Nothingness and Being

Potentialities of Ontological Evolution

 

Hilmar Alquiros

All rights reserved by © Dr. Hilmar Alquiros, The Philippines, 2023

Yin + Yang

陰 yīn, 'the shadowy side of the hill', 陽 yáng, 'the sunny side of the hill'

Feedback

 

Nihilo nihil fit: nothing comes from nothing!? vs.

Creatio ex nihilo: creation out of nothing!?

 

        CONTENT English   →   CONTENU French   →   INHALT German

0  - Introduction

A - Why is there Something rather than Nothing? Why is there Anything at all and not Absolute Nothing?

B - Absolute Nothingness and Potentialities, between Nothing and Something

C - Dao 道 as Absolute Nothingness AND Everything

D - Appendix: Nothing and Humor!

E - Epilogue

      

 

0 - Introduction

0.0. PROLOGUE: A World... with or without a Beginning?

0.1. The Question of Being: Leibniz and Heidegger

0.2. Levels of Nothing = Types of Potentialities

  1. Everything and every thing as a part of the Universal Evolution

  2. Ontological Evolution: Potentialities

  3. Levels of Beingness

  4. Levels of Nothingness

0.3. Basic Terms of the Philosophy of Reality

  1. Ontological Pluralism

  2. Concreteness and Abstractness

  3. Contingency and Necessity

  4. Possible Worlds + Probabilistic Explanation

  5. The Possibility of Nothing

  6. Gradation of Being

  7. Metaphysical Nihilism + Subtraction Arguments

  8. Ontology of the Many

  9. The Principle of Sufficient Reason

  10. The Grand Inexplicable

  11. Ultimate Naturalistic Causal Explanations

  12. Complete Explanation of Everything

  13. Conceiving Absolute Greatness

0.4. Selected Sources about the Topics

  1. Selected General Sources

  2. Wikipedia Sites

  3. Further Reading

A - Why is there Something rather than Nothing?

      Why is there Anything at all and not Absolute Nothing?

 

A.1. The Conceptual Field of Nothingness

  1. Basic Terms

  2. Related Linguistic Concepts and Nuances

  3. A Systematic Overview of the Concepts

A.2. Formulations and Basic aspects of the Question of Being

  1. Formulations of the Existential Question

  2. Exploring the Existential Question

  3. Cosmological Perspectives on the Origin of Existence

  4. Philosophical Approaches to the Question

  5. Linguistic Criticisms to the Question of Being

A.3. Why Questions

  1. Why Are There Any Beings at All?

  2. Why Are There Any Concrete Beings?

  3. Why Are There Any Contingent Beings?

  4. Why Are There the Concrete / Contingent Beings?

  5. Why Do Concrete / Contingent Beings Exist Now?

  6. Why Is There Not a Void?

A.4. The Role of Consciousness in Reality

  1. Emerging Theories and Future Directions

  2. The Interplay between Science, Philosophy, and Spirituality

A.5. Ancient Greek Philosophy: The Birth of Metaphysics

  1. A Perennial Inquiry

  2. Plato

  3. Parmenides

  4. Aristotle

  5. Plotinus

A.6. Medieval Philosophy: Theological Perspectives on Existence - 'creatio ex nihilo'

  1. Christianity and Islam

  2. Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna

  3. Fridugisus' answer to Charlemagne(!)

  4. Meister Eckhart

A.7. The Enlightenment: Rationalism and Empiricism

  1. Enlightenment

  2. Kant

  3. Hume

  4. Carnap

A.8. Philosophical Approaches to the Question

  1. The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Quest for Causes and Explanations

  2. Existentialism, Absurdism, Nihilism: Embracing the Paradox and Creating Meaning

  3. Categories of Being: Fundamental Ontology

  4. Meaning of Being: Teleological Theories

A.9. Cosmological Perspectives on the Origin of Existence

  1. The Big Bang Theory: The Beginning of the Observable Universe

  2. The Multiverse Hypothesis: A Universe Among Many

A.10. The Role of Consciousness in the Universe

  1. Quantum Mechanics and the Observer Effect: Consciousness and Physical Reality

  2. Panpsychism: Consciousness as a Fundamental Aspect of the Universe

A.11. Emerging Theories and Future Directions

  1. The Holographic Principle and the Nature of Reality

  2. The Anthropic Principle: Fine-Tuning and the Existence of Life

  3. Digital Physics and Simulated Reality

  4. The Limits of Human Understanding and the Future of Inquiry

  5. Cosmological Natural Selection: The Self-Replicating Universe

  6. Non-Existence as an Unstable State: The Emergence of Something from Nothing

  7. Quantum Tunneling of the Universe from Nothingness

  8. The „No-boundary“ Proposal, or Hartle-Hawking State

A.12. The Interplay between Science, Philosophy, and Spirituality

  1. The Concept of Nothingness in Eastern Philosophy

  2. The Role of Mathematics in Unraveling Existence

  3. Causality, Time, and the Arrow of Existence

  4. The Limits of Language and Conceptual Frameworks

  5. The Role of Emergence in the Study of Existence

  6. The Role of Symmetry and Symmetry Breaking in the Universe

  7. The Influence of Human Perception and Cognition on the Existential Question

  8. The Interconnectedness of Existence: A Holistic Perspective

A.13. Ultimate Questions and Answers!

  1. Why is there Not a Void, Not Absolute Emptiness, or Not Nothing?

  2. The Great Alternative: Something emerging from Nothing versus existing Infinitely

  3. Typology of Physical and Non-Physical First Causes

  4. Typology of Principle Answers to the Why-Question

  5. Laws of Nature: Potentialities as Precondition for Being from Nothingness

 

B - Absolute Nothingness and Potentialities, between Nothing and Something

 

B.1. Origins of Absolute Nothingness

  1. Greek Mythology before Philosophy: Chaos in Hesiod's Theogony

  2. Ancient Greek Philosophy: Parmenides and Democritus

  3. Modern Philosophy: Exploring the Nature of Nothingness

  4. Theoretical Physics: The Vacuum State and the Nature of Nothingness

B.2. Idealistic Potentialities - A Closer Look

  1. Metaphysics and the Emergence of Reality

  2. Platonic Realism: The World of Forms

  3. Contemporary Perspectives on Idealistic Potentialities

  4. Implications for Understanding the Nature of Reality

  5. Idealistic Potentialities - created or uncreated?

B.3. From Nothingness to Something: A Logical Transition Through Emergentism and Process Philosophy

  1. Emergentism: Complexity Arising from Simplicity

  2. Process Philosophy: Reality as a Dynamic Flow of Change

B.4. The Role of Absolute Nothingness in Existential Philosophy: Exploring the Human Condition

  1. The Struggle for Meaning and Purpose

  2. Confronting Mortality and Impermanence

  3. Freedom, Responsibility, and Choice

B.5. Embracing the Potentialities: Practical Applications

  1. Personal Growth

  2. Decision-Making

  3. Creativity

  4. Developing Intuition and Trusting One's Inner Wisdom

  5. Spirituality and Transcendence

B.6. The Intersection of Science and Philosophy: Quantum Mechanics, Absolute Nothingness, and Consciousness

  1. Quantum Mechanics and the Transformation of Nothingness

  2. Consciousness, Potentialities, and the Unknown

  3. Unraveling the Mysteries of Existence

B.7. Expanding Consciousness and Embracing the Unknown

  1. Mindfulness, Embracing Uncertainty and Connection with Nature

  2. Personal Growth and Self-Actualization through Creativity and Innovation

  3. Spirituality and Transcendence: Developing Intuition and Trusting One's Inner Wisdom

B.8. Ethical Implications of Idealistic Potentialities

  1. Moral Responsibility and Environmental Ethics

  2. Social Justice, Personal Development and Empathy

  3. Existential Ethics, Global Cooperation and Peace

B.9. A Catalyst for Spiritual Exploration and Growth

  1. Spiritual exploration and growth

  2. Meditation, Transpersonal Psychology and Interfaith Dialogue

B.10. The Aesthetic Dimension: Art, Music, and Literature Inspired by Absolute Nothingness and Idealistic Potentialities

  1. Visual Arts

  2. Music and Literature

B.11. The Impact of Technology and the Digital Age on Absolute Nothingness and Idealistic Potentialities

  1. Virtual Reality: Blurring the Boundaries of Existence

  2. Artificial Intelligence: Exploring the Potentialities of Consciousness

  3. The Information Age: Unleashing the Power of Knowledge in a Technologically-Driven World of Potentialities

B.12. The Future of Absolute Nothingness and Idealistic Potentialities: Continuing the Exploration

  1. Continuing the Exploration Through Interdisciplinary Collaboration while Embracing the Paradoxical Nature of Reality

  2. Intellectual, Ethical, Spiritual, and Artistic Exploration

B.13. Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Absolute Nothingness and Idealistic Potentialities

  1. Philosophical and Religious Traditions

  2. Buddhism: Embracing Emptiness and Interdependence

  3. Daoism: The Ultimate Void and the Interplay of Complementary Forces

  4. Hinduism: The Ultimate Reality and the Expression of Potentialities

  5. Expanding the Conversation: Embracing Diversity and Fostering Curiosity

B.14. The Role of Language in Conveying Absolute Nothingness and Idealistic Potentialities

  1. Metaphor and Symbolism

  2. Poetry and Literature

  3. Philosophical Inquiry

  4. Embracing the Limits and Possibilities of Language

B.15. The Interplay of Science, Art, and Philosophy in Understanding Absolute Nothingness and Idealistic Potentialities

  1. Scientific Inquiry

  2. Artistic Expression

  3. Philosophical Reflection

  4. The Value of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

  5. Embracing the Paradox

B.16. The Opposite Direction: From Something to Absolute Nothingness

  1. Cosmological: Endgames or the Universe

  2. Biological: Extinction and Death

  3. Philosophical: Emptiness, Non-existence and Ultimate Nothingness

  4. Differences and Similarities

 

C - Dao 道 as Absolute Nothingness AND Everything

 

C.1. Dàoand Nothingness 無極 wújí

  1. Basic Concepts

  2. Laozi - Daodejing

  3. Daoist and Western Concepts of Nothing

C.2. Exploring the Foundations of Daoism

  1. Laozi: The Origins of Daoist Thought

  2. Zhuangzi: Expanding on Daoist Philosophy

C.3. The Concept of Dao: Embracing Nothingness and Everything

  1. Dao as Absolute Nothingness

  2. Dao as Everything

C.4. Daoist Principles for Harmonious Living

  1. Wu Wei: The Art of Non-Action

  2. Yin and Yang: The Balance of Opposites

C.5. The Daoist Path to Enlightenment

  1. Personal Cultivation and Self-Transformation

  2. Embracing Spontaneity and Simplicity

C.6. Delving Deeper into Dao as Unfathomable Nothingness

  1. The Primordial State of Dao

  2. The Paradoxical Nature of Dao

  3. Accessing the Unfathomable Dao through Meditation and Contemplation

  4. The Practical Implications of Embracing Nothingness

  5. Unveiling the Profound Wisdom of Daoist Nothingness

C.7. Dao as Absolute Nothingness: Embracing the Immeasurable

  1. The Infinite Potential of Absolute Nothingness

  2. The Transition from Nothingness to Being

  3. Dao as Everything: The Cosmos as a Manifestation of Being

  4. The Cyclical Nature of Dao: From Being to Non-Being and Back

  5. The Profound Implications of Dao as Absolute: Nothingness and Everything

C.8. The Harmony of Opposites: Navigating the Dynamic Interplay in Daoist Philosophy

  1. The Complementarity of Absolute Nothingness and Everything

  2. Embodying the Unity of Opposites in Daily Life

  3. Mindfulness and Acceptance

  4. Letting Go and Trusting the Dao

  5. The Infinite Wisdom of Daoist Philosophy: Integrating Nothingness and Everything

C.9. The Timeless Relevance of Daoist Philosophy: Unveiling the Universal Truths of Beingness

  1. The Universality of Daoist Concepts

  2. Daoism and Modern Science: Parallel Perspectives

  3. Applying Daoist Wisdom to Contemporary Challenges

  4. Sustainable Living and Environmental Harmony

  5. Promoting Empathy and Compassion

  6. The Enduring Legacy of Daoist Philosophy: A Path to Universal Harmony

C.10. The Ineffable and the Manifest Dao: Its Sublime and Poetic Potentialities

  1. The Profound Elegance of the Dao

  2. The Poetic Expression of the Dao in Nature

  3. The Art of Living in Harmony with the Dao

  4. Aligning with the Natural Flow

  5. Embracing Simplicity and Authenticity

  6. The Enchantment of Daoist Philosophy

 

C.11. The Concept of Creation in Daoist Philosophy

  1. Comparison with the Judeo-Christian concept

  2. Comparison with the Neoplatonic concept

  3. The Daoist Concept of Creation

  4. Similarities and Differences

  5. Tabular Comparison of Key Features

 

D - APPENDIX: Nothing and Humor!

 

D.1. Socrates meets Laozi!

D.2. Out of Nothing?

D.3. Skills and Ingredients a Creator needs...

D.4. The Cosmic Wednesday

D.5. Zeit-Bombe / Time-Bomb

D.6. Three A.I.s on the Question of Existence

D.7. Has LaMDA Become Sentient?

D.8. Nothingness

 

E - EPILOGUE:

 

E.1. Heidegger's Concepts of Nothingness

E.2. Different Perspectives and Arguments for or against Creator/Creation Concepts

E.3. The Ultimate Question of Ontological Evolution

 

 

0

Introduction

 

And in every beginning there is something magical that protects us and helps us to live.

Hermann Hesse, Stufen (Stairs)

 

0.0. Prologue: A World with or without a Beginning?

 The topic of whether the universe has existed eternally or had a definite beginning is a significant one in philosophy, physics, and theology. The concept of a world that has existed since eternity, often referred to as an Eternal Universe or a Steady-state Universe, and the idea of a world that had a beginning and was created out of nothing, often associated with the Big Bang theory, are two contrasting perspectives on the origin and nature of the universe. While scientific understanding and evidence predominantly support the latter, let's explore some arguments and viewpoints related to both perspectives.

 

A World...

...with a Beginning

...without a Beginning

Scientific Theory

The Big Bang Theory:

 The universe began with the Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago. This theory is supported by a wide range of empirical evidence, including the redshift of distant galaxies, the abundance of light elements like hydrogen and helium, and the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Eternal Inflation:

 Some models of cosmic inflation propose that the universe as a whole is eternally inflating and that what we see as the „universe“ is just one bubble in a Multiverse. This allows for a universe that, on the largest scales, has no beginning or end.

Physical Law/Principle

Second Law of Thermodynamics:

 This law states that the entropy of an isolated system always increases over time. If the universe had existed forever, it would now be in a state of maximum entropy, which we don't observe. Therefore, it's suggested that the universe must have had a lower-entropy beginning.

Quantum Gravity:

 In theories that unite quantum mechanics with gravity, like loop quantum gravity or string theory, the Big Bang singularity is often replaced with a different structure, like a bounce, implying that our universe is just the latest cycle in an eternal series.

Philosophical Argument

Avoidance of actual infinity:

 The idea of an actual infinite number of past events is seen by some philosophers as leading to logical paradoxes. Therefore, they argue, time must have had a beginning.

Avoidance of causal regress:

 If the universe had a beginning, one might ask what caused that beginning. Some argue this leads to a regress of causes that's more logically coherent to avoid by positing an eternal universe.

 

 These theories and arguments are subject to ongoing scientific and philosophical debates. The exact nature of the universe's origin (or lack thereof) is one of the greatest mysteries of modern science and philosophy. The scientific consensus heavily favors the idea of a universe that began with the Big Bang and has a finite age. The evidence supporting the Big Bang theory, such as redshift observations, the abundance of light elements, and the cosmic microwave background, strongly suggest that the universe had a starting point. However, the ultimate nature of the universe's origin remains a subject of scientific inquiry and philosophical contemplation, and ongoing research continues to refine our understanding. The situation is further complicated by the limitations of our ability to observe the universe and the complexities of the models used in cosmology.

 

A World with a Beginning = Created Universe

 The Big Bang Theory: This widely accepted cosmological model states that the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state, a singularity, around 13.8 billion years ago. It is supported by multiple lines of evidence:

 Second Law of Thermodynamics

 This law states that in an isolated system, the overall amount of disorder, or entropy, will either remain constant or increase over time. The universe's current state is not one of maximum entropy, indicating it has not existed forever and must have had a starting point, or lower-entropy state. If the universe had existed forever, entropy would be at its maximum, which is not what we observe.

 Avoidance of Actual Infinity

 This philosophical argument states that an actual infinite cannot exist, thus time must have had a beginning. The idea of an infinite past implies an infinite sequence of events leading up to the present, which some philosophers and mathematicians consider to be a paradox or an absurdity. For instance, traversing an infinite past to reach the present moment appears to be an insurmountable task.

 The Kalam Cosmological Argument

 This philosophical and theological argument posits that everything that begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist, therefore it has a cause. This has been used in theology to argue for the existence of an uncaused cause or a prime mover, often identified as Deity..

 Cosmic inflation and the Big Bounce

 While these models still suggest a beginning to our universe, they propose that this could be one of many cycles of expansion and contraction, potentially extending infinitely into the past and future. Here, the notion of beginning is relative to our universe's cycle rather than absolute.

 The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem

 This theorem suggests that any universe, which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history, cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past spacetime boundary. (Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenki).

 

A World without a Beginning = Eternal Universe

 Steady State Theory

 This cosmological model posits that the universe is infinitely old and maintains a constant average density. New matter is continuously created to maintain this density as the universe expands. Though less favored today due to the observational evidence for the Big Bang theory, it was a significant concept in the 20th century.

