• Jack Cummins
    60
    I am raising this question partly because so many threads are based on the claim that no God exists. I realise that this is complex, but I do believe that it does lead to the question of why anything exists at all, which goes back to Spinoza. I am not sure that there any easy answers to the questions, but, aside from the question of whether or not there is a rational explanation for a God behind existence, I am left puzzling about the nature of existence. I don't know if anyone else wonders about this, or perhaps it has been tackled in previous threads, but I am wondering about the whole nature of existence, including sentient beings, like ourselves, and all forms of existence. How can we explain the existence and development of life at all?

  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    2


    In an infinite duration anything that can happen, probably will.

    Either some-thing or no-thing, has existed for an infinite duration. Even things that are ridiculously unlikely to occur in a finite duration are likely to occur in an infinite duration.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I agree that anything can happen, and life is full of the unexpected. I am sure that my question may be regarded as ridiculous, and may have been addressed in threads on why is there anything rather than nothing. However, I am really writing this thread because there are many threads on the front page of the forum against the existence of God. There have been ones looking at the anthropic principle, but as far as I can see, so much of what lies behind existence remains unexplained.
  • tim wood
    8
    How can we explain the existence and development of life at all?Jack Cummins

    I am myself satisfied by the answers that explanations of existence are incidental to existence, and such explanations are provided when you provide them. Or in the case of your accepting the explanations of others, when you accept them. But, inasmuch as your existence is uniquely yours, why would you - or could you - allow anyone else to explain your existence for you?
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    Interesting, but I am left wondering beyond this. We have the claims of Darwin about evolution, and we exist as individuals, in the real world, but I am not sure if this goes deep enough, in explaining why we exist at all.
  • schopenhauer1
    16
    But, inasmuch as your existence is uniquely yours, why would you - or could you - allow anyone else to explain your existence for you?tim wood

  • tim wood
    8
    but I am left wondering beyond thisJack Cummins
    With Mr. observation about throwness fresh in our thoughts, I'll observe that while wondering is a mode of being, too much or inappropriate wondering is a sickness. Not to be confused with Heidegger's "inauthentic being," that being something different. But instead a sickness in the more common sense of the word.
  • unenlightened
    55
    an infinite durationDown The Rabbit Hole

    What are the chances of the existence of duration - finite or infinite?

    I suggest that one needs to be rather cautious about existence. One says that unicorns do not exist, and means that at no time and in no place has there ever been a unicorn. But when one speaks of the existence or non-existence of the universe, or of something beyond the universe, one is speaking of existence with another meaning - the existence of existence, or the existence of the dimensions of existence. I suspect that these things cannot be given a meaning as questions, let alone be meaningfully answered.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    But, I believe that you are missing the question of what lies behind it all. Of course, we may have sickness, as well as health, but I pointing more to the basic questions of metaphysics and epistemology.
  • schopenhauer1
    16
    too much or inappropriate wondering is a sicknesstim wood

    How is that claim true? That’s tim wood’s opinion put in the language of fact.
  • tim wood
    8
    Why - or what makes you think - anything "lies behind"? And the existential sickness is a significant sickness neither in nor from the same neighborhood as ordinary sickness/health issues. I am not at all inclined to let you slide with language like that.
  • tim wood
    8
    Thank you! You noticed and understood. Or at least partially. What would you call "too much or inappropriate wondering"? I have in mind that wondering that blocks living. You may prefer to all it pathological wondering - no objection here.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I am not really wondering about sickness. But, I do believe that so much lies behind the superficial, including causation. How would you explain the question of why human beings, and any form of life, exist at all?
  • tim wood
    8
    All right, existence. What do you imagine existence is for? Concrete answer, please. What is a lion or a bear for? What is a tree for? The only possible reasonable answer is that their existence is for them to exist. And let's keep in mind that existence itself is a template-structure, an overlay having itself no existence except as an idea.

    All of which is to suggest that at some level of abstraction, "Why?" ceases to be a meaningful question in terms of the ground from which it comes, and becomes at that point part of a game. Pathological wondering, then, is giving over life to a game - which is neither life not living but a pathological sickness.

    For clarity's sake, there is a whole lot of useful and productive wondering to be done, but these all within a framework that a least anticipates the possibility of substantive and meaningful answers. That is, the whys that are asked are more-or-less well understood. Until and unless "existence" is understood even in preliminary or speculative terms - in service of seeking substantive and meaningful answers - such wonder pursued becomes a sickness.

