A possible solution to why is there something rather than nothing.

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Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 01:00 am
The main question is:

1. Why is there something rather than nothing?

One possible solution is from Robert Nozick ` s philosophical explanation. That is, when ever someone find the need to ask 1, they are presupposing the "naturalness" of nothingness over somethingness. To eloberate, the question of the form: "why is there X, rather than Y?" presupposes Y is a natural state of being. Y is natural in the sense that there need not be any explanation for why Y obtain. Under such state of affair(where Y is natural), then we have a puzzle as to why X obtain, and not Y. The thought is that if Y is natural, and X deviates from Y, then there ought to be a force F that transform Y into X. So, by presupposing nothingess ( or Y ) is more natural, we are lead to two brute fact. They are:

A. There is a force F that transforms nothingness( or Y) into somethingness( or E). Why does this F obtain, and not F* that obtain? F is a brute fact.

and

B. Given that F transform nothingness( or Y) into X. Why is it X, and not X*? X is a brute fact.


Thus, the innocent looking question of 1 is actually a loaded question. It presupposes alot of things. According to Nozick. The prior question is "why is there something"?


reference: Amazon.com: Philosophical Explanations (9780674664791): Robert Nozick: Books
 
parker pyne
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 01:32 am
@vectorcube,
I think the question may be asked without the presupposition that "nothingness" is the natural state. If I ask "why do I have an apple in my hand, instead of an orange?" I'm not implying that I'm supposed to have an orange. I'm just identifying that other possibilities are present.

Of course, if your refutation is completely valid, then you assume that "somethingness" is the natural state. Is it? What is the "natural state"?

If the "natural state" implies "original state", well jesus, I can honestly say I have no clue.
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 01:40 am
@parker pyne,
parker pyne;79428 wrote:
I think the question may be asked without the presupposition that "nothingness" is the natural state. If I ask "why do I have an apple in my hand, instead of an orange?" I'm not implying that I'm supposed to have an orange. I'm just identifying that other possibilities are present.

Of course, if your refutation is completely valid, then you assume that "somethingness" is the natural state. Is it? What is the "natural state"?

If the "natural state" implies "original state", well jesus, I can honestly say I have no clue.


As a matter of definition. A Natural state is the state that requires no explanation( from nozick).
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 07:49 pm
@vectorcube,
I think that Nothing got bored of Nothing so it decided to get off its butt and create Something. Eventually, Something will be come too tiring so it will go back to Nothing, until it gets bored again. Something like the Sleep/Awake cycle.

Rich
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 11:22 pm
@richrf,
richrf;79536 wrote:
I think that Nothing got bored of Nothing so it decided to get off its butt and create Something. Eventually, Something will be come too tiring so it will go back to Nothing, until it gets bored again. Something like the Sleep/Awake cycle.

Rich


Well, if nothing is bore. Don` t you think he would go rent a movie?
 
richrf
 
Reply Sat 25 Jul, 2009 11:58 pm
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;79570 wrote:
Well, if nothing is bore. Don` t you think he would go rent a movie?


It does as well as all the other things we do in life. It is what is commonly thought of as the Big Bang! And what a Bang it was.

Rich
 
quandary
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 01:42 am
@vectorcube,
Thanks for the interesting post Vectortube! Quite an explanation there and I'd like to bring up a few questions and contentions.

I think it'd be helpful to start with why I think that, ironically, this answer is a bit loaded.

If Nozick has asserted that a 'natural state' is one of which there is no explanation, it seems he has concluded the arguement from its beginning. This is because the question (why is there everything rather than nothing) calls into question nature itself. Subsumed in the question is 'why is there a naturality at all?' or 'why is there a nature?' To say that these questions aren't actually asking (or saying) anything (which it would) already implies the answer. The question is searching for the enigmatic explanation of existence itself.

From here I'd also like to express a simple thought that denies me the ability to accept the arguement. Nothing not only doesn't, but couldn't have a 'naturalness' or a 'natural state' because it betrays the idea itself. The reason why 'everything' requires explanation is mostly because its contrary does not: there is nothing in nothing to account for, how could we explain nothing? Because there is everything, we have things we can account for and this seems impossible for it's antithesis.
 
