Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Prove existence.

  1. Sep 5, 2004 #1
    How would we prove that something exists? What is the least amount of information we would need to prove the existence of a rock?

    Descartes' "I think therefore I am" comes to mind. Lets limit the proof to only inanimate objects.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2004 #2
    I would imagine the opposite of existing is being nothing, which can be compared nothing to rock, rock to nothing.
  4. Sep 6, 2004 #3
    Are you then acknowledging that there is such a state of existence as that of nothing? "nothing" is "not anything" and therefore cannot exist.

    So how would you presume to compare something that has no meaning such as non-existence and something with meaning such as existence?
  5. Sep 6, 2004 #4
    That non-existing has no meaning and existing does. Just as you put it. A rock would have no meaning and be in the state of existence such as nothing if it weren't so. We wouldn't be able to talk about it, or atleast prove such a thing as a rock exists other than in the state of nothing. I see where you're going, though.
  6. Sep 6, 2004 #5
    The existence of anything must be proven to someone. You can't prove an absolute existence independent of someone's (or somethings) perception. That's not to say things don't exist without something to percieve them, just that the proof couldn't exist.

    I need only to see the rock to have its existence proven (to me). But someone else might need to see and feel the rock before they're convinced. In other words, we can only "prove" anything if there is someone to prove it to. What constitutes valid proof will vary subjectively.

    Absolute proof of the existence of an object, independent of an entity to convince, is equallly devoid of meaning and existence as that nothing rock which also doesn't exist.
  7. Sep 6, 2004 #6
    Pragmatic proof is all I need. Just seeing a rock may not convince me it is real if I am in a house of mirrors. It just depends upon the specific context as to what minimum amount of proof I require. However, in any context all I require is a pragmatic proof. Ultimately it doesn't really matter to me if the rock really exists or not, if you throw it at me and it hurts, I'm gonna act as if it really does exist!
  8. Sep 7, 2004 #7
    To be is to be perceived

    The problem with "nothing" is that something has to proclaim the existence of nothing in order for "nothing" to exist. This being the case, nothing then becomes something because something is observing it.

    Is the moon really there when no one is looking at it? If a tree falls in a forest ect...
  9. Sep 7, 2004 #8
    By that logic these posts are irrelevant, the rock would be defined the same way..

    "The problem with "the rock" is that something has to proclaim the existence of "the rock" in order for "the rock" to exist. This being the case, "the rock" then becomes something because something is observing it(the rock)."

    So why does Nothing have a greater problem (or less of a state) yet the rock doesn't? And why are we asking Prove existence when we're proving nothing to prove existence? lol am I making any sense?

    Wouldn't it be easier to look at this by saying everything exists whether we can understand/observe it or not?

    Santa Exists because a majority of young children believe so.
  10. Sep 7, 2004 #9
    To Erus

    I kinda jumped into this topic with out reading all the replies. I should have quoted Berkely as saying "to be is to be preceived". As to why I didn't get yelled at for plagiarism I don't know.

    I think almost anyone reading this would agree that it is impossible to prove that anything exist independent of the mind.
  11. Sep 7, 2004 #10
    ummm.. I think, therefore I am?

    Do you love your parents? Prove it
    Is the color green really green? Prove it
    Is there a god? prove it

    With no frame of reference, you can't unquestionably prove existence. But based on the fact that we are here, you can assume that we exist.

    Are we really non-existent beings? prove it
  12. Sep 7, 2004 #11
    The Cartesian formula is still the best and untouchable proof of existence. There is just no contest with this one.


    There are two aspects to our claim to the knowledge of Existence.

    1) The need to KNOW whether anything exists at all

    2) The need to KNOW what actually exists - that is, the nature of it.

    In most of the time these two aspects are often naively mixed up and confused. My own examination shows that there is neither a logical nor a language device with which to successfully deny (1), and that this is the aspect under which the cartesian corgito argument completely succeeds and without a contender. Any argument constructed with the intention of denying (1) always leads to self-defeatism. It is immaterial whether you are a human being, a machine or a brain in the vat or simpliy an 'it' trying to do so.

    However, when it comes to aspect (2) the outlook of things is completely different. It is here that the logical, metaphysical and epistemological battles are fought tooth and nail. Here successfull arguments and counter-arguments do exist and flourish.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2004
  13. Sep 9, 2004 #12
    It is said Aristotle thought a force always was being applied to a moving object to keep it moving. But I ask, then what force is being applied to that force to keep it moving so it can keep the object moving? This arguments is infinitely recursive. So we stop that infinite argument and say this is what we know and call it inertia, the instantaneous concept.

    When you say something exists, you are asserting a quantity of proof. Thoughts are one hundered percept proven, they are self-evident, self-proving. Everything thoughts represent is what we have to try to prove. We prove things exists through the fives senses. Each fives senses become thought. The degree we sense something is the quantity we all sense of athing. We can prove only in quantities when they are things that are not thoughts. Other than thought, nothing can be proven to be 100 percent.

    Principly, ignorance is lack of sense, so everything that is known, is 100 percent, and what isn't known can't be quantified. Try it, prove something you don't know. Everything that is said about what we do know is said in light of what we do know. There is a space in a cup, but the space cannot really be infered without the cup.

    Infinity is finiteness.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook