The philosophy of zero?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Quantum Quack, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    Originally I wanted to post this thread in the Physics and Math forum but decided that it was more a philosophical question than a math of physics question even though it seems to me to be a fundamental of both. [Physics and Philosophy]

    Essentially I wished to discuss how important the notion of zero is to us humans and our thought processes.

    I have come to beleive that one of the most primary concerns of our intellects is the need to make comparisons and would contend that comparison is only available to us when we make the assumption of zero difference as our first premise.
    That as a default within our minds we are very well aware of nothing or the value of nothing being zero.

    Care to discuss?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Onefinity Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    401
    I like talking about zero. First of all, let's remember that numbers are human inventions. Next, zero was invented to serve as a placeholder in a counting system. So, in our base-10 system, zero comes in after 9 in order to "roll over" the symbols and make it more efficient than having every symbol be unique. So in a way, zero is not a number. It's a placeholder.

    As to the metaphysics of zero, I think that there is really no such thing as zero apart from human symbolism. We say that "zero means nothing," but that isn't its actual function. It is a placeholder in a counting system. Zero is NOT to nothing as 1 is to "a thing." The analogy does not work. That's my take on it.

    Even the concept of "nothing" is a symbolic placeholder that really means "the connection between some elements that we cannot see at the moment." We have the word "nothing" but it doesn't correspond to anything that we actually experience. The absence of something is still a thing, i.e., it is air. Or it is the space that joins/divides/differentiates things. But there was an entire thread dedicated to the question of "Nothing," so I don't think we should go into that too much.

    Just my two cents.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. android nothing human inside Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,104
    Essential for somethingness to exist.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. §outh§tar is feeling caustic Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,832
    How do you know this?

    What about those cultures which have limited/no systems of mathematics?
     
  8. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,876
    I would agree with that. We have to now what "sameness" or "identity" is in order to make distinctions between things that don't have "sameness". Seems pretty common sense to me.
     
  9. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    Ahhh...now we are getting somewhere....

    Yes, I tend to think that with out a concept of zero difference we would not be able to recognise actual differences.

    And yes it is common sense....or more to the point basic or fundamental to how we view the world.
    As Android has suggested it is from a vew point of nothingness that somethingness exists....

    Another example:
    When we state we are moving at 5 kmh we are by default making reference to zero kmh.....so that all measurements are relative to zero, in fact all observations are relative to zero is my contention....

    Question:
    How do we know we have been unconscious? [Either asleep or under anaethesia]
     
  10. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,876
    Yes, but zero itself is relative. We are moving at 5kph along the road. The road is deemed to be zero only becaue it's the reference we chose to state our 5kph with respect to, yes? We could also say we are moving at 12kps with respect to a point in the Virgo cluster (the solar system is, I think.), plus some complex orbital motion and our speed along the road.
     
  11. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    Fair enough....
    I once considered it from this POV
    Absolutly nothing is entirely dependent on everything being absolutely dependent on everything"
    To explain:
    If we accept that every thing is in somesort of relationship with every thing then and only then can nothing not exist.

    If everything is dependent on everything for it's existence then nothing can not exist.

    It isn't easy to descibe the non-value of nothingness except by referring to the absolute value of everthingness......hmmmmm.....yet the absolute value of everythingness is absolutely dependent on the non value of nothingness.
     
  12. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    And by saying this you are refering to the non-existence of absolute zero by default.....it is true we can deem a state as being a relative zero but in doing so we are acknowledging the non-existence of absolute zero.

    The same applies with absolute and relative time, or non-simultaniety and simultaneity...etc etc....in physics.
     
  13. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,876
    Yes. There are no absolute measures of distance or time. They are completely variable dependent on your state of relative motion wrt some other object.
     
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    Sorry SouthStar but I am using the number zero as an analogy for nothingness. The fact that zero has become so important to mathematics is an example of it's importants in our lives generally....[contention]
     
  15. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    so by default Physics has recognised what nothingness or absolute zero is.[isn't]...a form of deductive physics not unlike deductive reasoning.....
    [which BTW is why I feel that the Higgs particle will never be found]
     
  16. superluminal I am MalcomR Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,876
    Confusion.
     
