Forums > Social Discussion > The 'Super Ultimate' Question

Login/Join to Participate
Page: 123
onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

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"
AFC 32


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

Delete Topic

arashi


arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx

Total posts: 2364
Posted:3D glasses. if you wear red glasses you only see the blue (form). if you wear the blue glasses you only see the red (nothing). only by wearing both (non-dualism) will you see the 3D image.
what if there exists both form and nothing? how could one exist without the other? what if neither exist, and these are merely the best ways to sum up an extreme, like 0 and infinity? but aren't they the same, with different parameters for definition? things to make the question seem answerable.
or perhaps more to the answer; perhaps the very notion of either is anthropomorphic, and it is what is commonly known as a conundrum. my new question: what is thought?


-Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing
-Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
-When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

Delete

Analemma


Analemma

enthusiast
Location: West LA

Total posts: 384
Posted:Arashi, I am really looking forward to our first meeting smile

Thought is . . . .



wink


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

Delete

ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:Written by: onewheeldave

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.

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 agree with your definition of nothingness, nothingness in the way u have described it lacks qualities as there is nothing and no one to measure them with

the sheer absense of everything also means that there are no physical laws to hold the absense of structure in place. nothing does have properties it has the lack of matter, the lack of forces, the lack of spin, the lack of charge. the fact that you can describe it even though your description is the absense of things means that it has properties, kind of like zero on a number line really it represents the absense of what is being measured.

stability is definately a property, stability is caused by a balence of forces, an equilibrium, without the forces to create the stable state of equilibrium the result must be instability as there is nothing to hold everything in place.

ill have another go at explaining what i ment by the memory stuff

imagine a sheet held taught on all the edges then place a bowling ball in the middle if you then roll a marble in any direction on the sheet (assuming it doesnt go off the edge this being an analogy n all) of the sheet it will eventually roll into where the bowling ball is as this will be the most stable point. without the bowling ball or any friction the sheet the marble would roll forever.

without the bowling ball to hold the sheet into a fixed position the sheet could be rotating around the marble as a plane as without any forces to give it shape or a reference it cant define its form. with nothing to give it form it has to occupy every solution at the same time making it unstable.


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?

Delete

ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:Written by: arashi

what if neither exist, and these are merely the best ways to sum up an extreme, like 0 and infinity? but aren't they the same, with different parameters for definition? things to make the question seem answerable.



interesting idea, i really like the 0 and infinity comparision interesting, especially seeings as they are recipricols of each other. i like the duality idea one, one being has no meaning without the other kind of like the x and y axis on a graph ..... with their recipricol slopes

Written by: arashi

my new question: what is thought?



hehe thats going to take a long answer


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?

Delete

Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Dave, you cant have nothing without something, because without something there is nothing. Unless you are coming at it from some moral or perhaps Nietzsche angle?

Otherwise I would suggest it is pointless nothingness is nonexistant.


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

Delete

onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:On the contrary - you can only have nothingness without something.



Nothingness (='absense of everything') would be a state that is not compatible with the existence of anything else- once something exists then nothingness is not the case.



Let me clarify another point about nothingness which I suspect several people here are not clear on- 'nothingness' (in the sense I'm using it) is an all-or-nothing thing; you can't have a patch of 'nothingness' here, then a little bit of something here.



No; nothingness means absolutely nothing. Location in that case is a meaningless term, but, as a makeshift misuse of the term for clarification purposes only- 'nothingness' means nothing everywhere.



-----------



I agree with you that nothingness is not currently the case- a simple glance around will show that we inhabit a world of somethings.



Going back to the original question- I was saying that, to me, nothingness would seem to be more logical than something existing (as the existence of things (matter, thoughts, a world etc) raises the question 'where did this all come from?'.



So I'm definitly not saying that nothingness is the case here and now.



What i am saying is, if initially nothingness was the case; then is there a possible explanation as to how that state of absolute emptiness, characterless, lacking time, space, energy, laws of physics etc, etc- became the world that we experience here and now.


"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!

Delete

ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:mmm im going to take some time to sit down and write a properly though out response, so when do we get to read yours dave?

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?

Delete

_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Dave, if you're saying that in the beginning was nothingness, then (as I think you have said smile ) the universe could not have been created out of that nothingness, because there was nothing there to create from.

