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Everything is made of Nothing

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Premise 1: Every object is made of objects or substances, inclusively. Furthermore, an object is uniquely defined by the objects and substances that are "in" it.

Premise2: If every constituent in one object is also in another object, and every constituent in the second object is also in the first, then the two are the same object.

Definition3: In order to avoid infinite regress, a substance is that which is not defined in terms of anything except itself. That is, it contains neither objects nor other substances nor itself.

Definition4: Nothing is the object which contains neither objects nor substances.

Conclusion5: From all of the above, every substance is the same as nothing.

Conclusion6: Every object is made of objects or nothing, inclusively.

 

 

Edited by SpookyKitty

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45 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

Premise 1 and definition 4 seem to directly contradict one another.

 

Be careful here. The first part of Premise 1 is merely saying that if Nothing is made of anything at all, it can only be made of objects or substances. Whereas definition 4 says that Nothing contains no particular objects or substances. The object Nothing is defined uniquely by its lack of constituent objects and substances, as per the second part of premise 1.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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6 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Definition3: In order to avoid infinite regress, a substance is that which is not defined in terms of anything except itself. That is, it contains neither objects nor other substances nor itself.
 

Another way to avoid infinite regress would be to just not say anything. That would have the added benefit that you couldn't say anything absurd.

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7 hours ago, Nicky said:

Another way to avoid infinite regress would be to just not say anything. That would have the added benefit that you couldn't say anything absurd.

 

It's not so absurd as it seems. For one thing "everything is made of nothing" is completely different from "everything is nothing". The latter statement is certainly false given the above premises and definitions.

I think it makes sense because "substances" (Aristotle's "primary beings"), things which can't be defined in terms of anything else except themselves (that is, things that can't really be defined at all except by that which they are not), don't exist. In fact, they necessarily don't exist, and not just contingently. Substances are not like blue elephants, which could have existed but don't, but rather like married bachelors which couldn't exist even in principle.

The statement "everything is made of nothing" can be transformed into a positive statement by noting that the definition of a thing depends only on its "structure" in a sense of the word, the way the Nothings in it are contained in its parts. For example, we saw that we have the Nothing object, but we also then have the object which contains only Nothing, call it Nothing*, and then the object which contains only Nothing*, the object which contains both Nothing and Nothing*, and so on.

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Premise1: Looks fine.
Premise2: I assume you mean something like "they're actually identical, not at all distinct", which looks fine.
Definition3: Why is infinite regress a problem here?
Definition4: Why do you call this "nothing"? You could call it "fundamental particle".

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1 hour ago, SpookyKitty said:

 

It's not so absurd as it seems. For one thing "everything is made of nothing" is completely different from "everything is nothing".

It sure is different. "Everything is nothing" is only absurd because it's a contradiction. "Everything is made of nothing" is absurd both because it's a contradiction and because it implies a maker that transcends contradictions.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Premise1: Looks fine.
Premise2: I assume you mean something like "they're actually identical, not at all distinct", which looks fine.
Definition3: Why is infinite regress a problem here?
Definition4: Why do you call this "nothing"? You could call it "fundamental particle".

Premise2: Yes

Definition3: If every object is defined only by its objects, then the definition of any object cannot be expressed using only finitely many statements. To define any objects, you have to specify its parts. But those parts also have to be defined, and since parts themselves are also objects, those parts also have to be defined. If we're going to have finite definitions, the process of defining things has to bottom out somewhere, and that somewhere is in a substance. Otherwise, the object is identical to Nothing.

Definition4: I have actually considered that, but this Nothing object doesn't seem to have any properties, whereas fundamental particles do.

 

1 hour ago, Nicky said:

It sure is different. "Everything is nothing" is only absurd because it's a contradiction. "Everything is made of nothing" is absurd both because it's a contradiction and because it implies a maker that transcends contradictions.

"Everything is made of nothing" is not a contradiction at all. "Is made of" is a relation of the kind which has a special argument such that all things that the relation encompasses are related to this special argument by the relation.

For example, take the set of locations on Earth, and the relation "Is to the north of". New York is to the north of the equator. By analogy, an apple is made of its parts (whatever they are). But the equator itself also has places for which the equator is north of. Similarly, the parts of an apple are also made of parts. And finally, for the south pole, every location on Earth (except the south pole) is to the north of the south pole, and the south pole is not to the north of itself. Again, by analogy, all things are made of nothing, and nothing is not made of itself.

So to say that "everything is made of nothing" (or more accurate "everything which is not nothing is made of nothing) is a contradiction is like saying that "every place on Earth that is not the south pole is to the north of the south pole" is a contradiction.

EDIT: And no, a "maker which transcends contradictions" is not implied by anything here.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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17 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

Definition4: I have actually considered that, but this Nothing object doesn't seem to have any properties, whereas fundamental particles do.

Clearly, its property at least is whatever it is that allows it to be a constituent. If there were no properties, it'd lack "combinability". So you don't mean the word nothing, you could call it "empty object" probably. You're still talking about -something-. The only thing to me is that I don't see why infinite regress is itself an issue here - whether there is or is not a "bottom" doesn't seem to itself lead to contradictions.

