Originally posted by amadeus
Actually, I think the paradox stems from the fact that we can only understand something if we can establish a cause-effect relationship between that something and something else. For instance, we understand that rain comes from clouds, that clouds come from evaporation, that evaporation is caused by sunlight, that sunlight is caused by nuclear reactions, that nuclear reactions are caused by nuclear forces... where does it stop???
The thing is, it doesn't matter how long your causal chain is, it always ends up with something you can't possibly understand. Ultimately we have no option but to choose among one of the three possibilities:
- it comes from nothing
- it comes from itself
- it comes from something that cannot be understood by definition (eg, God)
Either choice is paradoxical. I'm of the opinion that "it comes from God" is the best choice, as it implies that the paradox is a feature of our knowledge, not of reality. But the bottom line is, any rational explanation of the universe leads to a paradox. We can shift the paradox further away from view, but we can't get rid of it.
On the other hand, if you stop trying to understand your experiences, and simply focus on the here and now, then it all makes perfect sense. The universe exists because it does; if it didn't then it wouldn't. May sound cheesy but it's as close as we can possibly get to the truth.
The question you raise is already strange since existence itself already implies it is there and can not be not there.
Now in the most abstract sense we could ponder this as follows.
There is Being, and in the abstract sense it opposes Non-Being.
And in that abstract sense, they are the same, they are namely only each others opposites and nothing else. And yet they are totally distinct, since being is not non-being.
But we can not state Non-Being as such, Non-Being is only 'present' because there is Being, to which it forms an opposite.
We can not get rid of this. There is no way in which we can pose Being without also introducing Non-Being, and neither can we introduce Non-Being without also introducing Being.
Being and Non-Being are a unity of opposites. One presupposes the other. In their dialectical unity, they are in fact Becoming.
Dialectical processes are interpenetration of opposites. The Non-Being of some thing, causes the Being of another thing, and vice versa. If we burn H2 it binds with O2 and forms H2O in which the Being of H2O causes the Non-Being of H2 and O2.
And if we call this dialectical-unity of Being and Non-Being, which is Becoming, existence, then you ponder the unponderable question about why is there existence instead of nothing.
To this question it can be answered: because there is existence.
That is about the only real answer we can give on this sort of question.
Let us assume a hypothetical being, that does not know that there exists something, although it knows what exitence is.
Now would that hypothetical being know why there is something instead of nothing?
It couldn't, because it could not give any grounds for the existence of something instead of nothing. The "Why is it the case that X" question usually needs an answer in the form "Because A is the case".
But the context of the question implies, no such A can exist.
We are however in the position that we DO know there is an existing world, and from that we can conclude that since it exists, there is existence instead of no-existence.
The hypothetical being can not make such a conclusion, and neither would it bother, since also the hypothetical being does not exist.