But as we're all here... then has nothingness ever really existed? Or is it something hypothetical we have created because there should be an opposite to everything?

Is this argument trying to prove the existence of something that never existed?


Getting to the other side smile

Delete

Mint Sauce
BRONZE Member since Sep 2003

veteran
Location: Lancs England

Total posts: 1453
Posted:I think the original question was more along the lines of why something rather than nothing.


not how something came of nothing


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)

Delete

towery
GOLD Member since Nov 2004

towery

Member
Location: Wakayama-ken, USA

Total posts: 32
Posted:So here's the problem, folks. The question defeats itself by attempting to conceptualize "nothing." That's precisely why it's unanswerable. One of the earlier replies to this thread asked "Why is there something instead of EVERYTHING?" or some version of it--which is precisely the same kind of question. We use words like "infinity" and "zero" and "nothing" and "everything" as lingustic and conceptual placeholders for transcendental significance that we are not capable of getting a sufficient handle on. That's why all of the confusion of "Isn't nothing something?" Yes, our concept-placeholder IS "something," but it's insufficient as a signifier of what we're aiming at.



Our conceptualizations of existence are based on subject-object relationships, period. It's part of the human condition. We can theorize that there might be other ways of conceptualizing, but it's just not in us to understand anything else. For convenience, let's call such understanding a relationship between "a" and "not a." In a case where we remove both subject and object, we undermine our basis for rationality--which is why we immediately start fumbling into metaphysics and religious discussion. In a case where there is "everything" or infinity," there is complete unification, and again, we are left only "a"--defeating our methods of conceptualizing again. This is also where you start breaking into philosophies and religions that treat separation as illusion.



Face it, folks. "Why is there something rather than nothing?" may look like perfectly coherent English, but it's as absurd--lingustically, philosphically, and transcendentally--as "Why does jam-scented hampster-boogies plus existentialism make 42?" In fact, that second question actually makes a little more sense... Reason is self-limiting, boys and girls, and if you've ever wondered why we have religions in the first place...well, now you know.


"To my delight, I discovered that poi are amazing movement exploration tools. They are guides. They are teachers. They are like Yoda, only smaller and on strings." --Nick Woolsey, also known as Meenik

Delete

onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: ben-ja-men

mmm im going to take some time to sit down and write a properly though out response, so when do we get to read yours dave?



It's in progress Ben, I wrote quite a chunk of it out a couple of nights ago, but replying on this thread has got me thinking about it all again and modyifying bits of it.


"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!

Delete

onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:towery- great way of looking at the problem; you seem to be saying that it's unanswerable because human logic (or any logic) cannot deal with a concept (or, if you're right, non-concept) of absolute nothingness.

You're right that nothinglness precludes any subject/object relationship (as there would be no subject or object).

I agree that nothingness is impossible for us to 'grasp' (conceive of, visualise etc).

I'll ask you one question-

Just because it is impossible for us to talk meaningfully about, visualise or conceptualise the state of nothingness (absence of everything); can we infer from that, that nothingness can't have been?


"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!

Delete

_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Oops. ok redface

Getting to the other side smile

Delete

ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:Written by: towery

We use words like "infinity" and "zero" and "nothing" and "everything" as lingustic and conceptual placeholders for transcendental significance that we are not capable of getting a sufficient handle on

Our conceptualizations of existence are based on subject-object relationships, period. It's part of the human condition. We can theorize that there might be other ways of conceptualizing, but it's just not in us to understand anything else.



an example of why we cant conceptualise infinity and why it voids maths
x=0.99999........9 recurring
10x=9.9999999.....9 recurring (times both sides by 10)
9x=9 (take x from both sides)
x=1

looks like pretty good reasonable logic yes? looks like it voids mathematical rules yes?
the same arguement applies to 0.9999999.....8 =1

looks like a problem for maths yes?

no

heres why, its simply miss using the concept of recurring, imagine that a recurring number is like computer loop adding that number on again and again. the act of times the original 0.9999 recurring miss aligns the 9.999 recuring with the 0.999 recuring that is being subtracted. for example

after one iteration of a program to display the sum we have
9
-0.9
after 2
9.9
-0.99
after 5
9.9999
-0.99999
however many iterations you do its still offset ..... even after infinity eek

so the correct result would actually be
9x=8.999999........9991
x=0.9999 recuring still

see infinity doesnt void the rules of maths IF you use them correctly and dont make incorrect assumptions

i think your greatly underestimating the capacity of humans, if u believe that then your limiting what your able to perceive. perhaps you would like to add that man will never get to the moon because its just not feasibly possible? or maybe that traveling in an automobile faster than 20 miles per hour would be fatal because you would be crushed alive by the air pressure?