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38 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

"Everything is made of nothing" is not a contradiction at all. "Is made of" is a relation of the kind which has a special argument such that all things that the relation encompasses are related to this special argument by the relation.

Oh, ok. Such as that special then.

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13 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Clearly, its property at least is whatever it is that allows it to be a constituent. If there were no properties, it'd lack "combinability". So you don't mean the word nothing, you could call it "empty object" probably. You're still talking about -something-. The only thing to me is that I don't see why infinite regress is itself an issue here - whether there is or is not a "bottom" doesn't seem to itself lead to contradictions.

"Combinability" can't be a property of objects because one cannot conceive of an object which doesn't have "combinability". An object is partly defined as something which can always be combined with other objects to constitute still other objects. So whatever doesn't have combinability isn't an object.

Quote

So you don't mean the word nothing, you could call it "empty object" probably. You're still talking about -something-.

There is an important difference between "something" and "nothing" in the meta-language, and "something" and "nothing" in the object-language.

Quote

The only thing to me is that I don't see why infinite regress is itself an issue here - whether there is or is not a "bottom" doesn't seem to itself lead to contradictions.

Maybe not, but I think most people would agree with the claim that the things we talk and think about must be definable.

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2 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

"Combinability" can't be a property of objects because one cannot conceive of an object which doesn't have "combinability". An object is partly defined as something which can always be combined with other objects to constitute still other objects. So whatever doesn't have combinability isn't an object.

I can. So... Conceivability is irrelevant, your failure of imagination is not a reason for something not to be possible. What I mean is that if a "nothing" can be a constituent, there is something about it that makes combination possible (for example, electric charge). Besides, your "nothings" make up everything, and if combinability is not impossible, it doesn't exist. 

About regress, sure, things are definable in some way; you would just define things forever. Whatever the case, I think the word "nothing" is confusing, I suggested "empty set" because when you're talking about seems to resemble questions like "does an empty set exist, which contains no elements, not even itself, but can still be a member of a set?"  

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Ground rules for meaningful communication:

Premise 1. Know what a concept is and how its formed and validated.

Premise 2. Know what a definition is and how to apply it to any concept you deploy.

Premise 3. Require your dialogical counterparts to present the same when they engage you in philosophical communication. (especially when they want to derive a metaphysical principle out of moving symbols around)

 

There is no such thing as nothing. You think so? Tell me how to form the concept you want to communicate and define it so that I can know what you are referring to. Otherwise there is no reason to make such an ado about nothing....

4 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Maybe not, but I think most people would agree with the claim that the things we talk and think about must be definable.

 Fundamental concepts such as entity are defined ostensively. Can you point out a "nothing" for me?

Edited by Plasmatic

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I can. So... Conceivability is irrelevant, your failure of imagination is not a reason for something not to be possible. What I mean is that if a "nothing" can be a constituent, there is something about it that makes combination possible (for example, electric charge). Besides, your "nothings" make up everything, and if combinability is not impossible, it doesn't exist. 

That's a fair point, but conceivability is not the only reason I gave against the property of combinability. I also said that an object is defined as a thing which can be combined with other objects. A thing lacking combinability is simply not an object.

Maybe a metaphysical theory which has combinable and incombinable objects is worth investigating, but this is not that theory.

Quote

Besides, your "nothings" make up everything, and if combinability is not impossible, it doesn't exist. 

I'm sorry, this isn't very clear to me.

Quote

About regress, sure, things are definable in some way; you would just define things forever. Whatever the case, I think the word "nothing" is confusing, I suggested "empty set" because when you're talking about seems to resemble questions like "does an empty set exist, which contains no elements, not even itself, but can still be a member of a set?"

I would much prefer to not have to define things forever.

58 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Ground rules for meaningful communication:

Premise 1. Know what a concept is and how its formed and validated.

Premise 2. Know what a definition is and how to apply it to any concept you deploy.

Premise 3. Require your dialogical counterparts to present the same when then engage you in philosophical communication. (especially when they want to derive a metaphysical principle out of moving symbols around)

 

There is no such thing as nothing. You think so? Tell me how to form the concept you want to communicate and define it so that I can know what you are referring to. Otherwise there is no reason to make such an ado about nothing....

 Fundamental concepts such as entity are defined ostensively. Can you point out a "nothing" for me?

There is no such thing as Santa Clause either, and you cannot point to Santa Clause, and yet Santa Clause can be defined. Ostensive definitions are insufficient.

"Nothing" is defined as the thing which is not made of anything and which is also not made of itself.

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37 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

I'm sorry, this isn't very clear to me.

My mistake, should say "not possible". I don't think you said anything special, and used "nothing" in a weird way when a concept from philosophy of math would do better.

By the way, ostensive definitions are fine for some concepts, but you're talking about things more abstractly, in the sense "atom" is nothing you can literally point at.