 Eternal Inflation

 This model suggests that the inflationary period of the early universe, a rapid exponential expansion, continues forever in some regions of the universe. While our observable universe might have begun with a localized 'Big Bang' event, it is a small part of a much larger, eternally inflating multiverse. Here, new universes or „bubble universes“ are continually being created.

 Quantum Physics

 Some interpretations of quantum mechanics suggest that the universe could be uncaused or self-originated. Here, the notion of time is treated differently, and it's possible to have an eternally existing universe.

 Quantum Gravity Models

 These theories aim to reconcile the theories of quantum mechanics (which explains the behavior of particles at the smallest scales) and general relativity (which explains gravity and the large-scale structure of the universe). In some of these models, like loop quantum gravity or string theory, the singularity at the Big Bang is resolved, and it's suggested our universe might be part of a cyclical process of expansion and contraction, or a multiverse, meaning it didn't have a singular beginning.

 Avoidance of Causal Regress

 This philosophical argument states that if everything has a cause, then an infinite regress of causes would occur if the universe had a beginning. To avoid this infinite regress, it posits that the universe must be eternal. This is often tied to discussions about the First Cause or Unmoved Mover from philosophy and theology.

 Cyclic Universe or Oscillating Universe theories

 These propose that the universe has always existed and will continue to do so by undergoing endless cycles of expansion (Big Bang), then contraction (Big Crunch), and then re-expansion. The models differ in the mechanisms and details, but they all propose an eternal universe.

 Multiverse Theory

 Some interpretations suggest our universe is just one of countless universes that form, expand, contract, or continue to exist parallelly, making the overall cosmos eternal.

 

 

0.1. The Question of Being: Leibniz and Heidegger

 First accurate question and treatment by two Germans geniuses:

 -  Leibniz: Polymath, Philosopher, Lawyer, Historian, Mathematician (Calculus!, Binary System!)... called the last universal genius.

 -  Heidegger, called the profoundest thinker of the 20th century.

 

      Leibniz  1646-1716

„Pourquoi il y a plutôt quelque chose que rien?“ Principes de la Nature et de la Grace fondés en Raison, 1714 (First in French)

„Warum ist Etwas und nicht etwa Nichts? Die Vernunftprinzipien der Natur und der Gnade, 1714 (Leibniz = German)

Why is there something rather than nothing? The rational principles of nature and grace, 1714 (translated into English)

 

Great Axiom - mostly the second subquestion was less considered or not even mentioned:

 „Nothing exists without a reason being given (at least by an omniscient being)

a) why it is rather than is not, and

b) why it is so rather than otherwise. (»pourqoi elles [les choses] doivent exister ainsi, et non autrement« p.14 §7)

 

 This is a consequence of the great principle that „Nothing happens without a reason“, just as there must be a reason for this to exist rather than that.

 Warum ist vielmehr etwas, als nichts vorhanden? = Why is there something instead of nothing?

 „Wenn man diesen Grundsatz [des Zureichenden Grundes] voraussetzt, so wird die erste Frage, die man mit Recht aufwerfen kann, diese seyn: Warum ist vielmehr etwas, als nichts vorhanden? Denn das Nichts ist viel einfacher und leichter als etwas. Noch mehr, gesetzt das gewisse Dinge haben existiren sollen: So muss man angeben können, warum sie so und nicht anders haben existiren sollen.

 If one presupposes this principle [of the sufficient reason], then the first question, which one can raise rightly, will be this: Why is there something instead of nothing? Because nothing is much simpler and easier than something. Even more, if certain things should have existed: Then one must be able to state why they should have existed in this way and not in another.

 Gottsched, Johann Gottfried, (On Leibniz') Theodicee = Theodicy, 1744, 774-775:

 

 

              Heidegger  1889-1976

        Die Seinsfrage: „So gilt es denn, die Frage nach dem Sinn von Sein erneut zu stellen:

        Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht vielmehr nichts? Sein und Zeit, Was ist Metaphysik  1929, 1935

        =

        The Question of Being: „Thus, it is necessary to ask again the question about the meaning of being:

        Why is being at all and not rather nothing?“ Being and Time, 1927, What is Metaphysics, 1929, 1935

 

 Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht vielmehr nichts? … So wurzelhaft diese Frage scheinen mag, sie hängt doch nur im Vordergrund des gegenständlich vorgestellten Seienden. Sie weiß nicht, was sie fragt; denn damit jenes wese, was sie als Gegenmöglichkeit zur Wirklichkeit des Seienden, zum Seienden als dem Wirklichen, noch kennt, nämlich das Nichts, muß ja das Seyn wesen, das einzig stark genug ist, das Nichts nötig zu haben.

 „Why is being at all, and not rather nothing? ... As deeply rooted as this question may seem, it only hangs in the foreground of objectively imagined being. It does not know what it is asking; for in order for that to exist which it still knows as the counter-possibility to the reality of the existing, to the existing as the actual, namely the nothing, there must be the being which is the only thing strong enough to have the nothing necessary.“

 Martin Heidegger, Besinnung / Reflection, p. 267.

 

 With the appearance of cosmological ideas such as the Big Bang theory and the Anthropic Principle, metaphysics itself and the fundamental question were revived after the so-called death of positivism.

 In ihrem Denktagebuch notiert Hannah Arendt 1955 die Frage: Warum ist überhaupt Jemand und nicht vielmehr Niemand? Das ist die Frage der Politik und dies – so kann man sagen – ist ihre politische Übersetzung der Grundfrage der Metaphysik.“ Denktagebuch, 1955, vol 1, p.520

 

 

0.2. Levels of Nothing = Types of Potentialities

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.

If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet. - Niels Bohr

 

The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real;

they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts. - Werner Heisenberg

 

  1. Everything and every thing as a part of the Universal Evolution:

  2. Ontological Evolution: Potentialities

  3. Levels of Beingness

  4. Levels of Nothingness

0.2.1. Everything and every thing as a part of the Universal Evolution:

 

Technological Evolution: Inventions, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum applications

 based on

Psychological Evolution: Human Language, Intelligence, Culture

 based on

Biological Evolution: Pre-life forms, RNA / DNA, Unicellular / Multi-cellular organisms

 based on

Chemical Evolution: Elements / Molecules, Anorganic / Organic Chemistry

 based on

Physical Evolution: Big Bang, Space-Time, Quantum Fluctuations, Energy / Fields, Separation of Forces, Inflation / Expansion, Matter / Galaxies

 based on

Ontological Evolution: Absolute Nothingness → Potentialities → Something / Any Thing, Everything = (Fields, Energy, Matter...)

 based on

Dao, Unfathomable, One, Primal/Ultimate ground, Creator(s)...

 

0.2.2. Ontological Evolution: Potentialities

 The ontological evolution includes different conceivable intermediate stages: after the absolute nothingness, objective and/or subjective potentialities - before it realizes itself as duality (positive energy and negative gravitational energy), towards the laws of nature, constants, dimensions... and towards life, consciousness, creativity and love. We are referring to a concept that is intrinsically philosophical, but also has its roots in disciplines such as physics, metaphysics, cognitive science, and psychology. The phrase inherently implies a transformation of states: from the state of non-existence („nothing“) to a state of existence („something“). The concept of „creating something from nothing“ can be discussed at three basic levels of existence:

 Objective towards Being: This level refers to the transition from absolute nothingness to potential existence, encompassing concepts like creation ex nihilo (creation from nothing) in the realms of metaphysics and cosmology. It involves abstract potentialities, preconditions, and natural laws, leading to events like the Big Bang or the creation of a multiverse.

 Objective inside Being: At this level, creation occurs within the physical world and is observable, although it can involve subjective elements concerning the observer's role in quantum physics. Examples include the spontaneous creation of virtual particles in a vacuum, or changes in energy fields as per the laws of physics.

 Subjective inside Being: This level is purely subjective and pertains to phenomena within one's consciousness, such as the emergence of thoughts, ideas, decisions, and intuitions. Despite seeming to originate out of nothing, they are products of intricate cognitive processes.

 

Absolute Nothingness PotentialitiesSomething / Any Thing, Everything (Fields, Energy, Matter...)

 There are three basic levels of creating something from nothing refer to the different ways in which something can be said to come into existence.

 (0) Objective towards Being: Absolute Nothingness (transcendent, unfathomable) → Potentialities: forms, ideas, preconditions / natural laws, constants, Big Bang, Multiple Bang, Creation ex nihilo...-

 This zero(!) level is assumed as objective (or partly subjectiv in idealism) and refers to the creation of something from Absolute Nothingness.

 

 It is not tied to any particular being or consciousness, which is a transcendent and unfathomable state that exists beyond the physical universe. From this state arise potentials in the form of natural laws, constants, and conditions that make the creation of the physical universe possible.

 This level involves potentialities and (pre-)conditions that allow the creation of physical objects and it also deals with theories about the creation of the universe itself, such as the Big Bang theory or the concept of Multiple Bangs (in parallel or successive „bouncing“ form), which suggest that the universe emerged from a singularity or series of singularities into the existence of space and time dimensions, fields, and energy.

 Finally, this level includes the idea of Creation ex Nihilo, which is the idea that something can come into existence from absolute nothing, perhaps without any intermediate steps at all - by some unimaginable supernatural entity. Tertullian distinguishes two ways of speaking: a nihilo, from nothing, without a cause of its own, vs. ex nihilo: nothing as substance.

 

(1) Objective inside Being: energy in vacuum, virtual particles, fields, laws of physics...

 This level is objective (or mixed with subjective concerning the role of an observer in quantum physics): it involves the new spontaneous creation of something within the physical world.

 This can include the creation of virtual particles in a vacuum, which are particles that arise from the fluctuations of energy in empty space, as well as the phenomenon of entanglement, where two particles are connected in such a way that the state of one particle is determined by the state of the other, regardless of the distance between them.

 Also included are Emergence or emergent effects, where new levels of complexity in an evolutionary process give rise to completely new properties, with a new whole that is more than the sum of its parts: In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties that its parts do not have on their own, properties or behaviors that emerge only when the parts interact in a larger whole.

 Physicists often call diverse kinds of Something (energy in vacuum, virtual particles, fields, laws of physics) as „Nothing“, physics starts empirical after the Big Bang, inside the universe (and its event horizon). Mind-blowing enough is the evolution of 10^83 sub-particles from the Big Bang with Planck space 1.616255(18)×10^-35 m and Planck time 5.391247(60)×10^-44 s - but Planck temperature 1.416784(16)×10^32 K (!!) - from what?!

 

(2) Subjective inside Being: Phenomena of consciousness / mind / brain, at least seemingly out of nothing.

This level is subjective and refers to the creation of something within one's own consciousness: This can include thoughts, ideas, decisions, and intuitions, which are all subjective experiences that are created within one's own mind.

 When applied to mental phenomena, this concept takes on a nuanced and fascinating character. It's about the genesis of thoughts, ideas, decisions, and intuitions, which appear to spring forth from the void of the mind, thus giving the impression of „creating something from nothing“. Let's delve into this subjective process in a bit more detail:

Thoughts

 Thoughts are continuous mental narratives that form our everyday cognition. They seemingly pop into existence, creating something from the nothingness of an idle mind. This is often most noticeable during states of focused concentration or mindful meditation, where the sudden emergence of a thought can seem like a creation from nothing. However, it's important to note that these thoughts are generally products of subconscious processes influenced by our experiences, knowledge, and emotions.

Ideas

 Ideas could be considered as more refined and purposeful thoughts. They often arise from a synthesis of various thoughts and previous ideas, often in response to a problem or task at hand. Again, this might seem like creation from nothing, especially when an idea strikes unexpectedly or in response to a novel situation. But it's usually the result of complex cognitive processes operating below the threshold of conscious awareness.

Decisions

 Decisions often feel like they are born out of nothing, especially when we suddenly feel a clear sense of resolution after wrestling with uncertainty. In reality, decision-making is a complex cognitive process involving weighing options, considering potential consequences, and aligning with our goals and values. Again, while the decision itself may appear to materialize from nothing, it is the product of significant cognitive activity.

Intuitions

 Intuitions, or gut feelings, often seem to come out of nowhere. These are quick, automatic judgments that occur without conscious deliberation. They arise from our brain's ability to recognize patterns and make associations based on past experiences, even if we can't consciously articulate what those patterns are. So while an intuition might feel like it's created from nothing, it's actually rooted in our prior experiences and learned knowledge.

 

0.2.3. Levels of Beingness

 These categories of Being(ness) and Nothing(ness) represent a broad spectrum of perspectives on existence. Some are based on empirical observations and scientific theories, while others are more philosophical or spiritual in nature. The exact nature and boundaries of these categories, and how they relate to each other, are matters of ongoing debate and exploration in many different fields, including physics, philosophy, theology, and cognitive science.

 

Back to Big Bang...:

 Material Being

 This refers to everything that exists physically and can be interacted with or observed directly in some way. This includes everything from subatomic particles like quarks and photons, to atoms and molecules, to larger structures like cells, organisms, planets, stars, and galaxies. These objects are subject to the laws of physics and can be studied using scientific methods.

 Virtual Particles

 In quantum field theory, virtual particles are temporary fluctuations in energy that occur due to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. They can't be directly observed, but their effects can be measured, and they are integral to our understanding of quantum phenomena. They are responsible for phenomena like the Casimir effect and Hawking radiation.

 Quantum Reality

 This refers to the realm of existence that is governed by the principles of quantum mechanics. At this level, particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously / superposition, objects can be entangled such that the state of one instantaneously affects the state of another no matter the distance (quantum entanglement), and particles can tunnel through barriers that they shouldn't be able to pass through according to classical physics (quantum tunneling).

 Natural Constants and Laws of Nature

 These are the fundamental principles that dictate the behavior of the universe. They include things like the speed of light in a vacuum, the gravitational constant, Planck's constant, and the laws of thermodynamics. These laws and constants are universal and unchanging, and they provide the foundation for our understanding of the physical world.

 Abstract Entities

 These include mathematical objects like numbers and geometrical shapes, logical constructs, and possibly universals or forms (if one subscribes to a Platonic or Aristotelian view of metaphysics). These objects don't exist in physical space and time, but they are integral to our understanding of the world and provide the basis for logical reasoning and mathematical calculations.

 Consciousness and Subjective Experience

 This level refers to our own personal experiences and perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and sensations. This is the realm of existence that we know most directly, because we experience it from a first-person perspective. It is also the most mysterious, because we don't yet fully understand the nature of consciousness or how it arises from physical processes in the brain.

 Cultural and Social Reality

 This level includes the shared beliefs, customs, practices, and institutions of human societies. These are real in the sense that they shape our behavior and our experiences, but they are not physical objects and can't be studied in the same way as physical phenomena.

...and beyond:

 Transcendental Reality

 In many philosophical and spiritual traditions, there is a belief in a reality that transcends the physical world and the everyday experiences of conscious beings. This could be thought of as a divine realm, a spiritual plane, the ground of being, or the ultimate reality. This level is often associated with religious and spiritual experiences and is generally considered to be beyond the reach of empirical scientific methods.

 

0.2.4. Levels of Nothingness

 Similarly, the ladder of potentialities from Being to Not-Being can be viewed as subtractive from the aspect of the content of Nothingness.

 A „lifelong passion“ for the ultimate questions of existence led Robert Lawrence Kuhn to produce a series of (> 4,000!) in-depth interviews on these and other topics with experts in television series www.closertotruth.com with:

 Why is there Something rather than Nothing? in: Closer To Truth, 2000 ff.:

 → Pillar Cosmos → Themes Mystery of Existence → Topics + Series Why Anything at all?

 → Why is There 'Something' Rather Than 'Nothing'? 1,2, Why Not Nothing 1.2, Why is There Anything at All? 1-4:

 We use the 7 (8) levels in Kuhn's overview article as a short introduction to the wondrous intermediate realm of potentialities, this...

 

                  The Twilight Zone of Beingness and Nothingness

1. Nothing as existing space and time that just happens to be totally empty of all visible objects (particles and energy are permitted)—an utterly simplistic, pre-scientific view.

2. Nothing as existing space and time that just happens to be totally empty of all matter (no particles, but energy is permitted—flouting the law of mass-energy equivalence).

3. Nothing as existing space and time that just happens to be totally empty of all matter and energy.

4. Nothing as existing space and time that is by necessity—irremediably and permanently in all directions, temporal as well as spatial—totally empty of all matter and energy.

5. Nothing of the kind found in some theoretical formulations by physicists, where, although space-time (unified) as well as mass-energy (unified) do not exist, pre-existing laws, particularly laws of quantum mechanics, do exist.

 And it is these laws that make it the case that universes can and do, from time to time, pop into existence from “Nothing,” creating spacetime as well as mass-energy. (It is standard physics to assume that empty space must seethe with virtual particles, reflecting the uncertainty principle of quantum physics, where particle-antiparticle pairs come into being and then, almost always, in a fleetingly brief moment, annihilate each other.)

6. Nothing where not only is there no space-time and no mass-energy, but also there are no preexisting laws of physics that could generate space-time or mass-energy (universes).

7. Nothing where not only is there no space-time, no mass-energy, and no pre-existing laws of physics, but also there are no non-physical things or kinds that are concrete (rather than abstract)—no Creator, no Creators, and no consciousness (cosmic or otherwise). This means that there are no physical or non-physical beings or existents of any kind—nothing, whether natural or supernatural, that is concrete (rather than abstract).

8. Nothing where not only is there none of the above (so that, as in Nothing 7, there are no concrete existing things, physical or non-physical), but also there are no abstract objects of any kind—no numbers, no sets, no logic, no general propositions, no universals, no Platonic forms (e.g., no value).