Written by: towery

Face it, folks. "Why is there something rather than nothing?" may look like perfectly coherent English, but it's as absurd--lingustically, philosphically, and transcendentally--as "Why does jam-scented hampster-boogies plus existentialism make 42?" In fact, that second question actually makes a little more sense... Reason is self-limiting, boys and girls, and if you've ever wondered why we have religions in the first place...well, now you know.



personally i think the its all to hard approach we could never understand it is a bigger cop out than blindly putting your faith into a religion without understanding the concepts which it is based on.

actually religions came about so the masses wouldnt have to ask the big questions and could put their faith in something to take away the fear of the unknown, big difference being searching for answers not blinding accepting an answer

the great thing about reason and logic is when you find an error in it it that isnt consistent with your perception of reality you then have something new revealed about your assumptions and your percieved reality, its only limiting if u take your assumptions and ideas to be inflexible thats when u get into belief, that lovely illogical thing that religions and governments use to trick the masses into killing each other


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?

Delete

ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:just to add i used the 0.9999 recurring =1 example of not being able to understand the concept of infinity as its a question that i never got a good answer for from any teacher or university professor which i had previously dismissed as a quirk of concepts occuring at extremitys but upon thinking about it while reading this thread came up with the above solution by examining all the assumption i was using, the invalid assumption being that the shift when multiplying the number by 10 not affecting the alignment of the infinite number with the other infinite number

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?

Delete

onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Ben, could you just briefly clarify for me whether why 0.99999....... being equal to 1 voids mathematical rules?

"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!

Delete

dafunkymahn


member


Total posts: 54
Posted:
uhh 42?

Sorry but I feel that is a pointless question because your rules have just eliminated all know possible answers.


To say that you do not believe in a god or in any evolutionary theorems but there must be a reason is like a child asking where babies come from and when they are told sex they say that it is impossible and refuse to believe it.

Sorry my opinion is blunt but the rules to your question prevent you from ever finding the answer!


Delete

onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:If, as you say, my rules have eliminated all 'known' possible answers then maybe it's time to look for some 'unknown' answers smile

Not sure I like the 'your rules' accusation. All I've done is clarify some misunderstandings of what 'nothingness' means; admittedly I've defined it pretty tightly, but that's necessary- if people use the term loosely it's going to lead to lines of reason that simply aren't relevant to the question that started this thread.

Concerning God and evolutionary theories- it's not that I've said I disbelieve in them, simply that, as far as I can tell, they can't explain why theres' something rather than nothing.

After all, if God created the world, then he/she didn't create it out of nothingness as he/she must have existed at the time (and therefore nothingness was not the case).

With evolution, again, how can 'nothingness' (the absolute absence of all qualities, characteristics, matter etc) evolve into something.

It's not so much that I 'disbelieve' in them; but that logical reasoning seems to have shown that neither can provide an explanation to the original question.

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

As I mentioned before, although science and philosophy have tackled many, less strict, questions about reality, as far as I know they've not really tackled the 'superUltimate'-

'why is there something rather than nothing?'

which would suggest that it's not going to be a particularly easy one to tackle.

A valid approach would indeed be to show that it's unanswerable; but that's going to have to involve a pretty convincing demonstration of why it's unanswerable.


"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!

Delete

dafunkymahn


member


Total posts: 54
Posted:Aww it was nothing personal man, I think your over-reacting it was not an accusation.

My use of the word "believe" was perhaps wrong, so please feel free to use a different word of your own.

If god or a god created the world why did the "material" have to come from something? If there is/was/were a being capable of creating existence why do you think that they "had" to use already existing materials?

If you look at creation in its abstract form the theory behind it is something from nothing. However, still in the abstract, the theory behind a god (namely the Christian God) it is a theory of existence without creation.


