[an error occurred while processing this directive]
About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unreadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Forward one pageLast Page


Post 40

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - 10:44amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Just several ruminations:

The statement, "Nothing prevents existence" presumes that something could pre-exist existence.

In order for something to prevent existence it must exist prior to existence.

If existence hasn't been eternal then it must have been spontaneous. But if everything has a cause then something must have existed before existence.

My inclination is to attribute existence to transference from another dimension, the cause residing in the other one.

Sam




Post 41

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - 3:22pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Thanks, Sam. I have two objections. Again, "nothing" is not "something." So the statement "nothing prevents existence" does not presume the existence of a thing - it is a purely negative assertion. Again, I believe it is fair to paraphrase "nothing" as "no thing." To me it seems self evident that "no thing prevents existence" must be true if there is no thing other than existence. For the assertion that "no thing does not prevent existence" would seem to entail that "all things prevent existence." And likewise to deny that "no thing prevents existence" by asserting that "some thing prevents existence" is obviously self-refuting. So whether one makes and existential or a categorical denial of "no thing prevents existence" one is lead into a contradiction. Hence, the original statement must be true by reductio ad absurdum.

Secondly - Aha! - it is you who are the parallel universalist, not I! The problem with saying that this existence arises out of that existence is that one is not treating existence as all, but only part of being.

Ted Keer



Post 42

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - 4:01pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Aha! back at you. We're both in a chrono-synclastic infundibulum. Dog bless us all!

Sam




Post 43

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - 4:53pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
OK, let me try again.

First, Ted, old buddy (was it about 8 years ago we met and haunted Borders in Manhatten?), I didn't mean to imply that you believed in parallel universes. I was just making a quick and messy adaptation of "close, but no cigar." Sorry for any confusion I may have caused. And yes, if we can't have fun (and maybe learn something, too), what good is all this?  :-)

Now, about your proposition....

I have trouble trying to phrase denials of propositions that are not stated in S-P form. Also, I think that when we are dealing with things that don't exist, we can get in trouble. (E.g., The King of France is bald vs. The King of France is not bald. If one is false, the other must be true, right? Wrong. But that's another story -- or another post, at least.)

But let's give it a go, and I'll try to engage in generous (i.e., generously minimal) paraphrasing...

You are claiming that Nothing (no thing) prevents Existence or the universe from existing. You wisely dropped your original claim that Existence exists because nothing prevents it from existing.

Your modified claim this states that no thing is a thing that prevents the universe from existing. True enough. And if we try to negate it, we have: some thing is a thing that prevents the universe from existing. This is false and impossible. Even if there were some one thing that could (somehow) annihilate (probably by assimilating into itself?) every other thing that existed, it would still have to exist itself. In other words, it is impossible for the sum total of Existence (whether that sum total is many things or just one thing) to be prevented from existing. So, there can be no cause of its being prevented from existing. I certainly don't object to that.

The seductive nature of your claim lies in the fact that it seems similar to more mundane claims that are relevant to make. For instance, I can say that Nothing prevents me from breathing, which means that no thing is a thing that prevents me from breathing. However, there are things that could prevent me from breathing (e.g., asphyxiation, apnea, etc.), so there is relevance in saying that no thing does in fact prevent me from doing so. X could prevent me from breathing, but in fact it doesn't. But in the case of the universe, there are no things that could prevent it from existing, so there is no relevance in saying that no thing does in fact prevent it from doing so. For all X, X in fact doesn't prevent Existence from existing, because it can't.

Also, I am breathing not because nothing is preventing me from breathing, but because my central nervous system directs me to. However, in the case of the universe, it exists not because nothing is preventing it from existing, nor for any other reason. It simply exists.

REB




Post 44

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - 9:37pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Existence is the irreducible primary from which all things have evolved. I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's how I conceive it from an OOP perspective.

Example:

public abstract Existence
{
// ...whatever you want to add
// ...some variables and methods that you will declare later
// ...with the specific proviso of the nature of abstract class specifications in the Java language
}

To explain further, an abstract class in Java is basically a class that you go on to fill in the parts you're sure about in a particular concrete class down the way, especially if certain methods are abstract as well, which is good for things like polymorphism, where not all related classes do the same thing in regards to the classic toString, equals, and other common methods. Consider then, that every object we see is like this, starting from existence as the primary ancestor 'class' from which other objects are derived down the way to what we perceive in the world. Although this may not follow exactly, it illustrates that the nature of existence is not some magically unbounded thing, rather it's the total summation of reality as it is. It explains that for everything we see, there is an immutable foundation for it, even for us to a degree. Whatever that foundation comes out to be is probably anyone's guess, but it's not something fickle or arbitrary to be sure.


