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Good Questions?
Posted: 18 July 2012 07:18 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Are philosophical Questions like “Why is there something and not nothing?”, “Why am I myself and not someone else?”  useful questions, do they make sense?

I don’t know, but if i ask if there is something and not nothing, then that implies that i would be able to ask “why is there nothing?” which I wouldn’t be (cause i wouldn’t exist).
So in 100% of the cases you can only ask why there is something because of that, and because that there is not nothing.
I think that leads to a more sophisticated question: “Why do I exist, whats the meaning of life?” which will mostly end up pointing at a “creator” which doesn’t solve anything, only moves the question about the origin one level higher.

Was that confusing, or am I right?

What do you think?

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Posted: 18 July 2012 11:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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There is something because nothing cannot exist.

If you weren’t yourself you would be someone else, therefore you have to be yourself.

The meaning of life is 42. The question is, “What is the best domino game?”

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Posted: 19 July 2012 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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There are interesting questions which, if considered, can give us a better understanding of ourselves and our universe, but there are also dumb questions that no intelligent philosopher would bother with because they can be shot down quickly; just as Darron did here.

Occam

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Posted: 26 July 2012 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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DarronS - 18 July 2012 11:28 PM

The meaning of life is 42. The question is, “What is the best domino game?”

I think you mean the ultimate answer is 42, and the ultimate question is, SPOILER ALERT         what’s 6 times 9.  smile 

Good either way!

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Posted: 26 July 2012 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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6x9=54

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Posted: 26 July 2012 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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DarronS - 26 July 2012 02:29 PM

6x9=54

Exactly!  I think you need to reread those books…you evidently missed something.

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Posted: 26 July 2012 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Occam. - 19 July 2012 10:03 AM

There are interesting questions which, if considered, can give us a better understanding of ourselves and our universe, but there are also dumb questions that no intelligent philosopher would bother with because they can be shot down quickly; just as Darron did here.

Occam

  Umm, I think Martin Heidegger would disagree with that!

I think those questions aren’t dumb at all, but those answers from DarronS were kinda silly and smart-alecky.  Now that’s not to say you’ll find answers, and maybe that’s the hard part…realizing there’s no answer (that’s the conclusion I’ve come to).

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Posted: 26 July 2012 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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CuthbertJ - 26 July 2012 02:36 PM

I think those questions aren’t dumb at all, but those answers from DarronS were kinda silly and smart-alecky.  Now that’s not to say you’ll find answers, and maybe that’s the hard part…realizing there’s no answer (that’s the conclusion I’ve come to).

That was exactly the point I was making with my snarky answers. The questions make no sense.

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Posted: 26 July 2012 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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If one has a question that has no answer, I suppose it depends on how rapidly one recognizes that as to whether one decides it’s a dumb question or a deep philosophical question.  smile

And Heidegger’s “clarity” and “succinctness” never impressed me.  LOL

6 x 9 could also be 48 or 110110 depenedent on what number system you decide to use.

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Posted: 26 July 2012 06:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Why must there be a question of “why”?  Why not accept that there is something and try to figure out the “how”.  That may even answer the why.

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Posted: 26 July 2012 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Excellent point, W4U.

Going back to my first post in this thread, only the third line was snark. The first two answers are perfectly reasonable responses to nonsensical questions.

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Posted: 27 July 2012 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I have to admit, the question of why there is something rather then nothing intrigues me. To say that if there was nothing there would be no one to ask the question really isn’t an answer, is it? But it does hint at a deeper truth: just like the term “cold” is meaningless if there is no such thing as heat, if there was not “something” then…

I started to finish that sentence with something like ...then how could “nothing” have any meaning? But that sounds absurd. If there were “nothing” then there would be no such thing as meaning or words or thoughts.

Hell, this makes my head hurt.

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Posted: 27 July 2012 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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My reply to why there is something rather than nothing is a legitimate philosophical statement: nothing cannot exist. Lawrence Krauss’ book A Universe From Nothing gives an interesting quantum physics interpretation.

