Does "nothing" exist?

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Ola
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 11:24 am
@The Dude phil,
The Dude wrote:
I've been debating this subject for some time with a lot of people and I've always taken the view that "nothing" does not exist. No matter where you are in the universe their is something.

One example that always gets asked is about space. If you take a small parcel of space in any given place in the universe their still is "something" because the way I see it their are gamma rays, light rays, etc. Even if "nothing" did exist you would have to witness it through something, which means that it is not nothing since the nothing would be in the presense of something.

Does this make sense? Any ideas? Is it a valid argument?


Define space.
What happens when the space is smaller than the smalest particle/piece of energy? Can one do that? Always make a space smaller? If so then there is such a thing as nothing.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 12:01 pm
@Ola,
Ola wrote:
Define space.
What happens when the space is smaller than the smalest particle/piece of energy? Can one do that? Always make a space smaller? If so then there is such a thing as nothing.
But nothing does not exist its a term used to explain simple things like an empty box..If you have nothing you have something to compare it with..The nothing we talk of is not possible because its not there to be nothing..its a concept rather than a reality.Before this universe there was might be called nothing but once you make that statement you imagine a void and it was not a void..We can say that what we have we did not have..Im rambling again sorry..
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 03:07 pm
@The Dude phil,
In mysticism this problem would take a slightly different form, or would not arise at all. 'Nothing' would not equate to the Void. Nor would 'Something'. As xris notes, both are concepts. The Void spoken of in mysticism has no positive definition but is at least clearly defined as not-a-concept. Thus it is a Void. As well as our concepts of Something and Nothing there would be the Void, which would not be a concept but Reality. For the mystic, and it's pretty obvious really, Reality cannot be properly understood as a concept since it is not a concept. If it is a concept it is not Reality. As one sage puts it, 'Man can partake of the perpetual, but not by thinking he can think about it.'

For Kant this Void would be the proper subject of rational psychology, its ultimate explanandum. He defines 'it' as a Void when he states that it is not an instance of a Category. As such it cannot be conceptualised and is a psychological Void. Even to call it 'it' would be an error. This would be the phenomenon or ur-state without which, he reasons, we could never conceptualise or categorise anything. It would be tempting to suppose that this is something like Buddhism's 'pristine awareness'.

This seems worth mentioning here since it is easy when doing metaphysics to fall into the trap of thinking that Something-Nothing is an Aristotelian contradictory pair and that there can be no third alternative. Paul Davies shows how easy it is to do this in The Mind of God, one of the best books on this topic imo.

He comes close to the 'mystical' solution when he discusses Rucker's idea of the 'Mindscape', which is the set of all ideas. If the set of all ideas is an idea then Russell's paradox arises, and if it is not then what is it? He conjectures from this that what is required for an understanding of the universe as a whole, and thus of the solution to the Something-Nothing problem, may be a flash of mystical vision. Being a physicist, however, he assumes that this is an incomprehensible idea and does not explore it. It's a great book, but I wish he'd read something about mysticism instead of assuming it's untestable nonsense. The price he pays is his unsolved intellectual dilemma. Still, at least he mentions it, even if only to mischaracterise it, which is more than most writers of popular physics bother to do.

I have a feeeling that quite soon it will become blindingly obvious in physics that Buddhist doctrine is true and we'll all be back re-reading the early pioneers of quantum mechanics, who talked a lot of sense on the topic.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 03:11 pm
@The Dude phil,
Let X be a set containing no elements. What's in it?

You may be interested to know what the uncertainty principle says. This is just the scientific view though.

'Nothing' has an exact momentum (zero) and an exact energy (zero). In order for something to have an exact momentum, it must have an infinite spatial distribution (i.e. it must be nothing everywhere). In order to have an exact energy it must always have existed since it takes an eternity for something (including nothing if it exists) to settle down to an exact energy. So nothing is infinite and eternal, whatever it isn't.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 03:32 pm
@Bones-O,
Ha. Great post, and thanks for the information.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 05:16 pm
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
Ha. Great post, and thanks for the information.

Cheers! People are so nice on this forum. [sniff]
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 05:00 am
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
Let X be a set containing no elements. What's in it?

You may be interested to know what the uncertainty principle says. This is just the scientific view though.

