# Re: Why is there something rather than nothing?

On 5/6/2012 1:06 PM, R AM wrote:

Hi Ricardo,

I like these thoughts (as they imply questions!)!

- If nothing has no properties, and a limitation is considered a property, then "nothing" cannot have any limitations, including the limitation of generating "something". Therefore, "something" may come from "nothing".

Can nothing be treated as an object itself? Can we "hang" properties on it? Are we actually talking about "substance" as synonomous with what the philosophers of old used to use as the object minus its properties? I like to use the word "Existence" in this case, as it would seen to naturally include "nothing" and "something" as its most trivial dual categories.

[Side note: This is where we start to see that our words can be such to sometimes have only other words as referents and sometimes have actual objects (not words) as referents. (I wish we could get a semiotic theory expert to join us! Can any one channel Charles S. Peirce <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Sanders_Peirce> for us?)]

- Given that something exists, it is possible that something exists (obviously). The later would be true even if "nothing" was the case. Therefore, we should envision the state of "nothing" co-existing with the possibility of "something" existing, which is rather bizarre.

Does Nothingness exist? Can Nothingness non-exist? At what point are we playing games with words and at what point are we being meaningful? You are pointing out how "possibility" seems to be implicitly tied to the relation between something and nothing. In my reasoning this is why I consider existence as "necessary possibility". Unfortunately, this consideration suffers from the ambiguity inherent in semiotics known as the figure-frame relation <http://photoinf.com/Golden_Mean/Petteri_Sulonen/Space_Figure_Ground.htm>. Is the word we use to denote <http://grammar.about.com/od/d/g/denotationterm.htm> or connote <http://grammar.about.com/od/c/g/connotationterm.htm> a referent? What if we mean to use both denotative and connotative uses?

- Why should "nothing" be the default state? I think this is based on the intuition that "nothing" would require no explanation, whereas "something" requires an explanation. However, given that the possibility of something existing is necessarily true, an explanation would be required for why there is "nothing" instead of "something".

I agree. We might even think or intuit "nothing" as the absolute absence of 'everything' : the sum of all particulars that piece-wise and collection-wise are not-nothing; whereas 'something' is a special case of 'everything'; a particular case of everything.

- There are many ways something can exist, but just one of nothing existing. Therefore, "nothing" is less likely :-)

But this statement implicitly assumes a measure that itself, then, implies a common basis for comparison. Is there a set, class, category or other 'collection' that has all of the forms, modalities, aspects, etc. of something along with nothing? Would this set, class, category, etc. have a denotative/connotative name? At what point does it become impossible to 'name' something?

- I think the intuition that "nothing" requires less explanation than the universe we observe is based on a generalization of the idea of classical empty space. However, this intuition is based on what we know about *this* universe (i.e. empty space is simpler than things existing in it). But why this intuition about *our* reality should be extrapolated to metaphysics?

And it is "explanations' that we are interested in here and thus we spend time and thought here on these words. ;-) I would like to point out that 'nothing' does seem to require a lot less explanation simply because it is defined in terms of the negation of what is already potentially in the mind of the reader of the word and thus using a is a connotative definition. We tend not to think much of it, but 'Nothing' = Sum of {not a cat, not a dot, not a fist, not a person, not a word, ... } We require concepts like the complement of a set in our very thoughts... I like to use the concept of an equivalence class to consider these questions. We could say that Nothing is the equivalence relation on the class of {not a cat, not a dot, not a fist, not a person, not a word, ... }

- I think that the important question is why this universe instead of any other universe? (including "nothing").

I suspect that the answer to this question is trivial: We see this universe because it is the only one that is minimally (?) consistent with our ability to _both_ observe it and communicate with each other about it.

Ricardo.

On Sun, May 6, 2012 at 6:24 PM, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com <mailto:johnkcl...@gmail.com>> wrote:

On Sat, May 5, 2012  John Mikes <jami...@gmail.com
<mailto:jami...@gmail.com>> wrote:

> Is it so hard to understand a "word"?

Yes, the word "nothing" keeps evolving. Until about a hundred
years ago "nothing" just meant a vacuum, space empty of any
matter; then a few years later the meaning was expanded to include
lacking any energy too, then still later it meant also not having
space, and then it meant not even having time. Something that is
lacking matter energy time and space may not be the purest form of
nothing but it is, you must admit, a pretty pitiful "thing", and
if science can explain (and someday it very well may be able to)
how our world with all it's beautiful complexity came to be from
such modest beginnings then that would not be a bad days work, and
to call such activities "incredibly shallow" as some on this list
have is just idiotic.

*>**N O T H I N G  - *is not a set of anything, no potential

Then the question "can something come from nothing?" has a obvious

> I wrote once a little silly 'ode' about ontology. I started:
"In the beginning there was Nothingness.
And when Nothingness realised it's nothingness
It turned into Somethingness

produce something. I also note the use of the word "when", thus
time, which is something, existed in your "nothing" universe as
well as potential.

John K Clark

--
Onward!

Stephen

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."
~ Francis Bacon

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