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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!

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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

"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.



i disagree, infinity and zero are both define in a mathematical sense and can be use in the same way as any other number provided the rules of maths are observed ie you cant divide by zero because it has no meaning.

Written by: towery

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.



i disagree if i make 300 dollars a week i can give u exactly 0.3333 recuring of my wage

Written by: towery

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...




not so because we cant divide by zero we have to look at the limit as it approach zero until we can remove the variable that causes the zero on the bottem line. once that variable has removed we then look at what happens at zero so that we have an exact answer. we are able to examine the extreme itself by being clever and making sure all the rules are obeyed

Written by: towery

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.



i agree that at the moment the other minds problem definately creates a barrier in having certainty as to what another person means, or even if another entity is conscious so much so that theres is currently no clear way to test if a machine has intelligence without actually being the machine

Written by: towery

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.



i agree that i can never be certain of someone elses concept of 3 is, simply because one of us may have an incorrect concept of what three means, thats why not everyone gets 100 % on their maths tests. thats a failing in the individual to understand the concept of three unless of course they are able to prove based on the rest of the existing framework that the concept of three is wrong.

yes i agree that maths is based on perception, it is based on a shared perception of patterns in the universe which anyone with the same level of sensory input is capable of understanding. im sure that maths would appear to work much differently if i was to percieve everything with overlapping double vision so that one object appeared as 3 and two as 5 etc etc in which case i would be percieving a different pattern of reality however with the perception most ppl have we all co percieve the same pattern

Written by: towery

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.



can u explain what u see the difference of discovering and creating to be, i see creating to mean making something that wasnt there before, whereas the apples feel before he discovered the laws.

Written by: towery

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).



i agree the universe might undo itself when no one is looking

Written by: towery

Incidentally, thanks for being so persistent about this.



smile right back at ya


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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arashi


arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx

Total posts: 2364
Posted:Written by: ben-ja-men
i disagree if i make 300 dollars a week i can give u exactly 0.3333 recuring of my wage




How? How many atoms out of the penny will you give him? A part of an atom? That still isn't the same. That number doesn't exist except as a symbol, as infinity is an indefinable quantity. Can you clarify?
Wow I'm actually capitalising. It's cause of all the big words tongue


-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.
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ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

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

Total posts: 2474
Posted:hehe i dont need to get him atoms from a peny 0.33333 .... =1/3

money its based on tokens so long as i give him 100 dollars in bills that consist of more than 51% of the original bill (its still legal tender so long as u have more than 51% so i could give him 75% of a hundred dollar bill and its still 100 dollars, hehe yes you could get money and cut out chunks to make more money but getting the bank to accept it on a regular basis is a problem tongue) i can give him exactly 100 dollars


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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towery
GOLD Member since Nov 2004

towery

Member
Location: Wakayama-ken, USA

Total posts: 32
Posted:"we have to look at the limit as it approach zero until we can remove the variable that causes the zero on the bottem line. once that variable has removed we then look at what happens at zero so that we have an exact answer. we are able to examine the extreme itself by being clever and making sure all the rules are obeyed" --ben-ja-men



Almost. We examine the value that we've assigned to mean something. It's a cute little quirk of the language to create syntax that allows us to remove the undefinable term. How clever of us.



The real problem here is not one of arguing whether or not we can conceptualize a figure within this system or any system, but that the systemization of thought is in question--it lacks certainty. Without certainty at the basis of the system, everything represented by it is a near approximation at best.



"can u explain what u see the difference of discovering and creating to be, i see creating to mean making something that wasnt there before, whereas the apples feel before he discovered the laws."



Sure, that's basically what I mean. When I say "create," I'm talking about making something new. When I say "discover," the implication is that the object in question was already there for me to find and apprehend.



"if i make 300 dollars a week i can give u exactly 0.3333 recuring of my wage" --ben-ja-men



Sure you can give me a hundred dollar bill (another form of failed communication of meaning). I can divide meaningless figures into whatever parts I choose and assign any meaning to them I can find reason for, because there is no certainty that it'll be understood.



Hmm...



Even though we cannot be certain that it means the same thing to both of us, I will, of course, take your $100. Thanks. Now let's have a beer. First round's on me. biggrin beerchug


"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

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: towery


The real problem here is......





...that you and Ben have wandered way, way off topic

Written by: ben-ja-men

hehe i dont need to get him atoms from a peny 0.33333 .... =1/3

money its based on tokens...........you could get money and cut out chunks............

but getting the bank to accept it on a regular basis is a problem



Not as much of a problem as trying to see how any of relates in any way to the subject of this thread, which is about the question- 'why is there something rather than nothing?'

Seriously, the 'identity or ortherwise of 0.333... and 1/3' is really filling up this thread, and it isn't relevant and both you guys are well capable of creating your own threads on lines which go off-topic. Especially when it's got so technical that there's only a couple of you who can really understand what you're talking about.




