The Paradox of Existence

  • Thread starter wuliheron
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  • #26
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Ok, I'll try this from a different tac.

A cause is something. Therefore you are logically saying:

"Something has no something."

In addition, a "something" is an undefined thing and a "thing" refers to an existent. Therefore you are logically saying:

"An undefined existent has no undefined existence."
 
  • #27
Eh
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Not quite.

A cause is not a thing in the sense of being an entity. To ask about the cause of an object, is to really ask about the cause of the creation of said entity. This creation is an event. It makes no sense to talk about causes without a notion of
casualty and events. As such, we can only talk about events being caused.

So to say something is uncased, is merely to say that such an entity was not created by some prior event. An event is the action of a thing or entity.

There is nothing contradictory about that.
 
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  • #28
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To say something has no cause is not logically inconsistent. To say that a cause has no cause can be logically disproven given the correct premises. But to say that a fact has no cause, I am almost positive, can't possibly be disproven logically, unless you use the premise that all things must have causes. Why should that premise be true?
 
  • #29
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A cause is not a thing in the sense of being an entity.

If a cause is not an entity, what is it?

For example, I am both an entity and a cause at all times and which you call me just depends upon context of the conversation. There are simply no examples in nature and no-thing I can conceive of where some thing is not also a cause and a cause is not also some thing.

to say something is uncaused, is merely to say that such an entity was not created by some prior event. An event is the action of a thing or entity.

Again, to say some thing is the cause of existence but not a thing is a contradiction. Causes are either things, discrete entities, or they are nonsensical. To say some thing has no context is nonsensical and paradoxical.
 
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  • #30
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Are you the cause of your effectiveness?

And jeez, what a paradox the life of the butterfly must seem to the grub? ...
 
  • #31
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"Once I dreamed I was a butterfly, or am I really a butterfly dreaming I am a man?"

Chuang Tzu

Grubs and butterflies aren't the only ones experiencing the paradox.
 
  • #32
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But if the grub understood there was an "afterlife" (its life as a grub) maybe it wouldn't be a paradox?
 
  • #33
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Eternity, as I pointed out in the original post, is a paradoxical concept. Whatever you might believe or rationally understand about existence always leads back to the paradox. Infinity implies no limits, Oneness implies the logical is the illogical, etc.
 
  • #34
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Originally posted by wuliheron
Eternity, as I pointed out in the original post, is a paradoxical concept. Whatever you might believe or rationally understand about existence always leads back to the paradox. Infinity implies no limits, Oneness implies the logical is the illogical, etc.
Yes, but how can we as "finite creatures" grasp the concept of eternity if our "approach to eternity" (transcendence) wasn't part of "the plan?"
 
  • #35
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Yes, but how can we as "finite creatures" grasp the concept of eternity if our "approach to eternity" (transcendence) wasn't part of "the plan?"

Again, the finite implies the infinite and vice versa ad infinitum. Thus it is both possible and impossible for us to grasp. However, I have no clue what you mean by "the plan". Paradox is paradox and whether or not it constitutes a "plan" of some sort is something you will have to decide for yourself.
 
  • #36
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Again, the finite implies the infinite and vice versa ad infinitum. Thus it is both possible and impossible for us to grasp. However, I have no clue what you mean by "the plan". Paradox is paradox and whether or not it constitutes a "plan" of some sort is something you will have to decide for yourself.

There's that which is temporary and that which is ongoing, which doesn't necessarily imply a paradox. So here we live in a "temporal world" as finite creatures, and yet if we were to pass on, only to discover that indeed there is an afterlife (where we live on Eternally -- which is what I mean by "the plan"), then where's the paradox? Therefore all we're speaking about is the difference between one phase and another ... i.e., that which "seems temporary" and that which transcends it.
 
  • #37
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Temporary is just another word for finite. Einstein's Relativity implies the past, present, and future all co-exist and the passage of time is merely an illusion. Furthermore, it also implies the universe is infinite but bounded. As a result the Buddhists and Hindus tend to love inventing theological arguments around Relativity and the Navaho nation sainted Einstein.

Time is one of the bigger mysteries in physics today.
 
  • #38
Eh
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Originally posted by wuliheron
If a cause is not an entity, what is it?

A cause is an event, and a thing performing an action could be considered an event. For example if there is a smashed plate all over the floor of your house, we can likely guess that YOU are the cause of it. But that is not entirely accurate, because the exact cause was the event of you dropping the plate on the floor. An entity that does nothing, cannot cause anything, relatively speaking.

