• Wayfarer
    9.5k
    I was responding to a declaration by you. - IN ALL CAPS - which I think is a central and important point in philosophy. It was not an ad hominem argument, but a general observation about naturalism and metaphysics, although I often find that such arguments push a lot of buttons.
  • charles ferraro
    119


    OK I'll accept your explanation. Thanks.
    By the way, I agree with your comments regarding perspective.
  • 180 Proof
    915
    ... a word to the wiseasses: STFU & listen.

    Ugh. No doubt it's already been pointed out somewhere in this thread, and certainly elsewhere, that this "fundamental question" according to Everyone's-Favorite-Nazi is rhetorical, in that it assumes that nothing is something, or a kind of something, which would otherwise be available if there was no "something." Accept the question and you accept the assumption. Or, if you don't, you realize that the question is, in fact, "why is there something?"Ciceronianus the White
    Amor fati.

    It's interesting (to me at least) that in pre-Christian times, Epicurus was admired for his teaching that there was no afterlife. We simply cease to exist; there is no punishment, no dull, dreary existence in the kind of grey shadow world envisioned by pagans when eternal torment was not expected. As a result, the fear of death was thought irrational. We recall nothing bad happening to us before we were born, as we didn't exist then; nothing bad will happen to us after we die as we won't exist. Lucretius and others considered him a kind of savior as he was thought to have freed us from the superstitious fears which cause us to fear death and dissolution.

    Now, apparently, we're horrified because someday we won't exist. Something in us has changed, it would seem.
    Ciceronianus the White

    :death: :flower:
  • Wayfarer
    9.5k
    In our experience, only others die.
  • Janus
    8.9k
    :yikes: What do you mean? Of course a ham sandwich is better than God - assuming you also have water to drink daily, you can live on 'nothing but ham sandwiches' indefinitely, but without a doubt after only a couple of months with 'nothing but God' you'd starve to death. Kosher ham or not, like the song says: 'all you need is ham / ham is all you need' ... :yum: :hearts:180 Proof

    :strong: "I ham that I ham"?
  • 180 Proof
    915
    :strong: "I ham that I ham"?Janus
    :rofl:
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    If, as you state, " ... nothing, the idea, causes contradictions and so, is impossible," how, then, in the first place, can the idea of nothing be a "cause," since, by definition, it does not exist?

    Also, might there not be a significant difference between nothingness as a logical, rather than as an existential, cause?

    For a someone who is dying, nothing definitely "exists" as an existential, rather than as a merely logical, reality which will shortly be experienced, or encountered. Nothing is eminently real to the dying! Do we really want to insist that what they are dreading is impossible?
    charles ferraro

    Well, if nothing must have something to do with existence then it would have to be in a sense beyond logic for the concept itself is logically problematic as I attempted to demonstrate within the framework of contradictions not obtainable in any possible world.
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    Ugh. No doubt it's already been pointed out somewhere in this thread, and certainly elsewhere, that this "fundamental question" according to Everyone's-Favorite-Nazi is rhetorical, in that it assumes that nothing is something, or a kind of something, which would otherwise be available if there was no "something." Accept the question and you accept the assumption. Or, if you don't, you realize that the question is, in fact, "why is there something?"

    And this realization, I think, provides one with an insight as to what motivates the speculation engaged in by those who believe this to be a "fundamental question." Heidegger was, like Nietzsche, a Romantic, and Romantics who find themselves unable to believe in the God of their fathers also find themselves deprived of a time-honored explanation for life and source of the meaning of life. But they remain convinced that there must be a reason for the existence of the universe and, most importantly, their own existence. So, they deploy in pursuit of that all-important reason; a reason which, presumably, can only be determined by philosophers (as opposed to scientists).
    Ciceronianus the White

    Yes, this (treating nothing as something) appears to be a problem for my argument. However, I refer you to the way definitions work: as far as I can tell, we define a thing in terms of properties but not just any property but those which are essences of the thing being defined. Since, nothing is a defined concept, it follows then that it has a property that is its essence and that, to my understanding, is nonexistence, the opposite of existence, perhaps referrable to as nothingness.