Written by: towery

Incidentally, thanks for being so persistent about this.



That's OK; someones got to keep things on track smile


"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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woodbs2
BRONZE Member since Feb 2005

woodbs2

Member
Location: Ohio, USA

Total posts: 1
Posted:It's simple. If there was nothing there would be no recognition between nothing and something. You need something to recognize nothing so if nothing is there there is no way of distinguishing the seperate ideas. This is of course from an idea standpoint of course. If there was always nothing it would be the norm not something and nothing.

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Not entirely sure what you're saying here.

I agree that for 'nothingness' to be recognised that something would be necessary to distinguish/recognise it (which therefore would mean nothingness wasn't the case).

I'd maintain though that that doesn't make nothingness impossible- if nothingness was the case then it simply wouldn't be recognised/distinguished/observed.


"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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=Flashpoint=
SILVER Member since Sep 2004

=Flashpoint=

Pasta of Muppets
Location: in the interwebs..., United Ki...

Total posts: 2722
Posted:In advance, OWD, i want to give my 2c worth on the 1/3 thing.
I will go to your point very quickly.

Mathematics, as we know it, cannot comprehend the concept of x/0. Try it. Its called a singularity.

Thats the difference between 0.33333etc and 1/3 remember its a infinitesmal difference. In fact, 0.333etc does not stop ergo we define it as 1/3. Conventional cartesian (?) that is 1+1=2 is a fact. We've been counting pigs since we were cavemen.

But 1/3 is a concept x+y=z is a concept. It is a way of describing what we cannot technically quantify. but we have no maths to describe a singularity other than x/0. its a concept.

Thats the moment nothing became something, when, for want of actually knowing the cosmological mathematics that Prof. Hawking is working on, t=0

Towery> simply a place holder. A concept. A thought.

However, on the subject of nothing or something, i have a couple of things to say...

Nature abhors nothing (a vacuum)

And we cannot adequately explain with the clumsy tools at our disposal, what nothing actually is.

So there biggrin


ohmygodlaserbeamspewpewpew!
ubbrollsmileubbrollsmileubbrollsmileubbrollsmile

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

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Posted:We don't need to explain what 'nothingness' is; we define 'nothingness' (as an absolute absense of anything).

Nature may well abhora vacuum, but 'nothingness' is not a vacuum.

A vacuum has quantum structure and exists in space/time- it has qualities.

In contrast 'nothingness' has no structure whatsoever and does not exist in space/time.

A lot of you are talking about 'nothingness' as if it's just empty space- it's not.

Physicists/cosmologists/Hawking don't deal with nothingness- it's not a part of the subject they have expertise in.


"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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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

Not as much of a problem as trying to see how any of relates in any way to the subject of this thread



hehe sorry dave we had to do something while we patiently await your theory, give us the half finished version i know that you know that i know you want to 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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towery
GOLD Member since Nov 2004

towery

Member
Location: Wakayama-ken, USA

Total posts: 32
Posted:Flashpoint (re: placeholder) -- Forgive me, I'm working within the constraints of language. When I say "conceptualize," I mean "apply pre-linguistic logical binary" more than "make into a concept" (which would come with the requisite symbolic placeholding representation). It's splitting hairs, I know, but there has to be differentiation between the thought and it's communicative representative, between transcendental signified and transcendental signifier, else our logic has nothing to work with and we're missing the rational point. meditate

OWD (re:possible and impossible) > If we try to define "nothingness," we've already applied logic to it and it's therefore "something" (contradictory to its definition). This is part of why we can't talk meaningfully (ie. rationally) about "nothingness." If you wanna accept the irrational point that "nothingness" can be defined/conceived/etc. as "the absolute absence of anything," and build rationally from there, then by all means go ahead. I'm with ben-ja-men--we all know you wanna share, so let's see what you got. It's at least as (in)valid and meaning(ful/less) as anyone else's idea, and indeed might be much prettier. I've always liked pretty things. wink

In fact, if I drink my ill-begotten $100 worth of beer, I bet it'll be f ubblocoking gorgeous!

...and, yes, I mean "freaking"... Kinda. ubblol


"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

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:Written by: towery


OWD (re:possible and impossible) > If we try to define "nothingness," we've already applied logic to it and it's therefore "something" (contradictory to its definition). This is part of why we can't talk meaningfully (ie. rationally) about "nothingness."





Cheers for getting back on-topic smile



If we try to define 'nothingness' it's true that we've applied logic to it; however I disagree that it makes it 'something'.



'Nothingness' is not touched in the slightest by anything we choose to do or say about it.



I agree that we can't properly conceive of it by visualisation- we've can't 'apprehend' it because we can't slip past the fact that we exist.



I maintain that we can talk about it though, and define it simply as an absense of everything.



We can imagine reality with one thing removed, with 100 things removed etc, etc.



Nothingness is simply that process carried to its end.



As proof that we can meaningfully discuss 'nothingness' I offer some of the stuff that's already been said; such as me pointing out that nothingness is not identical to empty space.



