Your theory is still physicalism in disguise. You can't explain consciousness from that. I will ask you what is your theory of consciousness, before giving more detail on this.

Your notion of 'nothing' is vague.

You might dig a little bit on mathematical logic: it has been proved that if you don't postulate the natural numbers, then you cannot derive the existence of them. So, unless you defend a form of physical ultrafinitism, your theory cannot account for the existence of 1, 2, 3, ... (and thus of digital machine and their belief). Actually I don't think your theory can derive the number 1.
A bit more below.


   Hi.  Thanks for the feedback.  The empty set as the building block
of existence is exactly the point I as making in my original posting
that started this thread.  What you're referring to as the empty set,
I was referring to as how what has previously been called absolute
"non-existence" or "nothing" completely describes, or defines, the
entirety of what is present and is thus an existent state, or
something. This existent state of mine is what others would call the
empty set.   The reason this is worth thinking about is because just
saying that the empty set is the basis of existence doesn't explain
why that empty set is there in the first place.  This is what I was
trying to get at.  Additionally, there has to be some mechanism
inherent in this existent state previously referred to as absolute
"non-existence" (ie, the empty set) that allows it to replicate itself
and produce the universe, energy, etc. This is needed because it
appears that there's more to the universe than just a single empty
existent state and that things are moving around.  What I suggested in
the paper at my website was that:

1. Assume what has previously been called "absolute non-existence".

This is already unclear by itself. Words like "absolute", "non" and "existence" assume a lot.

2. This "absolute non-existence" itself, and not our mind's conception
of "non-existence", completely describes, or defines, the entirety of
what is there and is thus actually an existent state, or "something".

Why? You need some observer of that "absolute non-existence" to get a definition of what is there. You are using implicitly the reflection axiom of set theory (at this stage you have already a theory equivalent with (N, +).

This complete definition is equivalent to an edge or boundary defining
what is present and thus giving "substance" or existence to the the

In your mind only. You go from nothing to the empty set (which is not nothing). At the meta level you go from { } to { { } }. So you are using again the reflection principle (which is a very strong axiom). Without using some explicit axioms, the passage from { } to { { } } needs some brain or universal machine at the meta-level.

This complete definition, edge, or boundary is like the curly
braces around the empty set.

Yes, but the ability to put a boundary around what we comprehend is a non trivial mind mechanism. Brains (people) and Turing machine (the 1- person linked to it) can do that, but not an empty set by itself. You are using a rich metalevel to justify a less rich level, but your theory needs both the level and the metalevel.

3. Now, by the assumption in step 1, there is also "absolute non-
existence" all around the edge of the existent state formed in step
2.   This "absolute non-existence" also completely describes, or
defines the entirety of what is there and is thus also an existent
state.  That is, the first existent state has reproduced itself.  I
think that the existenet state that is what has been previously called
"absolute non-existence" has the unique property of being able to
reproduce itself.

It needs some mind or machine, to do the reflection.

4. This process continues ad infinitum

Where does that infinitum comes suddenly from? You are assuming the natural numbers, like you assume the finite sets above (or equivalently the reflection principle).

in kind of a cellular automaton-
like process to form in a big bang-like expansion a larger set of
existent states - our universe.

   This is described in more detail in the paper at my website at:

There's also some more detail on how the above process can lead to the
presence of energy in the universe.

You reinvent naïve set theory. It would help you to formalize your idea so that you can compare it with others.

   Tegmark's assumption of a mathematical construct as the basis of
our existence doesn't explain where this construct comes from or how
it reproduces to form the universe.

Without assuming the natural numbers, you just cannot get them.

Wheeler's idea that the
distinction between the observer and the observed could be the
mechanism of giving existence to non-existence could be fit into my
idea, I think, by saying that the observed is what has previously been
called "absolute non-existence", and the observer is the fact that
this "absolute non-existence" completely defines the entirety of what
is present

It can't.
Also, Wheeler's idea can be phenomenologically retrieved in the Everett many-worlds view of the quantum, which itself can be extracted from arithmetic if you assume that the brain works like a natural machine. Wheeler seems to have come back to that multiverse idea. You might take benefits by using what people already agree on in this list. Look at my answer to jon (nihil).


and is like the edge or boundary defining what is there.
Speculating even further, one could say that this edge or boundary is
the same as the strings/membranes that physicists think make up the

   Anyways, thanks again for restarting this thread!


On Sep 19, 2:27 am, nihil0 <> wrote:
Hi everyone,

This is my first post on the List. I find this topic fascinating and
I'm impressed with everyone's thoughts about it. I'm not sure if
you're aware of this, but it has been discussed on a few other
Everything threads.

Norman Samish posted the following to the thread "Tipler Weighs In" on
May 16, 2005 at 9:24pm:

"I wonder if you and/or any other members on this list have an opinion
about the validity of an article at
. . ."

I would like to continue that discussion here on this thread, because
I believe the article Norman cites provides a satisfying answer the
question "Why does anything exist?," which is very closely related to
the question "Why is there something rather than nothing." The author
is David Pearce, who is an active British philosopher.

Here are some highlights of Pearce's answer: "In the Universe as a
whole, the conserved constants (electric charge, angular momentum,
mass-energy) add up to/cancel out to exactly zero. . . Yet why not,
say, 42, rather than 0? Well, if everything -- impossibly, I'm
guessing -- added up/cancelled out instead to 42, then 42 would have
to be accounted for. But if, in all, there is 0, i.e no (net)
properties whatsoever, then there just isn't anything substantive
which needs explaining. . . The whole of mathematics can, in
principle, be derived from the properties of the empty set, Ø" I think
this last sentence, if true, would support Tegmark's Mathematical
Universe Hypothesis, because if math is derivable from nothing (as
Pearce thinks) and physics is derivable from math (as Tegmark thinks)
and, then physics is derivable from nothing, and presto we have a
theory of everything/nothing.

I think Pearce's conclusion is the following: everything that exists
is a property of (or function of) the number zero (i.e., the empty
set, nothing). Let's call this idea Ontological Nihilism.

Russell Standish seems to endorse this idea in his book "Theory of
Nothing", which I'm reading. He formulates an equation for the amount
of complexity a system has, and says that "The complexity [i.e.,
information content] of the Everything is zero, just as it is of the
Nothing. The simplest set is the set of all possibilities, which is
the dual of the empty set." (pg. 40) He also suggests that Feynman
acknowledged something like Ontological Nihilism. In vol. 2 of his
lectures, Feynmann argued that the grand unified theory of physics
could be expressed as a function of the number zero; just rearrange
all physics equations so they equal zero, then add them all up. After
all, equations have to be balanced on both sides, right?

Personally, I find Ontological Nihilism a remarkably elegant,
scientific and satisfying answer to the question "Why is there
something instead of nothing" because it effectively dissolves the
question. What do you think?

Thanks in advance for your comments,


On Aug 8, 2:40 am, 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 isthere
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 istheresomething
rather than nothing?" paper is below.

    Thank you in advance for any feedback you may have.

Sincerely ,

Roger Granet (roger


In this paper, I propose solutions to the questions "Why do things
exist?" and "Why istheresomething 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. 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 istheresomething 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
about this lack-of-all.  It is then shown that this non-existence
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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