9. Nothing where not only is there none of the above (so that, as in Nothing 8, there are no abstract objects), but also there are no possibilities [potentitalities] of any kind (recognizing that possibilities and abstract objects overlap, though allowing that they can be distinguished).

a. Kuhn, SKEPTIC MAGAZINE 18,2 2013

 Essentially, the subtypes in levels 6, 7, and 8 are still to be distinguished:

 - In the objective reality: in our physical universe and its natural laws

 - In our subjective reality: as consciousness, mind, sentient beings.

 

                  The Way to Absolute Nothingness

 Absolute Emptiness

 This concept, most associated with Buddhist philosophy, refers to the idea that all phenomena, including all of the levels of being listed above, are void of inherent existence or self-nature. This does not mean that phenomena do not appear or function; rather, it means that they are dependently originated and do not exist independently.

 Total Non-existence

 It's a difficult concept to grasp because it's not something we can experience or observe. It's the absence of all things, all existence, all thought, all consciousness, and even the absence of emptiness itself - in short, the complete absence of being. Some philosophical and cosmological discussions involve this concept, especially when discussing the origins of the universe or the nature of existence itself. Different interpretations underscore how challenging it is to discuss absolute nothingness, and they vary widely based on cultural, philosophical, and temporal contexts. The common thread, however, is the recognition of the paradox inherent in attempting to understand non-existence, given that our entire perception of reality is predicated upon existence. The Daodejing speaks of non-being and being arising from the same source, hinting at a form of nothingness that isn't absolute non-existence, but rather the state from which existence arises.

 

 Absolute Nothingness

 Or mere nothingness (nihil simpliciter): this is a modal term in the metaphysics and theology of creation of John Duns Scotus (1266-1308), which refers to non-existent things that cannot possibly exist, not even as being in the mind alone. As absolutely void Duns Scotus refers to so-called incompossibilia, fictitious objects (figments) whose essential form would be a combination of mutually incompatible components, which cannot even be brought together mentally to form an object, and are therefore in principle not causable. Incompossibilia are therefore impossible not only in relation to others (certain circumstances, existing objects, or the will of a Creator), but also according to their own form of being, which is why Duns Scotus speaks of a formal impossibility (i.e. an impossibility according to form) and of a nihil simpliciter, i.e. a nothing-simply-thereunto (instead of a nothing-relative-to-other). This excludes their being in themselves, their being real as well as their being possible, and consequently their contradiction-free thinkability.

Key differences that distinguish the idea of Absolute Nothingness from other concepts of Nothing are:

  •  Lack of Properties or Attributes: Most concepts or ideas have some defining properties or attributes. However, Absolute Nothingness, by definition, lacks any such properties or attributes. It is devoid of characteristics, qualities, substance, energy, space, time, thought, or consciousness.

  •  Absence of Existence: All concepts, ideas, and entities we can think of exist in some form, whether physically, conceptually, or subjectively. Absolute Nothingness, however, implies the absence of any form of existence.

  •  Impossibility of Experience or Observation: We can experience or observe almost all phenomena, objects, or ideas in some way. Absolute Nothingness, on the other hand, cannot be experienced or observed because it implies the non-existence of observers, observation, or any phenomenon to be observed.

  •  Defies Conventional Understanding and Language: All other concepts fit within our understanding of reality and language, but Absolute Nothingness does not. It is not merely a vacuum, emptiness, or darkness; it's the absence of existence itself, something our brains, rooted in existence, find difficult to process or express.

  •  Paradoxical Nature: Trying to understand or describe Absolute Nothingness is paradoxical because the act of conceptualizing it gives it a form of existence, contradicting its definition. The concept inherently challenges our traditional laws of logic and understanding.

  •  Philosophical and Metaphysical Implications: Unlike most other concepts, the idea of Absolute Nothingness has profound philosophical and metaphysical implications. It's intimately connected with deep questions about the origin of the universe, the nature of existence, and the limits of human knowledge and comprehension.

 

 

0.3. Basic Terms of the Philosophy of Reality

 Nothingness as Void or Emptiness can also be seen as a source of Potentiality, as a creative ground from which new things or ideas can emerge. It is linked to the concept of creatio ex nihilo, the idea that creationcan arise from nothing.

  1. Ontological Pluralism

  2. Concreteness and Abstractness

  3. Contingency and Necessity

  4. Possible Worlds + Probabilistic Explanation

  5. The Possibility of Nothing

  6. Gradation of Being

  7. Metaphysical Nihilism + Subtraction Aarguments

  8. Ontology of the Many

  9. The Principle of Sufficient Reason

  10. The grand Inexplicable

  11. Ultimate Naturalistic Causal Explanations

  12. Complete Explanation of Everything

  13. Conceiving Absolute Greatness

0.3.1. Ontological Pluralism

 Ontological pluralism proposes that there are multiple ways to understand reality, with diverse ontologies capturing distinct perspectives. It challenges the idea of a single unified framework and recognizes the importance of diverse knowledge domains. It emphasizes respecting ontological diversity, promoting interdisciplinary dialogue, and acknowledging that different ontologies are needed to grasp the complexity of reality.

 Ontological pluralism is a philosophical concept that suggests there are multiple ways of understanding and describing reality. It posits that there are multiple ontologies or fundamental categories of existence, each capturing a distinct aspect or perspective of reality. According to ontological pluralism, reality is not singular or homogeneous but rather composed of diverse and irreducible ontological domains.

 This perspective challenges the idea that there is a single, unified framework or ontology that can explain all aspects of reality. Instead, it acknowledges that different domains of knowledge, such as the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and spiritual or religious perspectives, offer distinct ways of understanding reality.

 Ontological pluralism emphasizes the importance of recognizing and respecting the diversity of ontologies and the various perspectives they offer. It encourages interdisciplinary dialogue and an open-minded approach to different ways of knowing. Rather than seeking to reduce all phenomena to a single explanatory framework, ontological pluralism acknowledges that different ontologies may be necessary to adequately capture the complexity and diversity of reality.

 

0.3.2. Concreteness and Abstractness

 The distinction between concreteness and abstractness in ontology is essential for understanding the diverse modes of existence in the world. Concreteness refers to tangible, individual entities with physical properties, while abstractness refers to conceptual, non-physical entities. Concrete entities are experienced through the senses, while abstract entities exist as concepts or mental constructs. The concepts exist on a spectrum, and some entities can possess both concrete and abstract aspects.

Der Begriff des Seienden ist selbst etwas Seiendes.
(„The concept of being is itself something that exists.“)

Schelling,
(Lectures to the) Philosophy of Revelation

 

 The distinction between concreteness and abstractness in ontology is crucial for understanding the different modes of existence and the nature of entities in the world. It highlights the diversity and complexity of reality, encompassing both the physical and observable aspects as well as the conceptual and intellectual dimensions of existence. Philosophical debates surrounding concreteness and abstractness involve discussions about the nature of universals, the relationship between mind and reality, and the nature of knowledge and understanding.

 Concreteness and abstractness are key concepts in ontology, the branch of philosophy concerned with the study of being, existence, and the nature of

reality. They describe different modes of existence or ways in which entities or concepts can be understood.

 Concreteness refers to the quality of being tangible, particular, or individual. Concrete entities are those that have a physical or material existence and can be experienced through the senses. Examples of concrete entities include physical objects like trees, animals, and buildings, as well as specific events or occurrences.

 Concrete entities are typically characterized by their spatiotemporal location, their ability to interact causally with other entities, and their potential to be perceived or directly experienced. They possess specific properties and characteristics that can be observed or measured.

 On the other hand, abstractness refers to the quality of being conceptual, general, or non-physical. Abstract entities are not directly perceptible through the senses and do not have a material or spatiotemporal existence. Instead, they exist as concepts, ideas, or mental constructs.

 Abstract entities include concepts such as numbers, mathematical equations, logical principles, moral values, and philosophical ideas. They are typically characterized by their generality, universality, and the fact that they can be shared and understood by multiple individuals.

 Abstract entities often lack concrete physical properties and cannot be located in space or time. They are not subject to direct empirical observation but can be studied through logical analysis, reasoning, and conceptual understanding. Abstract entities are often seen as products of human thought and language.

 It's important to note that concreteness and abstractness exist on a spectrum rather than being strictly dichotomous. Some entities or concepts may possess both concrete and abstract aspects. For example, while the concept of „justice“ is considered abstract, its manifestations and applications in specific legal cases can have concrete and tangible effects.

 

0.3.3. Contingency and Necessity

 Contingency and necessity in ontology raise questions about causality and the fundamental nature of reality. Contingency refers to entities that rely on external factors, while necessity refers to entities that exist inherently. Contingent entities depend on specific circumstances or causes, while necessary entities exist in all possible worlds. These concepts help us understand the nature of existence and the relationships between entities. Contingency and necessity exist on a spectrum, and some entities may have aspects of both. They are interconnected concepts that explore the nature of reality and existence.

 The exploration of contingency and necessity in ontology raises questions about the nature of causality, the limits of explanation, and the fundamental nature of reality. It informs discussions on topics such as the existence of a Creator, the nature of universals, and the nature of logical truths. Different philosophical perspectives and traditions offer various interpretations and perspectives on the nature and extent of contingency and necessity in the ontology of entities. Contingency and necessity are fundamental concepts in ontology that describe different modes of existence or ways in which entities can exist.

 Contingency refers to the property of being dependent on something else for its existence or occurrence. A contingent entity is one that could have been different or could have failed to exist altogether. Its existence or properties are not logically necessary or self-explanatory. Dependence is the notion that certain entities or states of affairs rely on or require the existence or contribution of other entities for their own existence or intelligibility. It implies that some things are not self-sufficient or self-explanatory but instead depend on external factors, causes, or conditions. For instance, an effect depends on its cause, a building depends on its constituent materials, and an event depends on a variety of causal factors.

 Contingent entities are characterized by their reliance on external factors, causes, or conditions. They are subject to change and are contingent upon specific circumstances or causal factors. For example, the existence of a particular individual, the occurrence of a specific event, or the presence of a certain object in a given location can be considered contingent. In other words, contingent entities are those whose existence or properties are not logically required or essential.

 Necessity, on the other hand, refers to the property of being logically required and unavoidable. A necessary entity is one that exists or must exist in all possible worlds and cannot fail to exist. Its existence or properties are not contingent upon external factors or conditions but are inherent and self-explanatory. Necessary entities are independent of specific circumstances or causal factors. They are considered essential or indispensable and do not rely on external causes for their existence. For example, mathematical truths, such as the fact that 2+2=4, are often regarded as necessary because they hold true in all possible worlds.

 The concepts of contingency and necessity are closely related and provide a framework for understanding the nature of existence and the relationships between entities in ontology. They help distinguish between entities that are dependent on external factors and those that possess inherent and self-explanatory existence.

 It is worth noting that contingency and necessity exist on a spectrum rather than being absolute categories. Some entities may have aspects of both contingency and necessity. For example, while the existence of an individual person might be contingent upon various factors such as their parents, the existence of the concept of personhood itself may be regarded as necessary due to its universality and conceptual indispensability.

 Contingency, dependence, and the ontology of the many are interconnected philosophical concepts that explore the nature of existence, the relationship between entities, and the fundamental constituents of reality.

 

0.3.4. Possible Worlds + Probabilistic Explanation

 The probabilistic explanation suggests that the existence of the universe may be a result of random or probabilistic processes. It explores the idea that the conditions for a universe to arise with its particular laws and structures aligned by chance. This perspective considers fundamental laws like quantum mechanics as providing a basis for indeterminism and randomness. However, it is important to note that this explanation is speculative and philosophical, lacking empirical evidence. The question of why there is something rather than nothing remains a profound mystery and subject of ongoing inquiry.

The probabilistic explanation of why there is something rather than nothing is a speculative and philosophical attempt to address the question of why the universe exists or why there is a reality rather than an absolute nothingness. It explores the possibility that the existence of the universe is a result of random or probabilistic processes.

 According to this perspective, the emergence of the universe could be seen as a chance occurrence governed by probabilistic principles. It suggests that within the vastness of all possible configurations of existence, the conditions for a universe to arise with its particular laws, constants, and structures happened to align in a way that allowed for the development of complex systems, including life.

 In a probabilistic framework, the fundamental laws of nature, such as quantum mechanics, could be seen as providing a basis for indeterminism and randomness at a fundamental level. Random fluctuations or quantum events could have played a role in initiating the universe or determining its initial conditions.

 It's important to note that the probabilistic explanation is speculative and philosophical in nature. It does not provide a definitive or scientific explanation supported by empirical evidence. The question of why there is something rather than nothing remains one of the deepest and most profound mysteries of existence, and it continues to be a subject of philosophical and scientific inquiry.

 

0.3.5. The Possibility of Nothing

 The possibility of nothing in ontology examines whether a state of absolute absence of entities, properties, and relations is conceivable. It raises philosophical debates about the coherence of nothingness as a concept and its potential as a genuine state. The topic also relates to the nature of existence, the origins of reality, and the reasons for why something exists instead of nothing. Different arguments and positions exist regarding the possibility of nothing, considering contingent and necessary entities, as well as cosmological and metaphysical perspectives. It's a complex topic influenced by diverse philosophical, scientific, and cultural viewpoints.

Das „Bewußtseyn, daß das Nichtseyn dieser Welt ebenso möglich sei, wie ihr Daseyn“,
= The „consciousness that the non-being of this world is just as possible as its being“,
Die Welt ... als Etwas, dessen Nichtseyn nicht nur denkbar,
sondern sogar ihrem Daseyn vorzuziehen wäre.“
= The world ... „as something whose non-being would not only be conceivable,
but even preferable to its being“.

Arthur Schopenhauer Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung“. Einstein's favorite philosopher!
 

 The possibility of Nothing in ontology refers to the question of whether there could have been a state of affairs in which there is an absence of all entities, properties, and relations. It involves exploring the concept of nothingness and examining whether it is a genuine possibility or a mere conceptual abstraction.

 In ontological discussions, Nothing refers to a state devoid of any existence, including physical objects, properties, events, and even abstract entities. It represents a complete absence of being or a complete lack of ontological entities.

 The possibility of nothing in ontology raises several philosophical questions and debates. One of the central questions is whether nothingness is a coherent concept. Some argue that since nothingness lacks any properties or characteristics, it cannot be conceived or talked about meaningfully. They assert that the notion of nothingness is merely a conceptual placeholder, representing the absence of something rather than an actual state.

 Others argue that nothingness is a genuine possibility that can be meaningfully considered. They argue that if there is something, it is conceivable that there could have been nothing instead. This perspective suggests that nothingness is a potential state of affairs that could have obtained or could potentially obtain.

 Another dimension of the possibility of nothing in ontology relates to the nature of existence itself. It raises questions about the nature of reality, the origins of existence, and the fundamental principles that govern being. Exploring the possibility of nothing prompts reflection on whether there could be a reason or explanation for why there is something rather than nothing.

 Philosophers have proposed various arguments and positions on the possibility of nothing in ontology. Some argue that the very existence of contingent entities suggests that nothingness is not a necessary state, as it is always possible for contingent entities to fail to exist. Others contend that the existence of necessary entities, such as mathematical truths or logical principles, suggests that nothingness is not a possibility, as there are certain aspects of reality that must exist.

 Additionally, the possibility of nothing in ontology intersects with cosmological and metaphysical debates about the nature of the universe and the existence of a necessary being or ultimate reality. It is connected to discussions on the nature of causality, the principles of explanation, and the boundaries of human understanding.

 It's important to note that the possibility of nothing in ontology is a complex and challenging topic. Different philosophical perspectives, scientific insights, and cultural and religious beliefs influence the understanding and interpretation of this concept. The exploration of the possibility of nothing continues to provoke thought-provoking discussions and deepens our understanding of the nature of existence and the boundaries of ontology.

 

0.3.6. Gradation of Being

 The Gradation of Being is a concept in medieval philosophy that describes a hierarchical scale of existence, ranging from lower forms to higher, more complex forms. Reality is seen as diverse, with varying degrees of perfection. Inanimate objects occupy the lowest level, followed by increasingly complex entities such as plants, animals, humans, and ultimately, spiritual or divine beings. Each level derives its existence from the one above it, and higher levels possess greater perfections. The concept is associated with thinkers like Thomas Aquinas and explains the relationship between Creator, creation, and different levels of being. Interpretations may vary among philosophers and traditions.

 The Gradation of Being is a concept that originates from medieval philosophy and metaphysics, particularly within the framework of Scholasticism. It refers to the idea that there exists a hierarchical or graded scale of existence or being, ranging from the lowest and simplest forms of existence to the highest and most complex.

 According to this concept, reality is not uniform or homogeneous but rather exhibits varying degrees of perfection, with each level building upon and surpassing the previous one. This gradation is often depicted as a scale or ladder, with different levels representing different degrees of being or reality.

 At the lower end of the scale, you might find inanimate objects or entities with minimal capacities for existence, such as rocks or minerals. As you ascend the scale, you encounter increasingly complex forms of being, including plants, animals, and humans. Finally, at the highest end of the gradation, you may find spiritual or divine entities, representing the pinnacle of existence.

 The gradation of being implies that reality is structured in a hierarchical manner, with each level or degree of being participating in and deriving its existence from the level above it. The concept also implies that the higher levels of being possess greater perfections or qualities than the lower levels.

 The notion of the Gradation of Being is associated with philosophers like Thomas Aquinas, who integrated Aristotelian metaphysics with Christian theology. It served as a framework to explain the diversity and hierarchy of existence and to explore the relationship between Creator, creation, and the various levels of being.

 It's important to note that interpretations and understandings of the Gradation of Being may vary among different philosophers and philosophical traditions.

