Why something rather than nothing?

P) Why is there something rather than nothing?

Analysis:

Take the general form of the question as: Why is there A rather than B?
Where A, and B stands for facts, or state of affair.

A general form of the answer would be something like the following:

There exist fact C such that C makes the obtaining of fact A more likely than the obtaining of fact B. So, when comfronted with "why A rather than B?". One need only to find this unique C that would make A more likely than B.

So, if we are to answer P, then we have to find a fact C such that C makes something more likely than nothing. This is absurd, because C is part of something, and thus, there is no fact of the matter that would make something more likely than nothing. What does this mean? It means that there is no underlying reason for why there is something rather than nothing. That the existence of something is a brute fact.

answer to (p): It is simply a brute fact that there is something.

Note: If you are going to reply. Please, explain yourself in easy to understand terms. Please, Do not try to show off by using "big words", or being "vague, and profound". It never works. Imagine yourself writing a actual philosophy paper in order to get a grade. Please, no not write about new age stuff. I neet so many people that thinks that by being obscure, and vague, they are better than everyone. It is not true. Most of what these people say could be said in simpler terms, and they are not all that profound and deep. Be true to yourself, and don t try to impress anyone.

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Who is P)? Physicists or philosoph? Or both?

Who is P)? Physicists or philosoph? Or both?

P stands for a question

apeiron
Gold Member
Alternatively, the answer is that there was once a state of everythingness (fact c) which then makes somethingness (fact a) more probable as what we have now than nothingness (fact b).

Then on further examination we realise that everythingness is also a form of nothingness and so really what we would want to talk about is vagueness and crispness.

We can then rephrase the whole question as why is there the dichotomised something that is an asymmetry rather than pure potential, an everythingness that is a nothingness, which is an unbroken symmetry?

I'm sure you will protest that vagueness must also be a something. But check the definition out first.....

Alternatively, the answer is that there was once a state of everythingness (fact c) which then makes somethingness (fact a) more probable as what we have now than nothingness (fact b).
No. I see there is a temporal order in here. If there "was" everything, then "at some point in time", there is something.

Another problem is if there was everything, then it begs the question of why there is not everything "now"( supposing a temporal order).

Then on further examination we realise that everythingness is also a form of nothingness
Not true. If there is everything, then is a world with people. This world would not be "nothingness"( whatever this means).

and so really what we would want to talk about is vagueness and crispness.
No. I don t know your terms. If we are going to talk, we are going to use stardard technical terms within analytic philosophy.
I don  t want to make up words that only i can undertstand.

We can then rephrase the whole question as why is there the dichotomised something that is an asymmetry rather than pure potential, an everythingness that is a nothingness, which is an unbroken symmetry?
No.

apeiron
Gold Member
No. I see there is a temporal order in here. If there "was" everything, then "at some point in time", there is something.
.
And why would "temporal" order be a problem?

It would be a problem if the argument ran that "time" as it exists crisply broken out in our reality was also crisply broken out in the prior vaguer state. But that is explicity not being claimed.

No. I don t know your terms. If we are going to talk, we are going to use stardard technical terms within analytic philosophy.
I don  t want to make up words that only i can undertstand.
No.
You really make me wet myself laughing. If I had to restrict myself to what you know....

I think Bertrand Russell once wrote a famous little diatribe against ontic vagueness. A very standard cite. I don't agree with his take on it of course.

If you want to live within a discourse that simply ponders the paradoxes it creates - just as you are doing throwing out all these threads - then that's your hang-up.

Academic logic of the sort you seem inordinately fond is like a computer that goes blue screen any time it tries to compute any question of actual interest. But if your computer craps out, do you just sit there waiting forever in helpless silence? Or do you go find a better machine?

apeiron
Gold Member
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And why would "temporal" order be a problem?

It would be a problem if the argument ran that "time" as it exists crisply broken out in our reality was also crisply broken out in the prior vaguer state. But that is explicity not being claimed.
Again, I do not know what your "crisply broken priori vaguer state". You ask me why time is important? The reason is that in general, time is thought of as a state of affair. In any case, time is not obvious. There are set of properties associated with time. We can described a state of affair that do not use time.

You really make me wet myself laughing. If I had to restrict myself to what you know....

You can wet yourself somewhere else, because i don t buy it.

I think Bertrand Russell once wrote a famous little diatribe against ontic vagueness. A very standard cite. I don't agree with his take on it of course.

Ok. give me a reference, because I don t know what you are talking about.

If you want to live within a discourse that simply ponders the paradoxes it creates - just as you are doing throwing out all these threads - then that's your hang-up.
Analytic philosophy give us results, and answers. I don  t know what i read when i read your writing. it is more like english literatire. It is like you are trying to define every word yourself, and take pride in being vague, and obscure. That is not funny.

"Academic logic of the sort you seem inordinately fond is like a computer that goes blue screen any time it tries to compute any question of actual interest. But if your computer craps out, do you just sit there waiting forever in helpless silence? Or do you go find a better machine? "

You can use analogy, and metaphors. I am sure it would be great for an english literature course.