    Ergo, while I'm reluctant to make the claim that nothing is something when something means everything we can sense and/or ruminate on, there is no denying that nothing has an essence, that of "emptiness" on the grandest of scales, and by that token can be considered to possess a property, the property of nothingness. It makes sense then to think of nothing as something, not in terms of either the physical or mental but in terms of a thing that possesses the essential property of nothingness/nonexistence.

    Perhaps I'm asking you, if you disagree with the above, to not look at it in terms of properties which necessitates existence but from the vantage point of essences which levels the playing field, so to speak, between something and nothing.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    903


    I think the question is a very artificial one to begin with, and that itself creates problems.

    I think it's important to understand that when we ask "why is there something?" we aren't asking about a particular thing we call "something." We aren't questioning any particular thing. If we were, we'd ask "why is there that tree?"

    As I noted, I think the question posed by Heidegger is properly (if we can speak of anything being "proper" about such a question) "why is there something" which I suppose is intended to ask why is there all this (the universe), or perhaps why are there things, or why do things exist? And, I don't think Heidegger is asking for an explanation of how all things were caused, or came to be, in the sense that science could provide in many cases.

    Can we even ascribe a particular property to everything in any meaningful, non-trivial sense? If we say all things that exist have in common the property of existence we indulge in a tautology. But if we say nonexistence is a property of that which doesn't exist, or a property we aren't describing--we aren't really swaying anything.

    People just want desperately o keep on living as they have or in a better way than they have. That's all that people can know, or describe.
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    I think the question is a very artificial one to begin with, and that itself creates problems.

    I think it's important to understand that when we ask "why is there something?" we aren't asking about a particular thing we call "something." We aren't questioning any particular thing. If we were, we'd ask "why is there that tree?"

    As I noted, I think the question posed by Heidegger is properly (if we can speak of anything being "proper" about such a question) "why is there something" which I suppose is intended to ask why is there all this (the universe), or perhaps why are there things, or why do things exist? And, I don't think Heidegger is asking for an explanation of how all things were caused, or came to be, in the sense that science could provide in many cases.

    Can we even ascribe a particular property to everything in any meaningful, non-trivial sense? If we say all things that exist have in common the property of existence we indulge in a tautology. But if we say nonexistence is a property of that which doesn't exist, or a property we aren't describing--we aren't really swaying anything.

    People just want desperately o keep on living as they have or in a better way than they have. That's all that people can know, or describe.
    Ciceronianus the White

    To begin with, I agree that "something" is meant in the generic sense and not in the particular. Nevertheless, the particulars constitute the class of things Heidegger is referring to with "something" in his question. Heidegger and other metaphysicians are seeking some kind of explanation for why things exist because they didn't find a good reason for why the situation couldn't have been the opposite, nonexistence/nothing.

    Then there's the matter of how claiming that all things that exist have existence as a common "property" is a tautology. Well, just as the statement, "clouds, snow and doctors' coats are white" isn't a tautology for I'm not here saying, "white is white" but instead drawing attention to the fact that all the objects mentioned have whiteness in common, the statement, "all objects that exist have existence in common", is also not a tautology. The claim isn't "existing objects exist", in which case it would be a tautology but about a common "property" shared, in which case it isn't.
  • Relativist
    1.3k
    Then there's the matter of how claiming that all things that exist have existence as a common "property" is a tautology. Well, just as the statement, "clouds, snow and doctors' coats are white" isn't a tautology for I'm not here saying, "white is white" but instead drawing attention to the fact that all the objects mentioned have whiteness in common, the statement, "all objects that exist have existence in common", is also not a tautology. The claim isn't "existing objects exist", in which case it would be a tautology but about a common "property" shared, in which case it isn't.TheMadFool
    It's problematic to treat existence as a property. A property is a characteristic that some objects have, and others do not. There are no objects that lack existence.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    903
    the statement, "all objects that exist have existence in common", is also not a tautology. The claim isn't "existing objects exist", in which case it would be a tautology but about a common "property" shared, in which case it isn't.TheMadFool

    Well, I don't know. I have trouble understanding the difference between "All things that exist, exist" and "all things that exist have existence in common." Both statements are true by necessity. It's like saying "all men are men" is different from saying "all men have in common the fact that they're men."