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37 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

There is no such thing as Santa Clause either, and you cannot point to Santa Clause, and yet Santa Clause can be defined. Ostensive definitions are insufficient.

Yet "man" can be identified ostensibly. Santa Claus, as a fictional character is stylized from actual characteristics that can be identified an abstracted into the jolly man that brings presents to the good boys and girls once a year.

41 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

I would much prefer to not have to define things forever.

An ostensive indication certainly puts a terminus to defining things forever. The concept blue, and the color to which it relates is not readily defined linguistically, where pointing to instance of what color is meant by "blue" allows an objective basis to grasp it an experiential manner.

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Spooky said:

Quote

There is no such thing as Santa Clause either, and you cannot point to Santa Clause, and yet Santa Clause can be defined. Ostensive definitions are insufficient.

Ostensive definitions apply to fundamental concepts. Santa Clause is both not a fundamental and is a proper name for a mythological entity. You cannot point to it because it is by its nature mythological and non-fundamental. 

Edit: Also does one "define" proper names or "describe" them?

 

Spooky said:

Quote

"Nothing" is defined as the thing which is not made of anything and which is also not made of itself.

 That is an invalid definition. 

Premise 1 is both arbitrary and false to anyone who wanted to attempt to prove it.

Edited by Plasmatic

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

My mistake, should say "not possible". I don't think you said anything special, and used "nothing" in a weird way when a concept from philosophy of math would do better.

By the way, ostensive definitions are fine for some concepts, but you're talking about things more abstractly, in the sense "atom" is nothing you can literally point at.

So then we agree that "combinability" doesn't exist? Have I uderstood you correctly?

And sure, you could call "Nothing" something other than "Nothing", but why, when nothing is precisely that which is not made of anything else? I see no point in having the word "nothing" if it isn't going to refer to anything meaningful.

4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Yet "man" can be identified ostensibly. Santa Claus, as a fictional character is stylized from actual characteristics that can be identified an abstracted into the jolly man that brings presents to the good boys and girls once a year.

An ostensive indication certainly puts a terminus to defining things forever. The concept blue, and the color to which it relates is not readily defined linguistically, where pointing to instance of what color is meant by "blue" allows an objective basis to grasp it an experiential manner.

The way I understand it is like this.

"Blue" is defined by the collection of blue objects. For example, if you point to a blue car and say "that is blue", the listener might conclude "Oh I get it, blue things have four wheels!". Then you point to the sky and say "that is blue", and you also point to a red car and say "that is not blue", and so on, and eventually the listener "catches on" to the idea. I take it that this is what you mean when you refer to ostensible definitions? If so, then that's all well and fine to an extent, however...

We may ask the question, what are the blue particulars wich define blueness? For example, when you point to a blue car and say "that is blue", that presupposes that the listener knows that you are pointing to the blue car itself, but how does he know that? That is, when you point to the blue car, unless the listener knows what a car is, he cannot know that it is the car that you are pointing to. For all he knows, you may be pointing to the air around the car, or the space between you and the car, or the side of the universe the car is on, or the red tail-light of the car, etc. And similarly, when you point to the blue sky, he may legitimately assume that you are pointing to the "up" direction, or to a cloud, or to the stars, and so on. In order for the listener to know what you are pointing to, you must first agree on some even more fundamental definitions.

Ultimately, I think, these definitions must be metaphysical and cannot be reduced to experiences. Think about it this way. Do phenomena in the world cause our experiences, or do our experiences cause phenomena in the world? I think it's safe to say that you would agree with the former. If that's the case, then why would you ever define real world objects in terms of your experiences? Call me crazy, but I think that it makes much more sense to describe how the objective world gives rise to our subjective experiences than it does to try to describe the objective world as being ultimately comprised of our subjective experiences.

 

2 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

Spooky said:

Ostensive definitions apply to fundamental concepts. Santa Clause is both not a fundamental and is a proper name for a mythological entity. You cannot point to it because it is by its nature mythological and non-fundamental. 

Edit: Also does one "define" proper names or "describe" them?

See above.

Quote

Spooky said:

 That is an invalid definition. 

Premise 1 is both arbitrary and false to anyone who wanted to attempt to prove it.

Why is it an invalid definition? What makes premise 1 both arbitrary and false?

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I note from your premises and definitions, either you are confused between reality and concepts or you are attempting to confuse other people.

 

On ‎4‎/‎24‎/‎2016 at 9:22 PM, SpookyKitty said:

Premise 1: Every object is made of objects or substances, inclusively. Furthermore, an object is uniquely defined by the objects and substances that are "in" it.

Problematical use of "defined" and "in"

Entities in reality are not "defined", they exist.  Definitions are mental contents.  An object is not metaphysically "defined" by anything, it simply IS what it is.  The distinction between objects and substances is arbitrary here in premise 1, because all things simply ARE what they are.  Compound objects which are groups of objects arranged in certain ways are simply groups of objects arranged in certain ways.  A house made out of M&Ms is not a house + a bunch of M&Ms it simply is a house OF M&Ms, or a group of M&Ms in the configuration of a house.  There is not some metaphysical schism of some things making another thing, it is ONE WHOLE THING, which is a group of things which happen to be M&Ms in a particular configuration of a house.

