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onewheeldave
Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:The 'Super Ultimate' Question of reality.

I once saw an interesting article in a recreational maths book which considered what would be the 'SuperUltimate' question- the question that preceeds all others and lies at the root of all curiousity.

The conclusion was-

'Why is there Something, rather than Nothing?'

immediately on reading that, I felt a profound recognition- it was the question that had plagued me as a young child.

It seemed to me then that, realistically speaking, there shouldn't be anything whatsoever because the existence of something would require an explanation that (I instinctively felt) would not be forthcoming.

I realised that, during my years of studying western philosophy, I had not come across any attempts whatsoever to attempt to answer the question 'why is there something, rather than nothing'.

Of course, many would say that the question is impossible to answer.

The best way to find an answer is to understand the question, and understanding of the question requires that it is clearly stated. On seeing the question so clearly stated, combined with much pondering, a solution presented itself to me, which I wrote up (badly) some years ago, and am in the process of writing it up properly now.

I was wondering if anyone else had come up with possible solutions to this very specific question.

It's important to note that this is not about some general question about reality of the kind which frequently occur on HOP.

Answers based on the 'Big-Bang' will almost certainly not qualify because all big bang theories are simply a way of pushing back the question along a chain of causation which terminates at the current limits of physical scientific thought.

The big-bang stuff has been done to death on many other HOP threads- I've read them all and they don't even come close to what I'm looking for on this one. Incidentely, it would be great if, just for once, Schrodingers cat didn't make an appearance as well smile

Neither will anything involving God creating the world be of any use as, again, God being Something would require explanation.

I'm looking for a good, solid, clear answer that can be understood without reference to complex and hypothetical theories of physics.

And I'm not necessarily looking for an explanation of the physical world, but of our experience of reality i.e. if your theory accounts for my experience of reality without reference to any actual physical reality- then that's good enough.

To state the question again: -

'Why is there Something, rather than Nothing?'


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
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Burning Brain
Burning Brain

eye shifter
Location: between my headphones
Member Since: 9th Oct 2004
Total posts: 321
Posted:i think you could also say 'why is there something, rather than everything.'

If I could be granted one wish I would ask for all the questions of the universe.

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Skulduggery
Skulduggery

Pirate Pixie Crew Captain
Location: Wales
Member Since: 12th Aug 2004
Total posts: 8428
Posted:Damn I always thought the ultimate question was "Why is mens belly button fluff always blue?"

How wrong could I be?!


Feed me Chocolate!!! Feed me NOW!

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Stone
Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne
Member Since: 13th Jun 2001
Total posts: 2830
Posted:Think u are right. Isnt it called the null hypothesis/




EDITED_BY: Stone (1109401007)


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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Jo
Jo

member
Location: Sheffield, England
Member Since: 13th Dec 2000
Total posts: 517
Posted:IMHO evolution has shown (through many different routes) that nothing will always lead to something.

Initialy, maybe there was nothing?

Jo.


Educate yourself in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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KaelGotRice
KaelGotRice

Basu gasu bakuhatsu - because sometimes buses explode
Location: Angel's Landing, USA
Member Since: 21st Jul 2003
Total posts: 1584
Posted:Or you can study eastern philosophy and come to the conclusion of...

Does something or nothing matter at all, or is it all subjective?


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JauntyJames
JauntyJames

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA
Member Since: 22nd Dec 2004
Total posts: 3533
Posted:Fourty-Two!

-James

"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"

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alvheid
alvheid

fairy of light
Location: Bergen, Norway
Member Since: 27th Dec 2004
Total posts: 163
Posted:that was my line! I am the one with the same birthday date as douglas adams, it's my birth right to use forty-two! tongue

Luke sum ipse patrem te.