    Do we ask "why are all men, men and not women (or something else)?" I don't think we do, not really. I thing there's something wrong with such questions. The "answers" to them resolve no real problems, if indeed they can be answered with any assurance.
  • 180 Proof
    915
    It's problematic to treat existence as a property. A property is a characteristic that some objects have, and others do not. There are no objects that lack existence.Relativist
    :up:
  • Gregory
    888
    "When the unreflexive consciousness speaks of observation and experience as the foundation of truth, that phrase may sound as if the whole business were a matter of tasting, smelling, feeling, hearing, and seeing." Hegel

    He goes on to say seeing the Universal in things is what philosophy ("science" as he calls it) is about. He says inorganic things are more determinate than organic. The later is "fluid movement". This sounds like a scientific claim (in the modern sense). But his old fashion science is still interesting in how he uses it to counter Hume. Hegel says there is some laws within the universe, but they are discovered in action (much as Hedeigger says).


    I would say the universe comes from nothing, and that the Hegelian way of looking at the world and yourself as the Platonic Forms (your activity) is a reason the universe. Any spiritual experience is the reason for the contingent universe to come from nothing (a spiritual realm of notta)
  • Gregory
    888
    Heidegger knew Heraclitus was into more than Parmenides was with regard to cosmology. Plato did too. Aristotle falled the part seminar about the One and the Good. Descartes was a cloudy Platonist, his Ideas in the clouds of his mind. Not everywhere about him. Find Plato in everything
  • Borraz
    29
    "Why is there something rather than nothing? was labeled as the fundamental question of metaphysics by Martin Heidegger".
    That question was raised by Leibniz. Heidegger paraphrases it.
  • charles ferraro
    119
    On second thought, perhaps the more accurate question(s) ought to be:

    Why is there, simultaneously, both something and nothing?

    What kind of being grounds nothing and how does it do it?

    Do we actually experience nothingness(es)? If so, what are they like?

    Is there one kind of being that grounds something and another kind of being that grounds nothing?

    Is the being that grounds nothing itself grounded in the being that grounds something?

    These are just some of the kinds of questions Sartre asks and tries to answer in Being & Nothingness.
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    Well, I don't know. I have trouble understanding the difference between "All things that exist, exist" and "all things that exist have existence in common." Both statements are true by necessity. It's like saying "all men are men" is different from saying "all men have in common the fact that they're men."

    Do we ask "why are all men, men and not women (or something else)?" I don't think we do, not really. I thing there's something wrong with such questions. The "answers" to them resolve no real problems, if indeed they can be answered with any assurance.
    Ciceronianus the White

    I assume, with good reason, that you're more knowledgeable than me on this issue. You were kind enough to point out whether the statement "all things that exist have existence in common" could be a vacuous tautology.

    If we were to take a set of objects, say, A = {8, 5, 7}, and B = {e, x, z} is there any new content in the statements:

    1) 3, 5, 7 are numbers i.e. the set A consists of numbers

    and

    2) e, x, z are letters of the English alphabet i.e. set B consists of letters of the English alphabet

    In other words are statements 1 and 2 tautologies? It does seem like the statements 1 and 2 are tautologies; after all, 8, 5, 7 are numbers and e, x, z are letters of the English alphabet. Ergo, statements 1 and 2 amount to saying, "numbers are numbers" and "letters are letters".

    However, consider the following two statements:

    3) The elements of set A have numericalness in common

    and

    4) The elements of set B have letter-ness in common

    Statements 3 and 4, although they requires knowledge of what the elements of the sets actually are, are about what property it is that determines membership in a set and in no way can they be translated as "numbers are numbers" or "letters are letters".

    Similarly, the statement, "existing things have existence in common" simply mentions the property, here existence, that decides membership in the set of existent things. It doesn't mean, like you seem to be claiming, "existing things exist".
  • Ciceronianus the White
    903

    Maybe I'm a victim of the OLP I was taught in the increasingly distant days of my youth (I tend to think I'm a beneficiary of it).

    Context is important. I can easily enough conceive of someone unfamiliar with the Latin alphabet asking what e, x and z are, and being told they're letters. The same with someone unfamiliar with our number system asking what 3, 5 and 7 are, and being told they're numbers/numerals. In such a context, the answer to the question asked, e.g., that "3, 5 and 7 are numbers" is appropriate.

