Nothingness

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Metaphysics
  3. » Nothingness

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 04:29 pm
On the topic of nothingness, a concept so great, that it seems almost impossible for us to ever really understand, I've come up with a theory/quote, that I thought I'd share.

"To truly understand nothingness, is to understand everything."

What do you think?
 
Justin
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 09:20 pm
@andyhudd,
I think it's a good quote. Why though would we concern ourselves with understanding nothingness when we don't understand life and who we are?
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 09:55 pm
@andyhudd,
andyhudd;26075 wrote:
On the topic of nothingness, a concept so great, that it seems almost impossible for us to ever really understand, I've come up with a theory/quote, that I thought I'd share.

"To truly understand nothingness, is to understand everything."

What do you think?


You might be interested in making a study of Taoism. The Taoists have some very interesting things to say about the idea of nothingness.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 06:57 am
@TickTockMan,
To truly understand everything, is to understand nothingness.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 07:35 am
@andyhudd,
andyhudd wrote:
On the topic of nothingness, a concept so great, that it seems almost impossible for us to ever really understand, I've come up with a theory/quote, that I thought I'd share.

"To truly understand nothingness, is to understand everything."

What do you think?


I think there is no concept of nothingness although there is the logical concept of negation with which the former is confused. And that is why it is so difficult to grasp the concept of nothingness- there isn't one.

span.jajahWrapper { font-size:1em; color:#B11196; text-decoration:underline; } a.jajahLink { color:#000000; text-decoration:none; } span.jajahInLink:hover { background-color:#B11196; }
 
ogden
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 03:33 pm
@kennethamy,
I would have to agree with Kennethamy. Existence unequivocally eradicates nothingness. That is what is impossible to fully comprehend. There is no way to truly understand nothingness because you would have to exist to understand it, and your own existence would nullify the concept of nothingness. So it is paradoxical.


It took humans a great while just to invent the concept of numeric zero, and today one of the great questions is what did existence spring from? What was before the big bang? Space is now said to be filled with dark matter, so there is something even when it seems like nothing.


I do believe that the idea of nothingness is still imaginable on some level, otherwise how would we be discussing it now? This may be the negation that Kennethamy is referring to. It seems natural to think that existence was born from nothingness, and one can then imagine that nothingness is a potential of existence.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 03:57 pm
@andyhudd,
andyhudd wrote:
"To truly understand nothingness, is to understand everything."


I get the feeling I'd need more information on what "nothingness" we're talking about here. If the obvious context is taken (which is to say, Nothing... at all... of... anything) then my brain chokes on the idea as a circular argument that self-destructs - in so doing, it has no meaning.

  • If we 'understood' nothing, we'd understand no thing.
  • If we understood no thing at all, there is nothing to be observed
  • If there isn't anything to be observed, then we darn-sure wouldn't understand everything
  • Therefore the statement is a suicided thought; it kills itself (impaled on its own logic)

I must be missing something here. If so, might I impose on someone to enlighten moi?

Thanks
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 04:59 pm
@Khethil,
Nothingness is nothingness, there's nothing to talk about it.
 
validity
 
Reply Wed 1 Oct, 2008 12:40 am
@Holiday20310401,
If we are to abandon the concept of nothingness, are we then giving value to the concept that "things" have always existed?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Wed 1 Oct, 2008 09:04 am
@validity,
validity wrote:
If we are to abandon the concept of nothingness, are we then giving value to the concept that "things" have always existed?


Not necessarily. If we are to abandon the concept of nothingness, then my guess is that we'd be abandoning the concept of nothingness.

<dramatic stare off into the distance>

:poke-eye:
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 1 Oct, 2008 09:40 am
@Khethil,
By definition nothingness cannot have existence. But like the future, which also cannot exist in the same sense as nothingness, it does have meaning and can therefore exist in another sense of existence, as a (for example) mental construct.

Consider for example, Sartre's conception of nothingness as a "lack." He gives an example of an empty chair at the dinner table; Pierre has promised to attend, and has usually attended, but he is absent. His nothingness, as it were, is felt and known by the others awaiting him.
This phenomenal approach would show that the Self has types of conduct which he maintains in the face of Nothingness. (Being and Nothingness, "Negations").
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 05:12 pm
@jgweed,
Can there be somethingness without nothingness?
 
ogden
 
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 05:28 pm
@TickTockMan,
Quote:
Can there be somethingness without notheingness?


Sure. Why not? In fact somethingness indicates that nothingness is imposible. See what I mean?

However the awareness of the concept of something imidiately suggests the posibility of that something being absent.
 
William
 
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 06:37 pm
@ogden,
Please excuse a stupid assumption, but isn't it common sense that no matter how "small" something is, it is composed of something else and so on and so on and so on. Is there something wrong in my assumption? Thanks, please don't get too "scientifically out there". I am understanding you are talking about the hypothesis of something coming from nothing. Isn't that just impossible to imagine, much less prove.

Thanks,
William
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 07:44 pm
@ogden,
ogden;26592 wrote:
Sure. Why not? In fact somethingness indicates that nothingness is imposible. See what I mean?

