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Ultimate question: Why anything at all?

by bohm2
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steve watson
#307
Mar16-12, 07:15 PM
P: 16
But regardless of what others say, or have said, and regardless of how chic it may be to salley forth into the unknowable, it is still nonesensical, because the answer to the "final cause" is unknowable. But not because it is beyond that which is capable of being "known", but only because it is a nonsensical endeavor.
I hope my response does not sound flippant, I simply wante to make my retort crisp.

Also, Hegel confuses "nothing" with "something". "Nothing" is not and never can be "something".
apeiron
#308
Mar16-12, 07:55 PM
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Quote Quote by steve watson View Post
But regardless of what others say, or have said, and regardless of how chic it may be to salley forth into the unknowable, it is still nonesensical, because the answer to the "final cause" is unknowable.
That is your claim. I don't see any argument supporting it.

From what little you have said so far, you seem to have a deep misunderstanding about knowledge anyway. The mainstream view of epistemology is that we only model reality, we never know it in any direct or true fashion.

As Einstein (with Infeld, in their book, The Evolution of Physics) said: "Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world."

But what makes the difference between sense and nonsense in science (and, in the long run, metaphysics) is that our freely invented models are constrained by the act of measurement. So to be reasonable, a belief needs to be testable, confirmable.

So you could attack approaches to the "why anything" question on those grounds. That would be an epistemically valid approach.

But to attack something as "chic" shows that you are not really suggesting anything so serious here.

Quote Quote by steve watson View Post
Also, Hegel confuses "nothing" with "something". "Nothing" is not and never can be "something".
Err, no, that's not what he said.
steve watson
#309
Mar16-12, 10:14 PM
P: 16
Well, I only used the word "chic" to point out that lots of theories and/or notions have been in vogue and then repudiated.
I am not so concerned about "the mainstream view" of epistemology or metaphysics (those branches of philosophy have been in their graves decades).
My point focued on the notion of asking the questions "why 'something' exists rather than "nothing". If those words have any meaning, then unless your a mystic looking for mystical answers, the question is nonesensical. Call me any names you may please, but it is a fruitless and irrational question to ask, save your fancy theories and mathematics.
Paulibus
#310
Mar17-12, 12:49 AM
P: 175
"Why anything at all?" The answer to this question is so simple: because Nothing ain't perfect. Anybody here ever heard of topological imperfections?
Maui
#311
Mar17-12, 01:21 PM
P: 724
Quote Quote by steve watson View Post
If those words have any meaning, then unless your a mystic looking for mystical answers, the question is nonesensical. Call me any names you may please, but it is a fruitless and irrational question to ask, save your fancy theories and mathematics.


The beginning is nonsensical, not the question. These are 2 different things. Philosphers and philosophers of science however aren't tied to what seems to make general sense to the wider audiences. The question is valid, even if you cannot answer it.
Nano-Passion
#312
Mar17-12, 03:54 PM
P: 1,306
Quote Quote by Paulibus View Post
"Why anything at all?" The answer to this question is so simple: because Nothing ain't perfect. Anybody here ever heard of topological imperfections?
No, go on.
Paulibus
#313
Mar18-12, 03:23 AM
P: 175
I’ll do just that, assuming you were serious, Nano-Passion!

In physics, “Nothing” is synonymous with the Vacuum (of Quantum Mechanics) and
perfection is often associated with exact, unbroken, symmetries. One might therefore start to model an ideal, perfect Nothing by describing its exact symmetries. Rather like describing an ideal, perfect crystal by noting its symmetries — translational, rotational etc. But there’s no such thing as a perfect crystal. Real crystals are finite., with boundaries. And they’re often crammed with one, two and three dimensional topological defects (vacancies, dislocations, disclinations, stacking faults etc.) To an extent that they present an almost biological complexity.

I sometimes speculate about Nothing, bearing in mind that:
Quote Quote by Mark Twain
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment in fact.

