Ultimate question: Why anything at all?


by bohm2
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MarcoD
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#19
Aug31-11, 04:54 PM
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Quote Quote by JordanL View Post
Any ontological answer to the question "why is there something instead of nothing" almost certainly has to include that idea that existence is the why of existence.

One could say that in the vast sea of possible imagined ideas, our existence represents a small portion. I feel that is a reasonable statement to make. Following that, our existence represents a manifestation of a subset of ideas, that is part of the superset of all things that can be imagined.

Manifestation of an idea refers, in the context I am using it, of the ability of idea to persist without conscious imagining, as things within our Universe appear to do.

In that sense, what you are describing is a justification or reasoning for nihilism, as the discussion about "something vs. nothing" eventually leads towards existential nihilism in the form of a logical conclusion of the argument being presented: if everything is nothing, no thing can have inherent meaning.

It is ultimately, from my perspective, a discussion about what the difference is between ideas and reality.
The problem of the initial argument is that it relies on probabilism. Whereas we have no idea why several universes would exist, or why there would be any manner of assigning probabilistic quantities to different versions, or why there could, or should, be any mathematical underpinning for the existence of this, or multiple, universes.

The argument therefore fails immediately, for me, since there is no rational underpinning for the probabilistic, or mathematical, postulate. And even if I follow the postulates of the argument for a large part, I would rather assign to the idea that the relation between universes, if any, should be nondeterministic. Our one experienced universe simply exists for the reason that it can exist.

I fail to see why this discussion would lead to existential nihilism, or even the conclusion: everything is nothing, ... .
Evo
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#20
Aug31-11, 04:56 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
You are kidding right?
No, I'm trying to get you to use standard, well known definitions as required by our guidelines.
JordanL
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#21
Aug31-11, 05:04 PM
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Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
The problem of the initial argument is that it relies on probabilism. Whereas we have no idea why several universes would exist, or why there would be any manner of assigning probabilistic quantities to different versions, or why there could, or should, be any mathematical underpinning for the existence of this, or multiple, universes.

The argument therefore fails immediately, for me, since there is no rational underpinning for the probabilistic, or mathematical, postulate. And even if I follow the postulates of the argument for a large part, I would rather assign to the idea that the relation between universes, if any, should be nondeterministic. Our one experienced universe simply exists for the reason that it can exist.

I fail to see why this discussion would lead to existential nihilism, or even the conclusion: everything is nothing, ... .
This is actually the point I was making. I was rephrasing the original argument presented in a way that I knew how to address it.

My rejection of the original idea comes from my belief that the universe exists so that it can exist, as you also stated. Nihilism is the idea that fundamentally conflicts with this concept, and it is the nihilistic underpinnings of the original post that lead to my rejection of it as an explanation for the "ultimate question", as the OP posed it.
apeiron
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#22
Aug31-11, 05:21 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
No, I'm trying to get you to use standard, well known definitions as required by our guidelines.
Well what was non-standard there? I mean really? And what was not supported by the context of what I had just written?

Here is what you singled out:

That makes no sense. A dichotomy does not mean an impossibility to decide, it means a crisp metaphysical choice. Binary options that are mutually exclusive as demanded by the law of the excluded middle.
So I said a dichotomy is not correctly defined in metaphysics as an inability to chose (Wuliheron may have mistakenly been thinking of a false dichotomy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dichotomy).

It is correctly defined as a pair of choices which have the basic logical properties of being jointly exhaustive and mutually exclusive.

So now do you want to keep quarrelling about that definition or do you accept it?

If you want to keep on, then please supply your understanding of the standard definition so I can see what the heck is bothering you here.
Willowz
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#23
Aug31-11, 05:29 PM
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But, Evo is right. A dichotomy does not mean an impossibility to decide. Or I haven't encountered that definition.
Willowz
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#24
Aug31-11, 05:33 PM
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But, with topics like these semantics will always get in the way. Its all mathematics.
apeiron
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Aug31-11, 05:52 PM
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Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
The problem of the initial argument is that it relies on probabilism. Whereas we have no idea why several universes would exist, or why there would be any manner of assigning probabilistic quantities to different versions, or why there could, or should, be any mathematical underpinning for the existence of this, or multiple, universes.
If you dig into this, there is a decision to be made about whether things are interacting or non-interacting.

An infinity of possibilities that don't interact will have a different equilibrium behaviour than an infinity that does.

There would be two clear extremal cases, and hence probability spaces.

With non-interaction, you would have a Tegmarkian ensemble in which every possibility could also be an actuality (there would be nothing to stop it, and so it would logically happen).

With total interaction, you would instead expect just one actuality to emerge from any host of possibilities. One outcome would out-compete all the rest as the persisting equilibrium state.

You could of course have every result inbetween, if interaction was in some degree strong or weak.

But I think there are good arguments for total interaction and therefore the emergence of some total balance of constraints, which in turn says even from an infinity of possibilities, only the one thing will become actual.

This of course seems to rule out nothingness as one of those possibilities though. But we are now taking a developmental perspective on existence. It has to come into being via a process (a competition amongst possibilities that finds its probablistic equilbrium). And it is pretty logical that nothing can come from nothiing, and because there is now patently at least one something, then nothing was never actually a possibility.

But that may not completely vanquish the notion of nothingness. A developmental process happens "in time". In some sense (not the usual sense as we are beyond particular spacetime in this discussion) there is a beginning state and an end state.

So it could be said that in the beginning was everything (an infinity of possibility, an unlimited potential) and that in evolving into a concrete one-ness, it will end up creating as near to nothing as possible.

