Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
Post Reply
Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3274
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Fooloso4 » September 18th, 2018, 10:51 am

BG:
You’ll have to back up the following rather than leave it hanging (for me at least) :
Our being is not a condition for whatever was, is, and will be.
Very simply, even if we never existed, either individually or collectively, there would still be something. Existence is not dependent on human existence. The universe was here long before we were.

Burning ghost
Posts: 2618
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Burning ghost » September 18th, 2018, 10:59 am

Well, I am not suggesting that nothing exists beyond my subjective experience. I thought I was being clear as to what I meant? If we didn’t exist then for all intents and purposes it’s a mute point - doesn’t matter in the slightest.

Given that we’re here the I would say that existence (in the way we’re talking about it - relating to “nothing”) is completely about human existence not any other kind of “existence.” It terms of physics of course I’m with you.
AKA badgerjelly

Tamminen
Posts: 723
Joined: April 19th, 2016, 2:53 pm

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Tamminen » September 18th, 2018, 3:38 pm

If you have an intuition of your own nonexistence, you have an intuition of nothingness. There is no world in that intuition, no Big Bang, no cosmic evolution, no biological evolution, no human civilisation, no community of subjects, no others. Just absolute nothingness, pure and simple. This is what nothingness would be if it were possible. But it is not. And therefore Burning ghost is right in defining:
Nothing is the absence of a subjective perspective of any kind.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7220
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Greta » September 18th, 2018, 5:24 pm

HAN, "nothingness" is only relative too. That's the notion I'm putting forward as a reasonable possibility - everything is relative and there is no true nothingness, not even subjectively. Things sure seem and look like nothingness but since when has nature produced absolutes arther than relativities? The "nothingness" we assume may well just be a perspective effect.

To posit that the sensorial state of plants and rocks are the same because neither have nervous systems is an obvious fallacy. The argument is reminiscent of 19th century ideas that other animals were mere unfeeling automatons that appeared to think and feel, but were really just biological machines. That notion is alive today too, just applied to ever simpler organisms. As more studies are completed, the more we find that "biological automatons" feel and struggle in ways akin to "higher" life forms than we supposed.

With more information and understanding the bar for what is deemed sentient keeps going lower, but people continue to insist that this time our definitions are absolutely correct and there is no chance that the ideas will ever be reviewed, updated or changed.

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3274
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Fooloso4 » September 19th, 2018, 1:00 pm

BG:
Well, I am not suggesting that nothing exists beyond my subjective experience.
What I am saying is that what exists is independent of your subjective experience. Not everyone here agrees with that.
If we didn’t exist then for all intents and purposes it’s a mute point - doesn’t matter in the slightest.
But we do exist. That is a given. Heidegger asks about the giving of what is given, the ‘es gibt’, which he translates as both there is and it gives.

In our finitude each of us faces the possibility of nothingness. We are born into the world and leave the world. Is there anything that cannot not be? If each thing that is is finite then the non-being of everything that is is not only possible but could not be otherwise. Is the only thing then that prevents nothingness the continuation of things coming to be? But what evidence do we have that things must always continue in this way?

Fundamental ontology is for Heidegger a question of the meaning of Being. It takes as its starting point a particular mode of human being. This does not mean, however, that without human beings there would be no beings, but rather no question of Being. His concern is transcendental in the Kantian sense of the conditions for the possibility of ontologies, that is, what makes possible the categorization of beings. But Heidegger goes further. It is not simply the about the a priori conditions, it is hermeneutic. It is not simply the conditions that allow us to say that something is, but a matter of it being taken as this or that, which is not a priori in a fixed sense, but historical. The a priori itself, pace Kant, is not a set of immutable, universal, and necessary categories, it to is historical and changeable.

BG:
Given that we’re here the I would say that existence (in the way we’re talking about it - relating to “nothing”) is completely about human existence not any other kind of “existence.” It terms of physics of course I’m with you.
Heidegger begins his “Introduction to Metaphysics” with the question:
Why are there beings at all rather than nothing?
It is not simply a theoretical question, but a deeply existential one. It is about what is, what was, and what will be (2).
… we are asking from the start about the whole of what is

...