For example, I am both an entity and a cause at all times and which you call me just depends upon context of the conversation. There are simply no examples in nature and no-thing I can conceive of where some thing is not also a cause and a cause is not also some thing.

I think that is missing the point, since the argument is that an uncaused being is not logically inconsistent. To sum it up...

When we say an entity was caused, we really mean the creation of the entity was caused by something else. As such, an entity without being created suffers from no logical contradiction.

It seems that the whole meaning of a "caused being" is the issue here. The above explanation works without contradiction or paradox, but perhaps you had a different definition in mind?

Again, to say some thing is the cause of existence but not a thing is a contradiction.

Yes, and I would say that existence cannot be caused, since that whatever cause would necessarily exist as well. I'm just saying that a causeless existence (ie. universe, god, etc.) doe not suffer from contradictions.

Causes are either things, discrete entities, or they are nonsensical. To say some thing has no context is nonsensical and paradoxical.

I would agree that an entity in action is a cause, especially since you won't find anything at rest in this universe. It seems that "things" are forever in motion, causing all kinds of havoc. But the focus is on the meaning of an entity "causing" the existence of another entity.
 
  • #39
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A cause is an event, and a thing performing an action could be considered an event. For example if there is a smashed plate all over the floor of your house, we can likely guess that YOU are the cause of it. But that is not entirely accurate, because the exact cause was the event of you dropping the plate on the floor. An entity that does nothing, cannot cause anything, relatively speaking.

Ok, then what you are suggesting is that an event is not an existent and that existence is an event with no cause and no context? In other words, existence is nonexist?

This is just back to my original assertion that existence is demonstrably paradoxical. Whatever explanation you can put forward for existence, if logically followed through, leads to paradox.

I would agree that an entity in action is a cause, especially since you won't find anything at rest in this universe. It seems that "things" are forever in motion, causing all kinds of havoc. But the focus is on the meaning of an entity "causing" the existence of another entity.

As I have already pointed out, the theory of Relativity implies another scenario altogether of a static and unchanging universe. Thus the paradox is preserved. On the one hand things seem to change and on the other the way they change implies they don't really change.

Again, context makes more sense of these confusing facts. Specifically, the context of paradox. As I pointed out in another thread, ya'll just don't get it. Paradox is the slipperiest "thing" or whatever it is or isn't. Try to disprove the existence of paradox and you end up proving it. Try to ignore it and it comes right back to haunt you. All you can do is accept paradox.

This is something Asians tend to know so well, but the west has made a great deal of progress in the sciences by denying the validity of paradox so that has become the western tradition. With the advent of QM and Relativity, however, paradox is once again commanding more respect in the west.
 
  • #40
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Reviewing people's arguments on this subject I thought it might be helpful to place the subject in a historical context as well.

Zeno of elia was the first in the western philosophical tradition to point out that whatever explanation you could put forward for life, the universe, and everything could be demonstrated to ultimately be paradoxical. He himself argued the universe was unchanging, indivisible, indestructable, and eternal. In other words, strikingly similar to Einstein's spacetime continuum taken to the extreme.

As solid an argument as Zeno had, it was useless at the time. The Pythagoreans argued basically that the universe was organized symmetrically and harmoniously and, in the process, invented a great deal of the foundations of the mathematics still fundamental to physics today--much more useful. Plato took this theory and made a very pretty ethical philosophy of it that is possibly still the most popular in the world today, but his student

Aristotle took it and ran with it full tilt, organizing the sciences into a useful endevour. In the process of doing this, he outright banned the use of infinities and other paradoxical concepts and began the western tradition of treating paradoxes as axiomatically wrong.

Caught in the middle of all this was poor Democritus, the first Atomist. He argued that existence was random in much the same fashion as Quantum Mechanics proposes today. First Zeno pointed out the inherent paradox of Democritus' theory and when Plato became popular and powerful among the Romans, he summarilly had all of Democritus' books burned as "ugly and demeaning." When the early Christians then burned down the library of Alexandria all but a few of the seventy books Democritus had written were lost forever.

For the next millennia western philosophy largely ignored paradox and if it were not for the Arabs preserving much of the ancient Greek's works like Zeno's paradoxes we might not even know what these philosophies were about. With the advent of Newtonian Mechanics and calculus, the returning of the west's attention to paradox became inevitable.

Newton had succeeded in doing what was thought to be impossible. He had incorporated paradoxical infinities into his mathematics despite Aristotle's banishment of them, incorporated an etherial vision of space and time that defied mechanistic interpretation, and incorporated the dreded magical action-at-a-distance. If his theory were not so accurate and useful and he had not lived in England after Henry the Eigth had kicked out the Catholic church, he would have been killed.