However the awareness of the concept of something imidiately suggests the posibility of that something being absent.


Nothingness is what gives somethingness form.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 02:45 am
@TickTockMan,
I probably shouldn't be poking my head into this thread. But ... what the heck.

TickTockMan wrote:
Nothingness is what gives somethingness form.


How's that? I've never quite understood attempts to quantify this. I dont' quite know where you're coming from Tock - maybe you'll help flesh this out (or point me in the right direction).

I've seen a good bit of arguments on "opposition"; the necessity of having the one to perceive the other as well as theories positing the existence (inter dimensionally or without our own realm) of opposing forces - that in order for the X to exist, there must needs be the Y. I see some grace, some uniformity in such assertions, but never enough to really buy off.

Nothingness cannot exist - I think we've actually already fleshed that out here (at least to my satisfaction). So how is it that we can say - essentially - "... there must be nothingness" (which is a self-contradiction itself) "... in order to give somethingness its form".

Feel free to tell me I just don't get it... wait, scratch that. I'll admit I don't get it, but am hoping to get some meat-and-potatoes on this notion.

Thanks in advance

:Glasses:

P.S: Do we mean to say, perhaps, "Its the concept of nothingness that gives form to somethingness"???? If that's the case, I getcha completely.
 
Poseidon
 
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 04:15 pm
@Khethil,
I love these type of debates.:shifty:

The initial response is to say nothingness is the absence of understanding,
so to understand what nothingness is, is initself a contradiction.

However,
This has been expressed, and understood,
which stands in contradiction to the first contradiction.
:eek:
To understand nothingness, is to not understand: a contradiction
To not understand nothingness is to understand, thus both statements are contradictions, yet are also in contradiction to one another.

Which is not logically possible!
:shocked:
So we have to use the term paradox, instead of contradiction.

In conclusion:
Not all things can be understood in terms of logic.
Mathematics is not omnipresent.
The universe is an absurd paradox.

Another example of illogical logic making sense:
1 pool of water + 1 pool of water = 1 pool of water
thus
1+1=1:nonooo:

Have a nice day
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Sat 4 Oct, 2008 04:24 pm
@Poseidon,
Khethil;26617 wrote:
I've seen a good bit of arguments on "opposition"; the necessity of having the one to perceive the other as well as theories positing the existence (inter dimensionally or without our own realm) of opposing forces - that in order for the X to exist, there must needs be the Y. I see some grace, some uniformity in such assertions, but never enough to really buy off.

Nothingness cannot exist - I think we've actually already fleshed that out here (at least to my satisfaction). So how is it that we can say - essentially - "... there must be nothingness" (which is a self-contradiction itself) "... in order to give somethingness its form".

Feel free to tell me I just don't get it... wait, scratch that. I'll admit I don't get it, but am hoping to get some meat-and-potatoes on this notion.

Thanks in advance

:Glasses:

P.S: Do we mean to say, perhaps, "Its the concept of nothingness that gives form to somethingness"???? If that's the case, I getcha completely.


Khethil, I would never presume to tell you that you "don't get it." That would indicate that I think I do "get it," and that would be the height of hubris on my part. These are all just thoughts I've been working through based on things I've read, observations, and experiences. Also, many (many) years ago I did a fair bit of . . . uh . . . shall we say "chemical modification of my consciousness." Purely in the interest of science and metaphysics, you understand. But keep that in mind while you're rooting through the following gibberish.

In addition, let me preface my remarks by apologizing if I wander off on seemingly unrelated tangents. I have very few people in my circle who have any interest in discussing these topics, so this forum serves as much as a way of trying to flesh things out in my own mind as it does as a platform where I can bounce my thoughts off of other people to be either dismissed or accepted . . . or even better, expanded. I'm good with whatever response I get.

So here goes.

The idea of nothingness, to me, is as difficult to comprehend as the idea of infinity. There are some concepts that the human mind (or at least my mind) are incapable of getting a good grip on intellectually.

How does one fully comprehend the idea of infinity? Is it possible to really get comfortable intellectually with the idea that infinity not only goes on forever, but that as infinity, it had no beginning? That it has always been there and will always be. I don't know about you, but thinking about it, or meditating upon it if you prefer, makes my brain start doing flip flops and trying to change the subject. Eventually my mind says, "No. Enough. Stop it. Think about something else."

It's like lying on your back at night and looking up at the stars, imagining the vast distance between them and yourself, and just, well, the hugeness of it all. Then, lying there, having the realization that in an infinite space the concepts of up and down become meaningless perception-based illusions and that in all actuality you could just as easily be looking down. In essence, you are looking into infinity and infinity is looking back at you. And it is utterly impersonal. Which I think, by the way, is the good news for both Existentialists and Determinists.

A few years ago PBS's "NOVA" series ran a program dealing with string theory and the attempts of physicists to unify Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory called "The Elegant Universe." I remember a physicist who was talking about infinity and the idea of no end and no beginning saying something like, "That's a real problem for physicists . . . and for philosophers as well, I would imagine. A universe without a beginning or an end implies a universe without meaning, and as a scientist I find that unacceptable."