'Nothing' has an exact momentum (zero) and an exact energy (zero). In order for something to have an exact momentum, it must have an infinite spatial distribution (i.e. it must be nothing everywhere). In order to have an exact energy it must always have existed since it takes an eternity for something (including nothing if it exists) to settle down to an exact energy. So nothing is infinite and eternal, whatever it isn't.
Sorry i did not understand your definition..Did you say nothing is eternal and Infinite ? or there is nothing that is infinite and eternal?.Does it conflict with my Nothing does not exist?
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 05:07 am
@The Dude phil,
Not at all. IF nothing exists, it is infinite and eternal.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 06:41 am
@The Dude phil,
Are you sure the argument from physics works in philosophy? There is something odd about the idea that we can prove in physics that if Nothing exists it must be infinite and eternal.

I'd rather just say that ex nihilo creation is impossible, and this is why Nothing can never have been and never will be a state of the cosmos. Hence the importance of distinguishing between Nothing and the Void here, since the latter need not be Nothing. In my view nothing really exists, but Nothing would not exist either.
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 07:00 am
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
Not at all. IF nothing exists, it is infinite and eternal.
Im still not sure we are on the same nothing as each other..your nothing appears to be a void..how can nothing go on for infinite if it does not exist?
 
Whoever
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 07:19 am
@The Dude phil,
I think the point is that the physics shows that Nothing is an absurd concept.
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 07:23 am
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
I think the point is that the physics shows that Nothing is an absurd concept.
I think for anything other than my empty box its worthless concept its not worth nothing..or is that something?oh i just remembered its anything..is that nothing ?
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 07:26 am
@xris,
xris wrote:
Im still not sure we are on the same nothing as each other..your nothing appears to be a void..how can nothing go on for infinite if it does not exist?

No, I said "if nothing exists" not "if nothing doesn't exist". I said nothing about the non-existent of nothing. I'm merely stating the limits of its possible existence.
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 07:39 am
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
No, I said "if nothing exists" not "if nothing doesn't exist". I said nothing about the non-existent of nothing. I'm merely stating the limits of its possible existence.
But nothing does not exist so how can you talk about its possible existance ? "If nothing exists" thats like saying when it exists..surely:perplexed:
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 07:45 am
@The Dude phil,
If we can perceive the idea of "nothing," then by the principle of sufficient reason, nothing must surely exist...yet there is nothing that we can observe that is nothing. Or perhaps that's what "nothing" is? A shared lack? If so, then it is merely a term, a theorem, and has no corporeal existence whatsoever.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 09:30 am
@xris,
xris wrote:
But nothing does not exist so how can you talk about its possible existance ? "If nothing exists" thats like saying when it exists..surely:perplexed:


Oh, I see. What you are saying is that nothing must exist in order for us to discuss its existence. We can talk about 'things', though. Nothing is just the negation of things. The human mind can quite capably consider a concept as a negation of another concept, even if the considered concept doesn't exist.
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 09:45 am
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
Oh, I see. What you are saying is that nothing must exist in order for us to discuss its existence. We can talk about 'things', though. Nothing is just the negation of things. The human mind can quite capably consider a concept as a negation of another concept, even if the considered concept doesn't exist.
Consideration is OK if it stands the rigour of examination but if does not then the consideration must stand by the examination..
 
Whoever
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 11:59 am
@The Dude phil,
"If we can perceive the idea of "nothing," then by the principle of sufficient reason, nothing must surely exist..."
Ok. So the question is, can we conceptualise Nothing? I'd say not.
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 01:11 pm
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
"If we can perceive the idea of "nothing," then by the principle of sufficient reason, nothing must surely exist..."
Ok. So the question is, can we conceptualise Nothing? I'd say not.
So we can not say" if it exists it is infinite" if the yeti exists its hairy...
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 05:14 pm
@Bones-O,
Whoever and Bones,

"Nothing" is not a negation of another concept. Again, perhaps you should backtrack to my initial postings - We cannot create a dichotomy of black and white here - To ask the question "What is Nothing?", renders the question unanswerable, as any notion conjured is Something. Humans cannot perceive "Nothing". The human mind is quite capable of applying a notion to a concept that doesn't exist such as "Nothing", "Absolute Darkness", "Absolute Lightness", but that is not significant. Creating these abstract notions is fine, but to then attempt to squeeze them into the rest of our logical categorization just doesn't work.

Whoever,

I'd agree that we cannot conceptualize it, at least through any logical method. And that's the point - Any conceptualization renders it Something, as humans reason only with Something. In other words, the very nature of our consciousness denies us the ability to truly understand "Nothing". And even if we transcended our consciousness, we wouldn't really know it, we would just be. Something and Nothing a synergy, One, Everything, One.
 
 

 
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