The first serious challange put forward that demonstrated this changing trend was Spinoza's formalization of Pantheism. Leibnitz was so enraged by Spinoza's philosophy that he basically helped to drive the, literally, poor man to his death just as Plato had hounded poor Democritus. Spinoza's Pantheism was compatable with Newtonian Mechanics, but did not fit within the western scientific, philosophical, and religious traditions. Newton and Leibnitz were primarilly focused on creating a new and powerful scientific tradition that the church simply could not stamp out and Pantheistic theories threatened a huge fight with the Church. Thus Pantheism languished until Einstein expanded upon Newtonian Mechanics and the Catholic churches' strangle hold on western civilization was broken.

However, while western philosophers and scientists attempted to make sense of this turn of events the discoveries of Quantum Mechanics kept throwing monkey wrenches into every attempt to make sense of the situation. Einstein, of course, argued that QM was simply too irrational. Indeed, the irrational and paradoxical is exactly what QM is all about and, so, it is often referred to as an "incomplete" theory while this is seldom said about Relativity.

After a hundred years of QM many physicists and philosophers today are resigned to paradox once again. Whatever paradox is or isn't (if anything!) it has certainly turned out to be useful and impossible to deny forever.
 
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  • #41
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Originally posted by wuliheron
Science is a method which neither accepts nor rejects anything. For that matter it doesn't eat, sleep, or die. What I said was:



Rewritten this can say "The method uses varifiable evidence that can be proven and disproven. Infinity does not fit into this catagory as one of this method's concepts."

Maybe you're drinking too much coffee or something. Mellow out dude.

This is still a flawed view of theoretical science (which is all science, nowadays).

I tried hard, but I didn't see any hostility - or any strong emotions - in my previous post, so I think you need to mellow out.
 
  • #42
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Originally posted by wuliheron
Eternity, as I pointed out in the original post, is a paradoxical concept. Whatever you might believe or rationally understand about existence always leads back to the paradox. Infinity implies no limits, Oneness implies the logical is the illogical, etc.

Infinity does not mean "no limits". I will continue to repeat this, as long as you continue to post that infinity is paradoxical. I have already shown - through rational/reasoning argument that, while it cannot be proven to exist, infinity is not a paradoxical concept.
 
  • #43
Eh
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Originally posted by wuliheron
Ok, then what you are suggesting is that an event is not an existent and that existence is an event with no cause and no context? In other words, existence is nonexist?

Uhh, no. The universe is a thing without a cause. As I have already explained, this merely means the universe was not created from some prior event. I don't know where you get the idea that such a concept means existence is nonexistent.

Seriously, when someone says something was caused, do you interpret that to mean "the thing is a thing"? No, the creation of the thing is what is caused.

This is just back to my original assertion that existence is demonstrably paradoxical. Whatever explanation you can put forward for existence, if logically followed through, leads to paradox.

Be that as it may, the topic question of an uncaused being has not been shown to be paradoxical.

As I have already pointed out, the theory of Relativity implies another scenario altogether of a static and unchanging universe. Thus the paradox is preserved. On the one hand things seem to change and on the other the way they change implies they don't really change.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Are you talking the concept of a 4 dimensional space-time universe? Such a universe would be static and unchanging, and time would be an illusion. The 4th spatial dimension is what humans would interpret as time, but we would merely be incorrect in our assumption. Still, there does not seem to be a paradox here either.

Again, context makes more sense of these confusing facts. Specifically, the context of paradox. As I pointed out in another thread, ya'll just don't get it. Paradox is the slipperiest "thing" or whatever it is or isn't. Try to disprove the existence of paradox and you end up proving it. Try to ignore it and it comes right back to haunt you. All you can do is accept paradox.

That remains to be seen. Let's just make sure we're at least on the same page regarding an uncaused being.

Do you agree that when we say something is caused, we are talking about the creation of said entity? If not, what do you define it as?
 
  • #44
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The idea that infinity is not synonymous with limitless and is not paradoxical is wholly unsupported, flies in the face of two thousand years of history, and is brazenly irrational. You might as well start arguing pigs have wings. As far as I'm concerned such drek should be kept on the mysticism bulletin board.

The universe is a thing without a cause. As I have already explained, this merely means the universe was not created from some prior event. I don't know where you get the idea that such a concept means existence is nonexistent.

I'll give this one more try using as straightforward and untechnical a wording as I can.

If you are saying existence just is, without a cause, then your logic is not logic but mere rhetorical nonsense. You might as well say the meaning of life the universe and everything is pickles (I like dill myself and the number 42 just isn't appealing.) As such it does not constitute an explanation or even a description of existence.