    So what is existence, and in terms of that understanding, what does it mean to be an existing being? This the approach, and I'm pretty sure there's no other way, unless you wish to be terminally deceived.
  • Corvus
    7
    Before trying to answer the question,  I would ask first, whether the question is a valid one to be answered.
    When asking "why" questions, it is normally between human beings and their dispositions in their own daily lives, such as why have you ordered  the book? Because I wanted to learn more about Logic. Why did you wake up earlier than usual this morning? Because I was hungry. ....etc etc,   or their explanations to what has happened in the world, but the world must be where the replier had been in his / her life, experiencing the happenings, witnessing the situations etc. Why do you think the team lost the game? Because the players were suffering from fatigues, I guess ...etc etc.
    But the OP's questions why human beings exist at all, and any forms of life exist, = this question is out of the boundary a living human being's experience, because no one right now has lived more than 100 years to have directly experienced the very beginning of life of humans or anything form of lives which could be millions of years ago.
    Hence, answers will come from each person's imaginations, beliefs or the religious scripts or scientific theories, or some other philosophical systems he read.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I am sorry if you find my understanding of existence to be rather abstract, but I am coming from the position of being a living being, as I imagine that you are too. I also think that there are other lifeforms, and I would imagine that they have their own variable constructions of meanings. I am not intending to ask a ridiculous question, but I do wonder why we exist. Part of this comes down to the underlying ones about the existence of God, but, from my reading on this site, they are not clear at all. I am standing back from it all, and do have some anger, because I am not finding any worthwhile answers about the nature of existence, and purpose, at all.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I do agree that individuals' questions arise from their own personal lives and construction of meaning. I woke up earlier than usual on the last couple of days, and felt so miserable about how the majority on this site are focused on answering the questions of God's existence, on the basis of conventional reason. I see the nature of our existence, including the whys and the purpose as being much wider, but I am not sure that such discussion will be considered of much importance on this site at all.
  • tim wood
    8
    I am standing back from it all, and do have some anger, because I am not finding any worthwhile answers about the nature of existence, and purpose, at all.Jack Cummins

    Both nature and purpose of existence are fully elaborated in one word: existence. If you want more, that's not existence but rather your wanting. You're going nowhere until you work through that, and if you're stuck, no wonder your frustration. But this appears to be a topic where you have significant blind spots. Try moving so that you can see from a different angle - standing back usually does not work.
  • Corvus
    7
    I feel it is very important and meaningful to ask and have debates on these topics. It is not the conclusions which matters in most of the time, but the course of debates I feel that I learn a lot.

    Asking validity of the questions is not, to belittle the question, but to suggest expectancy of the limitation of the nature of the arguments and answers.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    Okay, maybe I am stuck in my thinking, but I am not sure that many other people are not stuck equally in their own perspectives. The question may be why does one thing happen rather than anything else. Is there any divine providence? When I lost my keys a few days ago, I really wondered if I had reached a deadend, and was startled when I found them. I know that this may seem to be a trivial example. But, it does lead me to wonder about the superficial aspects of life, and any meaning beyond this. How much is psychology attuned to our own chosen perspectives, and where does this lie in terms of any more objective perspectives on chance, fate and any purpose behind our daily lives?
  • Corvus
    7
    If you are a theist, all the answers are in the bible or your own religious scripts, if atheist, then you would be either existentialist, phenomenologist or scientific realist, then the answers would be all there too. None of the answers would be either right or wrong. Because it is not verifiable. Then it becomes your choice and freedom to decide which one IS for you. But the fact that you have asked the question is very meaningful and significant. I feel that the philosophical questions must be NOT stopped, and kept re-asked and asked as long as human life continues in this universe.
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I do not answer any of the questions which I have raised purely in terms of theism and atheism. I think that people who wrote the Bible wrote from specific angles, with the best thinking that they could arrive at. I am certainly not wishing to come up with any easy solutions. It may be that the question which I am raising will be seen as not being relevant for philosophy. However, as far as I can see many of the philosophies need stripping. For a long time, arguments which stem from God have been seen as lacking. However, I would go a stage further, and say that many philosophies which deconstruct the religious philosophies may be inadequate too. The arguments against God look at reason, but they fail to grasp the intricacies of life, and how there is just so much that we are unable to explain.
  • schopenhauer1
    16
    Thank you! You noticed and understood. Or at least partially. What would you call "too much or inappropriate wondering"? I have in mind that wondering that blocks living. You may prefer to all it pathological wondering - no objection here.tim wood

    For clarity's sake, there is a whole lot of useful and productive wondering to be done, but these all within a framework that a least anticipates the possibility of substantive and meaningful answers. That is, the whys that are asked are more-or-less well understood. Until and unless "existence" is understood even in preliminary or speculative terms - in service of seeking substantive and meaningful answers - such wonder pursued becomes a sickness.tim wood