-- Brede



Post 45

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 - 5:48pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ted wrote,
"Nothing prevents existence." True or false?

If false, does this not imply that something prevents existence? A contradiction in terms?
"John Edwards stopped beating his wife." True or false? If false, does this not imply that he hasn't stopped beating her, i.e., that he continues to beat her? No, it does not. If I say, "The proposition 'John Edwards stopped beating his wife' is false," all I've said is: "It is not the case that John Edwards stopped beating his wife," which does not imply that he continues to beat her or that he ever did beat her.

Similarly, to say, "The proposition 'Nothing prevents existence' is false" does not say that "Something prevents existence." It simply says that "It is not the case that nothing prevents existence."

The question is: what exactly is meant by the proposition, “Nothing prevents existence.” Does it mean, “Nothing prevents it from coming into existence.” Or does it mean, “Nothing prevents it from continuing to exist.”

If the former, then the proposition is false, because it implies that existence came into existence with nothing preventing it from doing so. If the latter, the proposition is false as well, because it implies that existence continues to exist on the grounds that nothing is preventing it from doing so, which in turn implies that something could prevent it from doing so, which is false.

- Bill




Post 46

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 - 7:59pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

"Existence is prevented by no thing."

That John Edwards has stopped beating his wife is (presumably!) false. This does not imply that he is continuing to beat his wife unless one smuggles in a further assumption. That the present King of France is bald is also false in the same way.

If we need a statement with a copula:

"Existence is prevented by no thing." seems fine.

I don't see how this passive transform differs from:

"No thing prevents Existence."

As for Bill's question of temporality, I don't think it matters one way or the other - if one keeps in mind that "Existence" (which I am capitalizing now to remind us that we are speaking of the entirety of all existents which ever will have been) is the all and everywhen. No thing prevents Existence now or ever.

Bill said: "If the former, then the proposition is false, because it implies that existence came into existence with nothing preventing it from doing so."

Except for Bill's addition of the words "came into" which one can avoid, I don't see how this is evidently false. What is false about Existence exists with no thing preventing it from doing so. Surely, that Existence exists with no thing preventing it from doing so, is true.

So, what can we agree about this statement, if anything?

"Existence is a prevented by no thing."

One can also expand:

Existence is a thing prevented by no thing ever.

Ted Keer

Roger, of course I am the over-sized, tattooed, ponytailed thug with whom you tramped from Times Square to the Strand in the late 1990's, assuming that you are the same musician who did the horn solo riff on the Seinfeld track. You may not have recognized me since my Nephews are my avatar. Or perhaps Robert Malcom's continued baseless insinuations here that I am a sissy had confused you. In either case, I am indeed he.

(Edited by Ted Keer on 8/15, 8:07pm)




Post 47

Friday, August 17, 2007 - 11:53amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"Existence is prevented by no thing."

Oh, brother! :-/
If we need a statement with a copula:

"Existence is prevented by no thing." seems fine.

I don't see how this passive transform differs from:

"No thing prevents Existence."
Neither do I.
As for Bill's question of temporality, I don't think it matters one way or the other - if one keeps in mind that "Existence" (which I am capitalizing now to remind us that we are speaking of the entirety of all existents which ever will have been) is the all and everywhen. No thing prevents Existence now or ever.

Bill said: "If the former, then the proposition is false, because it implies that existence came into existence with nothing preventing it from doing so."

Except for Bill's addition of the words "came into" which one can avoid, I don't see how this is evidently false. What is false about Existence exists with no thing preventing it from doing so. Surely, that Existence exists with no thing preventing it from doing so, is true.
But why in the world would you make a statement like that, to begin with? Only if you think that existence exists, "because" nothing prevented it from coming into existence. It's no coincidence that your original statement said exactly that. Now you're backpedalling and rephrasing your original statement in order to avoid that "troubling" conjunction, but you can't avoid it, because it's still in there implicitly as a reason for your statement.

