Does "nothing" exist?

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Whoever
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 05:14 pm
@The Dude phil,
Er. This is confusing.

Can we say 'if it exists it is infinite' if we cannot conceptualise it? I think so, on reflection, because even if we cannot conceptualise it we should be able to infer some of its necessary properties.
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 04:20 am
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
Er. This is confusing.

Can we say 'if it exists it is infinite' if we cannot conceptualise it? I think so, on reflection, because even if we cannot conceptualise it we should be able to infer some of its necessary properties.
I understand what you are saying but i dont agree. I say nothing does not exist, its not because i cant visualise it its because it does not exist.I cant describe something that does not exist. I dont believe infinite exists or that space goes on for ever, should i then attempt to describe something i dont think exists?
 
Whoever
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 05:18 am
@The Dude phil,
To say that Nothing doesn't exist wouldn't you have to define it? You can't argue that unicorns don't exist if you can't define 'unicorn'.
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 05:33 am
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
To say that Nothing doesn't exist wouldn't you have to define it? You can't argue that unicorns don't exist if you can't define 'unicorn'.
I have defined it, it dont exist.A unicorn is a mythical animal that has been described, i dont have to find it, it exists as a myth.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 07:45 am
@The Dude phil,
This is my point. A unicorn has a definition. If it didn't we couldn't say that unicorns do or do not exist.
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 08:20 am
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
This is my point. A unicorn has a definition. If it didn't we couldn't say that unicorns do or do not exist.
I should say this is a one of ,its not every day we debate nothing..silly insignificant clap but never nothing..So describe nothing, please...?
 
Whoever
 
Reply Mon 2 Feb, 2009 06:09 am
@The Dude phil,
The absence of everything. What else?
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 2 Feb, 2009 06:32 am
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
The absence of everything. What else?
that does not explain nothing it only explains the lack of something.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Mon 2 Feb, 2009 07:25 am
@The Dude phil,
Ok. But I haven't got anything to add.
 
Language Games
 
Reply Thu 5 Feb, 2009 03:04 pm
@Whoever,
Something worth noting is that some Ancient Greek philosophers equated 'nothing' with the vaccuum of space. However, although it is not material, the vaccum of space can both be sensed and has immense consequences on the interactions of material things -- so we can say that the vaccum of space has a physical quality. That quality is emptiness.

Now, are emptiness and nothing the same thing? No. Emptiness is a lack of material things -- but still a presence which can be detected with the senses (you can see the empty space between your eyes and your computer -- it plays a role in your intuitive understanding of distance) -- but a lack of material things is still an observably physical quality which we can point out and talk about. Therefore emptiness exists . . . as the vaccum of space that is so important for the operation of our universe.

Nothing would be an absence of even emptiness. It exists only as the vaguest notion -- any further existence would be a contradiction.

As far as its applied uses goes, the notion of nothing is used to make sense of the dissolvement of forms -- although the material that composes our body still exists, wear and time disperse it into unrecognizable forms. The notion of nothing comes into play here as our intuitive understanding of what happens to forms, but it would be more realistic to think of things as merely changing, not becoming nothing. But that requires a more spiritual way of thinking than people are prepared for, so the notion of nothing is retained as what Nietzsche considered all metaphysical concepts -- a useful fiction.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Fri 6 Feb, 2009 05:54 am
@The Dude phil,
I like the point about forms, and about the distinction between nothing and emptiness. But your Emptiness seems to be Nothing extended in space and time. Would this not make it just another conceptual fiction? Are you in any way connecting this emptiness with the emptiness spoken of in Buddhism?
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Fri 6 Feb, 2009 03:04 pm
@The Dude phil,
Emptiness (in the non-spiritual sense) is simply the state of containing nothing. The two concepts are inextricably related. If something is empty, it contains nothing.

However, to speak of 'nothing' as 'something' is contradictory. Useful, perhaps, but rather meaningless.
 
Lazarius
 
Reply Fri 6 Feb, 2009 04:29 pm
@The Dude phil,


Firstly, what do you mean by 'Nothing', that is a very open word within the English language.
I believe 'nothing' to actually represent the 'absence of value', however this in itself IS a value, a conceptual preset, so the absence of value retains a value in the same respect it does within the realm of mathematics and negative numbers and values.

just some thoughts...
 