ACB
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 07:56 am
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;79426 wrote:
According to Nozick. The prior question is "why is there something"?


"Why is there something?" implies "there might have been nothing". But the word "there" implies a frame of reference, which is something. So I think the question "why is there something?" is incoherent. The question should be: "Why is the universe the way it is?"
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 12:28 pm
@ACB,
ACB;80327 wrote:
"Why is there something?" implies "there might have been nothing". But the word "there" implies a frame of reference, which is something. So I think the question "why is there something?" is incoherent. The question should be: "Why is the universe the way it is?"


It is difficult to understand the question, why is there something, since I wonder what else there should be? The answer to your question is, of course, that if the universe were a different way, you would be complaining about that, too. Some people are never satisfied. After all, why wouldn't the universe be the way it is?
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 12:45 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;80394 wrote:
It is difficult to understand the question, why is there something, since I wonder what else there should be? The answer to your question is, of course, that if the universe were a different way, you would be complaining about that, too. Some people are never satisfied. After all, why wouldn't the universe be the way it is?


It is not about being satisfied. Exploration is about searching for something new. The early European explorers could have sat on their butts and made shoes, and that would have been fine. But instead, they wanted to explore. To find new things. To discover more about where they live. Either choice is fine. Captain Kirk could have chosen a nice soft job on staff at Starfleet but it wanted to go where no (wo)man has gone before. It is a simple matter of curiosity. Smile

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 03:20 pm
@richrf,
richrf;80398 wrote:
It is not about being satisfied. Exploration is about searching for something new. The early European explorers could have sat on their butts and made shoes, and that would have been fine. But instead, they wanted to explore. To find new things. To discover more about where they live. Either choice is fine. Captain Kirk could have chosen a nice soft job on staff at Starfleet but it wanted to go where no (wo)man has gone before. It is a simple matter of curiosity. Smile

Rich


"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time."

T.S. Eliot ( The Four Quartets.)

And that is the kind of exploration the philosopher engages in. We learn nothing new; but we understand what we already knew, more. This is the kind of thing that Socrates, and Plato, and later, Wittgenstein, said philosophy was.
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 09:30 pm
@quandary,
quandary;80307 wrote:
Thanks for the interesting post Vectortube! Quite an explanation there and I'd like to bring up a few questions and contentions.

I think it'd be helpful to start with why I think that, ironically, this answer is a bit loaded.

If Nozick has asserted that a 'natural state' is one of which there is no explanation, it seems he has concluded the arguement from its beginning. This is because the question (why is there everything rather than nothing) calls into question nature itself. Subsumed in the question is 'why is there a naturality at all?' or 'why is there a nature?' To say that these questions aren't actually asking (or saying) anything (which it would) already implies the answer. The question is searching for the enigmatic explanation of existence itself.


Remember that natural state is a state that requires no explanation. This idea has an intuitive appeal, and also form the bases of all types of explanaton. In general, the use of explanation is reducing what is unfamilar to what is familar. What is familar becomes the nature state which requires no explanation. If there is no natural state, then it amounts to the situation where a child asks "why?" again and again without end. In fact, you would have an infinite chain of explanations.

---------- Post added 07-30-2009 at 10:36 PM ----------

ACB;80327 wrote:
"Why is there something?" implies "there might have been nothing".


Can you explain this to me? I don` t see it as a strict implication for i can imagine the answer "It is good there is something". As crazy as it sound, the answer is actually from the canadian philosopher john leslia.

---------- Post added 07-30-2009 at 10:43 PM ----------

kennethamy;80394 wrote:
It is difficult to understand the question, why is there something, since I wonder what else there should be? The answer to your question is, of course, that if the universe were a different way, you would be complaining about that, too. Some people are never satisfied. After all, why wouldn't the universe be the way it is?


