The possibilities of impossibilities

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Tralay, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. Tralay Registered Member

    The ancient greeks had some crazy theories, like how movement is impossible, and how a multi-verse is a contradiction of both nothing and infinity. For thousands of years people have attempted to disprove these, not because they seem illogical, but because they appear so logical as to be nonsensical. See if you can comprehend the logic, or if you are a skeptic, to crack the code and show where the logic is faulty (they could be, these are my summaries of the theories in my own words, so I may have missed something).

    #1. Nothing can come from nothing. Consequently, something can not become nothing.

    If nothing can come from nothing (a well known axiom of Greek thought), then if you are something because you are alive, you must have come from something. Similarly, when you die, it's impossible for something to go into nothing, and thus it's impossible for you to die in the sense of becoming nothing.

    #2. The multiple universe is a self-standing contradiction, thus it can not exist.

    If the universe is a thing, then the building blocks of the universe must have come from something prior. That thing must have come from something prior, and on, and on, infinitely, until the first thing came from nothing, which is impossible since nothing can come from nothing.

    If something came from nothing (somehow), then this nothing must have given birth to particles which form together to create a thing (the universe). It is impossible for nothing to add together to create a thing, thus it is impossible for the universe to come from nothing.

    If particles somehow come from nothing, they must be infinitesimally small, and combine together to form something cosmically large, since the universe must be both infinitesimally small and cosmically large, it is a standing contradiction as a single thing. The universe must be two things, infinitely small and infinitely large. Since something infinitely small can not be compared with something infinitely large, it is impossible to compare the part to the whole, and equally impossible to compare the whole to the part, and thus no standing thing is proof that the universe exists.

    #3. Movement is impossible.

    If you attempt to go from point A to point B, you must first travel from point A to point A(1)


    In order to travel from A to A(1), you must travel from A to A(2),


    and to travel from A to A(2), you must travel from A to A(3,4,5,6,7...infinity). Thus, you must travel an infinite distance to travel a finite distance. Since this is impossible, movement is impossible. (This is known as Zeno's tortoise paradox).

    #4. Aging is impossible (similar to the theory of movement).

    If something ages from 0 to 1 sec, it must first age 0.5 seconds, then 0.25 seconds, then 0.125, etc, etc, an infinitely smaller and smaller number while never touching zero. Thus, you must travel an infinite number of finite fractions of a second in order to reach 1 second. Since it is impossible to age an infinite amount of finite seconds, age is impossible.

    #5. Space does not exist.

    If two objects are separate from each other, it is said there is space between them. But since each of their atomic components rest alongside air particles (particles in the air, elements), which in turn rest alongside other air particles, and any other material in the air or in the way (atoms, electrons, quarks) until it reaches the second object, by which there is no space between the first object because of these microscopic particles in the way.

    Furthermore, if you are at the top of the sky, and you look towards the ether/oblivion, since the oblivion is nothing, there is no space between you and something that doesn't exist, since nothing has no coordinates, there can't be space next to it.

    #6. The universe must be either finite or infinite, and not both.

    If the universe consists of finite atoms, the universe can not be infinite since finite things can not add together to reach infinity. If the universe is finite, there is room to grow, but the destination will never be reached, and so it is never a true unchanging thing, and so saying "the universe" is about as illogical as saying "the day" which you know will change into "the tomorrow".

    If the universe is infinite, no finite atoms can exist, because an infinite thing can not consist of finite things. Thus there is no such thing as finite bodies within the infinite universe.

    #7 "Particulars" are not "Universals"

    A universal 'horse' is not a particular horse, because the universal refers to all horses and not one horse. Similarly, one horse can not describe the universal horse. Thus, there is no logical reason to call a particular horse a 'horse.'
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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

    Had breakfast but not coffee yet

    I think this is the easiest to disprove

    With the line diagram representing distance to be traversed you easily get to B by aiming to go to C

    Will look at the others later

    After coffee and a spell in the garden

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  5. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    If we can think it, or reason it, how can it be impossible?
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  7. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

    As I understand the expansion of the Universe (I know there are various ideas about the end of the Universe - I'm going with Infinite Expansion) it will eventually become so thinned out atoms will fall apart and dissipate. Not sure if that equates to nothing

    Not sure you can have something in front of you and deny it exist

    I do note the ultimate question is why is there something and not nothing

    I would have thought NOTHING would be the default position

    Science tells me (through stuff I read) it is impossible for NOTHING to exist although my 3 neurone brain ( Huey Dewey and Louie still shake their axions over that) but accept it for the obvious reason we do exist

    This I think is the most stupid and easiest to dismantle
    It relies on a limited distance. If you limit the distance to say for example 1 klm or 1 mile or ANY distance it sort of looks (poorly) logical (gags)
    Distance is Infinite in length so you progress over the Infinite distance until you have moved to the location you want to be at

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    And as above age has a Infinite age to achieve but everything age's until it is no longer what it was

    Really just semantics of definetions

    Again semantics. The Universe consists of finite bodies. That's it. Full stop

    If you then progress to include INFINITY outside of the Universe and then make the claim you cannot fill INFINITY you are no longer talking about just the Universe - you have moved the goal post