- Bill


(Edited by William Dwyer on 8/17, 12:48pm)

(Edited by William Dwyer on 8/17, 5:46pm)




Post 48

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 5:08pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Nihil Obstat

Bill, I'll accept your inability to answer my formulation "Existence is prevented by no thing." Backpedalling to question my mental state or motives is an implicit admission that you can't find a problem with my last formulation itself. I thought I made my motives in bringing it up quite clear, and find "Oh Brother!" unhelpful, to say the most. If you, or anyone else can find a problem with the statement, rather than my impertinence in discussing it, the invitation stays open.

As it stands, I cannot see why this (so far as I can see) simple and unobjectionable suggested rhetorical retort should cause such fits - except to those who actually do question why existence exists.

Ted Keer






Post 49

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 5:52pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ted,

My argument is that this is an inappropriate retort, because to "prevent" something means to "stop it before it takes place." But existence didn't take place. So, it doesn't exist "because nothing prevented it" or for any other reason. It simply exists, period. Existence is the foundation of all reasons.

Evidently, you disagree with this, but I'm not sure why.

- Bill



Post 50

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 8:06pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Bill's right, Ted. You need to cut your losses on this catchy but ultimately flawed aphorism of yours.

"Preventing the existence of" is only meaningful in relation to a specific individual thing whose coming into existence is prevented by some other specific thing or things. Once that thing exists, however, none of the other things that exist prevented it from existing. That, and only that, is the basis in reality for saying that "X exists because no thing prevented it." The actual meaning of it is: of the things that exist other than X, none of them prevented X from existing.

Trying to plug "the universe" or "Existence" in for "X" will not work. There are no things that exist other than the universe or "Existence."

Nice try, but no bound edition of Aristotle's Logic.

REB




Post 51

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 8:50pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Again, I am not trying to smuggle in some back way of saying that something did pre-exist existence or that it could be caused. Let's imagine this exchange:

Skeptic: "Why does Existence exist?"

Dogmatic: "What could have prevented it?"

Skeptic: ...?

Evidently Bill and Roger both see that the Skeptic's question itself is flawed. As do I. But if one answers the skeptic as I have here, how would he respond? Can someone play the Skeptic and respond on the Skeptic's grounds?

Also, of course, I know that prae-venire originally means to come (stand) before. But on e could easily use the word stop or some other substitute. Any would have some potential temporal interpretation, but I don't see how this helps the Skeptic. I think my retort stops the Skeptic in his tracks.

Ted Keer

(Roger, was it you, or some other hornplayer I led down Broadway that hot 1990's afternoon?)



Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 52

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 10:57pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Again, I am not trying to smuggle in some back way of saying that something did pre-exist existence or that it could be caused. Let's imagine this exchange:

Skeptic: "Why does Existence exist?"

Dogmatic: "What could have prevented it?"

Skeptic: ...?
Okay, I'll take the bait.

Skeptic: Nothing, if nothing exists to begin with, but in that case nothing would exist to cause it either. So why does it exist?

(Do you see the faulty premise here? Once you accept the skeptic's premise that there must be something to explain existence -- either in terms of nothing to prevent it or of something to cause it -- you have no convincing way to answer him.)

The proper rejoinder is to challenge his premise that there must be something to explain existence. Simply point out that existence requires no explanation, so the question, "Why does existence exist" is invalid, because it presupposes the very thing that it seeks to explain.

- Bill

(Edited by William Dwyer on 8/22, 10:58pm)




Post 53

Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 1:00pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

A Nudge, or a Bludgeon?

Bill, it is possible for two false premises to lead to a true (if, perhaps, invalid) conclusion, or to use a false premise to reach a valid conclusion by the method of reductio ad absurdum.

You say that the Skeptic would reply "Nothing," then you begin an argument on his behalf, where I would have interrupted him.

If he responded that nothing could have prevented it, I would have asked him then where was the mystery? You then speak on his behalf of nothing as if it were an existent. ("Nothing would exist to cause it either.") But I would counter that nothing is not a thing and cannot exist - a fully orthodox position. No thing could have existed to prevent Existence (or to make Existence impossible - if you dislike the word prevent) because either "no thing" itself would have existed (making "no thing" an existent) or the premise is granted - nothing prevents existence from existing - so it exists.

As with many absurd questions - "How do I know this isn't a dream?" (to which one responds with a blow to the head) or "Why am I me, and not somebody else (to which the response is that "You are someone else, isn't it obvious?") - we Objectivists know that the questions have hidden self-contradictory implications or are based on false ideas such as the primacy of consciousness. Explaining this to most people in technical terms - "Oh, that's just the fallacy of the primacy of consciousness" - and then walking away from that person will not enlighten them. I am seeking a way to engage people on their own terms that will show them that at least something is wrong with the way they are thinking - in the same way that Rand's indestructible robot argument did for me.