Totally off topic, I love your first quote wink I just saw that.


Okay, so if it is a possible question to answer while using your rules then you are right it is something that you or anyone has totally failed to notice.


Delete

onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Did I sound as though I'd taken offence? If so, I didn't mean to smile



In answer to your question about God and requiring 'material'; I wasn't really saying that God would require material because, at the point you've got a God, then that's it, nothingness is not the case.



Nothingness is an absence of everything, including matter and Gods.



So from that we can conclude that God did not create a world from nothingness.



You can have God or you can have nothingness- what you can't have is God and nothingness.


"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!

Delete

dafunkymahn


member


Total posts: 54
Posted:Glad we have that little misunderstanding under the bridge now. smile

Well here is a duesy is God something? If God is all powerful can God be nothing?

I can see your reasoning, though I do not agree with it, I can still follow your line of thinking.

Other unanswerable questions, what came first the chicken or the egg? When an immovable object collides with an unstoppable force what happens? What would happen if God sinned?

There are thousands of unanswerable questions, however, in your opinion, what makes this one so ultimate?


Delete

towery
GOLD Member since Nov 2004

towery

Member
Location: Wakayama-ken, USA

Total posts: 32
Posted:"see infinity doesnt void the rules of maths IF you use them correctly and dont make incorrect assumptions" --ben-ja-min





Easy. By applying a logical construction (multiplication) to an impossibility (infinity), we've already reached the same level of absurdity as our original question. The best we can do, even mathematically, is apply our logic to a placeholder. In this case, it's a figure, .999 with the 9 recurring. This isn't infinity, only a convenient symbol that we use to signify that we are unable to grasp the infintessimal difference between this symbol and the number 1. That's why the logic of math breaks down at that kind of extreme--we're not dealing with quanities anymore. What an infinite recursion figure does is take that which we are unable to signify as a quantity and make it into a symbol that we can manipulate as if it WERE a quantity--which is is NOT.



And in the case of the iteration of a program, you've already assumed another impossibility--the infinite progression of time--in addition to the infinite recursion of the figure.



Now don't get me wrong. Dealing with numbers and figures in this manner can be enormously valuable to us, both in terms of the things we can apply such concepts to in science, technology, etc. But we have to acknowledge that it's all running on the understanding that there are limits to our reason, comprehension, apprehension, language, logic, etc--even to beautiful, crystaline mathematics.



And, nothing personal, Ben, but I did find your blatant straw-man stabs about moon landings and car speeds rather insulting. Please don't assume that just because I write in a conversational style and have a sense of humor that I'm stupid or that I'm diving for a cop-out. You're quite obviously a very intelligent person, and you should know better than to take the low, rhetorically fallacious roads.



If you're interested in reading about the subject-object relationships that I was talking about before, check out some Jacques Derrida. Also, for some very interesting thoughts concerning the fundamental basis of mathematics, you should look into Ludwig Wittgenstein. The first was a lingust, one of the most influential proponents of deconstruction, and the second was a genious mathematician who nearly drove himself insane digging around at the roots of quantitative math. I think you'd like both of them, and would probably be in that 1% of people in the world who could actually wrap your head around what the hell they were saying.



Well, rather than get this even more off-track, I'll stop for now. I have plenty more to say concerning the origins of spirituality and religion, organized and otherwise, but I think that would need its own thread...



Love to all.


"To my delight, I discovered that poi are amazing movement exploration tools. They are guides. They are teachers. They are like Yoda, only smaller and on strings." --Nick Woolsey, also known as Meenik

Delete

onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: dafunkymahn






There are thousands of unanswerable questions, however, in your opinion, what makes this one so ultimate?





It being the 'super ultimate' question is just my (and some others) opinion.



To me it just obviously is the ultimate question (of reality anyway); if someone else says 'well, I disagree, I think this other question is more 'ultimate'' then I'm not going to dispute it- it comes down to opinion.



I called this thread 'super ultimate' question cos I needed to give it a title and it seemed to sum up what this thread is about.


"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!