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JauntyJames
JauntyJames

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA
Member Since: 22nd Dec 2004
Total posts: 3533
Posted:well too bad! tongue i was seven whole minutes faster than you! mabey you can use 42

-James

"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"

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Mint Sauce
veteran
Location: Lancs England
Member Since: 7th Sep 2003
Total posts: 1453
Posted:smileseems you have actually confounded the big thinkers on hop. In my opinion this is an unanswerable question unless hummmmm.... confused nope I'm stumped.. confused

Thanks Dave redface now I'm seriously troubled. I thought I had solved my big thinking question. ubbrollsmile

(which was: why is the universe so perfect that everything seems to interact with everything else..to which I came up with if it was any different then I would not be hear to ask the question.)


before i met those lot i thought they'd be a bunch of dreadlocked hippies that smoked, set things on fire ,and drank a lot of tea but then when i met them....oh wait (PyroWill)

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KaelGotRice
KaelGotRice

Basu gasu bakuhatsu - because sometimes buses explode
Location: Angel's Landing, USA
Member Since: 21st Jul 2003
Total posts: 1584
Posted:I still don't see why you guys care.

Maybe it's a buddhist thing.

oh, and 42! wink


To do: More Firedrums 08 video?
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Spanner
Spanner

remembers when it was all fields round here
Location: in the works... somewhere...
Member Since: 27th Feb 2003
Total posts: 2790
Posted:If there was nothing, there would be no "why".



If there was everything, there would be no "why".



But there is just something, therefore there is "why".



confused



meditate



biggrin


"I thought you are man, but
you are nice woman.

yay,

:R"

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_khan_
_khan_

old hand
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Member Since: 17th Nov 2004
Total posts: 768
Posted:Wouldn't the Big Bang as an explanation be answering the question of how and not why?

Anyway, this one is a stumper...maybe the "something" that we experience is an effect of consciousness? I mean, if we weren't conscious to experience something, would there still be something or would there be nothing?

Maybe we exist in nothingness but our consciousness(es) impose somethingness in order to interact with other consciousnesses? Or is consciousness itself something? And the evolution of consciousness is an evolution towards nothingness...?

I'm feeling a bit unsettled now. eek confused ubbloco


taken out of context i must seem so strange
~ ani di franco

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PK_
PK_

Lambretta Fanatic

Member Since: 20th Dec 2001
Total posts: 4991
Posted:smile

Written by:
our bodies are given life from nothingness,existing where there is nothing is the meaning of the phrase form is emptiness.
That all things are provided by nothingness is the meaning of the phrase, emptiness is form. one should not think these are two separate things



PK.

"To be an angel, one need not have wings.
In giving love there is an equal grace.
Nor need one seek the aura in the face,
As love unveils the beauty of all things."

*Francois Couperin.

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ben-ja-men
ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide
Member Since: 12th Jun 2003
Total posts: 2474
Posted:i think that it makes sense that to begin with there is nothing.

when there is nothing there is no time as each moment is exactly the same as the last

nothing is actually something though, its the void or absense of something.

if we assume that
1. there is no physical matter
2. no external god like entity
3. no time
4. nothingness is a stable state

then logic would suggest that the state of nothingness would be maintained forever as there is nothing to disturb it.

however from our existance we can say that is is not the case therefore one of the 4 assumptions must be wrong

so looking at the assumptions
1. matter would have to come from somewhere which would require a source which becomes and unbalenced element in the equation
2. is a cop out answer
3. time is a human construct for differentiating between events, for there to be time requires events to differentiate between which has the same problem as 1

which leaves us with 4
this would suggest that the state of nothingness is actually an unstable state, the absense of something in infinite directions would then be very unstable as there are no gravitation, electric, magnetic etc feilds to hold the absense of something in place. for a system to settle into a state of minimum energy there must actually be a minimum for it to settle in. with the absense of something to create a minimum stable state the system would actually be very unstable.

to give an analogy of an analogy, imagine that your memory is like a 3d surface with the correct memory being the minimum basin, and there being volcanos and little dips along the way, when you try to remember something your conscious mind enters the surface like a rolling ball, the entry point and velocity depending on your train of though and the ball rolls round till it settles in a (not necessaryly the minimum) basin. so now with no minimum imagine the surface trying to define itself it would be constantly changing and trying to fit itself to zero data.

