Is there such thing as nothing?

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  • #26
apeiron
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If you accept that something exists and can also accept the absence of that something, then you have a context for saying nothing exists.
And then in turn, the only way to have the existence of both (some)thing and its context is for the pair to form a mutual or complementary dichotomy.

Each has to become the other's context, so that each can exist.

So the idea of nothing - an absence of things - demands a context of thingness to be an acceptable possibility. And when you look at it from the other angle, you have to say that an absence of nothing is equally much a part of this deal. So in turn, this yields the counter-idea of everythingness, or infinity.

There is the absence of thingness, and the absence of absence. Together, they are the boundary limits on what is in fact possible. Reality lies within the two extremes.
 
  • #27
baywax
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And then in turn, the only way to have the existence of both (some)thing and its context is for the pair to form a mutual or complementary dichotomy.

Each has to become the other's context, so that each can exist.

So the idea of nothing - an absence of things - demands a context of thingness to be an acceptable possibility. And when you look at it from the other angle, you have to say that an absence of nothing is equally much a part of this deal. So in turn, this yields the counter-idea of everythingness, or infinity.

There is the absence of thingness, and the absence of absence. Together, they are the boundary limits on what is in fact possible. Reality lies within the two extremes.
Thusly I have quoted Doris Day... you can't have one without the other...

Further to that one cannot denote an "illusion' or that all that is perceived is an "illusion" because this demands that there is a benchmark or compliment to "illusion" in order to recognize it as being an illusion. Which begs the question, what is the opposite or compliment to an illusion?
 
  • #28
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from nothing -> nothing.
 
  • #29
apeiron
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Which begs the question, what is the opposite or compliment to an illusion?
Well, if awareness of reality is an "illusion" (and I accept that it is a model) then there are well behaved and utilitarian illusions like my waking consciousness, and inconsistent, non-functional illusions like my dreams (and the psychoses of others).

But functional and not-functional are not really a complementary pair, just a simple local negation.

Complementary pairs take a stricter local~global symmetry breaking form. So for example, we can properly make a distinction between a global model and its local measurements. The more general and successful the model, the smaller and more particular are the measurements needed to confirm it.

So if consciousness is a running model of the world, then it barely needs checking when successful. And this turns out to be the way the brain works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_brain

Illusions are faulty brain predictions that are in much need of recalibration.
 
  • #30
baywax
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Illusions are faulty brain predictions that are in much need of recalibration.
This I would completely agree with. Illusions are mistakes in perception that require correction for survival to continue.
 
  • #31
baywax
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from nothing -> nothing.
With no reference point (nothing) it is impossible to go "from".
 
  • #32
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With no reference point (nothing) it is impossible to go "from".
right.

double shot to nothing.
 
  • #33
baywax
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right.

double shot to nothing.
agreed... piss'n the night away!
 
  • #34
baywax
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This post contains a high content of irony:

Is there such thing as nothing?
 
  • #35
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Nothing does not exist.
 
  • #36
baywax
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Nothing does not exist.
Literally and logically you are correct to say this. However, "nothing" does exist as a concept, otherwise we wouldn't be discussing it. Whatever the minute weight of the electricity generated by the neurological concept of "nothing" is, it has a real presence in existence.
 
  • #37
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Literally and logically you are correct to say this. However, "nothing" does exist as a concept, otherwise we wouldn't be discussing it. Whatever the minute weight of the electricity generated by the neurological concept of "nothing" is, it has a real presence in existence.
Because it is being discussed, it exists? As a concept, sure. But the nothingness is not a concept in itself. You can not give reality to anything, even by bringing a concept into our reality. It either exists or not, regardless of anyone discussing it.
 
  • #38
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the problem i see is in Einsteins. expanding space there is a implicit idea hidden.that space must be made of something.that means that when it expands enough if there is nothing in the back ground then gaps would appear .or the space is made of something that is CONTINUOUS. ,ie:it can not be particles or strings these have gaps,
also there are 2 views of nothing that people use the one before the bigbang.when there was literally no space(or empty area).so when the bigbang happened it created space but did not expand into nothing(as in a empty area)
that is the second view nothing as a empty area.
the trouble here is. Is if we try to say there was no empty area before the big bang we run up against a problem,because you can not get rid of a empty area.
remmeber space is something it must be to expand.you can not get rid of a empty area theres nothing to get rid of.therefore space must be expanding into a empty area.which is nothing.
. .

what you have to get in your head is nothing is exactly the same as a empty area there is no difference.
so if you say there is no empty area then everything must be made of a CONTINUOUS kind of matter that can have no gaps going back to a empty area.behind it.
so you can foget about strings unless they all fit togehter nicely.with absolutely no gaps .
 
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  • #39
baywax
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Because it is being discussed, it exists? As a concept, sure. But the nothingness is not a concept in itself. You can not give reality to anything, even by bringing a concept into our reality. It either exists or not, regardless of anyone discussing it.
I suppose I'd have to say that "the concept of 'nothing" exists' whereas the actual non-event of nothing does not. The concept of unicorns exists whereas unicorns do not, according to current data.
 
  • #40
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I suppose I'd have to say that "the concept of 'nothing" exists' whereas the actual non-event of nothing does not. The concept of unicorns exists whereas unicorns do not, according to current data.
Which is where I started. :)

And since it does not exist, why would people bother discussing it at all? What can be done with it?
 