 

0.3.7. Metaphysical Nihilism + Subtraction Arguments

 Metaphysical nihilism challenges the existence of any fundamental reality and argues that all entities lack objective existence. Subtraction arguments support this view by showing that the removal of entities or aspects of reality does not lead to contradictions. These arguments examine different aspects of reality, such as physical objects and abstract entities, demonstrating their dispensability. Proponents extend subtraction arguments to properties, relations, and consciousness, aiming to negate the need for a fundamental reality. Metaphysical nihilism is controversial, and critics argue it oversimplifies reality and fails to address its complexity. The debate surrounding metaphysical nihilism and subtraction arguments continues.

 Metaphysical nihilism is a philosophical stance that challenges the existence of any fundamental or ultimate reality. It argues that there is no underlying essence, substance, or universal principle that gives rise to or governs the nature of existence. According to metaphysical nihilism, all purported entities, concepts, or aspects of reality lack objective or independent existence.

 Subtraction arguments typically proceed by examining different aspects of reality and demonstrating that their removal does not lead to any inconsistencies or contradictions. By systematically subtracting various entities or properties, proponents of metaphysical nihilism argue that we can ultimately arrive at a state of absolute nothingness or nonexistence without encountering any logical problems

 For example, a subtraction argument might begin by considering physical objects. It could argue that if we were to subtract all physical objects from existence, there would be no inherent contradiction or logical inconsistency. The argument may then proceed to consider abstract entities, such as numbers or mathematical truths, and propose that their subtraction would similarly not result in any contradictions.

 Furthermore, proponents of metaphysical nihilism might extend subtraction arguments to include other aspects of reality, such as properties, relations, concepts, and even consciousness. The goal is to show that at every level, the removal of entities or aspects of reality does not give rise to any logical or conceptual problems.

 Subtraction arguments for metaphysical nihilism are often intended to challenge the assumption that there must be a fundamental or ultimate reality underlying all existence. By demonstrating that all purported aspects of reality can be conceptually subtracted without contradiction, metaphysical nihilists argue that there is no need to posit the existence of any fundamental entities or ultimate reality. It is worth noting that metaphysical nihilism is a highly controversial position, and subtraction arguments have been subject to criticism and debate. Critics may argue that subtraction arguments rely on overly simplistic or reductionist understandings of reality, or that they fail to adequately address the complex nature of existence. As with many philosophical positions, the debate surrounding metaphysical nihilism and its supporting arguments remains ongoing.

 

0.3.8. Ontology of the Many

 The ontology of the many asserts that reality consists of multiple fundamental entities instead of a single substance. It highlights the importance of relations, interactions, and composition in understanding reality. This perspective acknowledges the contingency and dependence of entities, emphasizing their diversity and complexity. The exploration of contingency, dependence, and the ontology of the many is essential in metaphysics to understand being and causality. Different philosophical traditions contribute to ongoing debates in metaphysics and ontology.

Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety. Francis Bacon, Essays

The ontology of the many is a metaphysical position that posits that reality consists of a plurality of fundamental entities or elements rather than a single, unified substance or entity. It challenges the notion of a singular, all-encompassing substance and suggests that the diversity and complexity of reality arise from the interaction and combination of many distinct entities or individuals. This perspective often emphasizes the importance of relations, interactions, and the composition of entities as crucial aspects of understanding the nature of reality.

 When considered together, these concepts suggest that existence is not uniform or self-contained but rather characterized by contingency and dependence. Entities or states of affairs are contingent because they could have been different or non-existent, and they are dependent because they rely on other entities or conditions for their existence or intelligibility.

 The ontology of the many extends this understanding by emphasizing that reality is composed of a multitude of distinct entities, each with its own characteristics and interrelations. These entities contribute to the complexity and diversity of existence and challenge the idea of a singular, monolithic substance or entity underlying all of reality.

 The exploration of contingency, dependence, and the ontology of the many is fundamental to metaphysics and the understanding of the nature of being, causality, and the relationships between entities in the fabric of reality. Different philosophical traditions and thinkers offer various interpretations and perspectives on these concepts, leading to ongoing debates and discussions in metaphysics and ontology.

 

0.3.9. The Principle of Sufficient Reason

 The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) states that everything in the universe has a reason or explanation for its existence, and nothing happens without a cause. It reflects the belief in an ordered and intelligible world governed by logical and causal principles. The PSR has influenced various areas of philosophy and has been used to argue for the existence of a Creator, although critics have raised objections to its applicability and potential infinite regress.

The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) is a philosophical principle that aims to establish that everything in the universe has a reason or explanation for its existence, properties, and characteristics. It asserts that nothing is random or arbitrary but instead operates within a framework of logical principles and causal connections.

The PSR suggests that every event or entity, from the smallest particles to the largest cosmic phenomena, has a sufficient reason for its occurrence or existence. This reason could be a causal explanation, a logical necessity, or some other form of explanation. According to the PSR, nothing simply happens without a cause or without being grounded in some underlying principle.

The principle can be seen as a rationalist stance, rooted in the belief that the world is ordered and intelligible. It assumes that there are underlying laws or principles that govern the behavior of the universe, making it predictable and understandable. By seeking explanations for phenomena, the PSR promotes the idea that the world is not chaotic or arbitrary but instead adheres to a rational and coherent structure.

The PSR has been influential in various areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. It has been used to argue for the existence of a Creator, as proponents claim that the PSR requires a sufficient reason for the existence of the universe itself. Critics, on the other hand, have raised objections to the PSR, questioning its applicability to certain realms of knowledge or arguing that it leads to an infinite regress of explanations.

 

0.3.10. The Grand Inexplicable

 The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) encounters difficulties when confronted with the grand inexplicable, which refers to questions about the existence of the universe, fundamental laws, and the ultimate foundation of reality. Some philosophers argue that certain aspects of reality may be ultimate or foundational, resisting complete explanation. This tension raises the possibility of limits to our rational understanding and the existence of unexplained truths. The challenge of reconciling the PSR and the grand inexplicable continues to be a topic of debate in metaphysics and philosophy of science.

The PSR faces challenges when it comes to accounting for what is often referred to as the grand inexplicable or the ultimate foundation of reality. The grand inexplicable represents the question of why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists at all, or why there are certain fundamental laws and principles governing the cosmos. These questions push the limits of explanation and challenge the idea that everything can be accounted for by appealing to prior causes or reasons.

 In the face of the grand inexplicable, some philosophers argue that the PSR may need to be limited or modified. They suggest that there might be certain aspects of reality that are ultimate or foundational, which cannot be further explained or reduced to other factors. These foundational aspects might include the existence of the universe itself, the nature of fundamental laws, or the principles that underlie reality.

 Thus, while the PSR posits that everything must have an explanation, the grand inexplicable raises the possibility that there may be fundamental aspects of reality that defy complete explanation. It acknowledges that there may be limits to our rational understanding and that there may exist truths or principles that are simply part of the fabric of existence without further explanation.

 The tension between the PSR and the grand inexplicable highlights the philosophical challenge of comprehending the ultimate nature of reality and the limits of human reason. It remains a topic of ongoing debate and exploration within metaphysics and philosophy of science.

 

0.3.11. Ultimate Naturalistic Causal Explanations

 Ultimate naturalistic causal explanations aim to provide foundational explanations for fundamental aspects of reality within a naturalistic worldview. These explanations trace phenomena to natural causes and processes, based on the assumption that the universe operates according to natural laws. They explore topics such as the origins of the universe in cosmology and the mechanisms of life in biology. These explanations are limited to naturalistic inquiry, provisional in nature, and subject to ongoing refinement. While they strive to comprehensively account for reality, they may encounter limitations and unanswered questions.

 Ultimate naturalistic causal explanations refer to attempts within a naturalistic worldview to provide explanations for phenomena that are considered fundamental, ultimate, or foundational in nature. These explanations seek to account for the most fundamental aspects of reality and their causal underpinnings without invoking supernatural or non-naturalistic explanations.

 In a naturalistic framework, ultimate causal explanations aim to trace the origins, operations, and relationships of phenomena to natural causes and processes. These explanations are based on the assumption that the universe operates according to natural laws and principles that can be understood through empirical investigation, scientific inquiry, and rational analysis.

 For example, in the field of cosmology, an ultimate naturalistic causal explanation may seek to understand the origins and development of the universe, explaining the Big Bang and subsequent cosmic events in terms of physical laws, energy, and matter. It would investigate the underlying mechanisms and processes that led to the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets.

 In biology, ultimate naturalistic causal explanations focus on understanding the origins and mechanisms of life and the diversity of living organisms. They explore the processes of evolution, genetic variation, and natural selection as explanations for the complexity and adaptation observed in living systems.

 It's important to note that ultimate naturalistic causal explanations do not claim to have all-encompassing answers to every question about the nature of reality. They are limited to the scope of naturalistic inquiry and the methodologies of empirical observation and rational analysis. These explanations are provisional and subject to revision and refinement as new evidence emerges and scientific knowledge advances.

 Furthermore, it is worth acknowledging that ultimate naturalistic causal explanations may encounter areas where our understanding is limited or where questions remain unanswered. For instance, explaining the origin of the laws of physics themselves or the fundamental nature of consciousness and subjective experience are complex and ongoing areas of investigation.

 In the end, ultimate naturalistic causal explanations strive to provide a comprehensive account of reality within a naturalistic framework, exploring the underlying causes and processes that shape the universe, life, and the phenomena we observe. They rely on empirical evidence, scientific methods, and rational analysis to elucidate the workings of the natural world.

 

0.3.12. Complete Explanation of Everything

 The complete explanation of everything refers to the hypothetical idea of a comprehensive and all-encompassing understanding that accounts for all aspects of reality. It aims to provide answers to all questions and mysteries about existence. However, achieving such a complete explanation faces challenges due to human limitations and the potential for new discoveries. The pursuit of understanding remains an important endeavor, even though a complete explanation of everything may be an elusive goal. Different perspectives exist on the possibility and nature of complete explanations, leading to ongoing debates and research.

 The complete explanation of everything, also known as the ultimate explanation or the total explanatory account, refers to the hypothetical notion of a comprehensive and all-encompassing explanation that encompasses the entirety of reality and provides a complete understanding of all phenomena, principles, and aspects of existence.

 In this concept, a complete explanation would entail providing answers to all questions and resolving all mysteries regarding the nature of reality, the origins of the universe, the fundamental laws governing the cosmos, the nature of consciousness, the nature of existence itself, and every other facet of existence.

 The idea of a complete explanation of everything is inherently ambitious and far-reaching. It implies that there is a unified and coherent understanding that can account for the entire complexity and diversity of reality, leaving no unanswered questions or unexplained phenomena.

 However, the concept of a complete explanation of everything is highly speculative and has not been realized or achieved thus far. It faces significant challenges due to the inherent limits of human knowledge, the potential for new discoveries and perspectives to reshape our understanding, and the possibility of fundamental aspects of reality that may resist complete explanation.

 Moreover, achieving a complete explanation of everything raises questions about the nature of knowledge itself. It raises issues such as whether it is possible for human cognition to grasp the ultimate nature of reality or whether there are inherent limitations to our understanding.

 Despite its hypothetical nature, the pursuit of understanding and explanation remains a central endeavor in philosophy, science, and other disciplines. While a complete explanation of everything may be an elusive goal, the ongoing exploration and accumulation of knowledge contribute to our understanding of the world and drive the progress of human inquiry.

 It is important to note that different philosophical and scientific traditions offer various perspectives on the possibility and nature of complete explanations. The topic is subject to ongoing debate and continues to inspire new avenues of research and investigation in our quest to comprehend the intricacies of reality.

 

0.3.13. Conceiving Absolute Greatness

 Conceiving absolute greatness involves contemplating the highest possible level of perfection or excellence in various aspects. It often arises in discussions about ultimate reality, exploring the characteristics of an all-encompassing, perfect being. It involves reflecting on qualities like perfect goodness, infinite knowledge, unlimited power, and absolute beauty. This concept raises questions about human comprehension, the nature of existence, and morality. Different philosophical and theological traditions offer diverse perspectives on absolute greatness, making it a subject of ongoing philosophical inquiry and contemplation.

 The concept of conceiving absolute greatness pertains to the philosophical exploration of the highest conceivable level of greatness or perfection. It involves contemplating and envisioning a state or being that possesses qualities or attributes that are considered supremely excellent or ideal.

 In this context, „absolute greatness“ refers to a level of greatness that is unsurpassable, beyond comparison, or free from any limitations. It implies the highest possible degree of excellence or perfection in various aspects, such as moral virtues, intellectual capacities, power, beauty, or any other quality deemed significant.

 The concept of conceiving absolute greatness often arises in discussions related to the nature of the ultimate reality. It is associated with theological and philosophical inquiries seeking to understand and articulate the characteristics of an all-encompassing, perfect being. Philosophers and theologians explore whether it is possible to conceive of a being or state of existence that possesses all possible perfections to the fullest extent.

 The process of conceiving absolute greatness involves imagining or reflecting upon qualities or attributes that are considered supremely positive or ideal in the highest conceivable sense. It may involve contemplating characteristics like perfect goodness, infinite knowledge, unlimited power, complete justice, unconditional love, and absolute beauty. The aim is to stretch the limits of human imagination and understanding to grasp the highest possible level of greatness in a given domain.

 The concept of conceiving absolute greatness is often intertwined with questions about the nature of existence, the foundations of morality, and the ultimate reality. It invites philosophical exploration and debate about the limits of human comprehension, the possibility of absolute perfection, and the implications of such concepts for understanding the nature of the universe and our place within it.

 It's important to note that the concept of conceiving absolute greatness involves abstract and speculative reasoning, and different philosophical and theological traditions offer diverse perspectives on the nature and possibility of such greatness. The exploration of this concept continues to be a subject of philosophical inquiry, inspiring contemplation and discourse on the nature of perfection, transcendence, and the ultimate ideals.

 

 

0.4. Selected Sources about the Topics

  1. Selected General Sources

  2. Wikipedia Sites

  3. Further Reading

 Why is there something rather than nothing?
And if there were nothing? You'd still be complaining!
Sidney Morgenbesser (1921 – 2004)

0.4.1. Selected General Sources

 These sources provide a wealth of information on Nothingness, Potentialities and Being and related fields.

 

- Holt, Jim Why does the World Exist: An Existential Detective Story New York: Liveright, 2012.

   = entertaining introduction including many talks with experts, followed by TED presentations and scientific panels.

- Albert, David On the Origin of Everything, The New York Times, March 23, 2012.

  = Ingenious critique by philosopher and Ph.D. physicist(!) David Albert of Krauss, Lawrence, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (New York: Free Press, 2012), a best-selling book with a promotional title that writes about everything - except nothing - but refers to many somethings from physics simply as „nothing“! Krauss defined nothing as an unstable quantum vacuum that contains no particles. Albert has criticised Krauss for this, pointing out that his definition of nothing presupposes the existence of quantum fields obeying particular laws of physics. According to Albert, Krauss has „nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of where those fields came from, or of why the world should have consisted of the particular kinds of fields it does, or of why it should have consisted of fields at all, or of why there should have been a world in the first place. Period. Case closed. End of story.“

- Kuhn, Robert Lawrence, Levels of Nothing There Are Multiple Answers to the Question of Why the Universe Exists. 2013, SKEPTIC MAGAZINE volume 18 number 2 2013. https://closertotruth.com/news/levels-of-nothing-by-robert-lawrence-kuhn/

 = Brilliant article listing the essential intermediate stages of potentialities and calling them stages of „nothing“ between Being and Absolute Nothing - correctly, however, all these potentialities have been falsely treated as nothing, as objective and subjective logical and value-related entities to be clarified first - within the ontological evolution!

- Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, Die Vernunftprinzipien der Natur und der Gnade. 1714.

- Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, The Principle of Sufficient Reason - Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason argues that everything must have a reason or explanation for its existence, which can help shed light on the question of why there is something rather than nothing.

- Leslie, John & Robert Lawrence Kuhn, The Mystery of Existence. Why Is There Anything at All? 2013, Oxford: Wiley & Sons. Blackwell.

  = Eventually, Kuhn's articles, his earlier interviews in closertotruth, and the intense discussion of his „levels“ led to the broader treatment as a book with John Leslie, a leading philosopher on the question of being - whose interview in the TV series gave the greatest overview and most comprehensive explanation!)

- Sartre, Jean-Paul, Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. Philosophical Library. - A foundational text in existentialism that delves into the nature of consciousness, freedom, and the relationship between being and nothingness. 1956

 

Alquiros, Hilmar, Laozi Daodejing: Chinese - English - German. Translations + Commentary

Alquiros, Hilmar, Daodejing: Translation + Commentary

Alquiros, Hilmar, Laozi Daodejing, The Tao of Dào

Alquiros, Hilmar, The Dao of Wisdom

Alquiros, Hilmar, Das Tao de Weisheit

Barrow, John D., The Book of Nothing - Barrow's book explores the concept of nothingness in science and philosophy, and how the question of why there is something rather than nothing has been approached in these fields.

Bradley, F. H., Appearance and Reality: A Metaphysical Essay. 1893. Swan Sonnenschein & Co. - A classic work in British idealism that discusses the nature of being, appearance, and reality in relation to nothingness and potentialities.

Chen, Ellen Marie, Nothingness and the mother principle in early Chinese Taoism, 1969, International Philosophical Quarterly, 9: 391–405.

Goldschmidt, Tyron, (Ed.) The Puzzle of Existence. Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? Google Books, 2013 ff.

Grabmann, Martin, Neu aufgefundene Werke des Siger von Brabant und Boetius von Dacien. München 1924. In: Sitzungsberichte der philosophischphilologischen und der historischen Klasse der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaft en zu München. 1924/2.

Heidegger, Martin, Being and Time. 1962, Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson, New York: Harper & Row. Heidegger's influential work on ontology and the question of being discusses the fundamental question of why there is anything at all.