Moreover, existents in reality are not containers as such. The M&Ms are not "in" the house, they CONSTITUTE the house itself, they are not contained BY it.  Groups of things surely can contain OTHER things (physically according to a definition of how the things are spatially related), as a bucket contains water, but a thing does not contain itself nor any part of itself, because a thing IS itself. 

You are attempting to use of the term "container" in its conceptually hierarchical sense (or possibly stolen from the concept of geometric shape), but you are attempting to attribute that to metaphysics and the thing itself.  This is an error.

An entire egg IS an egg.  An eggshell contains (physically) the white and the yolk.  The egg does not contain the yolk, the egg IS the yolk the white and the shell.  The concept egg, includes the yolk, and mentally one can look at the "shape" or "outer extremity" of an egg and say the geometrical volume occupied by the entire egg, contains all of the egg including the yolk.  Neither the concept nor the shape, however, IS the metaphysical egg itself.   

On ‎4‎/‎24‎/‎2016 at 9:22 PM, SpookyKitty said:

Premise2: If every constituent in one object is also in another object, and every constituent in the second object is also in the first, then the two are the same object.

This is problematical as above re "in", it also confuses reality with concepts. 

Here you are referring to "one" and "another" and that the "two" are the "same" as if you were introducing statements about reality, but they cannot be statements about reality because they are contradictory.  This is bunch of fumbling nonsense.

 

You are trying to say essentially "Suppose there exists one thing and a different thing, if they are really the identical same thing, they are not two things but one thing, and are not one thing and a different thing."  This contains a contradiction which means that part of it is not a statement about things in reality (no contradictions in reality) but is a statement about an error of knowledge.

"Suppose I first thought there existed one thing and a different thing, but then found out they are actually one thing, then I was wrong thinking there was one thing and a different thing"

This is a fundamentally useless statement.

 

On ‎4‎/‎24‎/‎2016 at 9:22 PM, SpookyKitty said:

Definition3: In order to avoid infinite regress, a substance is that which is not defined in terms of anything except itself. That is, it contains neither objects nor other substances nor itself.

1.  Nothing preceding Definition3 leads to an infinite regress.  Your arbitrary premise 1, that objects are made of objects or substances logically leads ONLY to the conclusion that (whatever substances are) objects ultimately are made of substances.

 

Again, here there is confusion between metaphysics and epistemology: entities in reality are not "defined", they exist.  Definitions are mental contents.

Again, entities in reality are not "containers" of themselves or containers of any portion of themselves, they ARE themselves.

Note also, you have a completely empty definition (assuming it was sensible) for substance, it is defined as a negation and only in terms of itself...  Such is not a definition of anything...  "ishdatriddle is defined as that which is not defined by anything else except itself" is not a definition, it is a loose set of constraints FOR a definition which HAS NOT BEEN supplied.

In a sense your definition of "substance" has defined nothing... (to avoid confusion, technically, it has not defined anything) which although ironic, is not of any substance for your chain of "logic".

 

On ‎4‎/‎24‎/‎2016 at 9:22 PM, SpookyKitty said:

Definition4: Nothing is the object which

This, renders Definition 4, and anything which depends upon it, invalid.

"Nothing is the object which" is a contradiction.  The word "nothing" does not refer to any metaphysical object or entity.  Trying to redefine the word "nothing" to refer to "something" is foul-play even in a silly word game; it is the exemplar of trying to define "A" as "non-A".  Definition X: Dog means a non-dog... This attempt invalidates the sentence, the definition, destroys any possible meaning for the "word" being (re)defined.

 

The word "nothing" is used to designate absence, in the context, of an existing thing, which would qualify as satisfying the requirements of the sentence.

"Nothing in that box is red", means, of all the things that exist, there is no thing, which is both in that box, and is also red.

"Nothing is longer than itself", means, of all the things that exist, there is no thing, which has a length which is longer than its length.

"Nothing, other than air and lint, is in my pocket", means, of all the things that exist, there is no thing, other than air and lint, which is within my pocket.

 

Simply put, here you have tried to (re) define nothing as a something, which is as successful as trying to define a contradiction; it is invalid.

 

On ‎4‎/‎24‎/‎2016 at 9:22 PM, SpookyKitty said:

Conclusion5: From all of the above, every substance is the same as nothing.

Conclusion6: Every object is made of objects or nothing, inclusively.

As shown above, the premises are flawed and thus the conclusions invalid.

 

The errors are too numerous to correct, and I have no suggestion for what kind of conclusion you could hope to reach using anything similar to this line of "logic"...

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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11 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

So then we agree that "combinability" doesn't exist? Have I uderstood you correctly?

And sure, you could call "Nothing" something other than "Nothing", but why, when nothing is precisely that which is not made of anything else? I see no point in having the word "nothing" if it isn't going to refer to anything meaningful.