So what does this have to do with "nothingness and somethingness?" I'm not sure, other than it's an attempt to put the concept of comprehending nothingness into a different, but perhaps related, framework.

I would submit that saying that "nothingness cannot exist" is absolutely correct. It would be equally correct to say that "nothingness does not exist. That's why it is called "nothingness." If nothingness existed, it would then be "somethingness" by virtue of the fact that it has been identified. And this is why it's so tricky to work with. How can we ever prove or disprove intellectually or empirically that nothingness either does or does not exist if the minute we find any evidence of it, it automatically becomes a something, and if we never find any evidence of it, it would seem that its absence confirms its presence? But if that confirms its presence then . . . . .

. . . . And around and around and around.

But this is all semantics, word games, and nothingness absolutely transcends linguistics and semantics, theology and philosophy, and obliterates even consciousness itself. It cannot be grasped, it cannot be quantified, it cannot be conceptualized, it cannot be perceived - except as echoes in the things around us. And even there, once we hear those echoes, it's gone again.

Nothingness, to me, is like a flicker in the corner of your eye that you perceive when you're focusing on something else. You think you saw something, but when you turn to look, it's gone. When your mind is calm and empty of all other thoughts or focused on something else you may intuitively, briefly, perceive a flicker in the corner of your mind of the nothingness around you, but when you turn your attention to it, it is likewise gone.

I don't have a problem with the idea of the idea of opposing forces, or the necessity of the need of one to perceive the other. I see it around me everywhere. It works for me. Your mileage may vary.

For example, I can look at at tree through a botanist's eyes and see its shape as a collection of cells and systems that form a living and growing organism that responds to its environment in a certain way, such as photosynthesizing, and hence has developed a structure conducive to maintaining its existence. Or, I can look at it and see its shape only by virtue of where it is not a tree. Or take a cereal bowl as another example. A cereal bowl is only useful by virtue of what is not cereal bowl.

This is what I mean when I say "nothingness is what gives somethingness form."

Looking for an intellectual hook to hang nothingness on is like raking leaves in the wind. It keeps you occupied, but in the end it makes no real difference. But, as the Buddhists say, "The path is the goal."

Thanks for reading,
Tock.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 04:54 am
@TickTockMan,
Thanks Tock, very well put. And of course, no need to apologize for wordiness; how you used it here helped to delineate the subtle differences in the conceptualizations you were wanting to communicate. Very nice

TickTockMan wrote:
The idea of nothingness, to me, is as difficult to comprehend as the idea of infinity. There are some concepts that the human mind (or at least my mind) are incapable of getting a good grip on intellectually... ... I don't know about you, but thinking about it, or meditating upon it if you prefer, makes my brain start doing flip flops and trying to change the subject. Eventually my mind says, "No. Enough. Stop it. Think about something else."


Precisely. For us, all things must have had a beginning - else they could not exist. If this is false, and the universe HAS existed for ever (as well as WILL exist forever), we'll never prove it, ever. And yes, it is very much a word game to say "nothingness exists" - it's one of those phrases that, by its wording, impales itself on contradicting meanings.

TickTockMan wrote:
I would submit that saying that "nothingness cannot exist" is absolutely correct. It would be equally correct to say that "nothingness does not exist... it's an attempt to put the concept of comprehending nothingness into a different, but perhaps related, framework.... Or, I can look at it and see its shape only by virtue of where it is not a tree. Or take a cereal bowl as another example. A cereal bowl is only useful by virtue of what is not cereal bowl.


No disagreement here, excellent clarification and good examples.

Thanks for sharing.
 
Doorsopen
 
Reply Wed 8 Oct, 2008 12:19 pm
@Khethil,
At a certain point, say two hundred years ago I did not exist. I was nothingness.

Events two hundred years ago were, of course, leading to my birth, but still my potential to exist was indeterminate. I was still nothing.

Finally, my Mother and my Father were born, and there is a higher chance that I, myself will be born. But still I am nothing.

Finally I am conceived and eventually leave the state of nothingness and enter the state of being.

Eventually I will die and return to a state of nothingness.

In this logic, nothingness is a potential for becoming.

Or perhaps I should consider relative distance. Place a grain of sand on a dark background (so that it is visible) and then cast your imagination a million light years away ... we know that the grain of sand is where we placed it, but our perceptions from that distance would not allow us to see the grain of sand. Is this nothingness? According to perception it would be, but our mind would tell us that something is still there.

Is it possible that the only difference between nothingness and, well 'everythingness' is in perception?

From a certain distance the physical universe would behave like the grain of sand- absolutely imperceptible, except in mind.

Then is perception itself, sensory perception gives me details of everythingness- but had I no eyes, no sense of smell, no hearing, no tactile sense of existence- how would I be aware at all of existence? I would be mind only within nothingness? Mind then would be the only presence within ... nothingness. Does that negate nothingness? And what if I have a different sense of perception; perhaps I can perceive only energy, and not matter. Would I be at all aware of existence, or would all appear to be just a great field of energy without perceivable substance?

Is anyone out there?
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Metaphysics
  3. » Nothingness
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 03/23/2019 at 05:27:24