My (amateur philosophical?) speculations run along the following lines: Now that we know that gravity is but Riemannian deviations from the (perfection?) of Euclidean geometry, one might guess that there’s no such thing as a perfect Nothing (spacetime with perfect geometry), and that the Something we live in is just REAL Nothing, crammed with tiny topological defects in the geometry of space-time that we describe as various particles and waves. Like real crystalline stuff but , as far as we can tell, continuous rather than discrete.

Which brings to me to a remark of the cosmologist, John Peacock, who said:
It is perhaps just as well that the average taxpayer, who funds research in physics, is unaware of the trouble we have in understanding even nothing at all.
G.S.RAMYA
#314
Mar18-12, 04:01 AM
P: 3
Why anything at all, why the universe is the way it is...? If the universe is not the way it is we would have not been here to ask why!!
wuliheron
#315
Mar18-12, 05:18 AM
P: 1,967
Quote Quote by G.S.RAMYA View Post
Why anything at all, why the universe is the way it is...? If the universe is not the way it is we would have not been here to ask why!!
Or if it were different someone else might be asking the same question. In fact, for all I know there are an infinite number of universes with an infinite variety of sentient beings all asking the same stupid question at this very moment.
alt
#316
Mar18-12, 06:24 AM
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Quote Quote by wuliheron View Post
Or if it were different someone else might be asking the same question. In fact, for all I know there are an infinite number of universes with an infinite variety of sentient beings all asking the same stupid question at this very moment.
If an infinite (or thereabouts) number of sentient beings were asking the same question, would it, they, be stupid ?

And even if stupid, it is still a valid question to ask. Many questions are stupid, but legitimate.
alt
#317
Mar18-12, 06:26 AM
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Quote Quote by Maui View Post
The beginning is nonsensical, not the question. These are 2 different things. Philosphers and philosophers of science however aren't tied to what seems to make general sense to the wider audiences. The question is valid, even if you cannot answer it.
Agree entirely. One things for sure, if you never ask it, there's no chance of an answer. At least this way, you try.
apeiron
#318
Mar19-12, 05:54 AM
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
Some have criticized this argument because it's not a "causal" explannation. Elliot Sober, however, argues that scientists do accept other "equilibrium explanations":
Returning to this earlier comment, Sober's actual paper - http://fitelson.org/woodward/sober_ee.pdf - is worth reading as another example of the argument for downwards-acting global constraints causation.

Sober uses as his example Fisher's evolutionary explanation for why sex ratios would tend to a 1:1 equilbrium regardless of initial conditions. So his point is that there are "why" explanations that are in general impervious to the micro-causal history. As a dynamical attractor, the system just ends up at the equilibrium point when released from any point in a phase space.

...when the equilibrium is a global one - an event can be explained in the face of considerable ignorance of the actual forces and initial conditions that in fact caused the system to be in its equilibrium state. In this circumstance, we are, in one natural sense, ignorant of the event's cause, but explanation is possible nonetheless.
So applying this to worlds as a whole - the why anything? question here - they could be causally explained in terms of the global constraints that they satisfy. The particular history of local effective causes becomes irrelevant. It is not going to change the outcome. And Sober argues that even if you had exact knowledge of the path taken, you would still know less than if you could see the general reasons why some particular equilbrium outcome had to be!
Nano-Passion
#319
Mar19-12, 08:34 PM
P: 1,306
Quote Quote by Paulibus View Post
I’ll do just that, assuming you were serious, Nano-Passion!

In physics, “Nothing” is synonymous with the Vacuum (of Quantum Mechanics) and
perfection is often associated with exact, unbroken, symmetries. One might therefore start to model an ideal, perfect Nothing by describing its exact symmetries. Rather like describing an ideal, perfect crystal by noting its symmetries — translational, rotational etc. But there’s no such thing as a perfect crystal. Real crystals are finite., with boundaries. And they’re often crammed with one, two and three dimensional topological defects (vacancies, dislocations, disclinations, stacking faults etc.) To an extent that they present an almost biological complexity.