this would make absolute nothing an extremely volitile situation requiring something to emerge to give the system a point to define itself to for a stable basin.

however this brings back the original problem of the concept of stability existing which requires there to be underlying rules to everything. possibly there was one rule which applies to everything on every scale and its simply the level of complexity that you look at it which changes how it appears even though its the same thing, kind of like when you look at a fractal theres only one rule in there but looking at different regions it looks different due to the number of the iterations your looking at. as existence changed the rule went to the second third etc etc iteration

that obviously brings the question of ok where did that initial one rule come from, possibly the absense of all rules and anything existing became the initial rule, bearing in mind that rules are just human ways of interpreting the world around us. so that initial rule would be maintained if and only if everything was stable thereby creating the concept of stabilty. once the system starts and rules and concepts begin emerging through the iterations of the one rule and how it relates to all the other iterations of the rule then existence would have a medium to emergy through.

hehe well thats what im going with today maybe ill have a better answer tommorow smile


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

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Stone
Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne
Member Since: 13th Jun 2001
Total posts: 2830
Posted:Dave, Ive modified my previous post because I was being smart spank

I may have miss you point, but I think you are referring to the null hypothesis from the dreaded world of statistics. Ill elaborate because I think it is an important point.

[quote from:hypothesis testing

Our criminal legal system is based on this premise of the null: Innocent until proven guilty. We begin with a null hypothesis: There is no relationship between the crime and the person charged with the crime. If the null is proven false then there is a high probability that the person committed the crime. The prosecuting attorney wants to show that there is a high probability of being correct in rejecting the null.

You can never prove a null hypothesis, only retain it as a possibility. It is much better to design the study to reject something. Be wary of conclusions bases on unrejected null hypothesis.

The reason null hypothesis are used with inferential statistics is that we never prove anything, we only fail to disprove. Failure to disprove is consistent with the reality of probability in our lives. In other words, if we cannot find compelling evidence that they are different, the most plausible conclusion is that they are the same. For conceiving and designing research the research hypothesis is far more important than the null. The null is a technical necessity in using inferential statistics. End quote]

Hope that helps in your quest smile


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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ben-ja-men
ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide
Member Since: 12th Jun 2003
Total posts: 2474
Posted:stone could u elaborate i dont understand how the null hypothesis relates to the question why things exist rather than nothing existing at all

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

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Gnarly Cranium
Gnarly Cranium

member
Location: San Francisco
Member Since: 16th Feb 2005
Total posts: 186
Posted:Nothing is nothing. There literally cannot be actual nothing, because that still swould suggest 'nothing' is a state of being. The lack of something is still something.

So... Nothing is impossible.


"Ours is not to question The Head; it is enough to revel in the ubiquitous inanity of The Head, the unwanted proximity of The Head, the unrelenting HellPresence of The Head, indeed the very UNYIELDING IRRELEVANCE of The Head!" --Revelation X

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Stone
Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne
Member Since: 13th Jun 2001
Total posts: 2830
Posted:Ben perhaps, as I stated previously, I might have missed the point, or cant explain my point clearly.

But bacially, its because thats how many people prove theres something.

Dave suggested westerners had failed to tackle the question why is the something rather than nothing and I instinctively (bad training, I know) though of the null hypothesis. Because thats how I thought westerners answered this question. Perhaps dealt with this problem might be more accurate.

Well, its the way I look at it. Dont get hung up on the stats, and its not complex or any more hypothetical than anything else out there. If I get time, I will try to dig up some more relevant examples.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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Analemma
Analemma

enthusiast
Location: West LA
Member Since: 22nd May 2003
Total posts: 384
Posted:Written by:
'Why is there Something, rather than Nothing?'



Sweet question ubblove The western philosophies can sometimes be so confusing!

You are missing the point: There IS Nothing, you just havent seen it yet . . .

hug

meditate

biggrin

heart


To learn - read. To know - write. To master - teach . . .

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_Clare_
_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast
Member Since: 22nd Oct 2002
Total posts: 5967
Posted:Ben, I liked your answer.