Heidegger, Martin, Einführung in die Metaphysik. 1935. Vorlesung 'Grundfrage der Metaphysik': „Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht vielmehr Nichts?“ Introduction to Metaphysics, 1959, Trans. R. Manheim. New Haven: Yale University Press. Lecture 'Basic Question of Metaphysics': „Why is being at all and not rather nothing?“.

Heidegger, Martin, Identity and Difference. 1969. Harper & Row. Explores the relationship between Being and Nothingness from a Western philosophical perspective.

Heylen, Jan, Why is there something rather than nothing? A logical investigation, 2017, Erkenntnis, 82: 531–559.

Jaspers, Karl, 1. Philosophy and the World: Selected Essays. 1959. Regnery Publishing. - A collection of essays that discuss various philosophical concepts, including being, potentialities, and nothingness. 2. Philosophy (3 vols., 1932), 3. Philosophy of Existence (1938).

John, Leslie & Kuhn, Robert Lawrence, The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything at All? by (co-editors). WileyBlackwell, 2013. 328 pages. $29.95 Paperback. ISBN-13: 978- 0470673553

Komjathy, L., The Daoist Tradition: An Introduction. 2018. Bloomsbury Academic. - Provides an overview of Daoist philosophy, history, and practices, discussing key concepts such as nothingness, potentialities, and being.

Liu, JeeLoo, Was There Something in Nothingness? The Debate on the Primordial State between Daoism and Neo-Confucianism., in Nothingness in Asian Philosophy, JeeLoo Liu and Douglas Berger (eds.), 2014, London: Routledge Press, 181–196.

McDaniel, Kris, Ontological Pluralism, the Gradation of Being, and the Question ‘Why is there Something Rather Than Nothing?’, in The Puzzle of Existence, Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), 2013, New York: Routledge, 272–286.

McGinnis, Jon, The Ultimate Why Question. In: Wippel, John F. (Hg.): The Ultimate Why Question. Why Is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever?. Washington 2011, S. 65–84.

Patt, Walter, Warum ist überhaupt etwas und nicht vielmehr nichts? In: Grätzel, Stephan/Reifenberg, Peter (Hg.): Ausgangspunkt und Ziel des Philosophierens.

Russell, Bertrand, Mysticism and Logic. Russell's essay on the question of why there is something rather than nothing discusses the limits of human understanding and the nature of reality.

Sartre, Jean Paul, 1969, Being and Nothingness, trans. H. E. Barnes, New York: Washington Square Press.

Sartre, Jean-Paul, Existence and Freedom. Sartre's existentialist work discusses the nature of human freedom and the relationship between existence and nothingness.

Solomon, Robert C., Nothingness and the Meaning of Life.

Sorensen, Roy, Nothingness. In: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy © 2003; 2009 2022, hg. v. Edward N. Zalta,

Sorensen, Roy, Nothing: A Philosophical History. 2022, New York: Oxford University Press.

Tillich, P., The Courage to Be. 1952. Yale University Press. - Explores the concept of being, nothingness, and existential anxiety in relation to religious faith and the human condition.

Wippel, John F. (Hg.), The Ultimate Why Question. Why Is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever? Washington 2011, S. 29– 43.

Wippel, John F. (Hg.), Thomas Aquinas and Siger of Brabant on Being and the Science of Being as Being. In: The Modern Schoolman, 82 (2005), S. 143–171.

Wippel, John F. (Hg.), Thomas Aquinas on the Ultimate Why Question. Why is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever? Washington 2011, S. 85–106.

Watts, Alan, Dao: The Watercourse Way. 1975. Pantheon Books. A comprehensive introduction to Daoist philosophy, discussing concepts such as nothingness, potentialities, and being.

Zimmermann, Albert, Die ›Grundfrage‹ in der Metaphysik des Mittelalters. In: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, 47 (1965), S. 141–156.

 

0.4.2. Wikipedia Sites

 It's important to keep in mind that Wikipedia articles should be used as a starting point for research and not as a primary source. It's always a good idea to verify information from multiple sources and to consult with experts in the field to gain a deeper understanding of complex scientific concepts.

Being - Provides an overview of the concept of being in philosophy, covering various philosophical traditions and theories.

Daodejing: Translation + Commentary & Laozi Daodejing, The Dao of Dào

Daoism - Provides a comprehensive overview of Daoist philosophy, which includes concepts such as nothingness, potentialities, and being.

Dialectical Materialism - Explores the Marxist philosophical framework that posits the existence of contradictions and potentialities within material reality.

Existentialism - Offers an introduction to existentialism, a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice, often in relation to being and nothingness.

Nihilism - Offers an overview of the philosophical concept of nihilism, which is closely related to the idea of nothingness.

Nothing - Explores the philosophical concept of nothingness from various perspectives, including Western and Eastern traditions.

Nothing comes from nothing From Parmenides and Lucretius to Early modern Literature and Modern Physics.

Ontology - Discusses the branch of philosophy that deals with the study of being, existence, and reality.

Phenomenology (philosophy) - Offers an overview of phenomenology, a philosophical approach that investigates the structures of experience and consciousness, often in relation to being and potentialities.

Process Philosophy - Discusses the philosophical approach that emphasizes becoming, change, and potentialities, as opposed to static being.

Sunyata - Covers the Buddhist concept of emptiness or voidness, which is related to the notion of nothingness and potentialities in Eastern philosophy.

Wuji (Philosophy) In Laozi, Zhuangzi and more.

 

0.4.3. Further Reading

Armstrong, David, A Combinatorial Theory of Possibility, 1989, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Baldwin, Thomas, There might be nothing, 1996, Analysis, 56: 231–38.

Beebee, Helen, Causing and Nothingness, in Causation and Counterfactuals, 2004, John Collins, Ned Hall, and L. A. Paul (eds.), Cambridge: MIT Press, 291–308.

Bennett, Jonathan, Spinoza’s Vacuum Argument, 1980, Midwest Studies in Philosophy (Volume 5), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Bergson, Henri, Creative Evolution, 1944, trans. A. Mitchell, New York: The Modern Library.

Brenner, Andrew, What do we mean when we ask ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’, 2016, Erkenntnis, 81: 1305–1322.

Carlson, Erik & Erik J. Olsson, The Presumption of NothingnessRatio, 14: 203–221.2001,

Carnap, Rudolf, The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language, 1932, trans. Arthur Pap, in A. J. Ayer (ed.), Logical Positivism, New York: The Free Press, 60–81. Originally published in German in Erkenntnis, Volume 2.

Carroll, John W., Laws of Nature, 1994, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Casati, Filippo & Naoya Fujikawa, Better Than Zilch? 2015, Logic and Logical Philosophy 24(2): 255–264.

Coggins, Geraldine, Could There Have Been Nothing? Against Metaphysical Nihilism, 2010, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dallmayr, Fred, Nothingness and Śūnyatā: A Comparison of Heidegger and Nishitani, 1992, Philosophy East and West, 42/1: 37–48. doi:10.2307/1399690

Efird, D. & Stoneham, T., The Subtraction Argument for Metaphysical Nihilism, 2005, Journal of Philosophy, 102: 303–325.

Efird, D. & Stoneham, T., Is Metaphysical Nihilism Interesting?, 2009, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 90(2): 210–231.

Epstein, Lewis C., Thinking Physics is Gedanken Physics, 1983, San Francisco: Insight Press.

Fleming, N. Why is There Something Rather that Nothing? in Analysis, Vol. 48, No. 1, (1988) [especially p. 35].

Gale, Richard, Negation and Non-Being, 1976, American Philosophical Quarterly (Monograph Series No. 10).

Gardner, Martin, Mathematical Magic Show, 1977, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Gerson, Lloyd P., Goodness, Unity and Creation in the Platonic Tradition. In: Wippel, John F. (Hg.): The Ultimate Why Question. Why Is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever? Washington 2011, S. 29– 43.

Grant, E., Much ado about Nothing. Theories of Space and Vacuum from the Middle Ages to the Scientific Revolution, 1981, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grossmann, Reinhardt, The Existence of the World, 1992, London: Routledge.

Hawking, Stephen & Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 2010, New York: Bantam Books.

Heidegger, Martin, The Origin of the Work of Art - Heidegger's work on art and the question of being discusses the relationship between nothingness and creation, and how art can help us understand the nature of existence.

Heil, John, Contingency, in The Puzzle of Existence,2013, Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), New York: Routledge, 167–181.

Hugo, Victor, Les Misérables, translated by Charles Wilbour, 1862, New York: Random House.

James, William, Some Problems of Philosophy 1911, New York: Longmans, Green and Co.

Kierkegaard, Søren, The Concept of Anxiety - Kierkegaard's work on anxiety and the human condition discusses the role of nothingness in human experience and how it relates to questions of existence and meaning.

Kierkegaard, Søren The Concept of Dread 1944, Ttranslated by Walter Lowie, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Kotzen, Matthew, The Probabilistic Explanation of Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing, 2013, in The Puzzle of Existence, Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), New York: Routledge, 215–234.

Krauss, Lawrence M., A Universe from Nothing, 2012, New York: Free Press.

Kripke, Saul, Naming and Necessity, 1980, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Leeming, Joseph, Riddles, Riddles, Riddles, 1953, New York: Franklin Watts, Inc.

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, Philosophische Schriften. 7 Bde. Berlin 1875.

Lewis, David, Void and Object, in Causation and Counterfactuals, 2004, John Collins, Ned Hall, and L. A. Paul (eds.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 277–290.

Lewis, David, On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986, Oxford: Blackwell.

Lowe, E. J., Why is There Anything at All?, 1996, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 70: 111–120.

Lowe, E. J., Metaphysical Nihilism Revisited, in The Puzzle of Existence, Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), 2013, New York: Routledge, 182–196.

Lowe, E. J., Metaphysical nihilism and the subtraction argument, 2002, Analysis, 62: 62–73.

Maitzen, Stephen, Stop Asking ‘Why There’s Anything’, 2012, Erkenntnis, 77: 51–63.

Martin, Richard M., Of Time and the Null Individual, 1965, Journal of Philosophy, 62(24): 723–736.

Merleau-Ponty, M., The Visible and the Invisible. 1968. Northwestern University Press. Investigates the nature of being, perception, and potentialities in relation to phenomenology and existentialism.

Mumford, Stephen, Absence and Nothing: the Philosophy of What There is Not 2021, Clarendon: Oxford University Press.

Munitz, M. K., The Mystery of Existence, New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.1965, 

Nagarjuna, The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika. 1995. Oxford University Press. - A central text in Mahayana Buddhism that examines the concept of emptiness, interdependence, and the nature of reality.

Nagel, Thomas, The Last Word - Nagel's book explores the limits of scientific inquiry and the question of why there is something rather than nothing, arguing that there may be limits to our ability to understand this question. Akademietagung zum 100jährigen Gedenken an ›Le Point de départ de la recherche philosophique‹ (1906) von Maurice Blondel. London 2007, S. 153–190.

Nozick, Robert, Philosophical Explanations, Clarendon Press, Oxford, (1981) pp. 115-137

Parfit, Derek, The Puzzle of Reality: Why does the Universe Exist?, in Metaphysics: The Big Questions, 1998, ed. Peter Van Inwagen and D. W. Zimmerman, Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 418–426.

Parsons, Terence, Nonexistent Objects, 1980, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Pascal, Blaise, Pensées, 1669, trans. W. F. Trotter, The Harvard Classics, Volume XCVIII, Part 1, New York: P. F. Collier & Sons, 1909–14.

Paseau, Alexander, Why the subtraction argument does not add up, 2003, Analysis, 62: 73–75.

Priest, Graham, One: Being an Investigation Into the Unity of Reality and of its Parts, Including the Singular Object Which is Nothingness, 2014, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Quine, W. V. O., On What There Is, From a Logical Point of View, 1953a, New York: Harper & Row.

Quine, W. V. O., Quantification and the Empty Domain, 1954, The Journal of Symbolic Logic, 19(3): 177–179.

Robbiano, Chiara, Becoming Being. On Parmenides’ Transformative Philosophy. Sankt Augustin 2006.

Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gonzalo, There might be nothing: the subtraction argument improved, 1997, Analysis, 57(3): 159–166.

Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gonzalo, The Subtraction Arguments for Metaphysical Nihilism: Compared and Defended, in The Puzzle of Existence, 2013, Tyron Goldschmidt (ed.), New York: Routledge, 197–214.

Rowe, William, The Cosmological Argument, 1975, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Rundle, Bede, Why There is Something Rather than Nothing? 2004, , Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Russell, Bertrand, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, 1985, La Salle, Illinois: Open Court.

Schmitt, Charles, Experimental Evidence for and Against a Void: the Sixteenth-Century Arguments, 1967, Isis, 58: 352–366.

Schnepf, Robert, Die Frage nach der Ursache. Systematische und problemgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Kausalitäts- und zum Schöpfungsbegriff.2006. Göttingen.

Schopenhauer, Arthur, The World as Will and Representation 1819, (Volume 2), E. F. J. Payne (trans.), Colorado: The Falcon Wing Press, 1958. Schopenhauer's influential work on metaphysics and the nature of reality discusses the question of why there is anything at all and the role of the will in human experience.

Sgaravatti, Daniele & Giuseppe Spolaore, Out of Nothing, 2018, Thought: A Journal of Philosophy, 7(2): 132–138.

Sorensen, Roy, Seeing Dark Things: The Philosophy of Shadows, 2008, New York: Oxford University Press.

Van Inwagen, Peter, Why Is There Anything at All?, 1996. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 70: 95–110.

Vecsey, Zoltán, Talking about nothing, 2020, Logic and Logical Philosophy 29(2): 311–321.

Wilczek, Frank, The Cosmic Asymmetry Between Matter and Antimatter 1980, Scientific American, 243(6): 82–90.

Williams, C. J. F., The Ontological Disproof of the Vacuum, 1984, Philosophy, 59: 382–384.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1921, D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinness (trans.), New York: Humanities Press, originally published in 1961.

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* Partially enriched search by ChatGPT 4 (IV-V 2023)

 

 

A

Why is there Something rather than Nothing?

Why is there Anything at all and not Absolute Nothing? 

Birth of the Universe

Oil painting by HILMAR.A. + DALL.E, July 2023

 »Nicht wie die Welt ist, ist das Mystische, sondern dass sie ist.« Wittgenstein.

= „It is not how the world is that is mystical, but that it is.“

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 6.44 &

2nd creative phase: Lecture on Ethics, p. 10.

 

A.1. The Conceptual Field of Nothingness

 When the author of this book - whose native language is German - learned English as a self-study after several school languages, he was immediately fascinated by the multitude of English terms that surround the concept of Nothing as approximate synonyms.

  1. Basic Terms

  2. Related Linguistic Concepts and Nuances

  3. A Systematic Overview of the Concepts

A.1.1. Basic Terms

 

A.1.2. Related Linguistic Concepts and Nuances

 

A.1.3. A Systematic Overview of the Concepts

 These words cover a wide range of concepts related to „nothingness“, each with its own connotations and implications. The most relevant concepts for a given philosophical discussion would depend on the specific questions and issues being considered. For instance, a debate about the nature of space might focus on „void“ and „vacuity“, while a discussion of existential angst might center on „emptiness“ and „absence“. Each of these words provides a different lens through which to explore the rich and complex concept of „nothingness“.

 

 

A.2. Formulations and Basic aspects of the Question of Being

 The question has been pondered by thinkers, philosophers, and theologians for centuries, and has inspired various ideas and theories. The question of being encompasses various fields of study, including cosmology, philosophy, and spirituality. Cosmology seeks to explain the ultimate cause of existence, with scientific theories such as the Big Bang Theory and religious perspectives. Philosophy has long been concerned with questions of existence, including the nature of reality, the self, and the meaning of life. Meanwhile, spirituality delves into the fundamental purpose and meaning of our existence, and the role of consciousness in reality is a topic of debate among different fields of study. The interplay between science, philosophy, and spirituality can offer unique insights into the question of being and lead to a more comprehensive understanding. Ultimately, the existential question is subjective and open to interpretation, with different people finding meaning and purpose in various ways.

 The question of being, which encompasses the nature of existence, the self, and the meaning of life, has been a topic of interest for philosophy for centuries. Two philosophical approaches to the question of being are existentialism, which emphasizes individual freedom and responsibility, and metaphysics, which seeks to understand the fundamental nature of reality. The role of consciousness in reality is also a subject of debate among philosophers, scientists, and spiritual practitioners, with some arguing that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of reality and others viewing it as an emergent property of the brain. Emerging theories and future directions in the field include developments in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, as well as continued exploration by philosophical and spiritual perspectives. The interplay between science, philosophy, and spirituality can provide unique insights into the nature of existence and lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the question of being.

  1. Formulations of the Existential Question

  2. Exploring the Existential Question

  3. Cosmological Perspectives on the Origin of Existence

  4. Philosophical Approaches to the Question

  5. Linguistische Kritik an der Frage des Seins

A.2.1. Formulations the Existential Question

 

  •  Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm:
    »Pourquoi il y a plus tôt quelque chose que rien?« („Why is something at all and not rather nothing?“). Principes de la Nature et de la Grace fondés en Raison / Die Vernunftprinzipien der Natur und der Gnade (Principles of Nature and Grace founded in Reason) 1714, S. 14. and:  
    „For nothing is easier and simpler, than anything.“ = »Car le rien est plus facile et plus simple, que quelche chose.« &
    „Why they [things] must exist this way, and not otherwise.“
    = »Pourqoi elles [les choses] doivent exister ainsi, et non autrement«
    S. 14. § 7.

  •   Buchenau, Artur / Herring, Herbert: 
    „Why is there something rather than nothing?“ („Warum gibt es eher Etwas als Nichts?“) Vernunftprinzipien der Vernunft und der Gnade, übers. v. Artur Buchenau, hg. v. Herbert Herring. Hamburg 1960.