Delete

towery
GOLD Member since Nov 2004

towery

Member
Location: Wakayama-ken, USA

Total posts: 32
Posted:"Just because it is impossible for us to talk meaningfully about, visualise or conceptualise the state of nothingness (absence of everything); can we infer from that, that nothingness can't have been?" --onewheeldave



Nah. Inference is still logic. Poke that stick in the direction of "nothingness" and you're not gonna hit anything. Of course, if you ask most Buddhists (and some Hindus) about that, they'll just smile and say, "Exactly." biggrin



In several Buddhist schools (maybe all of them, I'm not sure), they have a way of approaching all questions, the simplest of which can be answered with a "yes" or "no." They have a third option, "mu" which implies "unask the question" becuase it applies to either a scope that is too broad or too narrow, or it operates on a lack of understanding of something more primal on the part of the asker. The character "mu" is even the same one that they use for "muri" which we translate as "impossible" in English.



While I'm not a Buddhist, I think that this is a question to which I'd give a resounding "mu." However, I think that the discussion it has generated has been quite valuable, as is often the case with unanswerable questions. Talking about WHY they're unanswerable is important, ya know? wink


"To my delight, I discovered that poi are amazing movement exploration tools. They are guides. They are teachers. They are like Yoda, only smaller and on strings." --Nick Woolsey, also known as Meenik

Delete

ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:Written by: towery

Easy. By applying a logical construction (multiplication) to an impossibility (infinity), we've already reached the same level of absurdity as our original question. The best we can do, even mathematically, is apply our logic to a placeholder. In this case, it's a figure, .999 with the 9 recurring. This isn't infinity, only a convenient symbol that we use to signify that we are unable to grasp the infintessimal difference between this symbol and the number 1. That's why the logic of math breaks down at that kind of extreme--we're not dealing with quanities anymore.



the logic of maths doesnt break down when its applied correctly that was the whole point of the example the equilibruim of the equation is maintained when the rules are used correctly.

Written by: towery

What an infinite recursion figure does is take that which we are unable to signify as a quantity and make it into a symbol that we can manipulate as if it WERE a quantity--which is is NOT.



it is a quantity thats like saying 1/3 isnt a quantity because its 0.3333333....3 recuring, 0.99999 recuring just. see you could argue that
1/3 *3 =1
and 0.33333 ....3 recuring =0.99999...9 recuring

problem being that you would be forgetting about the 1 remained so to perform the multiplication u would have to stop the iterative process

0.333333333 .... 3 r1*3=0.9999...9 + 0.0000...1=1

Written by: towery

And in the case of the iteration of a program, you've already assumed another impossibility--the infinite progression of time--in addition to the infinite recursion of the figure.



its doesnt require the infinite progression of time as each iteration does exactly the same thing so u can see how it will behave always behave, its like doing a sum of a power series or the differientiation of the slope of a line the concepts of infinity are used because the concept of infinity is used correctly.

Written by: towery

But we have to acknowledge that it's all running on the understanding that are limits to our reason, comprehension, apprehension, language, logic, etc--even to beautiful, crystaline mathematics.



none of these things are fixed in stone

Written by: towery

And, nothing personal, Ben, but I did find your blatant straw-man stabs about moon landings and car speeds rather insulting. Please don't assume that just because I write in a conversational style and have a sense of humor that I'm stupid or that I'm diving for a cop-out.



having reread my reply it was very rude of me, sorry, i found your heres the problem folks were not capable of understanding the concepts a little red flag to a bull like

Written by: towery

Ben, could you just briefly clarify for me whether why 0.99999....... being equal to 1 voids mathematical rules?



for maths to work every unique number needs to be unique, if suddenly 2 could equal 1 maths would be quite useless. 0.9999 recuring is the number next to 1 on a number line if those two numbers could be exchangeable then the same could logically be done with other number like 0.999999999 ....98 and 0.99999...9 if numbers that arnt the same equal each other then it gets a bit useless suddenly 3x<=1 doesnt have 1/3 being the bigests value that makes it true as 0.33333333....34 is equivalent to 1/3


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?

Delete

dafunkymahn


member


Total posts: 54
Posted:Whatever works for you OWD I still got a little chuckle from your explination though.

Delete

towery
GOLD Member since Nov 2004

towery

Member
Location: Wakayama-ken, USA

Total posts: 32
Posted:To ben-ja-min, and anyone else offended by my folksy turn of phrase back in my first post in this thread, please forgive, as none was intended. It's not a deliberately condescending tone--it's just how I talk and write. It's a character flaw, so to speak. Enough about that, then.