I only got this far: "nothing is actually something though, its the void or absense of something." myself, so it was good to read your expansion.

Still learning rolleyes smile

But perhaps there needs to be something so we all don't feel so alone.


Getting to the other side smile

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Mint Sauce
veteran
Location: Lancs England
Member Since: 7th Sep 2003
Total posts: 1453
Posted:sorry dave redface
EDITED_BY: Mint Sauce (1109439735)


before i met those lot i thought they'd be a bunch of dreadlocked hippies that smoked, set things on fire ,and drank a lot of tea but then when i met them....oh wait (PyroWill)

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onewheeldave
Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:Mint sauce- could I respectfully ask you to post your question on time in a new thread of your own creation please smile



Interesting as it is, it's not on-topic with regard to the original post of this thread, which I went to a fair amount of trouble in wordiing appropriately, so as to keep it on-topic.



I feel that giving your question its own thread will not only serve to keep this thread on-topic, but will also lead to better discussion of your question as well.



Cheers,



Dave.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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onewheeldave
Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:A common theme seems to be along the lines of-



Written by: ben-ja-men




nothing is actually something though, its the void or absense of something.







Written by: Gnarly Cranium


Nothing is nothing. There literally cannot be actual nothing, because that still swould suggest 'nothing' is a state of being. The lack of something is still something.







I feel that the reasoning here is not valid. If nothing is indeed 'the absense of something' then to go an and conclude it is therefore 'something' is a logiacl contadiction because for 'nothing' to be 'something' goes against the original premise that it is an 'absence of something'.



When I speak of 'nothing' I'm referring to an absence of all possible somethings- 'nothingness' specifically excludes the possibility of there being anything whatsoever.



It is blatently obvious that 'nothingness' is not the case, as otherwise neither this thread or the people posting on it would exist.



The question is why is 'nothingness' not the case.



I do feel that any attempt to show that the current state of reality evolved from nothingness is doomed to failure- nothingness being an absolute absence of all things, including space, laws, time etc is not surely capeable of 'becoming', evolving or developing into 'something'.



-----------



It's important to note that by 'nothingness' I'm not talking about simple empty space. Quantum physics has shown that 'empty' space actually has structure and properties- that sub-atomic particles can spring into being by 'borrowing' energy for a few brief micro-units of time, before annihilating each other (Indeed, some versions of the big-bang theory claim that our whole world is derived from such a process that accelerated into an entire universe).



However, as I said, the sense of 'nothingness' I'm using is nothing like 'empty space' so any theory using such reasoning as above, is not going to answer the question.



In addition, and this is something I didn't make clear in the initial post; I'm looking for absolute certainty- a theory that can be clearly stated and seen to be true without reference to any 'upcoming results' in physics.



As such, the answer (and certainly where my proposed answer is concerned) will be necessarily be explaining where the physical world, came from- it will have to explain where our, my or your experience of reality comes from, but that doesn't necessarily require that the world have physical being.



========



Written by: PoiBoxII




You are missing the point: There IS Nothing, you just havent seen it yet . . .









Nicely put smile



And, I suspect, not far from the truth.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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The Real Fryed Fish
God's illgitament son
Location: state of confusion
Member Since: 2nd Jun 2004
Total posts: 1489
Posted:"why is there something insted of nothing?" because........

You can't avoid pain by fencing yourself from it.
Some times you need the help of others more than anything else
But you have to let them close enough to help......
People want to be needed, I found that out too

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ben-ja-men
ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide
Member Since: 12th Jun 2003
Total posts: 2474
Posted:Written by: onewheeldave

I feel that the reasoning here is not valid. If nothing is indeed 'the absense of something' then to go an and conclude it is therefore 'something' is a logiacl contadiction because for 'nothing' to be 'something' goes against the original premise that it is an 'absence of something'.



fair point perhaps the absense of physical matter and feilds and forces would have been a better way of phrasing it. with that slight change of wording what do u think of the rest of my logic in my original post?