    Now imagine someone, quite familiar with our alphabet and numbers, asking us "what is the common characteristic of A, B and C?" or "what do 3, 5 and 7 have in common?" The predictable response is something like "are you kidding me?" but could be something like "they're letters/numbers, you ____!"

    The interlocutor in these situations, like the person being questioned, knows very well that A, B and C are letters and 3, 5 and 7 are numbers. If either one of them was approached by someone boldly declaring that A, B and C are letters or have "letterness" in common, they would likely, and rightly, think there is something wrong with the declarant, who is merely stating what is obvious or with the statement which serves merely to state the obvious.
  • charles ferraro
    119


    One could argue that there is nothing. That the question presupposes what is not the case, and that experiences which involve nothing (negatites) are quite common occurrences, as Sartre has shown. Along these lines, Sartre states: " … the total disappearance of being would not be the advent of the reign of non-being, but on the contrary the concomitant disappearance of nothingness."
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    Maybe I'm a victim of the OLP I was taught in the increasingly distant days of my youth (I tend to think I'm a beneficiary of it).

    Context is important. I can easily enough conceive of someone unfamiliar with the Latin alphabet asking what e, x and z are, and being told they're letters. The same with someone unfamiliar with our number system asking what 3, 5 and 7 are, and being told they're numbers/numerals. In such a context, the answer to the question asked, e.g., that "3, 5 and 7 are numbers" is appropriate.

    Now imagine someone, quite familiar with our alphabet and numbers, asking us "what is the common characteristic of A, B and C?" or "what do 3, 5 and 7 have in common?" The predictable response is something like "are you kidding me?" but could be something like "they're letters/numbers, you ____!"

    The interlocutor in these situations, like the person being questioned, knows very well that A, B and C are letters and 3, 5 and 7 are numbers. If either one of them was approached by someone boldly declaring that A, B and C are letters or have "letterness" in common, they would likely, and rightly, think there is something wrong with the declarant, who is merely stating what is obvious or with the statement which serves merely to state the obvious.
    Ciceronianus the White

    Can we even ascribe a particular property to everything in any meaningful, non-trivial sense? If we say all things that exist have in common the property of existence we indulge in a tautology. But if we say nonexistence is a property of that which doesn't exist, or a property we aren't describing--we aren't really swaying anything.Ciceronianus the White

    Well, there's the definition of existence and then there are existing things. Existence, to my knowledge means perceivable by the senses and all things that have in common this property are said to exist. An existing thing is declared to be as such based on nothing but by being perceivable by the senses. However the meaning of existing things depends on existence being a common property. As you can see a single object's existence is different to the existence of existing things; the former, a single existing object depends on testing whether the property of being perceivable by the senses is present/absent but the latter, all existing things, depends on whether the property of perceivable by the senses is common or not.

    Ergo, to say that an existing thing exists is a tautology because a thing existing means it exists but "existing things have in common the property of existence" doesn't mean existing things exist but what it actually conveys is that the common property of existence defines the set of existing things. As you can see the meaning of existing things is not based on the meaning of existence "directly" which would lead to a tautology but on the commonness of this property (existence) among existing things.

    It's something like saying,

    1. Red objects are red (a tautology) = The set of red objects

    because

    2. Red objects have redness in common

    Similarly,

    1. Existing things exist (a tautology) = The set of existing things

    because

    2. Existing things have existence in common

    The 1's are tautological statements and the 2's are reasons why the sets or classes in the 1's exist.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    903


    Perhaps my problem is I think letters are letters, and numbers are numbers. In other words, I don't think letters have a property of "letter-ness"; they simply are letters.

    But I think my difficulty with the "fundamental question" is that it arises out of a very awkward, very artificial, use of language, and reification.

    We may say that two objects are both red if they are, in fact, red. We can say that something that is not red is not red, but we don't say that it lacks the property of redness. Something that isn't red will be another color.

    We can say, although it would be odd to do so, that a person exists. But we don't say that there is a person who lacks the property of existence, as obviously there can be no such person. We may ask whether there is a person X and may be told there is no such person, but we won't be told that person lacks the property of existence. A person by definition exists. We don't say that a thing lacks the property of existence either, if asked whether there is such a thing. We say there is no such thing.
  • Eleonora
    87
    Alright, let's kill this subject once and for all. It is a real non-issue that due to the controversial contrast between not having reason, justify reason. In short: The terms for having no reason does not exist, but this question does because to all of us; having nothing seems more reasonable than having something. This is because you have spent eternity having nothing - do you remember? It makes sense, despite the deficiency in ability to see it. There is not something rather than nothing - rather there is nothing rather than something. We - the living - cares to differ.