Why, - that is, what is the ground? From what ground do beings come? On what ground do beings stand? To what ground do beings go? (2)
He is not looking for an explanation or answer. It is the question of the ground itself that grounds other questions. Nothingness is not ruled out. It is against this background that every question of something has its ground.
Phusis is Being itself (11)
Heidegger interprets this Greek term, the root of the term physics, as emergence.
It says that what emerges from itself … the unfolding that opens itself up, the coming into appearance in such unfolding, and holding itself and persisting in appearance - in short, the emerging-abiding sway. (11)
That there is something rather than nothing is in one sense the most ordinary of observations, but in another the most extraordinary. It is this latter sense that he says has been lost, taken for granted as given. It is this sense of awe and wonder that he wants to retrieve.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1298
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Consul » September 23rd, 2018, 12:25 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
September 19th, 2018, 1:00 pm
Phusis is Being itself (11)
Heidegger interprets this Greek term, the root of the term physics, as emergence.
"[T]he fundamental and etymological meaning of the term phusis is that of 'growth' and as an action noun ending in -sis, phusis means the whole process of growth of a thing from birth to maturity."

(Naddaf, Gerard. The Greek Concept of Nature. New York: State University of New York (SUNY) Press, 2005. p. 3)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

Burning ghost
Posts: 2618
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Burning ghost » September 23rd, 2018, 3:00 am

If we’re going to play the semantic game then where I we hoping it to lead? My argument would be that it’ll lead us each in whatever direction suits our own purposes - consciously or not.

The OP sets up the proposition that “being” can only be “determined by its historical context.” I don’t really but into viewing the world as a purely hermeneutic phenomenon. I view hermeneutics as an interesting activity, but in terms of defining anything with substance it holds onto that which cannot be held onto (basically it admits its own lie) ... it’s a curious perspective to take.

We certainly don’t really knwo what to do about the concept of “time” at all. All we can say is that we tend toward setting out our “position” to be an “aboutness” framed in certain discrete moments/segments. Form this unsubstantial form we reference and expand views if differentiation.

The concept of time allows us to explore relational systems. Where Heidegger talks of “thrownness” Husserl talks of “adumbration”.

The greater issue for me is bringing about my emotional being into a structure where it doesn’t see able to explicate itself without strain and arduous work. The way I see things is that although we can reach into certain concepts and make them more rigid or more plastic there is nevertheless an appeal toward an imagined “optimal” positioning.

I cannot uncover/create some concept of “being”. I always “see” “myself” at a temporal “distance” imagined spacially as a changing picture. No matter what mysticism slips in as the more artistic/poetical side of me takes the reigns where rational thought and categories that differentiate fail to persuade.

By this I mean I find the proposition more of an exposition of someone grappling and blaming the reader for reading what they write than I see the writer facing up to the problem of limited explication.
AKA badgerjelly

Fooloso4
Moderator
Posts: 3274
Joined: February 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

Re: Why is there anything at all and rather not nothing

Post by Fooloso4 » September 23rd, 2018, 9:55 am

Consul:
"[T]he fundamental and etymological meaning of the term phusis is that of 'growth' and as an action noun ending in -sis, phusis means the whole process of growth of a thing from birth to maturity."
(Naddaf, Gerard. The Greek Concept of Nature. New York: State University of New York (SUNY) Press, 2005. p. 3)
In the introduction Naddaf says:
… the word phusis in this context means the origin and growth of the universe as a totality.
The origin of the universe as a totality implies the coming to be of what was not.

Heidegger notes ‘growth’ as the dictionary definition (11), but this is not adequate if we take growth to mean simply the development of what is. It is the origin or coming to be of what is, that is, Being as emergence, that guides Heidegger’s inquiry.

As Naddaf points out:
And since humanity and the society in which they reside are also part of this totality explanations of the origin and development of humanity and society must necessarily follow an explanation of the world.
Naddaf points to a three part schema at work in the pre-Socratic accounts [of phusis]: a cosmogony, an anthropogony, and a politogony.

It is for this reason that Heidegger says that Being must be examined within an historical context.

Post Reply