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  • #41
baywax
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Which is where I started. :)

And since it does not exist, why would people bother discussing it at all? What can be done with it?
About as much as can be done with any concept. For instance, "zero" could be construed to mean the same as "nothing". Zero is a very handy concept to mathematicians...

Zero, written 0, is both a number[1] and the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals. It plays a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in place value systems. In the English language, 0 may be called zero, nought or (US) naught (both pronounced /ˈnɔːt/), nil, or "o". Informal or slang terms for zero include zilch and zip.[2] Ought or aught (both pronounced /ˈɔːt/), have also been used.[3]
Another handy dandy concept is "infinity" but, like "zero" it is very hard to prove it exists beyond the concept stage.
 
  • #42
FlexGunship
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[Is there such a thing as nothing?]
Yes, and I keep it between my ears.

And since it does not exist, why would people bother discussing it at all? What can be done with it?
To argue that the concept describes a non-existent thing is fine. But to extrapolate that this means that discussion about it offers no merit is quite different. Here is a concrete example you can take home with you:

If I want to describe the absence of everything on a desk, I can do it two ways:
  • There are no staplers, nor pens, nor computers, nor paper, nor staple removes, nor stables, nor mugs, nor cables, nor dirt, nor other papers, nor magazines, nor books, nor larger mugs, nor velociprators, nor self-destruct buttons, nor pencil erasers, nor...
  • There's nothing on the desk

While both seek to explain the same condition, one does so much more succinctly. Now, I ask you, is there any merit to the idea of "nothing"?
 
  • #43
FlexGunship
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Nothing does not exist.
And it's corollary: "everything does exist."
 
  • #44
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To argue that the concept describes a non-existent thing is fine. But to extrapolate that this means that discussion about it offers no merit is quite different. Here is a concrete example you can take home with you:

If I want to describe the absence of everything on a desk, I can do it two ways:
  • There are no staplers, nor pens, nor computers, nor paper, nor staple removes, nor stables, nor mugs, nor cables, nor dirt, nor other papers, nor magazines, nor books, nor larger mugs, nor velociprators, nor self-destruct buttons, nor pencil erasers, nor...
  • There's nothing on the desk

While both seek to explain the same condition, one does so much more succinctly. Now, I ask you, is there any merit to the idea of "nothing"?

I thought the original topic idea was about nothingness...
Is there such thing as nothing? Or is it imaginary like unicorns and fairies?
...which is quite different from a desk without office supplies.
 
  • #45
apeiron
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I thought the original topic idea was about nothingness......which is quite different from a desk without office supplies.
Correct. The absence of things is merely the absence of certain particulars. But the self-referential question here was about the absence of a universal.
 
  • #46
disregardthat
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How is Nothing defined in this context? In language nothing merely signifies the lack of the type of thing in question, not to all types of things. What is an "universal"?
 
  • #47
apeiron
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How is Nothing defined in this context? In language nothing merely signifies the lack of the type of thing in question, not to all types of things. What is an "universal"?
A universal is a generalisation. So if we can imagine the absence of things in particular (which we easily can) then can we imagine the absence of thingness in general.

Some people reply they can easily imagine there being absolutely nothing. Reality could have never even existed.

But philosophically (or even mathematically - as in set theory and the empty set) it is worth delving deeper. To definitely have no thing, there is the background implication that there is a place (a space and time) in which this lack of things fails to be present. To measure either a presence or an absence implies a reference frame of some kind. And this is where the difficulty lies.

To clarify further, the idea of complete absence, pure nothingness, would have to mean not just a lack of substantial things, but also a lack of formal things. Reality is composed of both substance and form. And while we can perhaps imagine a lack of the material that might have made a universe, can we just as easily imagine a non-existence that includes the non-existence of forms such triangles, fractals, 1+1=2, etc? Would mathematics still have to "exist" even if nothing substantial existed?

When you get how big the question really is, then you start to appreciate ideas like Peirce's logic of vagueness. It is a way to talk about "less than nothing", because vagueness neither clearly exists, nor fails to exist.
 
  • #48
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I thought the original topic idea was about nothingness......which is quite different from a desk without office supplies.


well said.
 
  • #49
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apeiron wrote
To definitely have no thing, there is the background implication that there is a place (a space and time) in which this lack of things fails to be present.
there would be no time unless time is some how a unrelated place.
and using the word space is where the real problem lies in all this.
as i have said if we follow Ensteins spacetime.we are lead to believe with out us relizeing it,that we are believeing space is made of something.we dont relize yet we are believeing this.
now we have to versions of space in our minds.
1. a empty space
2.space which is made of something.
so when you say space i dont no which one you mean and more importantly do you!
because if you say space is a empty space then that is no longer compatable with Ensteins view.
apeiron wrote
Some people reply they can easily imagine there being absolutely nothing. Reality could have never even existed.
yes of course they can but what version are they imagineing.the one with nothing in it a empty space(or empty area),or the one where we try to get rid of that empty (area)space.
the point here is how do you get rid of a empty(area) space.there is nothing to get rid of.
so as i have pointed out our universe must be expanding into a empty area.
a empty area is the same as nothing
therfore there is such a thing as nothing.of course our language is not right to be able to say it because we implie nothing is a thing when it isnt.thats a problem of lanuage and not my logic as far as i can see.
 
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  • #50
DaveC426913
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so as i have pointed out our universe must be expanding into a empty area.
The universe is not obliged to adhere to the conclusions of human wordplay.
 

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