On Tue, May 8, 2012 at 6:37 PM, Stephen P. King <stephe...@charter.net>wrote:
> Some people claim that something cannot come from "nothing". I think they
> are hanging a property on it.
> Hi Ricardo,
>     Yes and some other people claim that something can indeed come out of
> nothing - so long as that something comes with its antithesis so that the
> sum of the two is equal to nothing, kinda like 1 and -1 popping out of
> zero. I think that they are "hanging a property on it" and thus they are
> assuming that it has "hooks" - to follow the metaphor. But I think that
> here we are looking at the symptoms of something else, the symptoms of the
> word "come from" or "caused by" or "emergent". They all involve some kind
> of transformation. Are transformations possible within a "nothing"? What
> about automorphisms? Those transformations that leave some pattern or
> object unchanged?

I agree that it is weird to say that something comes out of nothing, as it
implies some sort of time, which is not present in "nothing". I don't know
what to answer you but here is another argument (sort of):

- Let's start with a classical universe (Newtonian, with matter in it).
- Let's remove the matter

What is left is empty classical space. Can something come out of empty
classical space? Of course not. I think that almost always, when people say
"nothing" they actually mean classical empty space.

- Now let's remove the empty space. What is left is "nothing". Can
something come out of this "nothing"? Well, I think it could. At least, I
would say it cannot be discarded, or even, that anything is possible. Our
intuitions about classical empty space shouldn't be imposed on "nothing".
For some reason, people believe that classical empty space and "nothing"
are sort of similar. But, why should they be, at all?

> I think a proper philosopher would say that "nothing" is the state of
> affairs (rather than "nothing" exists).
>     Umm, OK, but would this not make "affairs" more primitive than
> nothing?

I think proper philosophers say "state of affairs" when they would like to
use "state" but know they shouldn't :-). OK, just kidding.

> I think that this way of thinking starts of with a collection of
> "somethings" (plural) and classifies "nothing" as that particular member of
> the collection that is the place holder for the absence of a state. This is
> the patterns that we see in the Natural numbers, where ZERO (0) marks the
> spot that divides the positive numbers from the negative numbers.
I think so.

>  In any case, when people ask the question "why something rather than
> nothing", they implicitely assume that there is some sort of priority for
> "nothing" over something.
>  My short answer to "why something rather than nothing?" is "why not?".
>     Yeah, but while that is clever it does not explain much, but I
> appreciate the spirit of the answer.
I agree, but it forces people to think about why they believe that
"nothing" should be preferably the case, rather than something.

Although we all have had this surprise/revelation "hey, things actually
exist, how come!", it's sort of funny. I mean, we are born with stuff
around us, and this is the case until we die. Our experience in the world
is that of transformation, never of things becoming nothing. Science only
confirms this: existence is hard. It's impossible to make matter/energy
disappear. I mean, really disappear. We wouldn't be able to obtain
"nothing" even if we really really wanted to (not even a Big Crunch). And
yet, we find it difficult to believe that there is something rather than
nothing. Go figure :-). I think it would be interesting to ascertain why
our psychology sends us this way.

>  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, ... }
>  I agree, but why the absence of things requires less explanation than
> the presence of things?
>     I think that it requires less of an explicit explanation as it relies
> on the explanations that exist previously in the minds of those that are
> apprehending the explanation. The fact that explanations are what conscious
> entities do with each other, they communicate meanings, not by pushing some
> "stuff" into them, but by implicating patterns of relations between the
> elements of the minds of the entities. Knowledge, learning, perception,
> Understanding are more like synchronization and entrainment than anything
> else.
I understand what you mean by explanation, but not why "nothing" being the
case would require less explanation than something being the case ...


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