Whoever
 
Reply Fri 6 Feb, 2009 05:32 pm
@The Dude phil,
Yes, I agree. This would something that is not an instance of a Category, as Kant concludes, the absence of value, a conceptual preset, that without which we would not be aware, Kant's subject of rational psychology. Without it there is no psychology, no foundation for a system of categories. This is what would lie beyond Nicolas of Cusa's 'coincidence of contradictories'. In Christian mysticism the Holy Grail is said to have the power to dissolve all distinctions. For the Buddha's enlightenment we must abandon all our views. It is not Nothing but it is not Something. If it were either it would be an instance of a category. As Lao-tsu puts it, it is 'beyond is and is-not'.

For Buddhism's theory of emptiness, emptiness would not be Nothing. Emptiness would be prior to space and time. It would be prior to existence and non-existence, it would be prior to strings and branes and Higgs bosons, and the question of why it exists would not arise. It cannot exist or not-exist, for in one sense it would never exist and in another exist forever. It is what it is, 'something' that is a conceptual void. Unless I have made a mistake, this is our origin according to Nagarjuna's theory of emptiness and the cosmological doctrine of the Middle Way schools of Buddhism. The answer to the question, 'Does the universe begin with Something or Nothing?' would be no. Nothing would really exist.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 6 Feb, 2009 06:49 pm
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
Emptiness (in the non-spiritual sense) is simply the state of containing nothing. The two concepts are inextricably related. If something is empty, it contains nothing.

However, to speak of 'nothing' as 'something' is contradictory. Useful, perhaps, but rather meaningless.


If something is empty, ie. an empty drawer, to our general perception, it does not mean it contains nothing. According to English semantics, usually when a human says "empty", it is implying that no matter in that space can be perceived through any of our senses. You are correct that speaking of "nothing" as "something" is a problem, which is what I indicated earlier - We should not create a dichotomy.

Whoever wrote:

For the Buddha's enlightenment we must abandon all our views. It is not Nothing but it is not Something. If it were either it would be an instance of a category. As Lao-tsu puts it, it is 'beyond is and is-not'.


This coincides with Pyrrho's 3-point skeptical philosophy:

1.) Nothing exists.
2.) If it did, we couldn't know it.
3.) If we knew it, we couldn't communicate it.

For to communicate "Nothing", to truly become enlightened (Buddha), one must transcend this consciousness. Rid ourselves of all human foibles - emotion of any kind, logic of any kind, and not even live through a culmination of sequential experiences. We would just be. And even when we knew, we wouldn't really know in the sense that we're thinking; it would be noncommunicable. Because once we knew, we would just be. We would just become "One", in a sense.

Whoever wrote:

Yes, I agree. This would something that is not an instance of a Category, as Kant concludes, the absence of value, a conceptual preset, that without which we would not be aware, Kant's subject of rational psychology. Without it there is no psychology, no foundation for a system of categories


Kant says that when we hold a hammer in our hands, we are not truly perceiving the 'hammer' (the cellular structure, an objective nature), we are simply receiving sensory stimuli, the touch of the metal, the smell of the oak, the noise of the thump. I tend to agree with these sentiments.
 
Anthrobus
 
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 10:20 am
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
Emptiness (in the non-spiritual sense) is simply the state of containing nothing. The two concepts are inextricably related. If something is empty, it contains nothing.

However, to speak of 'nothing' as 'something' is contradictory. Useful, perhaps, but rather meaningless.




The state that contains NOTHING would itself be something; excepting that it would have NOTHING to contain, and in which case it could or would not be a state that contains: therefore I conclude that NOTHING is neither the CONTAINER nor the CONTAINED, it cannot ever be referred to...

Lazarius wrote:


Firstly, what do you mean by 'Nothing', that is a very open word within the English language.
I believe 'nothing' to actually represent the 'absence of value', however this in itself IS a value, a conceptual preset, so the absence of value retains a value in the same respect it does within the realm of mathematics and negative numbers and values.

just some thoughts...



The ABSENSE OF VALUE could or would not be a VALUE: to say that something has POSITIVE VALUE or NEGATIVE VALUE is not the same thing as saying that there is an ABSENSE OF VALUE. I would say the EVERYTHING that EXISTS has VALUE, and that EXISTENCE itself is the precursor of VALUE, it follows that NOTHING that NON-EXISTS has no VALUE...
 
Whoever
 
Reply Sat 7 Feb, 2009 11:39 am
@Anthrobus,
Anthrobus wrote:
The state that contains NOTHING would itself be something; excepting that it would have NOTHING to contain, and in which case it could or would not be a state that contains: therefore I conclude that NOTHING is neither the CONTAINER nor the CONTAINED, it cannot ever be referred to...