In each of your examples, Ben, be it the discussion of .3333 repeating or of the regular differentiation of a series, we are encountering the same problem.

Let me a little more precise. A repeating figure in math is not a DEFINABLE quantity. We cannot measure it accurately because its amount can only be DESCRIBED as a function of an ongoing equation which has the assumption of infinity implicitly built in. The same goes with the series/program example.

You speak of using "the concept of infinity...correctly" as if infinity could possibly exclude enough for there to be incorrect usages, that it could be defined enough so as to be held subject to something outside itself. If infinity exists, and our definition of it also exists so that we can use it, then we have arrived back at a binary and "infinity" is no longer "infinite." There is no remainder in the division unless the repeating number is finite. Our concept of "infinity," be it in mathematics or elsewhere, is just a convenient symbol for that which we are unable to understand--precisely because we are finite beings and our powers of comprehension are limited as well.

Mathematics is a language, like any other. It is a system that is fundamentally based upon a binary dualism ("a" and "not a" from before) that is wholly incompatible with the concepts of either infinity/unity or zero. Repeating figures, infinity, zero, negative quantities, imaginary numbers--these are the metaphors of the language, even as the symbolic numerals are the vocabulary and functions and arithmetic the grammar. As such, like all other languages, mathematics is a failed attempt to say something. It fails because of a lack of precision (though granted, it is probably one of the most precise languages), it fails because of our inability to truly understand what is meant by any form of communication, because of our limited perspective as finite beings with finite senses, finite consciousness, etc, etc. We ourselves are neither infinite, nor non-existent, and therefore are not capable of having the means to truly, DEFINITELY understand either. The best we can do is point in the general direction, give a DESCRIPTION.

This is not to say that mathematics (and all other languages, really) have methods of coping with this fact. These unanswerables are the root cause of symbolic representation in communication and understanding. They are the reason we created logic. Logic does not exist, mathematics does not exist, without our subject-object consciousness present to percieve them. Logic is by its very nature self-limiting. And these symbolic representations get us just so far before people start wondering about the "big-T" Truth, Infinity, Nothingness, and similar impossibilities. This is why asking questions like this immediately breaks into metaphysics. It's the place where logic breaks off and we enter the irrational realm where emotion, intuition, spirituality and faith trump all. That's what I meant before about the origins of religions and spirituality. It's like finding quasars at the edge of the universe and then asking what's on the other side of them.

If my version of this isn't processing for you, try Derrida. He's one of the most precise, exacting writers I've ever read. It won't be Truth, and you won't REALLY understand what he means--a given, when acknowledging the nature of language--but you might get close. Good luck with it.

If anyone actually cares about what I've said and would like me to try and explain it in a different way, please just ask, either here or in a PM.

Love to all.


"To my delight, I discovered that poi are amazing movement exploration tools. They are guides. They are teachers. They are like Yoda, only smaller and on strings." --Nick Woolsey, also known as Meenik

Delete

ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Total posts: 2474
Posted:Written by: towery

Let me a little more precise. A repeating figure in math is not a DEFINABLE quantity. We cannot measure it accurately because its amount can only be DESCRIBED as a function of an ongoing equation which has the assumption of infinity implicitly built in. The same goes with the series/program example.



i disagree 0.3333 recurring can be defined exactly as 1/3

Written by: towery

You speak of using "the concept of infinity...correctly" as if infinity could possibly exclude enough for there to be incorrect usages, that it could be defined enough so as to be held subject to something outside itself. If infinity exists, and our definition of it also exists so that we can use it, then we have arrived back at a binary and "infinity" is no longer "infinite."



ok an example of using the concept of infinitly big and small correctly
lets look at a very simple function y=x^2
the gradient of a chord AB on the line is given by
change in y ... f(b)-f(a)
--------------- = ----------
change in x ... b-a


as we bring the two points closer and closer together we get closer and closer to the slope of the line

so we take the limit as change in x goes toward zero call this tiny difference h

lim h --> 0 dy/dx=lim h-->0 [f(x+h)-f(x)]/[(x+h)-x]

so we put in our equation y=x^2 and get

lim h-->0 dy/dx = lim h-->0 [(x^2+2xh+h^2)-x^2]/h
lim h-->0 dy/dx = lim h-->0 [2xh+h^2]/h
lim h-->0 dy/dx = lim h-->0 2x+h
now we take it to zero and get
dy/dx=2x

so by examining what happens when we go to 0.0000000000000000.....1 an infinitesmilly small quanity just bigger than zero we can examine what happens at zero even though we shouldnt be able to because a dx of 0 makes no sense on its own. you dont have to be able to actually reach the extremity if you examine what is happening around it