It may not be paradoxical, but it is irrational and cannot be shown to be related to topic at hand except possibly as humor. Again, what matters is the context and in this context of the absurd it is boardering on being off topic. However, I really do appreciate your challanges, they really do help me clarify my arguments in such a way that just about anyone can understand them.
 
  • #45
Eh
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Fair enough. But no one has yet shown any logical contradiction with an existence that just is. I think the question "why does existence exist" is nonsense to begin with. It's like asking why is a frog a frog?
 
  • #46
drag
Science Advisor
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See my thread, please. :wink:
 
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  • #47
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Yin and yang?

This is something Asians tend to know so well, but the west has made a great deal of progress in the sciences by denying the validity of paradox so that has become the western tradition. With the advent of QM and Relativity, however, paradox is once again commanding more respect in the west.
This is the yin and yang of it all right? Which speaks of the duality of things, which are opposite and yet inseperable and hence, the foundation for everything ... Is this what you mean by paradox?

Therefore, 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 ... and also, 1/2 x 2/1 = 1

And from the "one mind" we have fallen, to accept "the two," and hence the "knowledge of opposites" ... regarding the fall from the Garden of Eden.

Where before the fall, 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 ... and afterwards, 1 + 1 = 2 (where we don't embrace the opposites a whole, but rather as singular and "seperate").

While I also understand Chinese culture, unlike Western culture, is not based upon the fall from the Garden of Eden, in fact with them it's as if it had never occurred?
 
  • #48
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Fair enough. But no one has yet shown any logical contradiction with an existence that just is. I think the question "why does existence exist" is nonsense to begin with. It's like asking why is a frog a frog?

As I keep reminding people, I couldn't care less whether existence really is a paradox or not. It makes no difference in my life whatsoever, whatever the answer might be. However, exploring this question has proven incredibly valuable for thousands of years. It is the basis of most philosophy and science today whether people recognize it as such or not.

If you'd like more details, send me a pm.

This is the yin and yang of it all right? Which speaks of the duality of things, which are opposite and yet inseperable ... and hence, the foundation for everything. Is this what you mean by paradox?

The chinese do have a sort of garden of eden myth, but instead of knowledge being the culpret it is civilization and all its bad habits. However, unlike the Christian myth of Armagedeon, Taoists tend to have utopian dreams of a future where civilization kicks most of its bad habits. In addition, synergy is central to both eastern and western thought and in yin yang is a bit more complex than you portray it. It is both singularity and synergy in utter paradox.

Synergy is the natural observation and principle that any two or more things together possess unique properties they do not have separately. Yin and Yang is likewise a principle and natural observation, albeit a historically Asian one that acknowledges the paradox of existence. The complementary opposites of Yin and Yang extend beyond synergy unifying its disparate elements in singularity. In harmony, dissonance, and static equilibrium synergy and singularity comprise rudimentary complementary opposites of Yin and Yang.

If that isn't confusing enough, I've got more. :0)
 
  • #49
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Wuliheron, how can existence be paradoxical, if we base it on a demonstrably non-paradoxical premise? Eh has already pointed out that it might just have no cause (which makes perfect, rational sense), and I have shown (in another thread, and in this one) that infinity is not paradoxical. These both work, as good premises, and resolve any possible "paradox of existence" (except, perhaps, Drag's version, which I deal with through different reasoning).
 
  • #50
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Wuliheron, how can existence be paradoxical, if we base it on a demonstrably non-paradoxical premise? Eh has already pointed out that it might just have no cause (which makes perfect, rational sense), and I have shown (in another thread, and in this one) that infinity is not paradoxical. These both work, as good premises, and resolve any possible "paradox of existence" (except, perhaps, Drag's version, which I deal with through different reasoning).

Newton's Mechanics assumed a perfectly non-paradoxical premise, but he was evidently wrong.

As I already showed with Eh's argument that existence just IS, this is not a rational argument. It is meaningless rhetorical nonsense that is equivalent to saying the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is dill pickles. Asians often use the analogy that life has Suchness and Isness, but they don't pretend to claim this is a rational argument or explanation.

And, again, if you keep insisting infinity is rational I shall just have to do the old cut and paste routine:

The idea that infinity is not synonymous with limitless and is not paradoxical is wholly unsupported, flies in the face of the entire history of both eastern and western philosophy, mathematics, and science and is brazenly irrational in its own rite to continuously assert. You might as well start arguing pigs have wings. As far as I'm concerned such drek should be kept on the mysticism bulletin board.
 

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