  •  Schelling, Friedrich Wilhem Joseph:
    a) „Why is there not nothing, why is there anything at all?“ Aus den Jahrbüchern der Medicin als Wissenschaft, S. 174.

  • b) „Why is there anything at all? Why isn't there nothing?“ (Warum ist überhaupt etwas? Warum ist nicht nichts?“) Vorlesungen zur Einleitung in die Philosophie der Offenbarung, SW, XIII, p.7

  • Gottsched, Johann Gottfried:
    „Why is there something rather than nothing? („Warum ist vielmehr etwas, als nichts vorhanden?“), 1744 [On Leibniz] p.744.

  •  Heidegger, Martin:
    „Why is being at all and not rather nothing?“
    („Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht vielmehr Nichts?“)
    Freiburger Vorlesung Sommersemester 1935 (Freiburg Lecture Summer Term 1935), Einführung in die Metaphysik. Tübingen 1957). „Die Seinsfrage“. Sein und Zeit, 1927; Was ist Metaphysik, 1929, 1935; Volume 40 of Gesamtausgabe: Vorlesungen 1923-1944 = „The question of being“ (Being and Time, 1927; What is Metaphysics, 1929, 1935).

  •  Goldstick, Daniel:
    „Why is there something rather than nothing?“
    In: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 40 (1979), S. 265–271.

  •  Inwagen, Peter van & E. J. Lowe:
    „Why Is There Anything at All?“
    In: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (Supp.), 70 (1996), S. 95–120.

  •  Wippel, John F.:
    „Why Is There Anything at All Rather than Nothing Whatsoever?“
    .
    The Ultimate Why Question. Washington 2011.

  •  Goldschmidt, Tyron (Hg.):
    „Why Is There something rather than nothing?“
    . The Puzzle of Existence. New York 2013.

  •  Schubbe, Daniel, Lemanski, Jens + Hauswald, Rico (Hg.)
    „Why is something at all and not rather nothing? („Warum ist überhaupt etwas und nicht vielmehr nichts?“) Wandel und Variationen einer Frage. (= Change and Variations of a Question). Felix Meiner Publishers. 2013

 

A.2.2. Exploring the Existential Question

Although science may solve the problem of how the universe began,
it cannot answer the question:
Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?

Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes, 1993, ch. 9.

 

 The existential question is concerned with the fundamental meaning and purpose of our existence. It asks questions like „Why are we here?“ and „What is the meaning of life?“ It is a question that has been pondered by thinkers, philosophers, and theologians for centuries, and has inspired a range of ideas and theories about the nature of existence. The complexity and depth of the existential question, as well as the various ways it has been explored and interpreted throughout history, continues to inspire thought and reflection in individuals across different cultures and beliefs.

 The concept of the existential question is concerned with the fundamental purpose and meaning of our existence. This question has been pondered by scholars across different fields of study for centuries, and has given rise to numerous ideas and theories about the nature of our existence.

 The question Why are we here? is a complex one and can be interpreted in various ways. Some may approach it from a religious or spiritual perspective, believing that we have a divine purpose or destiny. Others may view it from a scientific perspective, considering the evolution of life and our place in the universe. Still, others may view it as a subjective question, finding meaning and purpose in their own personal experiences and connections with others.

 Similarly, the question What is the meaning of life? is also subjective and open to interpretation. It can be approached from various perspectives, such as ethical, moral, and existential. Some may find meaning in the pursuit of knowledge, others in the pursuit of happiness, and others in making a positive impact on the world.

 

A.2.3. Cosmological Perspectives on the Origin of Existence

 Cosmology is the study of the origins and evolution of the universe. It is concerned with questions about the beginning of time, the nature of space, and the origins of matter and energy. Cosmological perspectives on the origin of existence seek to explain the ultimate cause of the universe's existence and the laws that govern it. Cosmological perspectives include scientific theories such as the Big Bang Theory. Scientific and religious perspectives can offer different explanations for the ultimate cause of the universe's existence and the laws that govern it: While scientific cosmologies are based on empirical evidence and mathematical models, religious cosmologies are rooted in faith and belief in a divine creator.

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges
and the infinity in which he is engulfed.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

 

 Let's now highlight the concept of cosmology and how it relates to the origin of existence. Cosmology is a branch of science that studies the origins, evolution, and ultimate fate of the universe. It seeks to explain the fundamental laws that govern the universe and its components. The cosmological perspectives are concerned with the ultimate cause of the universe's existence, including the origins of matter and energy, the nature of space, and the beginning of time.

 Mankind tried two different perspectives regarding the origin of existence: scientific and religious. The scientific perspective on cosmology is based on empirical evidence, mathematical models, and experimental observations. One of the most prominent scientific theories regarding the origin of the universe is the Big Bang Theory. This theory proposes that the universe began as a singularity, a point of infinite density and temperature, and then expanded rapidly, creating space and time. The Big Bang Theory is supported by a wide range of observations and experiments, including the cosmic microwave background radiation, the distribution of galaxies, and the abundance of light elements.

 On the other hand, the religious perspective on cosmology is based on faith and belief in a divine creator. Different religious traditions offer different explanations for the origin of the universe, often grounded in their respective creation stories. For example, the Judeo-Christian tradition posits that the Creator created the universe in six days, while Hinduism and Buddhism propose cyclical models of creation and destruction. Religious cosmologies are not subject to empirical verification or falsification, and they often rely on supernatural or metaphysical concepts.

 

A.2.4. Philosophical Approaches to the Question

 Philosophy has long been concerned with questions of existence, including the nature of reality, the self, and the meaning of life. Philosophical approaches to the question of being include existentialism, which emphasizes individual freedom and responsibility, and metaphysics, which seeks to understand the fundamental nature of reality. Consciousness is the subjective experience of awareness and perception.

 There are of course different philosophical approaches to the question of being, which is concerned with the nature of existence and the meaning of life. Philosophy has a long history of exploring these questions, and two philosophical approaches are mentioned here: existentialism and metaphysics.

 Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom, responsibility, and subjective experience. It holds that existence precedes essence, meaning that individuals are not born with a pre-determined purpose or meaning in life, but rather they must create their own meaning through their choices and actions. Existentialists believe that individuals must confront the inherent meaninglessness and absurdity of existence and find their own purpose in life.

 Metaphysics, on the other hand, is a branch of philosophy that seeks to understand the fundamental nature of reality. It explores questions such as the relationship between mind and body, the nature of space and time, and the existence of a Creator. Metaphysical theories often involve abstract concepts and can be difficult to prove or disprove empirically.

 

A.2.5. Linguistic Criticisms to the Question of Being

 As an example for modern linguistic criticisms we give here Michael Heller's three protests against the Leibniz question: „Why is there something rather than nothing?“ They highlight the new perspective that we must rigorously analyze the assumptions and logical structure behind philosophical questions. They show Heller's commitment to integrating rigorous philosophical, logical, and scientific thinking.

„Nothing takes place without sufficient reason, that is (...) nothing happens without it being possible for someone
who knows enough things to give a reason sufficient to determine why it is so and not otherwiese.
Asssumung this principle, the first question we have the right to ask will be, why is there something rather than nothing?

For nothing is simpler and easier than something. Furthermore, assuming hat things must exist,
we must be able to give a reason for why they must exist in this way, and not otherwiese.

Leibniz, Principles of Nature and Grace, section 7.

 

1.   Any answer would involve deducing something from non-existent premises.“

 Heller points out that if we start from the premise of nothing, there are no grounds from which to develop an explanation for the existence of Something. In other words, nothing lacks any properties or characteristics from which something could logically emerge. This is a critique of the logical structure of Leibniz's question: it assumes that an explanation for existence could somehow come from non-existence, which Heller suggests is a contradiction.

2.   „The word nothingness does not refer to anything, so we can’t sensibly ask why nothingness is absent.“

 “Nothingness is a concept that denotes the absence of something. Because it doesn't have a referent in reality (it's the absence of all referents), it's incoherent to ask why it's absent. We cannot ask why there is no nothing, because nothing is not a thing that can be present or absent in the first place. It's like asking why unicorns are absent - unicorns are not a thing that exists, so the question is nonsensical.

3.   „There is a syntax error in the apparent assumption that something other than Something could explain Something.“

 This point suggests a fundamental flaw in the assumption that the cause or explanation for existence (Something) could be found outside of existence itself. To assume that Something could be explained by something other than Something is a contradiction in terms. This again relates to the logical structure of Leibniz's question: it's looking for an explanation for existence in non-existence, which is logically impossible.

 

 

A.3. Why Questions

 The different formulations of the Why question regarding the question of being explore various aspects and dimensions of existence. While they may have distinct focuses, they share a common underlying inquiry into the nature of being and the reasons for its existence. The text explores various formulations of the question Why is there something rather than nothing? focusing on different types of existence: all beings, concrete beings, contingent beings, their specific characteristics, and their existence in the present moment. It also discusses the impossibility of an absolute void and the philosophical debates around the validity of the question and the possibility of a completely empty world. Theories are presented such as Robert Nozick's idea of nothingness as a natural state that could produce something, Edward Tryon's theory that the universe originated from a quantum fluctuation, and Leibniz's assertion of a reason for existence over nothingness, rejecting the idea of multiple voids.

„Whatever our final theory of physics, we will be left facing an irreducible mystery. (...)
The religious person is left wit a mystery which is no less
than the mystery with which science leaves us.“
Stephen Weinberg
, Closer to Truth: tv episodes
Why is there Something Rather than Nothing?

 

  1. Why Are There Any Beings at All?

  2. Why Are There Any Concrete Beings?

  3. Why Are There Any Contingent Beings?

  4. Why Are There the Concrete / Contingent Beings There Are?

  5. Why Do Concrete / Contingent Beings Exist Now?

  6. Why Is There Not a Void?

A.3.1. Why Are There Any Beings at All?

 This formulation addresses the fundamental question of why there is something rather than nothing. It seeks to understand the existence of beings in general, encompassing all forms of existence, whether concrete or abstract, necessary or contingent. The emphasis is on the existence of beings as a whole.

A.3.2. Why Are There Any Concrete Beings?

 This formulation narrows down the focus to concrete beings specifically. It explores the reasons for the existence of tangible, perceptible entities in the world. Concrete beings refer to individual objects, entities, or organisms that have material existence in the physical realm.

A.3.3. Why Are There Any Contingent Beings?

 This formulation shifts the attention to contingent beings. Contingent beings are those whose existence is dependent on certain conditions or factors. They are not necessarily required to exist, and their existence is contingent upon various causes and conditions. The question delves into the reasons for the existence of these contingent beings.

A.3.4. Why Are There the Concrete/Contingent Beings There Are?

 This formulation combines the focus on concrete beings and contingent beings. It asks why the specific concrete or contingent beings that exist in the world are the way they are. It seeks to understand the particular characteristics, attributes, and conditions that define and shape these beings.

A.3.5. Why Do Concrete/Contingent Beings Exist Now?

 This formulation introduces the dimension of time. It inquires about the reasons for the current existence of concrete or contingent beings. It explores the temporal aspect of their existence and questions why they exist in the present moment as opposed to any other time.

 And last but not least...:

A.3.6. Why Is There Not a Void?

Horror vacui ...nature abhors a vacuum. - Hero of Alexandria.

 A space completely devoid of matter, could not exist: denser surrounding material substance would immediately fill the void. But vacuums could be artificially created: natural bodies struggle to prevent a vacuum (differences in pressure!). The philosophical question why is there something rather than nothing? explores why existence prevails over an absolute void. Philosophers like Paul Edwards criticize this question as flawed, while others argue for or against the feasibility of a wholly empty world. Egalitarian and inegalitarian theories examine if all or only some states need explanations. Robert Nozick presents the paradoxical idea of nothingness as a natural state that could produce something. Edward Tryon's naturalistic theory posits the universe began from a quantum fluctuation, not absolute nothingness. Leibniz asserts a reason must exist for something rather than nothing and rejects the concept of multiple voids, paralleling ancient philosopher Melissus of Samos's belief that voids equate to nothingness.

 This formulation takes a slightly different perspective by focusing on the absence of nothingness or void. It questions why there is not a complete absence of beings or a state of absolute nothingness. It explores the reasons for the presence of existence instead of a total absence.

 Despite their specific focuses, all these formulations share a common thread of seeking understanding about the nature of being and its existence. They contemplate the reasons, causes, and conditions that give rise to beings, whether concrete or contingent, and explore the intricate relationship between existence and non-existence. These formulations reflect different facets of the broader question of being, offering varied perspectives and insights into the mysterious nature of existence.

 Paul Edwards argues that there is a logical grammar to the word Why which has been violated in this case, rendering the question meaningless. (Why in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1967, Vol. 8, pp. 300-301). Other philosophers tried to prove that a completely empty world is impossible (David Lewis, David Armstrong) or possible (Thomas Baldwin, Robert Nozick).
 An egalitarian theory holds that all states are equal in the sense that they all require explanation, whereas an inegalitarian theory holds that only some states need to be explained, while others are treated as natural (i.e. classical mechanics). Nozick claimed that the fundamental question n the form of
Why is state X realized, instead of state Y? presupposes that nothingness is such a natural state. This creates an intractable problem, since ... any special causal factor that could explain a deviation from nothingness is itself a divergence from nothingness, and so the question seeks its explanation also. (Cit. by Arthur Witherall). As an ironic echo to Heidegger's Nothingness noths(!), he discussed nothingness as a natural state with a nothingness force that may produce something, leading to the absurdity ... the nothingness there once was nothinged itself, thereby producing something. This self-destructive nihilating force, as a double-negation, is reminiscent of Beatles’s Yellow Submarine: a creature zooms around like a vacuum cleaner, emptying everything in its path, but finally turns on itself, ...and a populated world comes into existence.

 Naturalistic theories, for example by Edward Tryon, let start all Being as a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum, but presupposing a pre-existent vacuum, or an empty spacetime, before the emergence of a quantum fluctuation with physical properties that allow such fluctuations to occur. So it is not literally nothing: True nothingness would not submit to the laws of quantum mechanics - not a theory of creation ex nihilo. But within physics it is a serious theory, first announced in a seminar in 1970 - to a roar of laughter from the students who took it as a joke! Tryon did not publish it until 3 years later: Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?

 * * *

 And Leibniz?

 He had mentioned that the existence of nothing is much more probable than the existence of something because it is simpler and easier(!). But Simplicity, this highest sophistication (Leonardo) as the only principle would prefer Nothingness, not Something.

 Ratio est in Natura, cur aliquid potius existat quam nihil. Id consequens est magni illius principii, quod nihil fiat sine ratione, quemadmodum etiam cur hoc potius existat quam alius rationem esse oportet. = There is a reason in Nature why something exists rather than nothing. This is the consequence of that great principle, that nothing happens without a reason, just as there must be a reason why this exists rather than another. No 1 of 24 doctrines without a heading, GP VII, S. 289.

 Multiple Voids were rejected already by the Eleatic philosopher Melissus of Samos “Nor is there any void, for void is nothing, and nothing cannot be.” (Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, Vol. 2, 1965, 104), and by Leibniz: ...then there could be two voids of exactly the same shape and size, as perfect twins, precluded by the principle of the identity of indiscernibles.

 

 

A.4. The Role of Consciousness in Reality

 The role of consciousness in reality is a topic of debate among philosophers, scientists, and spiritual practitioners. Some argue that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of reality, while others view it as an emergent property of the brain. The ongoing discussion among various fields of inquiry about the role of consciousness in reality remains a fascinating and important topic of investigation. It refers to our subjective awareness of ourselves and the world around us, including our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and perceptions. Psychologists and neuroscientists are increasingly recognizing its importance in understanding the nature of reality.

The only thing I know is that I know nothing.
Socrates
, Plato's dialogues

„To know that you do not know is the best. To know that you know is a disease.“
Zhuangzi

We can know only that we know nothing. 
And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

  1. Emerging Theories and Future Directions

  2. The Interplay between Science, Philosophy, and Spirituality

 The role of consciousness in reality is a subject of much debate among various fields of inquiry, including philosophy, science, and spirituality.

 The term consciousness refers to an individual's subjective experience of awareness and perception, and it is often contrasted with the objective reality of the external world. Some philosophers and scientists argue that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of reality and cannot be reduced to purely physical or material processes. In this view, consciousness is not merely a byproduct of physical processes but rather an integral part of the fabric of the universe.

 Others, however, argue that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, which is the result of the complex interactions of neurons and other biological processes. In this view, consciousness is not a fundamental aspect of reality but rather a product of physical processes in the brain.

 The debate over the role of consciousness in reality has far-reaching implications for our understanding of the nature of reality and the human experience. It raises questions about the relationship between the subjective experience of consciousness and the objective reality of the external world. It also has implications for our understanding of the human mind and the nature of mental states, such as perception, thought, and emotion.

 One prominent view is the theory of panpsychism, which suggests that consciousness is inherent in all matter at some level. According to this perspective, consciousness is not limited to humans or animals but exists in varying degrees in everything, from subatomic particles to complex systems. Proponents of panpsychism argue that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of the universe and may contribute to the fabric of reality itself.

 Another intriguing theory is the integrated information theory (IIT), which posits that consciousness arises from the integration of information within complex systems. According to IIT, consciousness emerges when a system has a high degree of informational integration, allowing for the generation of unified and differentiated states of experience.

 Regardless of the specific theories, consciousness is undeniably intertwined with our perception of reality. It shapes how we interpret and make sense of the world, influencing our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. It allows us to have subjective experiences and engage in self-reflection, enabling us to explore our own minds and understand the minds of others.