Written by: towery
Mathematics is a language, like any other. It is a system that is fundamentally based upon a binary dualism ("a" and "not a" from before)



i agree

Written by: towery
that is wholly incompatible with the concepts of either infinity/unity or zero.



i disagree the example above being an example of why, can u please provide an example where maths is incompatible with the concepts of infinity or zero

Written by: towery
it fails because of our inability to truly understand what is meant by any form of communication



can u please provide an example of where maths fails

Written by: towery
Logic does not exist, mathematics does not exist, without our subject-object consciousness present to percieve them.



thats a bit of a mood point as logic and maths are concepts, if everyone on earth died tommorow im quite sure the sun would rise and continue to obey the laws of the universe without us, maybe not maybe reality would become unstable with nothing to observe it and hold it in place. i think its a bit of a leap to say that the concepts of logic would not exist without a conscious observer to percieve them, after all how could the first conscious observer percieve them if they wherent there to be percieved?

Written by: towery
If my version of this isn't processing for you, try Derrida. He's one of the most precise, exacting writers I've ever read. It won't be Truth, and you won't REALLY understand what he means--a given, when acknowledging the nature of language--but you might get close. Good luck with it.



ill add it to my reading list smile any particular article he seems to have written lots of stuff lots of the titles not being in english to frown


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?

Delete

towery
GOLD Member since Nov 2004

towery

Member
Location: Wakayama-ken, USA

Total posts: 32
Posted:"you dont have to be able to actually reach the extremity if you examine what is happening around it" --ben-ja-men



Actually you do, if your intent is to define rather than describe. The latinate root of the word tells us to "take (something) to its end," and is necessary for certainty to exist in a form that we can conceptualize. But a defnition cannot exist independent of a subject-object relationship, and if we intend to set ourselves as definers, then we have already excluded the concept of universal unity/infinity. There's just not enough room for both of us.



In the example of saying that .3333 repeating (our placeholder for something we can't define) is exactly defined by 1/3, the latter is either a process (ie. one divided by three) or is just another placeholder that doesn't actually mean anything more that the former. Whichever you choose, neither is a definite quantity that we can express with any certainty.



In your example of approaching a limit, again, we lack certainty. We can examine up to the very point before, but not the extreme itself. And as you so aptly pointed out earlier, if we can't be certain of the unique nature of individual elements within our system, then they might be interchangeable with anything at all and things quickly fall apart. After all, dx of 0 doesn't make sense on its own...



What we're arguing here is a matter of semantics within a language--whether or not you and I can say the same words (or numbers or any symbol you like) and mean the same thing. Not even "infinity" and "zero" now, or even something so abstract as math--let's deal with something concrete and everyday. Take a sofa. Let me be more specific: a black sofa--or better yet, a black leather sofa. Or how about a black leather sofa 2.5 meters long by 1 meter tall by 1 meter wide...with poofy armrests and extendable footrests. Or, all of the above plus a cigarette burn where my mother stubbed out in anger, and a tear on one side where my cat dug her claws in, and a discolored spot where my pal Danny puked during a party. We can continue this process of further specification for a long time, but you can't ever conceptualize this sofa with any cetainty. I could send you more pictures than you could ever look at, fly you to my home and let you examine it, sleep on it and even dissect it with your choice of box-cutter or chainsaw. We can approach the limit, but you cannot establish absolute certainty of what I mean because you are not a part of my thought process that creates the meaning that resides with me. After all of that observation and communication of infintessimally small detail (ie. "examining what is happening around it ", you'll have a damn good idea, but certainty about what I mean is simply not an option. All language is a failure to communicate meaning.