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Posted: 28 July 2012 01:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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DarronS - 27 July 2012 05:55 AM

My reply to why there is something rather than nothing is a legitimate philosophical statement: nothing cannot exist. Lawrence Krauss’ book A Universe From Nothing gives an interesting quantum physics interpretation.

The surprising fact here is that it is not even a philosophical statement anymore: it has become a physical statement. Krauss also states it even more pointedly: ‘nothing is unstable’. It will become something necessarily.

Krauss’ book is really worth reading. He even shows there are different definitions of ‘nothing’. From now on, if you meet somebody stating that there must be a first cause, or that from nothing, nothing can arise, refer to this book.

Ex nihilo nihil fit turns out to be wrong.

[ Edited: 28 July 2012 02:14 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 28 July 2012 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Meh. I must admit to never having been at all intrigued by the “Why is there something rather than nothing?” question. It’s either ill-formed or trivial, and a lot of bad philosophers have gotten a lot of ill-gained mileage out of BSing about it.

It’s trivially true that ‘nothing cannot exist’. If something exists, it’s not nothing. In particular, if the quantum mechanical laws exist to make Krauss’s claims correct, then something exists.

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Posted: 29 July 2012 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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dougsmith - 28 July 2012 05:39 AM

Meh. I must admit to never having been at all intrigued by the “Why is there something rather than nothing?” question. It’s either ill-formed or trivial, and a lot of bad philosophers have gotten a lot of ill-gained mileage out of BSing about it.

I think the reaction of Write4U above (post #9) is very appropriate. And, BTW, Krauss makes exactly this point too:

At the same time, in science we have to be particularly cautious about “why” questions. When we ask, “Why?” we usually mean “How?” If we can answer the latter, that generally suffices for our purposes. For example, we might ask: “Why is the Earth 93 million miles from the Sun?” but what we really probably mean is, “How is the Earth 93 million miles from the Sun?” That is, we are interested in what physical processes led to the Earth ending up in its present position. “Why” implicitly suggests purpose, and when we try to understand the solar system in scientific terms, we do not generally ascribe purpose to it.

dougsmith - 28 July 2012 05:39 AM

It’s trivially true that ‘nothing cannot exist’. If something exists, it’s not nothing. In particular, if the quantum mechanical laws exist to make Krauss’s claims correct, then something exists.

Krauss does discuss this topic. From his book:

A century ago, had one described “nothing” as referring to purely empty space, possessing no real material entity, this might have received little argument. But the results of the past century have taught us that empty space is in fact far from the inviolate nothingness that we presupposed before we learned more about how nature works. Now, I am told by religious critics that I cannot refer to empty space as “nothing,” but rather as a “quantum vacuum,” to distinguish it from the philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized “nothing.”
So be it. But what if we are then willing to describe “nothing” as the absence of space and time itself? Is this sufficient? Again, I suspect it would have been . . . at one time. But, as I shall describe, we have learned that space and time can themselves spontaneously appear, so now we are told that even this “nothing” is not really the nothing that matters. And we’re told that the escape from the “real” nothing requires divinity, with “nothing” thus defined by fiat to be “that from which only God can create something.”
It has also been suggested by various individuals with whom I have debated the issue that, if there is the “potential” to create something, then that is not a state of true nothingness. And surely having laws of nature that give such potential takes us away from the true realm of nonbeing. But then, if I argue that perhaps the laws themselves also arose spontaneously, as I shall describe might be the case, then that too is not good enough, because whatever system in which the laws may have arisen is not true nothingness.

I have no definite stance on this subject. I am inclined to say that it is a misuse of the concept of ‘existing’ to say that ‘laws of nature exist’. It seems a bit ‘spooky’ existence compared to rocks and mountains. What are laws of nature when the objects they are supposed to describe do not even exist yet? This seems to lead to a modern kind of platonism, which I somehow find an unacceptable position.

PS There is critic on Krauss position here. I start reading now… Maybe this reflects your position, Doug?

[ Edited: 29 July 2012 03:28 AM by GdB ]
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