence") to vivify its putative object and thereby seem to
>> lend it some measure of "existence".  But however ingenious the
>> attempt to reify "nothing", it is surely permanently vulnerable to the
>> objection "no, not that either".  Hence it seems an exercise in
>> futility.  If there is some further subtlety here, I'm afraid it
>> continues to elude me.
>>
>> David
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> > 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 
>> >> > non-existence/radical
>> >> > 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>
>> >> > To: everything-list@googlegroups.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:
>>
>> >> >>> >https://sites.google.com/site/ralphthewebsite/
>>
>> >> >>> > 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
>>
>> ...
>>
>> read more »
>
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