In the above example, we're merely talking about a couch. When you're speaking a language as full of abstraction as mathematics, this inability to be certain is far more apparent. I can't be sure of what you mean by a concept of "3" or "multiplication," much less approach something like "zero" or "infinity." I can get really close to sure, but absolute certainty will never come. Math is free of a lot of baggage and confusion that other languages have precisely because it is so abstract, but it is still built upon logic which is wholly constructed from the binary of "a" and "not a" which you seem to understand, but I believe have failed to observe the limitations of.



And when I say that math and logic exist only because we are here to perceive them and indeed create them, I mean just that. And when I say that Newton did not "discover" laws of gravity and inertia, but instead "created" those laws, I mean exactly that. Those laws exist only as a pattern percieved by we humans, a pattern made sense of and constructed by our a-and-not-a binary by Isaac Newton. While is it highly, highly probable that, should through catastrophe or war, all life be wiped out on this planet, the sun would continue to rise in accordance with gravity the morning after, just as it has billions of times before, it is not certain. This assumption is based on a human understanding of logic and physics, which are products of humanity and are limited to a-and-not-a reasoning, which is only here when WE are here to regognize the pattern (which ultimately could be wrong).



As infants (and possibly before), we are aware--aware through senses, emotions, and later self-awareness--and so long as we have awareness, there can be no nonexistence, no Zero, nor can there be a sufficiently certain apprehension of it. We can get very close, approach the limit--imagining that there is nothing, reductively excluding things--but because we cannot exclude our own awareness and still be certain, we can't truly grasp nonexistence. The binary springs from our reaction to apparent will. There are things that are patently "not us," that we begin to notice starting from infancy--but right at first, everything might as well be a part of us as far as we're concerned (see Freud's "oceanic sense of ego"). Our lack of effective will as infants (very simple will mind you--"I want pain/hunger/cold/etc to stop" and the like--is our first evidence that there is some "other" in that first binary in which we, as individuals with awareness, are the first "a." THIS is the birth of logic. It is not here until we create it.



Everything we understand beyond that is based on that first binary. We learn to make other things "a" and further differentiate and objectify. We use the binary to percieve and interpret patterns (which may or may not be true patterns) and construct systems of meaning around them. Logic is our attempt to make sense of percieved patterns--to ascribe meaning. Our percieved patterns of experience Derrida calls transcendental signified. The symbolic representation, the transcendental signifier. Logic is the basic pre-language that we all have some grasp of, but it lacks a vocabulary. Mathematics is simply a purely abstract symbolic vocabulary laid atop apparent but uncertain and uncertifiable postulates that we almost all agree on because of the similarity of our perceptive faculties.



The binary also excludes the possibility of our actual conceptualization or comprehension of universal unity/infinity. We can theorize very close to it, imagining that everyhing in the universe is unified, save our own awareness, but all we can do is approach the limit. If I understand the aim of most Buddhisms, it is to transcend rationality and actually percieve that unity with our non-rational faculties. However, that's a place that our binary can't go.



Rather than repeat myself concerning the origin of religiosity, I'll let you digest all that first to see if I need to clarify or explain more.



As to the specific readings, it's been almost the better part of a decade since I read Derrida in university, and I didn't bring many of my books from school when I moved to Japan from the US. And now that you mentioned the titles of things, I feel like a moron for not realizing that I must've been reading translations of Derrida (since I don't speak French well enough), and still had the simpering snobbery to wax eloquent about his precision of language usage. *smacks forehead* Doh!



I'd just look up commentary in English on his writings, maybe a couple of translations of things, etc. I've been out of that game far too long to remember those details.



Incidentally, thanks for being so persistent about this. Not only does it do you credit in terms of having a real thirst for knowledge, it also has made me use parts of my brain that I haven't used in a long time. (Calculus was a decade ago.) It's not common for me to discuss high mathematical theory, deconstruction and similarly lofty subjects with people outside of academia, much less Japanese people. Granted, that last is a testament to the limitations of my Japanese proficiency, not their ability to understand such things as a people.



Anyway, my fingers are tired. Love to all.


"To my delight, I discovered that poi are amazing movement exploration tools. They are guides. They are teachers. They are like Yoda, only smaller and on strings." --Nick Woolsey, also known as Meenik

Delete

arashi


arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx

Total posts: 2364
Posted:biggrin
arigato, great comments!


-Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing
-Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
-When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

Delete

Page: 123