Oh yes, this is really useful way to think about it. What you say here is the reason why the calculus created by George Spencer Brown and presented in Laws of Form (1969) is so important. Russell's paradox does not arise for it, and yet it is a formal model of the universe. This is possible because it originates with something which lies beyond the distinction between container and contained, something beyond the categories. Russell was full of praise for it, yet perversely he refused to see its implications for cosmogony. I spoke to Brown once, and when I mentioned Russell he said, dismissively but affectionately, 'Oh, Bertie was a fool.' I share this view so dropped the subject.

It is my opinion that the next giant step in metaphysics, religion and physics will be the abandonment of Russell's mathematical logic for Brown's. This transition has already taken place in quantum mechanics, and Dialethism would be a philosophical example, as would any apophatic religion, but this solution would have to be generalised if it is to produce a fundamental theory such as Brown's, the Budhha's and Lao-tsu's.

In a lecture at the Essaline Institute in the 60's Brown likens that which is prior to the Something-Nothing distinction to a blank sheet of paper. His calculus of indications operates on this conceptual void by a process of symmetry-breaking or category-making, or making marks on the paper.

This is an advertisement for Laws of Form, which in my opinion is not as well known as it deserves to be.

Anthrobus wrote:
The ABSENSE OF VALUE could or would not be a VALUE: to say that something has POSITIVE VALUE or NEGATIVE VALUE is not the same thing as saying that there is an ABSENSE OF VALUE. I would say the EVERYTHING that EXISTS has VALUE, and that EXISTENCE itself is the precursor of VALUE, it follows that NOTHING that NON-EXISTS has no VALUE...

Is it not also possible that value is the precursor of existence? I think this would be Brown's view.

I'm confused by your conclusion here but probably agree. 'Everything that does not exist' is a category or container, and so is 'everything that does exist'. For Brown's view, which is the absolute idealism of Bradley so disliked by Russell, and as for Kant, the Real is not an instance of a category. This is why, as Brown shows, Russell's paradox would not arise for a mathematical description of Lao-tsu's universe.

As a teenager my son once asked me to give him an example of a paradox. I stupidly started to explain Russell's, which is hardly the place to start, and had soon thoroughly confused both of us. 'This is stupid,' he eventually said, 'there's no paradox if we don't make up sets in the first place.' I was impressed. This is what Brown proposes. Is it also what you're proposing?
 
Anthrobus
 
Reply Sun 8 Feb, 2009 11:12 am
@Lazarius,
Whoever wrote:
Is it not also possible that value is the precursor of existence? I think this would be Brown's view.

I'm confused by your conclusion here but probably agree. 'Everything that does not exist' is a category or container, and so is 'everything that does exist'. For Brown's view, which is the absolute idealism of Bradley so disliked by Russell, and as for Kant, the Real is not an instance of a category. This is why, as Brown shows, Russell's paradox would not arise for a mathematical description of Lao-tsu's universe.

As a teenager my son once asked me to give him an example of a paradox. I stupidly started to explain Russell's, which is hardly the place to start, and had soon thoroughly confused both of us. 'This is stupid,' he eventually said, 'there's no paradox if we don't make up sets in the first place.' I was impressed. This is what Brown proposes. Is it also what you're proposing?



Would the SET of things PLURAL that do not belong to the SET of things PLURAL be a SET of the things PLURAL: I'm afraid your son is right there is no PARADOX.


All things are relative to themselves and each other as being the same as the same or the different as the different, or the same from the different, or the different from the same, and then as Whole to Whole, or Part to PART, or Whole to Part, or Part to Whole.


All things in Space and Time are the SET of things PLURAL, and I suppose as a consequence must belong to the SET of things PLURAL.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Sun 8 Feb, 2009 11:16 am
@The Dude phil,
I like Rucker's idea of the Mindscape, the set of all ideas. Russell's paradox arises with a vengeance.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2009 06:18 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
If something is empty, ie. an empty drawer, to our general perception, it does not mean it contains nothing. According to English semantics, usually when a human says "empty", it is implying that no matter in that space can be perceived through any of our senses. You are correct that speaking of "nothing" as "something" is a problem, which is what I indicated earlier - We should not create a dichotomy.

Hi Zetherin

I'm afraid I find that an unsatisfactory response. The extent to which the drawer does not really contain 'nothing' is exactly the extent to which it is not really 'empty'. I can quite as easily say the drawer contains nothing as is empty and be understood as saying the same thing.
 
 

 
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