We can meaningfully state that it lacks matter, lacks structure etc.



We define it in a negative way by saying what it doesn't have.



=========



You and Ben are right; I should get my act together and present my theory.



It is very much in progress and I'm setting myself a deadline- Next Monday.



That's the latest, hopefully I'll have it up before then; but definitly by next Monday.



In the meantime, I'm still getting the feeling that many here are still confused about nothingness.



I think the point you just raised is an obvious and valid concern- I've tried to refute it above but accept that there are issues with talking about 'nothingness' as an absense of everything.



What I'd like to be really clear on is the fact that nothingness is not vacuum/empty space. I really do think that anyone venturing into cosmology/quantum physics would most likely to be guilty of that confusion (in 99% of cases anyway).


"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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ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

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

Total posts: 2474
Posted:its monday in oz .....

ubbangel


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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newgabe
SILVER Member since Mar 2005

newgabe

what goes around comes around. unless you're into stalls.
Location: Bali, Australia

Total posts: 4030
Posted:OK here's my bit of forum fodder. It's late at night (and Ben don't be cheeky, it's only 11.55 Sunday night in Australia.) I just stumbled onto this thread and I have just skimmed it, not really read it. I did a Philosophy degree decades ago and spent donkeys years in Buddhist communities so I am quite up for a debate (just not at his time of night.) SO I am actually not directly contributing to the discourse so much as saying YAY here I was thinking I had just joined a community of people who basically upped sticks or spun things around on strings or did interesting things with their socks. But here I find an array of MOST EXCELLENT forums unfolding. ubbidea SO thanks chaps and good night to you all. Oops. it took me long enough to write that that it is NOW monday in Australia. rolleyes

.....Can't juggle balls but I sure as hell can juggle details....

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ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

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

Total posts: 2474
Posted:monday comes sooner in adelaide than brisbane tongue
hug


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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tenticle


tenticle

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Location: ati: on: She: ffi: eld: UK:

Total posts: 275
Posted:Why is there something rather than nothing?



Why? questions ask for motives and reasons behind events, and to find out why there is 'something' rather than 'nothing' you'd have to go to when there was nothing and see why something came from nothing. But, if there is nothing, then there is no motive or reason either because there's nothing to happen to anything, so if there is a reason something is, then it didn't come from nothing, as the reason must be part of something. So if there is something it didn't come from nothing, else there can't have been a something.



But it depends on how you define your system:

Imagine a system consisting of a pendulum, gravity, and nothing else. the system starts at t=0 when you start the pendulum swinging. There is no way an observer on the pendulum could find out what it was that started the pendulum swinging becuase the cause is outside the system.

So in something terms, if the cause of something is outside the system of something then it can't be tested. If an observer on the pendulum could somehow discover that the system was being imagined by a person he'd end up with a religion. So there could have been an absence of the something system, but there still wasn't nothing.



So there is something and not nothing either because there is something, which means there wasn't nothing, or it is a question that can't be answered in a testable way by an observer in something, and can't be asked if there is nothing.



Why is there something and not something different?



--ben


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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3252
Posted:I've put up the article on a new thread 'The Ultimate Theory of Reality', located here: -

http://www.homeofpoi.com/ubbthreads/show...5/o/all/fpart/1


"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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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Dave, even though you has assured us that its not spiritual, I would have to say that after watching Compass, (my favourite religious show) on the telly last night that nothing as you describe can exist in Trance Dance

Will read other thread now 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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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

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Location: Ohio, USA

Total posts: 674
Posted:So we have being and non-being. We must ask a very important question first. Is the "prelinguistic dualistic dichotmy" of polar opposites really a constituent part of reality or part of our way of ordering reality? Recognizing what something is, or is not. We make use of nothingness all the time, but we can not really say what it is.

Taoist philosophy would argue that nothingness can not be talked of, or meaningfully talked about anyway. To speak of an infinite in finite terms is impossible. An infinite is beyond duality. It encompasses both poles, good/bad, light/dark, being/non-being. In a true infinite, all possibles converge on 1, ie truth. You can say it is and is not at the same time. Thus why math fails at the levels of true infinites. Anyone here know anything about infinite math? I think theres actually a studt involved there...

nothingness and existence, two polar opposites, are necessary if the dualistic dichotomy is a real constituent part of reality. If a true infinite is the source of existence, then the it must also be the source of nothingness at the same time. This doesn't make sense, because we can't meaningfully talk about nothingness in terms of existence. Even more so given the other questions regarding how any logical existence (like forms) negate the concetp of nothingness. Nothingness is a meaningless term for us unfortunatly and we can't speak of it, or of any properties it may have because it does not conform to ANYTHING because ANYTHING would make nothing something. Math and logic does not exist outside of SOMETHING, therefore its existence demands nothing actually be something.

Ha! Refute me, refute me!

Im tired. Bed time. Later.


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