Some general references on vagueness....
http://www.btinternet.com/~justin.needle/
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/vagueness/

Some recent papers on ontic vagueness.....
http://www.unicamp.br/~chibeni/publi...cvagueness.pdf [Broken]
http://www.ifs.csic.es/sorites/Issue_15/chibeni.htm [Broken]
http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~phl...cvagueness.pdf [Broken]

Russell's 1923 argument against ontic vagueness....
http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Russell/vagueness/

Look, i know the problems and arguments associated with vagueness. I would know what you are talking about if what you actually say does apply to the context of the discussion. It seems you are stealing some ideas, and words you don t really know.

Are you a philosopher of some university? I would really want to read some of your papers.

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apeiron
Gold Member
Look, i know the problems and arguments associated with vagueness. I would know what you are talking about if what you actually say does apply to the context of the discussion.
It seems you are stealing some ideas, and words you don t really know.
Ahh, it all comes back to you now?

And first I'm inventing ideas and words, now I'm stealing them.

Look, its your choice to present a series of standard logical paradoxes and ask for comment. My argument is that the flaw is in the logical machinery rather than in the world being described. So respond to the argument even if it escalates things to a meta-level where other logic models are permitted to exist as coherent possibilities.

You've already agreed that answers to important questions cannot be delivered by the system you are using.

If you want confirmation that the world of scholarship is bigger than the one you know, you really ought to check this little chart out.....

http://www.iigss.net/gPICT.pdf

Ahh, it all comes back to you now?

And first I'm inventing ideas and words, now I'm stealing them.

http://www.iigss.net/gPICT.pdf

No, i did not. I gave you analysis, claims, and proves. This is not an open ended question at all.

If you do want to comment, then comment on the analysis itself. if you ask a mathematician, he would think of the prove. If you ask a philosopher, he would think of the argument. Why would you think i would ask for comment about a particular question?
Don` t you think such question is more fitting if you are in high school?

vectorcube said:
P) Why is there something rather than nothing?

The "something" is an assumption. An assumption that science can never prove, because if it were to prove it, it would have to pass through our minds(we never experience the world directly;all we ever know is the image of the world generated in our awareness). Science and scientists have chosen to adopt the assumption that there is "something" out there, for the benefit of making progress.

There is no way now or in the future that someone will prove with certainty that there is such a thing as "something" or "out there". If 20th century physics is saying anything worthwhile on this topic, it is that "something" and "nothing" are never that far apart as when seen through our human senses.

What you call "something" is merely the manifestation of the interaction of 4 fundamental forces. Why we see the manifestation of 4 forces as something is not a question that science can answer.

But it's in philosophy that everything is put into question, every single assumption that science makes. And as Lee Smolin says in the Trouble with Physics - in the end it might be the philosophers who'd be laughing.

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Before I introduce some pies to start throwing at each other, maybe we can actually get something out of this thread.

OP, are you saying that in order to prove that A is superior to B we have to have a C, and the C is derived from A and therefore can not prove or disprove the superiority of A?

So the question is:
What D (something outside of A and B) exists that would allow for A to be superior to B?

Could this come down to a 50:50. A equal chance of either having an A or B.

Why should we take the "general form" of the question as you put it? Somethingness vs nothingness seems like an altogether different question than your little analogy.

P) Why is there something rather than nothing?

Analysis:

Take the general form of the question as: Why is there A rather than B?
Where A, and B stands for facts, or state of affair.

A general form of the answer would be something like the following: (snipped)

It means that there is no underlying reason for why there is something rather than nothing. That the existence of something is a brute fact.

answer to (p): It is simply a brute fact that there is something.
You're assuming existence by calling it "brute fact". What does "brute fact" mean when discussing this sort of ontological question.

See no big words either, other than "ontological". Was that too big for you?

I imagine that by "no big word" he implied no philosophy-only jargon. He wanted to try to keep the debate in the realm of common language. Instead of using words we might have seen on Plato's thesis paper.

apeiron
Gold Member
I imagine that by "no big word" he implied no philosophy-only jargon. He wanted to try to keep the debate in the realm of common language. Instead of using words we might have seen on Plato's thesis paper.
I think what vectorcube actually said was please just discuss modal logic in the vernacular of modal logic. Please don't challenge my framework, just consider this particular working out I have constructed within this framework.

So he wants to limit the debate to the realm of a particular academic discourse. Treat it as a student exercise to be graded, as he said.

This would be fine. Except he then chooses precisely the kind of logical paradoxes which explode the framework. He pushes a tool (which can be useful in certain applications) to the point where it becomes self-contradictory rather than self-consistent.

Which is what justifies escalating matters to a meta-level where humans look at their tools and scratch their heads wondering what a better designed tool might look like. Or rummage through the drawers of academia to borrow someone else's more appropriate instrument.

And any scholars response to big words ought to be curiosity. The more varieties of thought we can explore, the more clear we become about the ways we ourselves are thinking.