    To not acknowledge that we "could do otherwise", even survival itself, is to be inauthentic. You would be arbitrarily using the justification of, "but this doesn't compute for survival". I'm assuming "blocks living" has something to do with survival, so if you want to clarify, then that is fine too. I just think anything survival or any X thing you think is "living" is some essentialist arbitrary tim wood opinion "writ large". And basically you are saying, "Do not question the enterprise itself, only follow the patterns set out for you". At least, you are saying something dangerously close.
  • Corvus
    7
    The problem is that our reasons work on the basis of the external sense data by being there in the world and situations, but unfortunately and unfairly, our life span is maximum 100 years or so, not long enough to be present and have experienced at the moment of the Big Bang, or the very first birth / creation of life by God in the universe, hence we are relying on the isms, historical speculations, scientific hypotheses. Not exactly the fault of the Reasoning.
  • Cheshire
    12
    Would you hire a detective that told you God did it whenever the answer wasn't apparent?
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    I do agree that our life experiences is extremely restrictive, especially our lifespan, as well as the social contexts of our experiences. Our perspectives on human life are extremely restricted. But, I believe that many who look to the ideas of our times, including the ideas of thinking in science, also fail to recognize the narrow lens of focus. I am certainly not wishing to push aside the advances in thinking. But, on the other hand, I do think that it would be extremely restrictive if philosophy of our times becomes focused on specific arguments.

    How do these lie in the context of history, comparative religion and thinking which goes beyond the specific focus of materialistic perspectives of Western philosophy? I am not wishing to offer any simplistic solutions, but open up the area of debate, beyond the ideas which are in fashion in the first half of the twentieth century. Do we presume that we have reached the ultimate knowledge?
  • TheMadFool
    26
    I watched a very interesting video on Geometry - the basics, nothing fancy - and it "begins" in media res, exactly the situation we're in. So, the author of the video goes on to explain triangles, parallelograms, and other geometrtic shapes for an hour or so. Then she does something I now find amazing - she slowly deconstructs the shapes she discussed previously: triangles -> lines -> points and drops the bomb, points are undefined.

    Quite possibly, the same may apply to us, our world. It's explanatory history (why?), if I may call it that, maybe traceable back from how it is now to how it was and then on to even more remote causes (answers to why?) but at some point we'll hit a wall - that wall is known by many names one of them being God!. In Geometry God is a point; like how the point is undefined, God needs no further explanation; like points are the building blocks of all geometrical shapes - from simple lines to extremely complex geometries - God too is the very foundation of all there was, is, will be! :chin:
  • Jack Cummins
    60

    The question of whether we could hire a detective or not is interesting insofar as it raises the question of mysteries. Having spoken of philosophical mysteries on a previous thread, I think that the idea of mystery in philosophy is considered open to criticism. But, in attacking the idea of mystery, philosophers may be in the danger of refusing to see behind surfaces. How much is evident in daily reality, and how much is hidden, and goes much deeper. I certainly question any philosophies which are restricted to the superficial, because even on the basis of my own empirical observations, there is so much which lies beneath surfaces, facades and the exterior aspects of life.
  • tim wood
    8
    And basically you are saying, "Do not question the enterprise itself, only follow the patterns set out for you". At least, you are saying something dangerously close.schopenhauer1

    Not at all and nowhere. There's all the difference between a foolish questioning or wondering and questioning or wondering themselves. Consider: a young man wonders, usually, what it would be like to make love to a woman - perhaps not in that exact language - and in the great currents and turbulences of life eventually, usually, has that experience, even if not as he may have planned or expected. And in his wondering is nothing whatever pathological. Suppose a young man whose wonder is such that he uses it to block the possibility of the experience. Eventually that wonder becomes a denial of life and pathological. And nothing more complicated - in principle - that that.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    How can we explain the existence and development of life at all?Jack Cummins
    Since 'explaining presupposes existence', to "explain existence" makes no sense (i.e. begs the question). As for the "development of life", neo-darwinian evolution and species-specific developmental biology suffice. And insofar as your query comes down to contemplating 'the nature of existence', Jack, I speculate that nature refers to the unbounded immanence – substance / being – of necessary non-necessary, or contingent, facts (i.e. existents, events ... universes) – modes / beings – because, if for no other reasons, conceptual negations of these predicates (e.g. "bounded immanence" or "transcendence" or "necessary facts") introduce antinomies or entail contradictions. Any considerations other than that which comes-to-be ... continues-to-be ... cease-to-be ... contingently, or gratuitously (i.e. without reason – since, again, reasoning (explaining) presupposes ... to be) are, to my mind, merely imaginary (e.g. "god/s", "souls", "unicorns", ... "geometric points").
  • tim wood
    8
    Ah, but points are defined. And the interesting thing - or lesson - in the definition of "point" is that it's not something off-the-shelf that is applied, but is rather that which needs to be, in the context in which it is. And I would argue that existence is just such a point. There is no "existence room" where are kept the existences, where one might go to find the one needed, but rather the circumstance, the existence itself, dictates what it must be. And one gets nowhere until that existence qua is grasped. And looking for it where it is not, is manifestly a problem.

    Edit, and what 180 said.
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