Let me rephrase your argument. Every object is made up of objects. For example, apples are made of molecules, molecules are made of atoms, atoms are made of subatomic particles, etc. We understand objects according to what they are made of; objects have an identity based on or extending from their constituents. -This- house is uniquely -this- house because of its constituents that it is made of, and also the things inside of it. If I look at a house, and you look at one also, and if the house is made of the same things, we're actually looking at the same house. Important to note is that each constituent is made of other constituents as well. Unless things divide forever, there has to be a bottom of all these pieces, where your constituent has no constituents. Something like how a house doesn't contain itself, but it is itself. So this "bottom" constituent contains nothing, so I called it nothing. After all, I said that all objects are made up of objects, and that's the only way to even get their identity. That means the bottom constituent is not an object. Whatever it is, though, everything that exists contains it. But, it's fair to say it's nothing.

#

I see a hidden premise that properties can -only- come from constituents. So of course we get to the bottom, the bottom has no properties. But you offer no reason to think this. 

When I say combinability, I only mean to say there is some aspect that allows it to actually be made up into something. Two atoms can bond together based on their individual identity involving electrons. I don't just mean the ability to combine, I also mean there's some characteristic to make this possible. So, if something in principle has no way to combine, it's equivalent to saying the thing in question has no identity: there is nothing that gives it identity. Or, you would be equivocating abstraction and the concrete world. Thoughts are not made of anything, they're made of nothing at all. Yet it wouldn't make any sense to say "my boat is built out of birthday wishes" any more than it would make sense to say "the city is built out of justice".

 

Edited by Eiuol

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15 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

The way I understand it is like this.

"Blue" is defined by the collection of blue objects. For example, if you point to a blue car and say "that is blue", the listener might conclude "Oh I get it, blue things have four wheels!". Then you point to the sky and say "that is blue", and you also point to a red car and say "that is not blue", and so on, and eventually the listener "catches on" to the idea. I take it that this is what you mean when you refer to ostensible definitions? If so, then that's all well and fine to an extent, however...

We may ask the question, what are the blue particulars wich define blueness? For example, when you point to a blue car and say "that is blue", that presupposes that the listener knows that you are pointing to the blue car itself, but how does he know that? That is, when you point to the blue car, unless the listener knows what a car is, he cannot know that it is the car that you are pointing to. For all he knows, you may be pointing to the air around the car, or the space between you and the car, or the side of the universe the car is on, or the red tail-light of the car, etc. And similarly, when you point to the blue sky, he may legitimately assume that you are pointing to the "up" direction, or to a cloud, or to the stars, and so on. In order for the listener to know what you are pointing to, you must first agree on some even more fundamental definitions.

Ultimately, I think, these definitions must be metaphysical and cannot be reduced to experiences. Think about it this way. Do phenomena in the world cause our experiences, or do our experiences cause phenomena in the world? I think it's safe to say that you would agree with the former. If that's the case, then why would you ever define real world objects in terms of your experiences? Call me crazy, but I think that it makes much more sense to describe how the objective world gives rise to our subjective experiences than it does to try to describe the objective world as being ultimately comprised of our subjective experiences.

When I indicated that blue is captured ostensively, I over-simplified the process.

Children do not learn color until after grasping several concretes, such as table, chair, bed, cats, dogs birds, etc.

Whether by crayons or colored blocks, perhaps colored balls, the general pattern would be to set 2 or 3 shades of blue along side a yellow and or red object of a similar type. In this method, the similarity between the blues stands out in stark contrast to the "foil" colors, at which point the ostensive reference is more easily grasped than as you point out, pointing up to the sky, or at a passing vehicle, or a person walking by in a predominantly blue outfit.

Elaborating on a set of balls, it helps if they are all of about the same size, differing only along the axis of their particular hues, effectively eliminating relative size and differing shape from this particular similarity/difference exercise.

The concept of "nothing" is developed differently. It relies on a grasp of the concept "something" and combines it with an understanding of such concept pairs as presence/absence, full/empty, somebody/nobody, and one that Rand touches on in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, deriving the concept of non-exististence from the the concept of existence on page 58.

 

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Strictly, that was an excellent post!  

22 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Why is it an invalid definition? What makes premise 1 both arbitrary and false?

Strictlylogical explained quite well why its arbitrary. It is false to anyone who tried to prove it because the statement contains a contradiction. "object", "thing", entity are all synonyms. Simple substances are metaphysically irreducible. All other objects are made of materials but that does not mean that these objects are multiplicities. Objects are particulars and are their attributes. They are integrated wholes. The merelogical difference between parts and wholes is where the differentiation needs to be made as regards a collection of entities that are not integrated but combined such that multiple entities are touching but not integrated into a whole. Homogeneity and inhomogeneity are the concepts that refer to this difference.

 

22 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Ultimately, I think, these definitions must be metaphysical and cannot be reduced to experiences.

What on earth is a non-metaphysical experience? Everything you said following the above seems out of place here. I don't know why you are making that point? It looks like you think metaphysical concepts are rationalistic deductions that don't refer to facts presented to the subject in sensory perception...?