I sometimes speculate about Nothing, bearing in mind that:


My (amateur philosophical?) speculations run along the following lines: Now that we know that gravity is but Riemannian deviations from the (perfection?) of Euclidean geometry, one might guess that there’s no such thing as a perfect Nothing (spacetime with perfect geometry), and that the Something we live in is just REAL Nothing, crammed with tiny topological defects in the geometry of space-time that we describe as various particles and waves. Like real crystalline stuff but , as far as we can tell, continuous rather than discrete.

Which brings to me to a remark of the cosmologist, John Peacock, who said:
Hm, I always thought that physicists state that empty space isn't empty at all, and therefore is something. Space, having properties and all, can't really be named "nothing."

I always think of nothing as something that would hypothetically exist outside of space. But since nothing can exist outside of space, I don't know if there can even be "nothing." Though, there is a theory that says that the universe started from the collision of two branes. So I guess some posit that there is space outside of our universe. So then, where is nothing??
sigurdW
#320
Mar19-12, 08:42 PM
P: 27
Quote Quote by Nano-Passion View Post
So then, where is nothing??
Nowhere, and nowhen.
sigurdW
#321
Mar20-12, 09:21 AM
P: 27
Quote Quote by steve watson View Post
My point focued on the notion of asking the question "why 'something' exists rather than nothing" have any meaning, then ... the question is non sensical.
No! The Question has an answer!

As you yourself pointed out:

"Nothing" is not and never can be "something".

Therefore the answer is: Because something had to be!
sigurdW
#322
Mar20-12, 09:36 AM
P: 27
Quote Quote by apeiron View Post
The mainstream view of epistemology is that we only model reality, we never know it in any direct or true fashion.
Interesting! How is this mainstream view proven or shown to be true?

Must there not be something we know in a direct fashion in our looking at the model of ourselves looking at the model of reality?
alt
#323
Mar22-12, 06:21 AM
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Quote Quote by Nano-Passion View Post
Hm, I always thought that physicists state that empty space isn't empty at all, and therefore is something. Space, having properties and all, can't really be named "nothing."

I always think of nothing as something that would hypothetically exist outside of space. But since nothing can exist outside of space, I don't know if there can even be "nothing." Though, there is a theory that says that the universe started from the collision of two branes. So I guess some posit that there is space outside of our universe. So then, where is nothing??
That ' collision of two branes' being the start of the universe, has always seemed rather flawed to me, for the natural question then, is where did the two branes come from ? They must have been something, therefore, not the beginning.

'Space outside our universe' is also just playing with the word imo (not saying YOU are playing with the word) for the immediate retort would be ALL space is the universe.
chiro
#324
Mar22-12, 08:09 AM
P: 4,572
Quote Quote by alt View Post
That ' collision of two branes' being the start of the universe, has always seemed rather flawed to me, for the natural question then, is where did the two branes come from ? They must have been something, therefore, not the beginning.

'Space outside our universe' is also just playing with the word imo (not saying YOU are playing with the word) for the immediate retort would be ALL space is the universe.
Personally I see this as more of a limitation of our ability to comprehend than anything else.

Mathematically we can use time to represent a form of a pattern or an attribute that gives constraints for something to evolve, but in terms of describing something whether it is structure, evolution of structure or any other relationships it's not required.

Could it be possible that everything existed simultaneously and that time is simply one way to organize what we are exposed to that constrains us to see the rest of the picture?

Mathematically in terms of describing any system, time does not only have to be linear but it doesn't need to be taken into account if we get knowledge of the state-space.

In order to explain the patterns that occur in our experience of the physical world (whether the experience is through us or some other apparatus) we introduce the concept of time to help make sense of things because it aids us in our goal.

But if you constrain yourself to think in terms of that constraint, then by that constraint you will be bound by and with your hammer, everything will look like a nail.


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