 

A.4.1. Emerging Theories and Future Directions

 The question of being is an important and ongoing area of inquiry that is likely to continue to evolve and develop in the future. Emerging theories and future directions include developments in neuroscience and artificial intelligence that seek to understand the nature of consciousness, as well as philosophical and spiritual perspectives that continue to explore the fundamental nature of existence.

 The question of being is a constantly evolving field of inquiry: One area of development is neuroscience, which seeks to understand the relationship between consciousness and the brain. Advances in neuroimaging and other technologies have allowed for new insights into the workings of the brain and how it produces conscious experience. Additionally, the field of artificial intelligence is also exploring the nature of consciousness and seeking to replicate it in machines. New ideas and perspectives are constantly emerging and being debated, with different theories and perspectives offering different insights into the fundamental nature of existence.

 Let's discuss a bit the ongoing inquiry into the question of being and how it is likely to evolve and develop in the future. The question of being is concerned with the nature of existence and consciousness, and it is explored through various fields, including neuroscience, artificial intelligence, philosophy, and spirituality.

 The advances in neuroimaging and other technologies have allowed for a better understanding of the relationship between the brain and consciousness. The brain is believed to be responsible for producing conscious experience, and neuroscience seeks to understand how this happens. Through the use of neuroimaging and other techniques, scientists have been able to study the brain in ways that were not possible before, leading to new insights and understandings of consciousness. Furthermore, advances in neuroimaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), allow scientists to observe the brain in action and explore the neural correlates of consciousness. These technologies provide a window into the dynamic interplay between brain activity and conscious experiences, offering valuable data for understanding the relationship between the physical brain and subjective awareness.

 The second area of development is artificial intelligence. As the field of AI continues to grow, researchers are exploring ways to replicate consciousness in machines. This has led to the development of advanced AI systems that are capable of learning and adapting to new situations, but the question of whether or not machines can truly be conscious remains a topic of debate.

 Philosophical and spiritual perspectives continue to evolve in their explorations of the question of being. These fields offer different insights into the fundamental nature of existence, and different theories and perspectives are constantly being debated. Philosophers and spiritual thinkers seek to understand the nature of existence and consciousness through contemplation and reflection.

 

A.4.2. The Interplay between Science, Philosophy, and Spirituality

 The question of being involves a range of disciplines, including science, philosophy, and spirituality, offering unique insights into the nature of existence, and the interplay between them can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the question of being. Scientific discoveries can inform philosophical and spiritual perspectives, while philosophical and spiritual insights can inspire new scientific inquiry. The interplay between science, philosophy, and spirituality in understanding the question of being. Science uses empirical methods to understand the world, while philosophy deals with abstract questions of reality, knowledge, and morality, often using logic and reasoning. Spirituality encompasses religious and non-religious beliefs and offers insights into the human experience of being, including the nature of consciousness and subjective experience.

 Let's now highlight the interplay between science, philosophy, and spirituality in exploring the question of being: these different perspectives can offer unique insights into the nature of existence and that the interplay between them can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the question of being.

 Science provides an empirical approach to understanding the world, relying on evidence-based methods to explore the nature of reality. Through scientific discoveries, we can gain insights into the fundamental laws of the universe, such as the laws of physics and chemistry. These discoveries can inform philosophical and spiritual perspectives, for example, by challenging or supporting certain beliefs or worldviews.

 Philosophy, on the other hand, is concerned with abstract questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, and morality. Philosophers often rely on logic and reasoning to explore these questions, and their insights can help clarify scientific and spiritual ideas. For example, philosophical debates around free will and determinism can inform scientific investigations into the nature of decision-making.

 Spirituality, which encompasses religious and non-religious beliefs about the nature of existence, can offer unique insights into the human experience of being. Spiritual practices such as meditation and prayer can provide individuals with a sense of connection to something greater than themselves, and insights into the nature of consciousness and subjective experience. These insights can inspire new scientific inquiry, for example, by raising questions about the relationship between mind and body.

 

A.5. Ancient Greek Philosophy: The Birth of Metaphysics

 The question "why is there something rather than nothing?" is deeply rooted in philosophical and scientific history, from ancient Greece to modern quantum physics. The Greeks laid down initial concepts for metaphysics, studying the fundamental nature of reality. Notably, Plato introduced the principle of causation and asked about the purpose behind creation. Epicharmus of Kos, an early philosopher and comic writer, also significantly contributed to the philosophical groundwork. Parmenides presented a theory where nothingness was an impossibility, claiming existence is eternal and unchanging. On the other hand, Aristotle believed in an eternally changing and moving universe without a definitive beginning or end. Later, Plotinus' philosophy perceived unity without multiplicity as a form of nothingness, stating that multiplicity wasn't nothing, but existed. This idea paralleled Leibniz's query about why existence prevails over non-existence, though not entirely equivalent. These philosophical thoughts continue to resonate in ongoing metaphysical discussions and speculations about the nature of reality.

Sextus Empiricus' Outlines of Pyrrhonism

  1. A Perennial Inquiry

  2. Plato

  3. Parmenides

  4. Aristotle

  5. Plotinus

A.5.1. A Perennial Inquiry 

 The question „why is there something rather than nothing?“ can be traced back to the earliest civilizations. From ancient Greek philosophy to contemporary quantum physics, various disciplines have sought answers to this profound inquiry. The ancient Greeks were among the first to contemplate the existential question of why there is something rather than nothing. Their early philosophical ideas laid the groundwork for metaphysics, the branch of philosophy that deals with the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between existence and non-existence. After beginnings with Plato (nothing without causation, why-question of coming into being) two key figures, Parmenides and Aristotle (principium rationis), proposed different theories to explain the origins of the universe and the nature of existence.

Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.
Democritus

 The question of „why is there something rather than nothing?“ has been a perennial inquiry that has fascinated philosophers and scientists throughout history. Ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, Parmenides, and Aristotle proposed different theories to explain the origins of the universe and the nature of existence. Plato emphasized causation as a necessary condition for everything that exists, while Parmenides argued that „nothingness“ is a logical impossibility and that existence is eternal and unchanging.

 Aristotle, on the other hand, posited that the universe has always existed in a state of continuous motion and change, with no definitive beginning or end, and proposed the concept of the „Prime Mover“ or „Unmoved Mover“ as responsible for the continuous motion of the universe. Plotinus identified pure unity with nothingness and anticipated that a unity, which exists without multiplicity, is the same as nothing.

 These early philosophical ideas laid the groundwork for metaphysics, the branch of philosophy that deals with the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between existence and non-existence. While these theories have influenced the cosmological understanding of the Western world for many centuries, contemporary cosmological models, such as the Big Bang Theory, have largely replaced them with more contemporary understandings of the universe's origins and nature.

 

A.5.2. Plato

 The phrase "principium rationis" (Timaios 28a 4-6) is stating that nothing can exist without a cause or reason behind its existence. This is the principle of causation (Cf. Leibniz!). In Timaios 29d7 f., the speaker wants to explore why the creator made the universe and brought everything into existence. This is an inquiry into the purpose or intention behind creation. Epicharmus Comicus Syracusanus (c. 550 - c. 460 BC), an early Greek philosopher and comic writer, played a crucial role in setting the linguistic and conceptual groundwork for the first question of being. His ideas had a significant influence on later philosophical thought, just like those of Parmenides.

 a) principium rationis (Timaios 28a 4-6)

„πᾶν δὲ αὖ τὸ γιγνόμενον ὑπ’ αἰτίου τινὸς ἐξ ἀνάγκης γίγνεσθαι· παντὶ γὰρ ἀδύνατον χωρὶς αἰτίου γένεσιν σχεῖν.“

„And all things that are made of necessity by reason of any man's necessity: for all things are impossible without causation.

 b) Timaios 29d7 f.

Λέγωμεν δ δι’ ντινα ατίαν γένεσιν κα τ πν τόδε συνιστς συνέστησεν.

„So we want to indicate for which reason [/why] the assembling one created the coming into being and the universe.“

 As decisive as Parmenides is for the further history of tradition, the linguistic preconditions as well as the content of a first question of being have already been provided by Epicharmus Comicus Syracusanus (Ἐπίχαρμος ὁ Κῷος), between c. 550 and c. 460 BC, was a Greek dramatist and philosopher who is often credited with being one of the first comic writers (Doric or Sicilian comedic form).

 Epicharmus in: Diogenes Laertius' fragment B 1:

»—λλ’ εί τοι θεο παρσαν

„But the Creators were always there and never lacked,

τάδε δ’ ε πάρεσθ’ μοα διά τε τν ατν εί.

and the 'always' was also there unchanged and always in the same way.

λλ λέγεται μν Χάος πρτον γενέσθαι τν θεν.

But they say that chaos was first created by the Creators.

—πς δέ κα; μ χον γ’ πό τινος μηδ’ ς τι πρτον μόλοι.

How can that be? when there was nothing from where or where it could come from.

—οκ ρ’ μολε πρτον οθέν; —οδ μ Δία δεύτερον

Then nothing came first? Not even second, by Zeus!

τνδέ γ’ ν μς νν δε λέγομες, λλ’ ε τάδ’ ς.«

and also when none of what we are talking about here now, but [alone] this 'always' was.“

 

A.5.3. Parmenides

 Parmenides argued that nothingness is a logical impossibility and existence eternal and unchanging: „... either sayable nor thinkable is is not.“

 Nothing comes from nothing. 

Greek: οὐδὲν ἐξ οὐδενός; Latinex nihilo nihil fit - is a philosophical dictum first argued by Parmenides - similar to the steady state-concept until Einstein(!), before the discovery of the expansion of the universe.
»τί δ᾽ ἄν μιν καὶ χρέος ὦρσεν ὕστερον ἢ πρόσθεν, τοῦ μηδενὸς ἀρξάμενον, φῦν; οὕτως ἢ πάμπαν πελέναι χρεών ἐστιν ἢ οὐχί.« Yet why would it be created later rather than sooner, if it came from nothing; so, it must either be created altogether or not [created at all]. Parmenides, first in: Aristotle's Physics: Transl. by John Burnet,Parmenides, Fragments 1-19. Lexundria.com. Retrieved 2020-02-04.

From nothing, nothing comes.
Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, On the Nature of Things

Nothing will come of nothing.
William Shakespeare,
King Lear Act 1 Scene 1, to his daughter Cordelia

 The Parmenidean fragment B 8:

τίνα γρ γένναν διζήσεαι ατο [sc. στιν] ;

For what origin could you „seek for it [Sc. 'Is']?

πι πόθεν αξηθέν; οδ’ κ μ όντος άσσω

Whence is it increased? Neither do I know from nothing

φάσθαι σ’ οδ νοεν· ο γρ φατν οδ νοητόν

allow you to say nor to think; for neither sayable nor thinkable

στιν πως οκ στι. τί δ’ ν μιν κα χρέος ρσεν

is 'is not'. And what obligation should also have driven it,

στερον πρόσθεν, το μηδενς ρξάμενον, φν;«

to grow later than earlier, after it has begun from nothing?“

 

A.5.4. Aristotle

Der Schatten des Nichts lässt das Seiende in seinem Sein hervortreten.

~ The shadow of nothingness makes the being in its beingness manifest. (h.a.)

Aristoteles (Metaphysik, Buch VI, 1026b)

 

 Aristotle posited in contrast that the universe has always existed in a state of continuous motion and change, with no definitive beginning or end: (Met. XII 6, 1071b23–26)

δοκε […] τ μν νεργον πν δύνασθαι τ δ δυνάμενον

„It is thought that everything that is real is possible,

ο πν νεργεν, στε πρότερον εναι τν δύναμιν.

that what is possible is not completely real, so that the capacity is the first thing.

λλ μν ε τοτο, οθν σται τν ντων· νδέχεται γρ If this were so, then nothing would be of that which is; for it may be
δύνασθαι μν εναι

but that something which is possible to be is never-theless not.“

 He proposed a model of the universe, rooted in his metaphysical and cosmological ideas, that differed from the widely accepted view of his time. Central to Aristotle's model is the concept of the Prime Mover or Unmoved Mover as responsible for the continuous motion of the universe: It does not directly intervene or physically move the universe but instead serves as the ultimate source of motion, inspiring all things to move towards it. This is because the Prime Mover is pure actuality, representing the ultimate state of perfection, causing all things to move and change. This view contrasted with the widely held belief in a created universe with a definitive beginning.

 Aristotle's eternal universe theory was influential in shaping the cosmological understanding of the Western world for many centuries. However, with the advent of modern scientific discoveries and the development of new cosmological models, such as the Big Bang Theory, Aristotle's view has been largely replaced by more contemporary understandings of the universe's origins and nature.

 

A.5.5. Plotinus

 Plotinus anticipates that a unity, which exists without multiplicity, is the same as a nothing, and thereby that multiplicity is not nothing, but something that exists. His 'How can there be multiplicity at all and not only unity' corresponds to Leibniz's 'Why is something/existing at all and not rather nothing' - in a certain sense, but not completely! *Enneade V 1 [10], 6.

 Plotinus was a philosopher who lived in the 3rd century AD and is considered one of the founders of Neoplatonism. In the text mentioned, Plotinus argues that unity and nothingness are essentially the same thing. He suggests that a state of absolute unity, without any form of multiplicity or differentiation, is tantamount to a state of nothingness. However, he also argues that the existence of multiplicity, or the existence of something, is not nothingness but rather a separate existence that coexists with nothingness.

 Plotinus' concept of unity and Leibniz's question of why there is something instead of nothing are related to the concept of existence and non-existence, but Plotinus' question is more specific to the nature of multiplicity and unity.

 Plotinus' identification of pure unity with nothingness is a complex and paradoxical concept. He suggests that the ultimate reality, which is absolute unity, is also equivalent to nothingness because it lacks any form of multiplicity or differentiation. This means that it cannot be defined or comprehended in any tangible way.

 However, Plotinus also recognizes that the existence of multiplicity and differentiation, which is the basis of our world, is not nothingness but something that exists. Therefore, the paradox arises that the ultimate reality is simultaneously nothing and something. This contradiction can be challenging to understand, but it is an essential aspect of Plotinus' philosophy and highlights the importance of transcending dualistic thinking to gain a deeper understanding of reality, like the concept of Dao by Laozi with the same two aspects of nothingness and everything combined, cf. in our part C) !

Source: Identification of the pure unity with nothingness:

 »Νν μν γρ τν νάγκην το εναι τατα ψυχ χει, πιποθε δ τ θρυλλούμενον δ τοτο κα παρ τος πάλαι σοφος, πς ξ νς τοιούτου ντος, οον λέγομεν τ ν εναι, πόστασιν σχεν τιον ετε πλθος ετε δυς ετε ριθμός, λλ’ οκ μεινεν κενο φ’ αυτο, τοσοτον δ πλθος ξερρύη, ρται μν ν τος οσιν, νάγειν δ ατ πρς κενο ξιομεν.« (Enn. V 1 [10], 6,4–8)

 „Now the necessity of this being has grasped the soul on the one hand, but on the other hand it demands an answer to the question, already much talked about by the sages long time ago, how out of the One, which is so, as we say about the One, this was able to hypostatize anything at all like a multiplicity or two-ness or number and why it did not remain with itself and instead let such a multiplicity flow out, which we meet in the reality and from which we demand to lead it back to that [One].“

 

 

A.6. Medieval Philosophy: Theological Perspectives on Existence - creatio ex nihilo

Nothingness: alteritas, the ultimate 'other' when compared to the being
that is specifically imparted to a possible being each time.

 Nicholas of Cusa (German philosopher Nikolaus von Kues)

 Medieval philosophers like Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna explored the nature of existence through a combination of religious and philosophical inquiry. Aquinas developed the cosmological argument as a basis for the existence of a first creator, arguing that everything in the universe has a cause that can be traced back to a First Cause, which he identified as The Creator. Avicenna, on the other hand, explored the concept of existence as a fundamental attribute of reality, distinguishing between essence and existence and identifying Him as the necessary being and ultimate cause of all other existents.

 Both Christian and Islamic philosophers sought to reconcile their faiths with rational thought, leading to a rich tapestry of ideas that laid the groundwork for future philosophical inquiry. This period of intellectual history reflects the enduring human desire to understand the nature of existence and the role of faith in shaping our understanding of reality.

  1. Christianity and Islam

  2. Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna

  3. Fridugisus' answer to Charlemagne(!)

A.6.1. Christianity and Islam

 During the medieval period, Christian and Islamic philosophers worked to reconcile their religious beliefs with the rational thought of classical Greek philosophy. Christian philosophers, such as Thomas Aquinas, aimed to integrate Aristotle's concept of natural law with the teachings of the Bible, asserting that both faith and reason were necessary for understanding the world.

 Similarly, Islamic philosophers, including Al-Farabi and Ibn Rushd, sought to unite the Quran with Greek philosophy, highlighting the importance of reason in comprehending existence. This era of intellectual history illustrates the human desire to comprehend the world and our position in it, even in the face of seemingly incompatible belief systems. The period also highlights the significant role that faith and reason have in shaping our understanding of reality.

 During the medieval period, Christian and Islamic philosophers faced the challenge of reconciling their faiths with the rational thought of classical Greek philosophy. This led to a remarkable period of intellectual history that produced a rich tapestry of ideas that laid the groundwork for future philosophical inquiry. The interplay between religious thought and philosophical inquiry led to a rich exploration of the nature of existence.

 The Christian philosophers sought to harmonize Christian theology with the philosophical thought of Aristotle, who had been largely ignored by Christian theologians until that time. Aquinas, in particular, sought to reconcile the teachings of the Bible with Aristotle's idea of natural law, which held that the universe operated according to a rational and intelligible order. He argued that reason and faith were complementary, and that both were necessary for a complete understanding of the world.