Edited by Plasmatic

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Ok, wow, a lot has been said, and I will try to address all objections as best as I can.

First of all, I have been accused of intentionally trying to confuse people. Umm... no. Sorry, I simply don't care enough about other people's opinions to try to intentionally confuse them. Your opinions are relevant to me only to the extent that I can learn something from them. I'm selfish that way. Don't like it? Tough.

Secondly, while I may be confused, the possibility is not remote, as I have next to no formal education in philosophy, have only taken up the interest recently, and am simply trying to learn more about this perplexing subject, I don't think that I am, and instead I think I may have unintentionally caused some confusion due to my admittedly, and this is evident to me in retrospect, sloppy use of language. I will try to correct this as well as I can.

The first thing I think I should explain here is my motivation for making this argument. No, I am not philosophically committed to the conclusion that everything is made of nothing. I am simply trying to do philosophy the best way I know how. Specifically, I am starting with some "common sense" assumptions about objects, (hence the premises), and trying to deduce as many conclusions from them as I can to see whether or not they result in a contradiction. If so, then I will reject the premises, modifying or abandoning them completely and trying something new.

I simply see no reason to not find the idea that objects are constituted by other objects, and that this would lead to infinite regress were it not for substances, but that these substances are essentially no more than "nothingness", credible. To me, at least, it makes sense.

Quite a mountain has been made out of this molehill. I have pointed out before that it is important to draw a distinction between the meta-language terms "something" and "nothing", for which I find the standard meanings of these words in English and Objectivist parlance perectly acceptable, and the term "Nothing" as it is used in the object-level language. "Nothing" in the object-level language means what it does as I have defined it before. In no way am I attempting to redefine the word "nothing" in the meta-language. As for why I chose the name "nothing" for the object which is not constituted by any other object and which is not defined except by that which does not constitute it, I honestly see no better word for this kind of thing which barely even exists, if at all.

Going further on this subject, the way in which the concept "nothing" (in the meta-language sense) is derived is, I think, irrelevant to the concept of "nothing" in the object-language here. I understand that in the meta-language "nothing" refers to no thing in the strictest meaning of that phrase possible. However, in the object-language "nothing" refers to (and I am speaking metaphorically here) what you get when you take an object and remove all of its constituents. So the "nothing" in the object-language is still an object, but it is definitely not and should never be confused with THE NEGATION OF "SOMETHING" (in either the meta or object-language sense).

Once again, to make this absolutely clear once and for all "not nothing" in the object-language is not exactly the same as "something". "Not nothing" refers to all things which have constituents, whereas "something" refers to all objects which are definable within the theory, including the nothing-object. "Not something" is not "nothing", either. "Not something" doesn't refer to anything at all in the theory.

I also feel that my arguments have been interpretd rather uncharitably. Strictly Logical contests that my use of the word "in" is invalid because the constituents of an object may not necessarily be literally in the object. But note that I put the word "in" in quotes in premise 1 precisely because I did not mean "in" in the literal sense. I agree that "constitutes" would be a better word for what I actually meant. This is how it should be interpreted, and I think we can put this issue to rest.

Several of you have pointed out that I am equivocating abstract concepts and/or definitions (epistemological things) with real things. That is almost correct. First off, I do understand the fact that definitions, as statements that live in our heads, do not exist somehow within the objects that they define. However, I do believe that objects have an intrinsic structure which allows for a single correct definition of an object. I say that the intrinsic structure of an object makes it the kind of object that it is. Our definition of an object is an attempt to reproduce this structure as a concept in our minds. The diference between definitions (as epistemological entities) that we have in our minds and the "definitions" and "defining" that I refer to in the OP (it would be better to call them "intrinsic structures" from now on) is that epistemological definitons can be wrong, but intrinsic structures cannot be. By analogy, the intrinsic structure of an object is to a definiton, what the truth value is to a proposition.

For a concrete illustration, imagine that the object we are trying to define is like a city. Then, in this metaphor, a map of the city would be like our definition of the object. However, some maps of the city are better than others. The reason that some maps can be better than others, is, of course, because there is a real city "out there", and the city itself is the most accurate map of the city itself.

Strictly Logical objects to premise 2 on the grounds that a) its subject matter concerns the knowledge of some person and that b ) it is "invalid" because it assumes a falsehood.

Concerning a), premise 1 says absolutely nothing about what anyone does or does not know. First of all, from an epistemological perspectie, It is a component of the theory that allows one to prove the uniqueness of an object. As a metaphysical claim, it states that it is not possible for two objects to have the same constituents (and for those constituents to be structured in the same way) but be distinct, nor is it possible for two objects to have different costituents (...) and be the same (note that it states what is possible and not what anyone knows or what can be proved). This is not at all a trivial claim. It is certainly possible to have ontological theories where the same intrinsic structure can refer to multiple, actually distinct objects, or where the same object can have multiple intrinsic structures.

