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Limelight
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Isn't saying that "nothing is something" basically saying that "non-existence exists" and therefore invalid? Someone was telling me it is the opposite in that saying "nothing is something" is saying "non-existence does not exist", simply because the set of things that exist does not include the things that do not exist. This doesn't make any sense to me, in fact it sounds reversed. "Nothing" can only be something in the sense that it is a term describing the absence of an observed thing. In terms of the existence of the universe as something as opposed to nothing (A is A), a question asking why it is, or why A is A instead of 0 is an invalid question because there cannot be any cause for the sum of everything, which is like saying something outside of all that exists is the spark cause of the sum total. Am I understanding this correctly?

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An actual nothingness cannot exists because the nothing has no attributes of being -- no place, no volume, no substance. This is basically the argument that Aristotle gave to the proponents of the Void back in his day. Objectivism adds that reality is a full plenum, that there is something there wherever you are pointing, even though it may seem like there is nothing there (such as in deep space between the galaxies). What is there is a scientific question, but from the rational philosophic perspective there is something there. Even in the deepest vacuum of a vacuum chamber, there is something there. It's devoid of air, let's say, and any big particles, but because the nothing does not exist, there is something there in that vacuum chamber.

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Thomas,

I agree with the main point of your reply, that 'nothing' means 'no thing' or an absence of existence. However, the example you used is an exercise in reifying space, as in the Of What Does Space Consist? thread. As was thoroughly hashed out in that thread, there is no necessity, Objectivist or Physical, for something C to be between A and B just because A and B are not co-located. The attempt to fulfill such a false necessity leads to infinite regress.

Distance is a relationship of entities, not a metaphysical primary. Here's a relevant quote I found last week while reading Relativity by Albert Einstein.

In this edition I have added, as a fifth appendix, a presentation of my views on the problem of space in general and on the gradual modifications of our ideas on space resulting from the influence of the relativistic view-point. I wished to show that space-time is not necessarily something to which one can ascribe a separate existence, independently of the actual objects of physical reality. Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended. In this way the concept "empty space" loses its meaning.
Italics original
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Thomas,

I agree with the main point of your reply, that 'nothing' means 'no thing' or an absence of existence. However, the example you used is an exercise in reifying space, as in the Of What Does Space Consist? thread. As was thoroughly hashed out in that thread, there is no necessity, Objectivist or Physical, for something C to be between A and B just because A and B are not co-located. The attempt to fulfill such a false necessity leads to infinite regress.

Distance is a relationship of entities, not a metaphysical primary. Here's a relevant quote I found last week while reading Relativity by Albert Einstein.

Italics original

I haven't read that thread you reference, but how can it lead to an infinite regress? Provided you keep out Zeno's paradoxes, there should be no infinite regress. I don't find Einstein's statement helpful. It eliminates a noun, space, and replaces it with an adjective, spatial. And the concept of distance is related to position or place more than it is to space.

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I agree with the main point of your reply, that 'nothing' means 'no thing' or an absence of existence. However, the example you used is an exercise in reifying space, as in the Of What Does Space Consist? thread. As was thoroughly hashed out in that thread, there is no necessity, Objectivist or Physical, for something C to be between A and B just because A and B are not co-located. The attempt to fulfill such a false necessity leads to infinite regress.

It only leads to an infinite regress if you think of what is there as being point-like. We don't yet know the nature of that which is in-between matter, so I think your statement is rationalistic (you are assuming everything must be like the matter that we do know about). We would have to study what is there in that vacuum to come to a determination of what it is and what its nature is. Until we do that, we don't know what it is or what its properties are. All I'm asserting is that there is something there because there is no nothing. Whatever it is would be something specific with definite properties that we would have to discover. And until we discover what its properties are and what it is, we cannot ascribe matter qualities to it (we cannot say it has mass for example). So, let's not put the cart before the horse. Let's find out what it is before we go ascribing properties to it before the facts are known.

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I said that we cannot ascribe matter qualities to that which is in-between matter, at least until we know what it is and what its properties are, which have to be discovered. But if we look at mass as resistance to change of motion (Newton's original idea) and not quantity of matter (the more modern approach), then the fact that it takes effort to move something in a different velocity shows that the in-between stuff might have a resistance to change of motion (mass in the Newtonian sense). But these are all issues that have to be thought through carefully. In other words, I don't think of mass as quantity of matter, but rather resistance to change of motion, and I think of mass as stemming from the interaction of matter with that which is in-between. However, this is more of a physics concern than a philosophic concern. Philosophically, we can definitely assert that there is something there because there is no nothing; but what it is becomes a physics question and not a philosophic question. Once we discover what it is then we can assert its specific properties; until then we cannot. But I do think a lot is known about it if one thinks through physics the right way and makes a new integration of physics. Can't say I'll be the one to do that, but I can see where it must be done.

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I said that we cannot ascribe matter qualities to that which is in-between matter, at least until we know what it is and what its properties are, which have to be discovered. But if we look at mass as resistance to change of motion (Newton's original idea) and not quantity of matter (the more modern approach), then the fact that it takes effort to move something in a different velocity shows that the in-between stuff might have a resistance to change of motion (mass in the Newtonian sense). But these are all issues that have to be thought through carefully. In other words, I don't think of mass as quantity of matter, but rather resistance to change of motion, and I think of mass as stemming from the interaction of matter with that which is in-between. However, this is more of a physics concern than a philosophic concern. Philosophically, we can definitely assert that there is something there because there is no nothing; but what it is becomes a physics question and not a philosophic question. Once we discover what it is then we can assert its specific properties; until then we cannot. But I do think a lot is known about it if one thinks through physics the right way and makes a new integration of physics. Can't say I'll be the one to do that, but I can see where it must be done.

I know this is sort of a thread under a laymen's topic that's probably covered as a given in other threads, but I appreciate your replies- they're articulated in a way I can easily grasp. Anyways, assuming the rational argument that nothingness does not exist, existence exists, A is A, etc., wouldn't this also prove Aristotle correct and negate the supposed finitude of the universe through its "beginning" from the big-bang some 15 billion years ago. I assume that their connotation of the "universe" refers to the alignment and structure of the cosmos not the whole existence of things. Something still obviously had to exist prior to the event such as some type of concentrated energy, otherwise nothing would have sparked the explosion.

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I know this is sort of a thread under a laymen's topic that's probably covered as a given in other threads, but I appreciate your replies- they're articulated in a way I can easily grasp. Anyways, assuming the rational argument that nothingness does not exist, existence exists, A is A, etc., wouldn't this also prove Aristotle correct and negate the supposed finitude of the universe through its "beginning" from the big-bang some 15 billion years ago. I assume that their connotation of the "universe" refers to the alignment and structure of the cosmos not the whole existence of things. Something still obviously had to exist prior to the event such as some type of concentrated energy, otherwise nothing would have sparked the explosion.

While grasping that the universe is eternal, presupposing it was 'created' has a tendancy to bring in terms like 'beginning'. The universe is everything which exists, has existed, and/or will exist.

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While grasping that the universe is eternal, presupposing it was 'created' has a tendancy to bring in terms like 'beginning'. The universe is everything which exists, has existed, and/or will exist.

Agreed. The "big-bang", whatever its merits as truth, is a scientific issue, not metaphysics. People use the word "universe" in a sloppy manner.

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