Indeed, Rand's indestructible robot argument (taken without acknowledgement from Epicurus) is hypothetical and arbitrary in a way to which Rand and Peikoff and other Orthodox objectivists might object if the argument did not suit their purposes: "What does indestructible mean?" "What evidence do you have to posit such a being?" "How can you start an argument with such an arbitrary, unjustified notion?" But the argument works as a rhetorical device, and a very powerful one indeed.

The point is not to expect everyone to begin within Orthodoxy and stay there - as if we were all born Objectivists with no mistaken notions whatsoever, immune to the aporias of the skeptics - but to find ways to move people toward reason, even if we use their own misconceptions to nudge them in the right direction.

In a Q&A forum such as this, I think thought-provoking nudges are a lot more helpful to non-Objectivists than are conversation-stopping Orthodox smack-downs.

Ted Keer






Post 54

Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 5:20pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ted Keer: "Existence is prevented by no thing."

Does not compute. Nothing can do nothing. Preventing is something, so nothing can't do it.




Post 55

Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 5:58pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Merlon, I agree entirely.

"Preventing is something, so nothing can't do it."

I think there are three difficulties. People assume that by nothing (or no thing) I mean some sort of thing. Second, I think people are trying to interpret me as giving a cause or an explanation - better to see me as making a Zen koan. Finally, I think people see me as trying to argue against the Objectivist position or in favor of some other position; I am not.

I am only trying to come up with a response to those who ask why Existence exists that will give them pause.

Ted

(Edited by Ted Keer on 8/23, 5:59pm)




Post 56

Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 9:24pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ted, first of all, yes, I am the trombone player you walked up Broadway with about 8 years ago. As you may recall, I was there with a dance/jazz band that was opening for Jerry Seinfeld at the taping of his HBO special, "I'm Telling You for the Last Time." We had played "warmup" several years for the filmings (yes, film, not tape) of his weekly sitcom, and he wanted us to be part of his "farewell" show. Anyway, I recall well our bibliomanic perusing of the books at the Borders you led me to, just before we had to go our separate ways. It was a nice visit. But I'm a bit puzzled by your new, much more youthful appearance! :-)

Now, I have some special good news for you. You're on the right track, but you just need to change one word in your slogan, and it will be perfect! The evidence has just been announced: the discovery of Nothing!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20415284/

Based on this stunning new discovery of Nothing, I suggest that we explain the obvious existence of Existence by the following revision of your aphorism:

.....................................Existence exists because Nothing doesn't prevent it.....................................................

But it must equally be true that:

....................................Nothing exists because Existence doesn't prevent it.....................................................

I mean, there's Existence -- and there's a big bunch of Nothing -- and Nothing isn't preventing Existence from existing, and Existence isn't preventing Nothing from existing. It's a peaceful co-existence of Existence and Nothing! Rand and Heidegger reconciled at last!!  :-)

REB

P.S. -- I probably should have posted this under Banter. <sigh>




Post 57

Friday, August 24, 2007 - 6:28amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
About the discovery per Roger's link, it's probably the gateway to Heaven or Hell, where Nothing exists.



Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Post 58

Friday, August 24, 2007 - 7:43amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Is Nothing sacred?







Post 59

Friday, August 24, 2007 - 9:22amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ted wrote,
You say that the Skeptic would reply "Nothing," then you begin an argument on his behalf, where I would have interrupted him.

If he responded that nothing could have prevented it, I would have asked him then where was the mystery?
And he would have responded with the rest of his argument -- that if nothing exists to begin with, then nothing would exist to cause it either. So why does it exist?
You then speak on his behalf of nothing as if it were an existent. ("Nothing would exist to cause it either.")
What?? I wasn't speaking as if nothing were an existent! How you got that interpretation I haven't the faintest idea. I was saying that if there wasn't anything in existence, to begin with, then there wouldn't be anything to have caused existence either, so the question would remain: Why does it exist?

That's how the skeptic would answer you. Your rejoinder would not have convinced him. Again, the proper reply is to point out that existence requires no explanation, so the question, "Why does existence exist" is invalid, because it presupposes the very thing that it seeks to explain.

- Bill



Post to this threadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Forward one pageLast Page
[an error occurred while processing this directive]


User ID Password or create a free account.