Concerining b ), no it is not "invalid" to suppose that a falsehood is true. Supposing that a falsehood could be true is not at all the same thing as accepting that a falsehood is true. Modus tollens is a perfectly acceptable form of inference. It starts by supposing that a statement which may be false is true, showing that it implies a contradiction, thereby proving that the original statement is not true.

Finally, we turn our attention to substance theory.

Strictlly Logical says that my definition of objects as being constituted only by objects and substances does not imply infinite regress. While it is true that it does not lead to infinite regress in all cases, it is not true that it does not lead to infinite regress in any cases. For example, the sequence "... is in object A is in object B is in object C is in object D" consists of an infinite "stack" of objects never ending in a substance.

To my shame, I think I forgot to include a premise which states that every sequence of definitions must end in a substance.

Strictly Logical further states that,

Quote

Note also, you have a completely empty definition (assuming it was sensible) for substance, it is defined as a negation and only in terms of itself...  Such is not a definition of anything...  "ishdatriddle is defined as that which is not defined by anything else except itself" is not a definition, it is a loose set of constraints FOR a definition which HAS NOT BEEN supplied.

In a sense your definition of "substance" has defined nothing... (to avoid confusion, technically, it has not defined anything) which although ironic, is not of any substance for your chain of "logic".

But this is precisely my point. Aristotelian substance theory holds that a substance is that which is always predicated of other things, but of which other things are never predicated (your first paragraph makes no sense as it is plain that this meant to be a definition of substances in general and not a definiton of any particular substance). The English word "substance" comes from the latin substantia which means "that which stands below". This is how Medieval scholars translated Aristotle's "primary being". For Aristotle, a "primary being" or "substance" is an invariant substratum against which a physical thing changes.

The second paragraph is, again, precisely the point. Since all substances are defined in terms of only themselves, they all have the same intrinsic structure, and can only differ in their names (i.e. none of them are actually distinct, hence there is only one substance assuming that there are any at all). Since I have forbidden infinite regress in the definition of things, substances become that which is not defined by any object at all. Thus the only substance possible becomes the same as nothing (in my sense of the term).

For these reasons, I reject, any kind of substance theory.

This is it. I hope I've answered all your questions and objections. If not, tell me and I'll get back to you.

EDIT: Eiuol points out that I have tacitly assumed that properties can only come from an object itself. I wish to make this assumption explicit, as I have no idea where else the properties of an object could possibly come from.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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SK

 

Further to your response, please know that "Reductio ad absurdum" is a perfectly valid way to show a set of premises and definitions is flawed, or to show a particular definition or premise is in error-> when an absurd contradictory conclusion is reached then something in the premises, definitions, or arguments must be wrong.

IF this is the sort of exercise your OP was meant to engage in, then a close examination of the premises, definitions, and the logic used is crucial to the Reductio's being able to serve as a useful illustration of WHAT the errors ARE which led to the contradiction.

You must also understand that any "attack" on an argument, a premise, a definition is NOT an attack on you personally.  We (or at least I) do not care that YOU made any particular error, but when an error is stated and leads to an absurd conclusion or erroneous assertion I have every motivation to reveal the flaws leading to that. Rather than to let some odd mystical statement like "things are partly made of nothing" dangle out there as if it were a thought that had any merit, I prefer to show why it is nonsense.

As for your being selfish, I encourage and applaud it, it is imminently moral, but be sure to remember that rationality is its greatest ally.

 

IF you would like to set down some "ground rules" about how would prefer us (or me) to analyze your "premise-definition-conclusion" OPs, please relay that information in the OP.  We (or I) don't want to be too tough on you. ;)

 

I will address your arguments in another post.

 

Sincerely

SL

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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SK:

At this point I think it would be most useful to understand what your motivation is re. your presentation.  Do you want to figure out why the conclusions are wrong? i.e. which premises definitions etc. are flawed?  Do you want to feel more confident that the conclusions are true?

Secondly, you must understand that Objectivism is quite different from other philosophies and academic "frameworks".  From your arguments I get the impression that you do not quite yet know what Objectivism is all about, and hence where we are coming from in our comments, i.e. Your level of surprise would be much less, if not eliminated if you understood Objectivist epistemology.  I'm NOT telling you to "go away" and read OPAR and ITOE but I am encouraging you to read them while exploring ideas on the forum... it will provide you with many insights.

 

Back to substance. 

You seem to be of the view that a discussion of objects (i.e. REALITY) can somehow be arbitrarily carried out, using any definitions and formalisms of our choosing.  According to Objectivism this is not the case, not for anyone, and not where reality is concerned.  I will not go into an explanation of Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology but I will address a few particular areas:

 

1.  Substances and Objects - if they are to mean anything objective these words must stand for valid concepts, concepts to be valid must be ultimately based on perceptual data.  Although "object" in its common usage is a valid concept, we have no evidence that "substance" (in the form you are attempting to use it) is a valid concept.  Why should it be surprising that when an arbitrary concept, not derived from sense data of REALITY, is used in an argument, it ends up contributing to the generation of an absurd conclusion?  Seriously why would it be surprising?