There could be jelly monsters. There seems to be an intuitive appeal to the ways "the world could be", and possibilities that fail to obtain. Likewise, there seems to things that could not fail to be what it is. E.g the set of 3 elements cannot fail to have the power set of 9 elements. Similarly, we can imagine a world without any deep sense of order we find in this universe. The universe "could be" structureless, but not. Similarly, It is a logically possible world with 3 fundamental particles, goven dynamics laws L1, L2. There is nothing wrong with such a world. These are all possible state of affair that do not obtain, but yet nothing prevents them from obtaining. To deny these possibilities is to show the actual world cannot be from what it is. How do you do this, and what is the bases of this uniqueness?


The notation of "could be" is a primitive, unanalyzable modal notion tha has it` s root in pre-theoritical minds.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 11:48 pm
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;80458 wrote:
Remember that natural state is a state that requires no explanation. This idea has an intuitive appeal, and also form the bases of all types of explanaton. In general, the use of explanation is reducing what is unfamilar to what is familar. What is familar becomes the nature state which requires no explanation. If there is no natural state, then it amounts to the situation where a child asks "why?" again and again without end. In fact, you would have an infinite chain of explanations.

---------- Post added 07-30-2009 at 10:36 PM ----------



Can you explain this to me? I don` t see it as a strict implication for i can imagine the answer "It is good there is something". As crazy as it sound, the answer is actually from the canadian philosopher john leslia.

---------- Post added 07-30-2009 at 10:43 PM ----------



There could be jelly monsters. There seems to be an intuitive appeal to the ways "the world could be", and possibilities that fail to obtain. Likewise, there seems to things that could not fail to be what it is. E.g the set of 3 elements cannot fail to have the power set of 9 elements. Similarly, we can imagine a world without any deep sense of order we find in this universe. The universe "could be" structureless, but not. Similarly, It is a logically possible world with 3 fundamental particles, goven dynamics laws L1, L2. There is nothing wrong with such a world. These are all possible state of affair that do not obtain, but yet nothing prevents them from obtaining. To deny these possibilities is to show the actual world cannot be from what it is. How do you do this, and what is the bases of this uniqueness?


The notation of "could be" is a primitive, unanalyzable modal notion tha has it` s root in pre-theoritical minds.


It has always seemed to me that if there had been nothing, that would have been quite something!
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 12:08 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;80475 wrote:
It has always seemed to me that if there had been nothing, that would have been quite something!


Not at all. In fact, the modern philosopher quentin smith defines nothing as the abserce of everything(Profile | Why is There "Something" Rather than "Nothing"? (Quentin Smith) | Closer to Truth)


Nothing is very easily defined, but most work on the question is on "why not nothing". One possible solution has to do with possible worlds by Peter van Inwagen. So, it is precisely the notion of possible worlds that explains why there is something, and not nothing. The answer is because there are more possible worlds with something, and there is only one possible world with nothing. Any random pick in this set of worlds would give us a probability of 1 that we live in a world with something.
 
quandary
 
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 05:27 am
@vectorcube,
Quote:
Remember that natural state is a state that requires no explanation. This idea has an intuitive appeal, and also form the bases of all types of explanaton. In general, the use of explanation is reducing what is unfamilar to what is familar. What is familar becomes the nature state which requires no explanation. If there is no natural state, then it amounts to the situation where a child asks "why?" again and again without end. In fact, you would have an infinite chain of explanations.


Yes but my problem with that was the difference in the idea of 'no explanation' between them. With one (nothing) the idea itself is obvious, there would be nothing to explain: this conclusion would be implicated by it's definition. However, with everything it would become something like a 'just-so' story and it's almost counter-intuitive to say that 'everything' itself is it's own explanation (a natural state.) This also rules out contingency which, for me, is problematic. If everything is a 'natural state', actually, the only conclusion that seems logical is the infinite regress, the "why" ad infinitum.