Ok if I'm following this right... Well first off on the subject of nothing and something. It is that either one or the other must come first if anything is to come at all. An example of this is the big bang theory... we have the universe and to explain its existance we have a theory that states that the universe started as a micro dot that basicaly blows up and eventualy becomes the universe we know. Now the problem with this is that ever awful question of "why?" or more to the point what came before. The answer we are given is that there was no before or that nothing came before... Yet when you ask was it possible that nothing was before the big bang they all say no. Funny how they just said basicaly that nothing was before the big bang...

Now that begs the question... What was before nothing? This is where the question comes to an end because the only possible answer to that is nothing. So before was nothing and before that was nothing or more to say that this is where the blank starting state of the universe must be. So this begs the question "How?" or more to the point... How will it end? The answer to this seems fairly obvious to me... That it wont end. To come to this conclusion all you need to do is understand how much space is in space. It is not a hard thing to think about and yet it is impossible to think about. If we started traveling at 100 times the speed of light in one straight direction out into space from anywhere we would never hit a wall that made us turn off our course. We could effectivly travel forever at that speed out into space.

So how big is the universe? A: As big as you can dream it be.

What was the first thing to exist? A: The first thing to exist was nothing.

How can we be sure there wasn't something before nothing? A: We really cant know if something did not exist before something else but eventualy the question of what caused what will result in us finding the answer that nothing was before it... This is what every parent knows when they tell thier kid that its just because after a long list of whys.

Ok if I'm following this right... Well first off on the subject of nothing and something. It is that either one or the other must come first if anything is to come at all. An example of this is the big bang theory... we have the universe and to explain its existance we have a theory that states that the universe started as a micro dot that basicaly blows up and eventualy becomes the universe we know. Now the problem with this is that ever awful question of "why?" or more to the point what came before. The answer we are given is that there was no before or that nothing came before... Yet when you ask was it possible that nothing was before the big bang they all say no. Funny how they just said basicaly that nothing was before the big bang...

Now that begs the question... What was before nothing?
"Before" requires time and time implies space. Absence of either can't be described as anything we can imagine.

"Why something or nothing?" can only be asked in a world with time, space and logic... something. Meaningful question asking presupposes the very things that we're trying to 'trace' the origins of, and our usual tools of logic and analysis breakdown when applied to such a self-referential puzzle.

Apeiron's approach - as discussed in the https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=2413735&postcount=105" - is as meaningful as any other attempt at providing a map to such trackless territory. Equally possible IMHO is Paul Davies' attempts at defining a Universe which self-selects from the primordial plenum/void, following ideas from Stephen Hawking about history having a quantum indefiniteness.

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Not to burst anyones bubble, but if their actually was a "single particle" of whatever type at the origin of our universe as we know it; wouldn't their have to be a potentially infinite number of these particles existing beyond our universe that are just as capable of generating other universes. Our universe could exist within a sea of universes.

apeiron
Gold Member
Not to burst anyones bubble, but if their actually was a "single particle" of whatever type at the origin of our universe as we know it; wouldn't their have to be a potentially infinite number of these particles existing beyond our universe that are just as capable of generating other universes. Our universe could exist within a sea of universes.
Big bang approaches would normally talk of a primal quantum fluctuation rather than a single particle. But yes, if you take that approach, it just pushes first causes further into the past. QM fluctuations have to take place in "something".

The interesting question is how do we get beyond any kind of somethingness.

As initial conditions, the choices seem to be nothing, everything or vagueness. Or to instead argue there is no need for somethingness to have a beginning, no boundary - we can take it as eternal.

I should add that vagueness has the advantage that it combines the essence of the other three common choices. It is both a nothing that is everything, and is eternal in that it is timeless (yet could give rise to time).

Big bang approaches would normally talk of a primal quantum fluctuation rather than a single particle. But yes, if you take that approach, it just pushes first causes further into the past. QM fluctuations have to take place in "something".

The interesting question is how do we get beyond any kind of somethingness.

As initial conditions, the choices seem to be nothing, everything or vagueness. Or to instead argue there is no need for somethingness to have a beginning, no boundary - we can take it as eternal.

I should add that vagueness has the advantage that it combines the essence of the other three common choices. It is both a nothing that is everything, and is eternal in that it is timeless (yet could give rise to time).
Thus the "boundless" or Pleroma. Makes sense. Reminds me of Ain Suf in Kabbalah or Boehme's Ungrund.

20th century physics is saying anything worthwhile on this topic, it is that "something" and "nothing" are never that far apart as when seen through our human senses.
Explain this to me.

Before I introduce some pies to start throwing at each other, maybe we can actually get something out of this thread.

OP, are you saying that in order to prove that A is superior to B we have to have a C, and the C is derived from A and therefore can not prove or disprove the superiority of A?

No. Again, when ask the question of the form: " Why A rather than B". You can either think of A, B as state of affairs, or facts. Ex:The question of the form: "Why is the sky blue, and not green?". A reasonable answer might be to appeal to some conditions in the atmosphere, and the properties of light( Facts).