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
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
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,