    All these attempts at quantifying nothing in order to justify a difference does not make sense. There is not anything to quantify. This is where sense enters in. Nothing to quantify, means that it can be quantified - so long as there is an inconclusive answer. Nothing as you say is not possible, but it is real. Everything did not begin with o-how-possible everything is. It's absolutely impossible. Nothing is impossible. See how it precedes the unreasonable?

    It - however impossible - must be. There is no middle ground. Even without existing - that's what it is. Even when that's impossible - that's what it is. Although it is a variable, it's outcome is not. That's where it started.

    It goes beyond the impossible, beyond thinking, beyond even God. That's a little off-topic, but yet not. As it is conducive to the outcome - destiny - through the ultimate everything; and we are asking about the ultimate nothing and why it ultimately is something. It is relevant.

    I know these things, before I was there I did that. It works. So, from myself to myself: Would it even be acceptable to permit the inconclusive answer to be that there is both? Everything, nothing and their Jedi-friend - Obi-Wan Kenobi? It only takes one Jedi to keep a galaxy safe you know and only a single galaxy to illuminate every possibility to a concept. Jesus is the absolute Jedi master.

    Nothing is the nexus for negative time; that's all - the spirit realm. Nothing not possible means everything possible but nothing is real beyond possibility. I love this shit, so I will stop myself there.
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    Perhaps my problem is I think letters are letters, and numbers are numbers. In other words, I don't think letters have a property of "letter-ness"; they simply are letters.

    But I think my difficulty with the "fundamental question" is that it arises out of a very awkward, very artificial, use of language, and reification.

    We may say that two objects are both red if they are, in fact, red. We can say that something that is not red is not red, but we don't say that it lacks the property of redness. Something that isn't red will be another color.

    We can say, although it would be odd to do so, that a person exists. But we don't say that there is a person who lacks the property of existence, as obviously there can be no such person. We may ask whether there is a person X and may be told there is no such person, but we won't be told that person lacks the property of existence. A person by definition exists. We don't say that a thing lacks the property of existence either, if asked whether there is such a thing. We say there is no such thing.
    Ciceronianus the White

    How about if I put it this way:

    Set E = set of existing things

    If I say that existing things exist then it's a tautology alright for existing things must exist. Each existing thing must exist; ergo tautology.

    However, when I say that existing things have existence in common, I'm not talking about the existence of each existing thing as existing (a tautology) but I'm actually making a statement about the set of existing things and passing on the information that the property of existence determines membership in the aforementioned set. Just as the set of red objects can't itself be red but redness is a property of each element in that set, the set of existing things itself can't exist, at least not in the way its members do, and so there's no tautology in saying, "existing things (the set) have existence as a common property".
  • Luke
    584
    There is no philosopher smarter than @TheMadFool.
    There is no philosopher dumber than Plato.
    Therefore, no philosopher is smarter than no philosopher.
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    There is no philosopher smarter than TheMadFool.
    There is no philosopher dumber than Plato.
    Therefore, no philosopher is smarter than no philosopher.
    Luke

    :rofl: I'm the dumbest there is.
  • Luke
    584
    I meant nothing personal by it. I was just trying to emphasise what I see as a problem with your OP argument. Ignoring that it looks like an illicit move from the premises to the conclusion, the conclusion itself seems nonsensical (that no thing is longer than no thing, or that no philosopher is smarter than no philosopher).
  • TheMadFool
    5.4k
    I meant nothing personal by it. I was just trying to emphasise what I see as a problem with your OP argument. Ignoring that it looks like an illicit move from the premises to the conclusion, the conclusion itself seems nonsensical (that no thing is longer than no thing, or that no philosopher is smarter than no philosopher).Luke

    Why is it nonsensical? The reason why will lead you to the conclusion that nothing, that which is nothingness, is impossible.
  • Luke
    584
    It seems nonsensical to me because I'm unable to make sense of it. What does it mean to say that no-thing is longer than no-thing (or that no philosopher is smarter than no philosopher)?
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