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

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Burning Brain
Burning Brain

eye shifter
Location: between my headphones
Member Since: 9th Oct 2004
Total posts: 321
Posted:Written by: Stone


Ben perhaps, as I stated previously, I might have missed the point, or cant explain my point clearly.





no you have a good point stone. in a world with matter nothing would be nothing is signifiacnt. what i mean by this is that if everything were the same, did the same thing, reacted the same way, then everything would appear to be the same and therefore nothing significant would really be happening. which is why i said 'why is there something rather than everything.' because the is significance.


If I could be granted one wish I would ask for all the questions of the universe.

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Mint Sauce
veteran
Location: Lancs England
Member Since: 7th Sep 2003
Total posts: 1453
Posted:I was under the assumption that my point was kind of valid?? frown

How are you measuring this nothingness by the very statement saying there was nothing there then you are describing a measurement, a measurement of nothing.

As time is the only immeasurable concept then the absence of time would lead to an absence of everything ergo nothing. in my opinion time and matter are inseparably linked without time matter couldnt exist without matter time couldnt exist.????

if Im way off what you want I will shut up...... frown


before i met those lot i thought they'd be a bunch of dreadlocked hippies that smoked, set things on fire ,and drank a lot of tea but then when i met them....oh wait (PyroWill)

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Dom
Dom

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Bristol, UK
Member Since: 19th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3009
Posted:
This is a slight aside, but I think one of the reasons I'm a good atheist is that I can look at these huge, fundamental, soul quivering questions and be shaken down the foundations of my being. And then accept that I'll never know the answer. It's not that I don't care, just that I can accept 'unknown' as an answer.

I think humans, as inquisitive beings by nature, feel threatened by the unknown. Like Ben said, we invent things like gods, which are a cop out answer as they're just another step. Every answer in cycle does lead to another question. Scientists can theorise, priests can theologise, but there's still the questions like: why are there 11 dimensions (or however many they're serving today); what's beyond the edge (depending upon what the edge is!); what mechanism drives stepped evolution; who created the god/s; do gods die; etc...

Hopefully we'll keep probing and investigating. One of the great things about science and philosophy is that it's like a competitive game: based on theories, that other people try to expand upon, contradict or comepletely reinvent. Keep up the thinking and I'll keep on reading & looking for an answer.


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onewheeldave
Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: Mint Sauce


How are you measuring this nothingness by the very statement saying there was nothing there then you are describing a measurement, a measurement of nothing.




Cheers for the edit; much appreciated.

------------------------



On my definition of 'nothingness', there could be no measurement of it, as to measure it would require a measurer and therefore the existence of a 'something'.

As the definition of 'nothingless' precludes the existence of anything, the nothingness could not be measured.

Perhaps a way to approach this concept of 'nothingness' is to take reality as we know it now, and subtract things one by one- take out matter, space/time, all observers etc.

What's left is sheer absense of everything, and that is what I mean by nothingness.

That's why I say that I can't see nothingness becoming something- there's simply no structure, no physical laws- nothing whatsoever to kick start any process of development.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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onewheeldave
Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: ben-ja-men


fair point perhaps the absense of physical matter and feilds and forces would have been a better way of phrasing it. with that slight change of wording what do u think of the rest of my logic in my original post?



I like your approach- logical and step-by-step.

You lost me completely on the memory stuff though.

Your initial conclusion, that nothingness is an unstable state is interesting- if nothingless was indeed unstable then it could easily explain why 'there is something rather than nothing'.

However, as my last few posts have tried to say; on the definition of 'nothingness' I'm using, I really don't see how it could be unstable.

For it to be unstable would seem to require that it possess properities (eg an atomic nucleus could be unstable because of the uneasy balance of it's particles and forces; a spinning top becomes unstable due to it's diminishing spin and gravity taking over)- in fact the sheer presence of 'instability' is itself a property.

And properties are precisely what 'nothingness' lacks; hence it can't be unstable.

I think the way we're referring to 'nothingness' is itself causing some of the confusion as it makes it sound like an entity.

'Nothingness', in the sense I'm using the term, isn't an entity, but an absense(of everything).

This is why I say that it can't be unstable, or subject to change.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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