 Similarly, Islamic philosophers, such as Al-Farabi and Ibn Rushd (also known as Averroes), sought to reconcile the teachings of the Quran with the rational thought of Greek philosophy. They believed that reason was an essential tool for understanding the nature of existence and that faith and reason could coexist peacefully. This period of intellectual history was characterized by a deep curiosity about the nature of existence and our place in the universe.

 This period also demonstrates the enduring human desire to understand the world around us and our place in it. It shows that even in the face of seemingly incompatible belief systems, people have always been driven to seek out knowledge and to make sense of their world. Ultimately, this period of intellectual history serves as a testament to the important role that faith can play in shaping our understanding of reality, as well as the vital role that reason and rational inquiry have in helping us to make sense of the world around us.

 

A.6.2. Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna

 Christian and Islamic philosophers, such as Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna, aimed to reconcile the teachings of their respective religions with rational thought. Aquinas developed the cosmological argument, consisting of five proofs that demonstrate a Creator's existence, including the concept of causality leading back to a First Cause, identified as Creator. Avicenna contributed significantly to the development of metaphysics in the Islamic intellectual tradition, emphasizing the distinction between essence and existence. He argued that existence is not an inherent part of an entity's nature, and the cause of existence is a necessary being, identified as Creator. Avicenna also introduced the concept of the „necessary existent“ and argued that a Creator is the ultimate cause of all existent beings, which are contingent upon a Creator for their existence.

 Philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna aimed to harmonize their understanding of the universe with the doctrines of Christianity and Islam, respectively. They delved into issues related to causality, the existence of a Creator, and divine intervention in the creation and sustenance of the universe. Christian and Islamic philosophers were not content to simply accept the teachings of their respective religions; they sought to understand them on a deeper level and to reconcile them with the rational thought of their time. 

 Thomas Aquinas, a prominent Christian theologian and philosopher, developed the cosmological argument as a rational basis for the existence of a Creator. The argument consists of five ways, or proofs, that Aquinas believed demonstrated a Creator's existence. One of these ways deals with the idea of causality, asserting that everything in the universe has a cause, and these causes can be traced back to a First Cause, which is itself uncaused. Aquinas identified this First Cause as Creator, who set the universe in motion and is responsible for its continued existence.

 Avicenna, an influential Islamic philosopher, made significant contributions to the development of metaphysics, particularly in the context of the Islamic intellectual tradition. He explored the concept of existence as a fundamental attribute of reality, emphasizing the distinction between essence and existence. Avicenna argued that the essence of a thing is distinct from its existence, and the fact that something exists is not an inherent part of its nature. According to Avicenna, the cause of existence is a necessary being, which he identified as the Creator. He also developed the idea of the „necessary existent,“ a being that exists by its very nature and cannot be conceived not to exist. He argued that this Creator, as the necessary existent, is the ultimate cause of all other existent, which are contingent upon a Creator for their existence.

 

A.6.3. Fridugisus' answer to Charlemagne(!)

 In response to a question from Charlemagne about the substance of nothingness and darkness, Fridugisus, a ninth-century philosopher, proposed in De substantia nihili et tenebrarum that while they are not physical substances, they still exist due to their perceptibility and effects. He classified them as residual phenomena, remaining when all else is removed. Fridugisus also explored the concept of creation ex nihilo, treating nothingness as a potential entity that can transform into anything. He further hypothesized about the existence and perception of shadows in space. His philosophies anticipated later discussions on the nature of space, vacuum, and dark matter, marking a significant milestone in early medieval philosophical thought.

 None other than Charlemagne (Karl der Große), Europe's greatest ruler, wondered about the nature of nothingness!

 He asked Fridugisus, a ninth-century scholar and educator who served at his court and was known for his significant philosophical work, whether Nothing and Darkness have substance or not, since they seem to have effects (e.g., one can be hindered by darkness).

 Fridugisus' answer in De substantia nihili et tenebrarum = On the Substance of Nothing and Darkness provides a unique insight into the philosophy of the time. Rooted in divine revelation and scriptural interpretation, a common viewpoint in the Middle Ages, he suggests that while nothingness and darkness are not substances in the same way as physical objects, they are nevertheless something because they can be perceived and have effects. He claims that, unlike everything else that exists, they are not created entities. Instead, they are residual phenomena - Nothing be what is left when everything else is removed, and Darkness is what exists in the absence of light.

 Fridugisius seems to have treated Nothing as a real entity that can potentially become anything. This view is used to explain and justify the idea of creation ex nihilo, or creation from nothing. Regarding shadows, he believed that they imply that shadows exist in space, can move through space, and can be perceived by senses other than sight. His exploration of these concepts anticipates much later philosophical and scientific debates about the nature of space, vacuum, and dark matter. His work represents a significant moment in the history of philosophical thought, demonstrating the sophistication and complexity of early medieval philosophical and theological thought.

 

A.6.4. Meister Eckhart

 Meister Eckhart (of Hochheim, * ~1260), a German theologian, philosopher, and mystic, emphasized the concept of Divine Nothingness as central to understanding the Creator. This concept is rooted in apophatic theology, which seeks to describe the divine by what it is not. Eckhart defined the Creator as Nothing, No-Thing, or Divine Nothingness, transcending all human categories of understanding as the ground of all being. The soul had also to become Nothing - void of ego, desires, and earthly attachments. This state of emptiness or nothingness of the soul then allows it to be imbued with the divine presence. Understanding Eckhart's philosophy is challenging due to its intricate metaphysical ideas and its historical context. His views on nothingness are deeply intertwined with profound insights into spirituality, metaphysics, and mysticism, best appreciated within the full context of his overall philosophy and theology.

There exists only the present instant...
a Now which always and without end is itself new.
There is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now,
as it was a thousand years ago and as it will be a thousand years hence.
Meister Eckhart

Yes, Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now, also a native German, called himself after Meister Eckhart!
Meister derived from honorific magister, granted only to the most learned of university-trained scholars! - h.a.

 

 Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – c. 1328), a German theologian, philosopher, and mystic, he had a deep and nuanced understanding of the concept of nothingness. His teachings often revolve around apophatic theology (the attempt to describe the Creator by negation), which leads to a kind of Divine Nothingness.

 As Eckhart frequently referred to the Creator as a Nothing, No-Thing, or a Divine Nothingness, in the sense of beyond all categories, all predicates, all things that we can conceive or perceive in our human understanding, transcending all forms, not a being among beings, but the ground of all being. He is pointing out that a Creator / the creation is beyond the conceptual understanding. He is asserting that they cannot be encapsulated by human categories of thought.

 Furthermore, Eckhart emphasized that, similar to some Eastern philosophies e.g. Daoism, in order to truly know and unite with this Divine Nothingness, the soul itself must become Nothing - empty of ego, desire, and all earthly attachments. This Emptiness of the soul enables it to be filled with the divine presence.

 Eckhart's thought is quite complex, given the subtlety of his metaphysical ideas and the historical context in which he was writing. His writings on Nothingness are interwoven with profound insights into spirituality, metaphysics, and mysticism, and are best understood in the context of his overall philosophy and theology.

 

 

A.7. The Enlightenment: Rationalism and Empiricism

This pure being is now the „pure abstraction“, i.e. the
„absolute-negative“, which, also directly taken, is the „nothing“.
Hegel
, Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, § 87

 The Enlightenment period, which occurred in the 17th and 18th centuries and was marked by a focus on rationalism and empiricism. This approach emphasized reason, observation, and the pursuit of knowledge as the primary means of understanding the universe. Immanuel Kant and David Hume were two of the key philosophers of this era who contributed significantly to the development of modern philosophy. Kant's work, as presented in his Critique of Pure Reason, focused on the nature and limits of human knowledge. He argued that our understanding of reality is constrained by the categories of space and time, which are inherent to human cognition, and that these limitations prevent us from accessing the true nature of reality, known as the noumenal world. As a result, the ultimate question of why there is something rather than nothing remains beyond the scope of human understanding.

 Hume was a strong advocate of empiricism, which asserts that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience. His approach to the question of existence focused on the role of natural processes and causality in the formation of the universe. He contended that the existence of the universe could be explained by the observation of natural phenomena and the application of empirical principles, without resorting to supernatural explanations. He also challenged the notion of a necessary being or first cause, arguing that our understanding of causality is based on habit and experience, rather than logical necessity. Enlightenment was a significant period in intellectual and philosophical development that challenged traditional ways of thinking and opened up new paths for understanding the world. Kant's and Hume's works laid the foundation for future generations of thinkers to continue exploring existential questions and expand our understanding of the world. Their ideas continue to influence philosophical thought today.

  1. Enlightenment

  2. Kant

  3. Hume

  4. Carnap

A.7.1. Enlightenment

The Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, was a period of intellectual and philosophical development marked by a focus on rationalism and empiricism, emphasizing reason, observation, and the pursuit of knowledge as the primary means of understanding the universe. Immanuel Kant and David Hume offered new insights into the nature of existence and knowledge through analytical and empirical lenses. Kant critically examined the limits and capabilities of human reason, while Hume's empirical approach highlighted the importance of experience and observation. The Enlightenment was a pivotal moment in the history of philosophy that challenged traditional ways of thinking and opened up new paths for understanding the world.

 The Enlightenment, a period of intellectual and philosophical development in the 17th and 18th centuries, marked a significant shift in the focus of philosophy by an emphasis on rationalism and empiricism, which prioritized reason and observation as the primary means of understanding the universe. Key philosophers of this time, such as Immanuel Kant and David Hume, approached existential questions through analytical and empirical lenses, offering new insights into the nature of existence and knowledge.

 The Enlightenment was a significant period in intellectual and philosophical development during the 17th and 18th centuries. Its focus on reason, observation, and the pursuit of knowledge marked a departure from earlier philosophical approaches. Kant and Hume, two key philosophers of this era, were among those who sought to understand the nature of existence and the universe through rational and empirical methods.

 Kant's approach involved a critical examination of the limits and capabilities of human reason, while Hume's empirical approach emphasized the importance of experience and observation. Their works laid the foundation for future generations of thinkers to continue exploring existential questions and expand our understanding of the world. The Enlightenment was a pivotal moment in the history of philosophy that challenged traditional ways of thinking and paved the way for new ways of understanding the world.

 

A.7.2. Kant

 Immanuel Kant played a significant role in the Enlightenment period. His work in the Critique of Pure Reason focused on the nature and limits of human knowledge. He argued that human understanding of reality is constrained by the categories of space and time, which are inherent to human cognition. Kant’s theory suggests that the noumenal world, which represents the true nature of reality, is beyond the scope of human understanding.

 In his transcendental analytic within the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant added a small consideration about the opposition of possibility and impossibility in relation to the categories at the end of the appendix. To each class of categories also corresponds their negation. In this context, Kant gives a more detailed classification of nothing, relating it to his categories of understanding (quantity, quality, relation, modality), and each of these forms of nothing negates the corresponding category.

„Unconditioned necessity, which we so indispensably require as the last bearer of all things,
is for human reason the veritable abyss.
Eternity itself, in all its terrible sublimity, as depicted by a Haller
 is far from making the same overwhelming impression on the mind;
for it only measures the duratin of things, it does not support them.“
Kant
, Critique of Pure Reason, A613

 

 Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who played a significant role in the Enlightenment period. His work in the Critique of Pure Reason focused on the nature and limits of human knowledge. One of the questions he tackled in this work was the question of why there is something rather than nothing. He argued that human understanding of reality is constrained by the categories of space and time, which are inherent to human cognition. These categories, according to Kant, provide the framework for our perception of reality and are necessary for us to have any knowledge at all. However, they also limit our understanding of the true nature of reality.

 Kant's theory suggests that the noumenal world, which represents the true nature of reality, is beyond the scope of human understanding. This is because our cognition is limited to the categories of space and time, and thus we cannot perceive or understand anything that lies beyond these categories. Kant's perspective on this question can be seen as a departure from the rationalist tradition, which emphasized the power of human reason to comprehend the world around us. Instead, Kant's work emphasizes the importance of human experience and the limitations of our cognitive abilities.

 Kant's ideas have had a significant impact on philosophy and continue to be relevant today. His work challenges traditional ways of thinking about the nature of reality and human understanding, and his concept of the noumenal world has been the subject of ongoing philosophical debate. Overall, Kant's work represents an important contribution to the Enlightenment's emphasis on reason and empirical observation, and his ideas continue to influence philosophical thought today.

 In his transcendental analytic within the Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant added a small consideration about the opposition of possibility and impossibility in relation to the categories at the end of the appendix. To each class of categories also corresponds their negation. Afterward, Nothing is to be distinguished according to the category titles Quantity, Quality, Relation, and Modality into:

1. Nothing as empty thought (Gedankending) - This form of nothing corresponds to the category of quantity. It represents the absence of quantity, such as an empty set in mathematics.

2. Nothing as the absence of something (Mangel an Etwas) - This nothing corresponds to the category of quality. It refers to the absence of a quality or property, similar to privative nothing in Kant's three forms of nothingness.

3. Nothing as pure intuition or mere form (reine Anschauung oder bloße Form) - This nothing corresponds to the category of relation. It's a concept of space and time without any objects or events to fill them. Kant's „transcendental aesthetic“ regards space and time as forms of our intuition, and here „nothing“ refers to these forms when they are empty.

4. Nothing as non-entity or absurdity (Unding) - This nothing corresponds to the category of modality (possibility - impossibility, existence - nonexistence, necessity - contingency). Here, the nothing is something logically impossible or absurd. This is similar to the contradictory nothing in Kant's three forms of nothingness.

 So, in this context, Kant gives a more detailed classification of nothing, relating it to his categories of understanding (quantity, quality, relation, modality), and each of these forms of nothing negates the corresponding category. This classification integrates nothing into the core of his philosophical system.

NOTHING

Absence of Quantity/Thing

Absence of Quality/Property

Form of Intuition/Relation

Nothing as empty thought (Gedankending): This form of nothing represents the absence of quantity, such as an empty set in mathematics.

Nothing as the absence of something (Mangel an Etwas): This refers to the absence of a quality or property.

 

Form of Modality

Nothing as pure intuition or mere form (reine Anschauung oder bloße Form): This is a concept of space and time without any objects or events to fill them.

Nothing as non-entity or absurdity (Unding): This nothing is something logically impossible or absurd.

 

 

A.7.3. Hume

 Hume was a strong advocate of empiricism, which asserts that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience. His approach to the question of existence focused on the role of natural processes and causality in the formation of the universe. Hume contended that the existence of the universe could be explained by the observation of natural phenomena and the application of empirical principles, without resorting to supernatural explanations. He also challenged the notion of a necessary being or first cause, arguing that our understanding of causality is based on habit and experience, rather than logical necessity.

 David Hume was a prominent Enlightenment philosopher who championed the concept of empiricism, which holds that knowledge is derived from sensory experience. In contrast to previous philosophical ideas that relied on supernatural explanations, Hume argued that natural processes and causality were the key factors in the formation of the universe.

 Hume believed that our understanding of causality was based on habit and experience, rather than logical necessity, and that the existence of the universe could be explained by observing natural phenomena and applying empirical principles, rather than resorting to supernatural explanations. He also challenged the idea of a necessary being or first cause, arguing that our understanding of causality is based on habit and experience rather than logical necessity.

 His ideas have had a profound impact on the development of modern philosophy and science, influencing the ways in which we approach questions about existence, causality, and the role of empirical evidence in understanding the world. By emphasizing the importance of observation and natural processes, Hume challenged traditional ways of thinking and paved the way for new insights into the nature of reality. They continue to be relevant today in discussions about the nature of existence.

 

A.7.4. Carnap

 Rudolf Carnap, a leading figure in logical positivism, advocated for a perspective that assigned meaning to statements only if they could be empirically verified or were analytically true. In relation to the concept of nothing, Carnap applied his principle of tolerance, proposing that its meaning is defined by the linguistic context rather than any metaphysical essence. As an example, nothing could represent an absence of something within a specified context. Carnap's views contrast traditional philosophies that treat nothing as a metaphysical concept. Despite criticisms and not being the prevailing viewpoint in modern philosophy, Carnap's stance remains influential, especially in philosophy of science and language.

 Rudolf Carnap was a key figure in the philosophical movement known as logical positivism. This movement emphasizes a strict adherence to the empirical sciences and logical analysis. For logical positivists like Carnap, meaning is attached to statements only if they can be verified empirically or if they are true by definition (that is, they are analytic).

 When it comes to the concept of nothing, Carnap would likely analyze it through his principle of tolerance, which he discusses in his work,

The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language. He advocated for the freedom to create and choose any linguistic framework that suits our purposes, provided that the framework is internally consistent and useful.

 Nothing, for Carnap, does not have a metaphysical essence or represent a fundamental category of being, as it might in some other philosophical systems. Rather, it's a term whose meaning is dependent on the linguistic context in which it is used.

 For example, if we say There is nothing in the box, the word nothing is understood in terms of absence - the absence of anything in the box. It's a way of speaking about the non-existence of things within a certain context. We can't empirically verify nothing as we can't observe or measure it. However, we can verify the absence of something by looking into the box and seeing that there's nothing there.

 Carnap's view contrasts with many traditional philosophical approaches, which might try to treat nothing as a metaphysical concept or a category of existence. For Carnap, nothing is a term within a linguistic framework, its meaning defined by that framework, not a reflection of some deeper metaphysical reality.

 It's crucial to remember that logical positivism, including Carnap's views, has been significantly criticized and is not the dominant view in contemporary philosophy. Nonetheless, it has been highly influential in certain areas, particularly philosophy of science and language.

 

 

A.8. Philosophical Approaches to the Question

 

 

© Dr. Hilmar Alquiros LEIBNIZ Definitions, notions, characters, 1687(!), A VI 4/A, S. 874, 10f.+~S. 875, 17 f.

 

Status:

Ontological

Existential

Qualitative

Modal

LATIN: