Re: Why is there something rather than nothing?

From: Benjamin Udell <>
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2006 14:27:45 -0500

Norman, Stephen, Brent, list

>>> "Why is there something rather than nothing?"
>>> When I heard that Famous Question, I did not assume that "nothing" was describable - because, if it was, it would not be "nothing." I don't think of "nothing" as an empty bitstring - I think of it as the absence of a bitstring - as "no thing."
>>> Given that definition, is there a conceivable answer to The Famous Question?
>>> Norman [Samish]

>> Yes, there is an answer! Because Nothingness can not non-Exist.
>>Stephen [Paul King]

I guess that's why the Hindus have only a creator (Brahma), a preserver (Vishnu), and a destroyer (Shiva), and not also an existence preventer.

> Or in the words of Norm Levitt, "What is there? Everything! So what isn't there? Nothing!"
>Brent Meeker

Here are a few:

Q: Why there is something rather than nothing?
Sidney Morgenbesser: "Even if there were nothing, you'd still be complaining!"

Suppose there were nothing. Then, pace the physicists, there would be no laws; for laws, after all, are something. If there were no laws, then everything would be permitted. But if everything is permitted, nothing is forbidden. So if there were nothing, nothing would be forbidden. Nothing, in other words, is self-forbidding. Therefore THERE MUST BE SOMETHING.
       This epiphany came to me while I was shaving...
-- "Jim Holt" by Jim Holt, _Slate_, March 1, 1997,

That seems to slide into saying that the reason that there isn't nothing is that everything just overwhelms it. That's been my intuitive take -- there's just so inexhaustibly much that it "tips the balance" against nothingness. I'm unsure whether such an intuition means anything.

I've wondered how to say "everything exists" in logic. I don't know whether the following is logically interesting, much less whether it's original, but it might be mildly amusing.

In standard first-order logic, the phrase "everything exists" would be taken to trivially mean "that, that is, is," or the like. Is there a way to say it in a non-trivial sense in first-order logic at all? Is it an idea that can be logically expressed at that basic level? What would it mean if it can't? I'm not a logician, but there does appear to be a way to say it in a specially restricted kind of first-order logic, by use of a special kind of quantificational functor. As for whether this leads to a coherent logical idea in less restricted logic, you be the judge. The result is, at least, a kind of statement which seems to lead to an area of logical issues raised by the "Everything Exists" picture, in any case, with regard to saying that every "potential" particular definite individual is actualized somewhere and somewhen, or the negative, that the world in all times and places lacks some particular definite individual.
Now, in defining the existential particular quantification, one may start with a finite universe of objects named by constants "a" through "h", and say There is a such that...Ja...or there is b such that...Jb...or... [etc.] ...or there is h such that...Jh.... and agree to write this as "Ex ...Jx...." Then one drops the substitutionalist requirement that x shall range over only named objects a, b, c, etc. Then the variable x is no longer _substitutional_ but instead is _objectual_. To get to our new special functor will be a matter of replacing the repeated "or" with a repeated "and".
Lets define a functor "" such that "x ...x...." is equivalent to "There is a such that...a...AND there is b such that...b...AND... [etc.] ...AND there is h such that...h...."
In effect one is saying that every name names something. Now, what happens when the substitutionalist requirement is dropped? In considering just what it is that x now ranges over, and whether the objectual statement "x ...x..." is contingently or formally true or contingently or formally false or formally or contingently undecidable or (despite its fraternal-twin relationship with the existential particular) just plain ill-defined, one is led to consider some of the logical problems which arise in any case in entertaining the general idea that everything exists. In other words, we seem to arrive at some of the right problematics. Then if you negate it, you're saying that there lacks a something, some particular thing is failing to exist. If you say "~x Jx," you're saying that something's missing or it exists but isn't J (e.g., but isn't jumping). So you could say "[AxJx] & ~[xJx]"
(Note: "x" should NOT be called the "existential universal" which would instead be properly applied to whatever is equivalent to the conjunction or predicative combination of the existential particular and the hypothetical universal, where you say, e.g., "there's some food thats good, and any food is good" or "there's some food that's good such that any food is good" or theres food and any food is good I suppose that "x could be called the "omniexistential."

Best, Ben Udell

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Mon Mar 06 2006 - 14:29:12 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:11 PST