  17. §outh§tar is feeling caustic Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,832
    Well that's my point. A culture without 'zero' has no idea of 'nothingness'. Although it would be nice if you could tell us what you mean by 'nothingness'..

    Nothing differs from zero in the way that zero is something, a finite amount which is defined. While nothing overlaps the quantity zero, in the way that it also is, when finitely defined, zero, it differs in the way that it has no specific basis like zero does in numbers.
    - Wikipedia

    I don't think the concept of nothing is at all important or necessary to us. We don't think of nothing or feel nothing or talk about nothing. There are some uses in the language which can be of interest:

    Q: What did you do at school today Timmy?
    A: Nothing.

    (Let us assume Timmy ditched school, so that the statement seems to be true; if he had been to school, then the response is false. But the real problem when the statement seems to be true is that the original question commits the fallacy of question begging; it is akin to asking, "have you stopped beating your wife?" This seems to point toward the conclusion that breakdowns in logic, such as this one, where premises are false can only lead to further problems. 'Nothing' is not something you can do - obviously - and therefore we see that the answer too is flawed whether or not Timmy went to school.

    But if 'nothing' is not something you can do then it seems that 'nothing' is something you can't do.. but that conclusion also makes no sense to us.

    Maybe I have totally missed the point of the thread but I was going to write something along these lines later on..

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  18. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    Unfortunately when discussing the abstraction of nothingness it is easy to mix context's.
    In you example of Timmy his answer was "nothing" but implied "nothing special"

    And thus it is a true statement and not false. To answer nothing in fact means to imply that whilst he went to school [what did you do at school] he did nothing that he would consider of value.
    By switching context we also establish a logical falacy.

    For an atheist there is nothingness after we die. The definition of nothingness is implied in the statement.
    no life, no movement, no existence, no consciousness, unconsciousness in absolutum.

    Of course a relatively non sentient being such as a slug , ant or worm is incapable of conceptualising nothingness.... this seems to be the main ownership of sentience.

    "If I switch of my monitor there is nothing on it to see" of course we still have a blank screen but this would be a shift in context and intent.
    A longing for sleep is also a longing for nothingness - unconsciousness.

    My radio is currently switched off and I can hear nothing coming from it [ context is - audible sound.]

    It could be contended that nothing is our most important life [ existence ]aspect, if maintaining my current line of reasoning.
     
  19. marv Just a dumb hillbilly... Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    743
    I disagree. Zero is a mathmatical concept useful in computations. Nothing (or nothingness) is a description of reality as in NO - THING.

    Nothing is the absence of an act or thing that otherwise has some standalone reality. Zero is a mathmatical abstraction that has meaning only when placed in some context.

    Examples:
    • I did nothing to stop the fire.
    • I have nothing to offer you.
    • 1390.
    • 48022.
     
  20. Satyr Banned Banned

    Messages:
    1,896
    Zero is an important concept indeed.

    It is this zero that gives the concept of {1} and {-1} meaning.

    Zero is as much a positive idea as a negative one. It is the starting point of all ideas.
    It is the void from which all sprouts forth and all eventually returns. It is beginning and end it is God and nothingness it is the great mystery.

    Zero is the focal point for all reality, the center of the event horizon, the essence of all being, the underlying fabric upon which numerical reality is spread across to give consciousness a purpose.
    It is a mathematical concept representing an unimaginable reality.
     
  21. riku_124 High School Smoker Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    604
    there is nothig after death, there is nothing, but hthere is everyhting
    i dont know..... what im tlaknig aobut
    *walks down a country road looknig at the courntry sceanory....*
    agian i dotn know hwta im tlkaing aobut
    thats my 2 marbles....
    no i lsot al lym maebles

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  22. Satyr Banned Banned

    Messages:
    1,896
    riku_124
    That was so deep I failed to apprehend it.

    Thanks for showing us zero.
    Now, as compensation, I’m showing you one, as represented by my middle finger.
     
  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,994
    Satyr , this may come as a surprise to you but I actually agree with the above post......ha after all what is the duration of the moment between past and future.....?> What do we see around us? That moment...yes? zero
     

Share This Page