Sound like the Big Bang where all possible dimensionality and materiality gets cooled and expanded to an empty heat-death void? The end state of the universe would still be a something, but it would also be nothing much.

But anyway, you can build a stochastic treatment on either an interacting or non-interacting basis. And one would appear to predict an infinite ensemble of actualised worlds a la Tegmark. The other would appear to predict the opposite - all possibility boiling away to leave only the one actuality. And we can say a lot about that because we live in it.
MarcoD
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#26
Aug31-11, 05:54 PM
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Our one experienced universe exists for the reason that it can exist.

The universe exists so that it can exist.
I am not great on philosophical discourse, at some point they boil down to irrelevant word games. But I'll indulge myself. There is a slight difference between the above two statements.

Do you assign will to the universe? Or do you belief it has self-moving, self-creationary, autonomic attributes?
apeiron
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#27
Aug31-11, 05:55 PM
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Quote Quote by Willowz View Post
But, Evo is right. A dichotomy does not mean an impossibility to decide. Or I haven't encountered that definition.
No, I wuz right because I said that is what it does not mean.
MarcoD
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#28
Aug31-11, 06:17 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
If you dig into this, there is a decision to be made about whether things are interacting or non-interacting.

...

But anyway, you can build a stochastic treatment on either an interacting or non-interacting basis. And one would appear to predict an infinite ensemble of actualised worlds a la Tegmark. The other would appear to predict the opposite - all possibility boiling away to leave only the one actuality. And we can say a lot about that because we live in it.
The problem is that I denied, or questioned, the relevance, or even validity, of a mathematical underpinning of this, or any, universe. To go from the idea, a universe exists, therefor multiple universes do/might exist, is a leap of faith, but somewhat plausible. To go from the idea multiple universes exist towards universes have a probability of existing, or there is a probabilistic relation between them, is a tremendous leap of faith which I find implausible.

I can't comment on the rest since I don't know enough of it, and don't believe in the rational basis of it.
Willowz
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#29
Aug31-11, 06:24 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
No, I wuz right because I said that is what it does not mean.
I stand by my previous post.
JordanL
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#30
Aug31-11, 06:27 PM
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Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
I am not great on philosophical discourse, at some point they boil down to irrelevant word games. But I'll indulge myself. There is a slight difference between the above two statements.

Do you assign will to the universe? Or do you belief it has self-moving, self-creationary, autonomic attributes?
I believe that the concept of will itself is irrelevant. Will implies acceptance of something and rejection of its opposite, and a Universe is by definition the set of things which the accepted and rejected must both exist, thus the concept of will is a concept which applies to a lower level of understanding than the Universe or any interpretation of it.
apeiron
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#31
Aug31-11, 06:34 PM
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Quote Quote by MarcoD View Post
To go from the idea multiple universes exist towards universes have a probability of existing, or there is a probabilistic relation between them, is a tremendous leap of faith which I find implausible.
But just by leaping to an acceptance of multiple universes requires that there must be some lack of interaction between them (or how do they stay apart?). So you have already taken one of the two possible routes (and in doing so, dichotomistically ) you have created the clear idea of the other choice.

Now we exist in a world in which there appears to be both interaction and non-interaction - or perhaps more accurately, both integration and differentiation. So we do have a legitimate basis for speculating about what might be the larger case concerning our world.

Our experience of our world also gives weight to the idea that things develop - they have causal histories, they roll down entropic gradients. Our reality is not a static existence but a dynamic process.

So again, that seems a legitimate basis for speculating about the larger case. We would be more right to think that the same applies outside our world than not - on Bayesian reasoning at least.

There is no need for leaps of faith here. Just the usual philosophical story of starting where you are and then seeing how that may constrain what could be.
apeiron
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#32
Aug31-11, 06:38 PM
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Quote Quote by Willowz View Post
I stand by my previous post.
So where did Evo say that a dichotomy is not an impossibility to decide? I haven't seen those words anywhere yet. Can you back up your claim by quoting from her post?
Willowz
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#33
Aug31-11, 06:47 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
So where did Evo say that a dichotomy is not an impossibility to decide? I haven't seen those words anywhere yet. Can you back up your claim by quoting from her post?
Evo was pointing out this part from your eleventh post:

A dichotomy [...] means a crisp metaphysical choice.
MarcoD
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#34
Aug31-11, 06:52 PM
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Quote Quote by JordanL View Post
I believe that the concept of will itself is irrelevant. Will implies acceptance of something and rejection of its opposite, and a Universe is by definition the set of things [in] which the accepted and rejected must both exist, thus the concept of will is a concept which applies to a lower level of understanding than the Universe or any interpretation of it.
So you subscribe to a believe that things exist which are accepted or rejected. Are these things atomic, undividable, entities? [What is the nature of these things?]

The universe exists so that it can exist.
The second part of the question. My original claim was: 'The universe can exist, therefor it exists.' That is substantially different from 'The universe exists so that it can exist,' which to me (unless it was a typo), looks like it implies it has self-moving/self-creationary/autonomic attributes. Does it?
Evo
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#35
Aug31-11, 06:53 PM
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Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
No, I wuz right because I said that is what it does not mean.
You don't get to make up your own words. Stick the the dictionary defintions.
apeiron
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#36
Aug31-11, 06:53 PM
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Quote Quote by Willowz View Post
Evo was pointing out this part from your eleventh post:
Well, yes, we know that. So again, where did she say anything that justifies your:

But, Evo is right. A dichotomy does not mean an impossibility to decide.
I realise this conversation could not be sillier. But if you keep insisting on making the false implication that I thought something else and Evo was correcting me, I have to ask you to please go back and read the words that have been written with more care. Otherwise you risk being infracted for trolling I would have thought.


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