Also, I think the word 'familiar' is a bit too vague. The term 'nature' is somewhat ambiguous. I think a better way to put it would be what is innate or a feature that isn't acquired from experience or over time. The term 'familiar' can be exchanged in many cases for 'normal' and that is something entirely different from an original feature. Normality can be generated from second natures which shouldn't be confused with something that is original or innate.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 05:58 am
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;80478 wrote:
Not at all. In fact, the modern philosopher quentin smith defines nothing as the abserce of everything(Profile | Why is There "Something" Rather than "Nothing"? (Quentin Smith) | Closer to Truth)




Why, do you think, does Quentin Smith place quote marks around the terms, nothing and something?.Could it be that he is saying that he is using those terms in a very peculiar way? He certainly is. Can the word "nothing" be the name of something? Not in any ordinary use of that term. The absence of something is not something. I do not say that there are two things in my drawer, a pair of dirty old socks, and the absence of a pair of clean socks. How can the absence of a pair of clean socks be something additional in my drawer? The term "nothing" is not the name of some item which might or might not exist, as Smith (and you, and Inwagen) seem to believe.
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 06:36 am
@quandary,
quandary;80500 wrote:
Yes but my problem with that was the difference in the idea of 'no explanation' between them. With one (nothing) the idea itself is obvious, there would be nothing to explain: this conclusion would be implicated by it's definition.



Explain this again. I don` t see why there is nothing to explain if there is nothing. There would still be why nothing, and not something. Thus, giving privilage to something.

Quote:
However, with everything it would become something like a 'just-so' story and it's almost counter-intuitive to say that 'everything' itself is it's own explanation (a natural state.)


I don` t completely understand what you are saying here. I think you are saying there is something counterintuitive with the notion of a natural state. A state that do not need any explanation.


Quote:
This also rules out contingency which, for me, is problematic. If everything is a 'natural state', actually, the only conclusion that seems logical is the infinite regress, the "why" ad infinitum.


Nozick wrote about it. One possibility is that no state is natural. He propose the principle of fecundity( denote by L), and limited fecundity( denote by LF). He conclude that LF is reflexive. In very very technical language. Everthing can be concluded into three sentence:

1) LF is not a brute fact, because of self-subsumption.

2)LF is not arbitrary, because it satisfy invarience property I.

3). L and LF has a refexive explanation structure.

His argument is very technical, and i had to read it couple of times. Now, the above list is not understandable, but just a motivation for you to read the book, because the solution is in there.




---------- Post added 07-31-2009 at 07:46 AM ----------

kennethamy;80505 wrote:
Why, do you think, does Quentin Smith place quote marks around the terms, nothing and something?.Could it be that he is saying that he is using those terms in a very peculiar way? He certainly is. Can the word "nothing" be the name of something? Not in any ordinary use of that term. The absence of something is not something. I do not say that there are two things in my drawer, a pair of dirty old socks, and the absence of a pair of clean socks. How can the absence of a pair of clean socks be something additional in my drawer? The term "nothing" is not the name of some item which might or might not exist, as Smith (and you, and Inwagen) seem to believe.


'Nothing' might not refer to anything, but it is still a state of affair,or a possible world. A possible world with nothing whatsoever.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 08:21 am
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;80510 wrote:
Explain this again. I don` t see why there is nothing to explain if there is nothing. There would still be why nothing, and not something. Thus, giving privilage to something.



I don` t completely understand what you are saying here. I think you are saying there is something counterintuitive with the notion of a natural state. A state that do not need any explanation.




Nozick wrote about it. One possibility is that no state is natural. He propose the principle of fecundity( denote by L), and limited fecundity( denote by LF). He conclude that LF is reflexive. In very very technical language. Everthing can be concluded into three sentence:

1) LF is not a brute fact, because of self-subsumption.

2)LF is not arbitrary, because it satisfy invarience property I.

3). L and LF has a refexive explanation structure.

His argument is very technical, and i had to read it couple of times. Now, the above list is not understandable, but just a motivation for you to read the book, because the solution is in there.




---------- Post added 07-31-2009 at 07:46 AM ----------



'Nothing' might not refer to anything, but it is still a state of affair,or a possible world. A possible world with nothing whatsoever.