2. Your "Nothing" (object-language) - Again, if we constrain ourselves to speaking of reality, (rather than fiction, imagination, mathematical games, which are not constrained by reality) then your attempt at formulating the concept "nothing" cannot be an arbitrary concept or formalism without any regard to reality. 

Although you argue for its validity your explicit definition of it and the implications in your statements reveal it to be invalid

8 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

However, in the object-language "nothing" refers to (and I am speaking metaphorically here) what you get when you take an object and remove all of its constituents. So the "nothing" in the object-language is still an object

This is a complete fiction.

If we are talking about metaphysics (not imagination), your "nothing" object uses the concept "object" while at the same time invalidating the concept "object" upon which it is based.  This is the "stolen concept" fallacy.  What "object" means, is something observable in reality, a table, an ant, a dog, a rock.  An object IS a something.  To arbitrarily claim a "pxcgfh" is an object BUT that it is not a something, logically relies upon an attempt to (re)define "object" and what it means.  Such redefinition, unless attended to with care, leads to destruction of the lower ("object") concept's cognitive usefulness, ties to reality, i.e. its validity (which is what happens here). (see the "stolen concept fallacy" online)  You define the nothing as an object while simultaneously destroying what the concept "object" means.   If you do this sort of thing unchecked you end up totally detached from reality, essentially playing with a set of imaginary fictitious ideas which all depend upon one another, perhaps fitting beautifully together and stating something wonderful about a reality which exists ONLY in your mind.  THAT is NOT philosophy (according to Objectivism) it is fantasy.

What do you get when you take an object and remove all of its constituents?  You do not get an object of ANY kind.  In fact, what does it even mean to "remove ALL" of an objects constituents. presumably while "refraining" from removing the object itself?  Take an M&M house sitting on a table for example, if you remove all of the M&Ms, you have also necessarily removed the house.  There is NO object left behind.  There is no object to point to and designate as your "object-language" thing (which you would have labeled as the "nothing"), no object what-so-ever.  Compare this to what you had before the M&M house was ever build on the table.  With total disregard to the invalidity of distinguishing between the concepts I will indulge in using your so called "meta-language" nothing and your "object-language" nothing, assuming for the nonce there is some distinction to be made.  Prior to buying the M&Ms, above your table there was "nothing" (meta-language) i.e. "no thing", an absence. After we removed the M&Ms from the house you (impliedly) claim there is a "nothing" object left on the table.  If we look metaphysically at reality, what is the difference between this empty table before and after the M&M house was assembled and respectively removed?  Can you identify any difference in reality (other than points in time, past or future)?  No, you cannot.  THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO difference whatever in reality.  If there is no difference, what then is the status of the "object-language" "nothing" as distinguished from the "meta-language" nothing?  In reality, it is a superfluous imaginary term having no referent in reality, adding nothing to understanding or cognition of reality: it is therefor invalid. 

 

Once again, objects ARE somethings, they have properties/attributes, identity.  There are no objects without identity, without properties or attributes.  To claim such an object, a "nothing" (object-language) object IS, is an attempt to claim an OBJECT LACKING EXISTENCE somehow metaphysically exists. THIS is insanity, according to Objectivism.

 

8 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

So the "nothing" in the object-language is still an object, but it is definitely not and should never be confused with THE NEGATION OF "SOMETHING" (in either the meta or object-language sense).

 

8 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Once again, to make this absolutely clear once and for all "not nothing" in the object-language is not exactly the same as "something". "Not nothing" refers to all things which have constituents, whereas "something" refers to all objects which are definable within the theory, including the nothing-object. "Not something" is not "nothing", either. "Not something" doesn't refer to anything at all in the theory.

In a discussion of reality, this is jibberish.  If you have created some arbitrary mathematical framework, with operators, definitions, rules of operation etc., that sort of game is perfectly fine.  Define your nothings and some things and not non-things any way you want... play with null pointers and empty sets, etc. but don't pretend to speak of existence or reality.

All "things" in reality qualify as a "something" because "something" MEANS "some thing".  To claim there are "things" that are not "something" is to try to (re)define "thing" or "something" to the point of invalidity of one or both concepts. You are attempting to claim:  "THIS thing is not 'A thing' because 'a thing' is 'some thing', but THIS thing is not a something." which is an EXPLICIT contradiction -> "THIS thing is not a thing"

Over and above this contradiction, one can see that here specifically again you are attempting to rely upon a purported difference in reality between "nothing" and the "object" you call "nothing".  In fact, as discussed above, such a difference does not exist, and your "object", the "nothing" object does not exist in reality.

 

IF you have ANY evidence whatever (based on perceptual data of reality) which tends to show the existence of your "nothing" object in reality then please provide it.  It would serve at least as some basis for anyone to entertain the idea of the "nothing" object and serve as at least as some finite amount of validity for the concept.  In the absence of ANY evidence whatever for the existence of the "nothing" object, according to Objectivism such a claim would be arbitrary, and must be dismissed outright.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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