    Everything changes. The Sun burns billions of tons of matter each day but remains the Sun

    Yes this is illogical because today DOES NOT CHANGE INTO tomorrow
    Today has a life span and no longer exist (in fact it turns into non existence at the same rate it comes into existence)
    Tomorrow comes into existence in its own right

    Semantics not logic

    2nd coffee of the day time

    It's only logical

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  8. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

    Because it is possible to think about impossible things

    Imagination is not constrained by laws of physics

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  9. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    There are of course impossible actions, like you or I will never be able to fly like a bird. It's entirely possible to know that impossibility. But, are many things that we deem impossible ...really not ''doable'' or do we just feel that we don't think that they are possible for us to do? So we just chalk it up to ''it's impossible.''
  10. river

    Of course

    A tree is a tree . It can not become titanium .
  11. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    The first axiom is fundamentally untrue, but the Greeks could not have known that. Something can come from nothing. But generally it doesn't, and it's true that when you die, nothing materially changes with your body, but it does start to decompose. The flaw is that a dead person isn't nothing. It's really the same thing just inanimate.
  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

    The material change the body has undergone is - it is no longer involved in a PROCESS. The process of life

    The decomposition comes from bacterium only to happy to enjoy your components of your now defunct body without the hassle of your body fighting back

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  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Good thread subject Tralay. Thanks for starting it.

    That introduces a distinction between what I'll call metaphysical impossibility (things that just aren't possible in our universe) and intuitive impossibility (things that just seem impossible to us).

    So metaphysical impossibility wouldn't be possible just by definition. But things that seem intuitively impossible might indeed be possible, if it turns out that our intuitions are wrong.

    That leaves us with the question of which class logical impossibility belongs in. Philosophers (and physics along with them) seem to assume that logical impossibility is the same thing as metaphysical impossibility. Yet how do we know about logic and logical impossibility? By intuition.

    I'll take a shot at your first three.

    That one seems to only hold true if all events require causes. If something 'comes from nothing', it can't have a cause, simply by definition.

    But do we really know that all events require causes? If so how?

    I think that this one definitely implies that the origin of something from nothing can never be explained. An explanation requires explanatory principles, and if the event popped into being out of nowhere, we seem to have ruled out any explanatory principles.

    There's a certain kind of physicist that tries to explain the origin of the space-time universe out of energy uncertainties in quantum vacuum and the principles of quantum mechanics, but that most emphatically isn't nothing.

    If 'universe' means 'everything that exists', I agree that multiple universes looks like an intuitive contradiction.

    But if 'universe' means something like 'our space-time continuum', then I have no problem imagining that there might be other disjoint space-time continua that aren't continuous with ours.

    So this one seems to revolve around an ambiguity in the meaning of the word 'universe'.

    The difficulty that the Eleatic philosophers encountered there is that they didn't have any concept of mathematical limits. So their difficulty wasn't 'crazy', it was the perfectly rational occasion for advances in mathematics.

    If before you can go from A to B, you have to go halfway first. And before you can go halfway, you have to go 1/4 of the way... there are indeed an infinite number of steps. But... each step is only half the size of the preceeding one. So as we crowd towards an infinite number of steps, the additional steps crowd towards being infinitely small.
  14. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    The tortoise & hare situation was considered to be a paradox due to the ancient Greeks having naive or primitive notions about infinity.

    They knew that in reality a hare would overtake & pass a tortoise. However their naive (primitive) notions about infinity made the Zeno argument seem at least plausible, if not logically correct.

    To them the discrepancy between their view of reality (the hare would surely win the race) & the conclusion of the (known to us) faulty logic seemed to be paradoxical.

    It bothered at least some very intelligent thinkers of that era, who in many respects were smarter than a lot of modern folks.

    I strongly suspect that they had neither the concept nor the modern formula for the limit of a convergent series.
  15. birch Valued Senior Member

    true on it's face.
    something can't come from nothing (unrelated). it's just that what we call nothing is never nothing (undetected something) but something. otoh, our concept of nothing is actually a finite idea, but something (nothing/infinite) to 'us' and our perception.

    two different dimensions intersecting. one is physical and the other is abstract. the infinite ruler is the tool to measure a finite physical plane. the infinite ruler (abstract) is not synonymous with the finite plane. therefore, movement is possible but in only one.

    but it's true that point a and b don't exist in the abstract and that's why there is no movement. it's A zero to B zero which is Zero. A1 is something though and A 2 etc.

    same as 3.

    nothing could be construed as merely a non-differentiated state (motionless, camoflauge). since the only concept of 'nothing' that we know if is relative.

    this is similar to 1. process of transition, finite infinitely

    that's obvious. it's contextual.


    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    "Horse" is a category, or set. Individual animals may or may not belong in the set or category, depending on exactly how the category is defined.

    Note that same individual can simultaneously belong to many categories: Mr-Ed-the-horse, horse, mammal, animal, living thing, four-legged-animal, things-bigger-than-a-cat, etc. etc.

    This also reminds me of a truth in biology: there's no such thing as a fish. Really! However you try to describe "fish" in an evolutionary sense (other than by making an exhaustive list of individual species), some animals generally regarded as "fish" will not be included, while others that are not generally regarded as fish will be included.

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