He puts quotes around words that might not refer to anything? Would he, do you think, put quotes around the term, extra-terrestrials. That term might not refer to anything too. I doubt that the word, nothing refers to a state of affairs, since there is no such state of affairs. And it doesn't really help to say that the term nothing refers to "a possible world with nothing whatever" since, that would be circular. If I don't understand the term nothing, I won't understand the term, "a possible world with nothing whatever". I don't think that nothing is a referential term. I think it is about equivalent to the logical particle, not, or, it is not the case that, as in the sentence, "There is nothing in the drawer", which simply means, "It is not the case that there is anything in my drawer". No one would go around asking, "what does 'it is not the case that', or, "not" refer to? And then, invent something (weird) for those terms to refer to, in the bargain The idea that all terms must refer, is what is the problem here. As Wittgenstein wrote, "Philosophy is a constant battle against the bewitchment of the intellect by language".
 
ACB
 
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 08:35 am
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;80510 wrote:
'Nothing' might not refer to anything, but it is still a state of affair,or a possible world. A possible world with nothing whatsoever.


No, I disagree; I think that is contradictory. I suspect that you are visualizing an empty space, which of course is a thing.

How can 'nothing' be a state of affairs? In order to 'be' anything, it must exist; but if it existed, it would not be nothing. A possible world with nothing whatsoever could not exist, for there would be nothing (no frame of reference) to make it a world.
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 09:14 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;80521 wrote:
He puts quotes around words that might not refer to anything? Would he, do you think, put quotes around the term, extra-terrestrials.

I am not advocating the view of Quentin Smith. What i can say is what i think of the matter. What i think is that nothing is a state of affair without anything at all. I sort of like Inwagen` s view that nothing is state of affair, or a possible world without anything at all.

Quote:
That term might not refer to anything too. I doubt that the word, nothing refers to a state of affairs, since there is no such state of affairs.


Why not? nothing might not be a state of affair that obtain, but it is a state of affair. It is a state of affair that pigs can fly, and cows can sing. perhaps you have a problem with nothing as a state of affair because it has a lack of anything. If so, then what is the source of your bias. If not, then why can` t nothing be a state of affair?

Quote:
And it doesn't really help to say that the term nothing refers to "a possible world with nothing whatever" since, that would be circular.


Nothing is just a world without anything. You can see it as the empty set. The intersection of two worlds with no elements in common is the empty world. Circular implies that i could define a possible world into existence. That is incorrect, because if possible world exist, then they exist regardless of how i define it.


Quote:

If I don't understand the term nothing


At some basic level, do you really not know? Ok, what about the word "empty". A empty world is a world that is empty. Now, this is not nothing, because it is empty. Is a empty world logically possible? if not, then what is it that makes the empty world not empty?

Quote:


I don't think that nothing is a referential term. I think it is about equivalent to the logical particle, not, or, it is not the case that, as in the sentence, "There is nothing in the drawer", which simply means, "It is not the case that there is anything in my drawer".


You see, i don` t see how nothing is a quantifier at all. Explain this to me.

I don` t see what "nothing p" amounts to.


---------- Post added 07-31-2009 at 10:19 AM ----------

ACB;80525 wrote:
A possible world with nothing whatsoever could not exist, for there would be nothing (no frame of reference) to make it a world.


But anything is a possible world if it is not logically contradictory. There is nothing contradictory about a world without anything at all( ie: nothing).

Quote:
I suspect that you are visualizing an empty space, which of course is a thing.



If you want a picture, then it ought to be the empty set. How many elements are in the empty set? zero. That approximating how i see the empty world.

Quote:
A possible world with nothing whatsoever could not exist, for there would be nothing (no frame of reference) to make it a world.



Maybe we have different ways of learning about possible worlds. Explain to me what frame of reference mean in this context? I suspect you are the one imaging empty world as a world with space. In more technical terms, you are imagine a configuration space for a possible world, but i have never heard of such necessary condition for possible worlds.

---------- Post added 07-31-2009 at 11:09 AM ----------

I put some extra effort on the last post to make it perfect, so do reply.
 
 

 
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