WHY does anything exist?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by lightgigantic, May 16, 2007.

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  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    A problem with these "positivistic/linguistic types" is that they take language for granted, or presume to have full control over it, including the inception of language.

    If you do not have power to personally control language including its inception, then there is some greater ontological issue that contextualizes both you and your language; and this ontological issue needs to be addressed to do justice to things.

    There is a popular belief that "man invented language" - but we only have theoretical inference for that.

    Just because we can use language does not mean we own it or control it.
    At minimum, it is apparent that an individual person can only use language, but cannot effectively create it. For even if we do make up a new word or meaning, it will depend on whether other people (whom we cannot control) will use it as well or not whether that word or meaning will become a functional part of language. Whereby it appears that the reasons for why a new word or meaning becomes functional in a population has to do with forces that are sometimes beyond people's will (such as specifics of the vocal tract or the soci-economic sphere in which a word or meaning is popularized).
    So we're back at that greater ontological issue that contextualizes both us and our language.
     
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  3. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Regardless of how the OP stated the actual question, he specifically characterized it as metaphysical in nature. If the OP feels that my comments do not address any relevant aspect of his inquiry then he can feel free to clarify and I will endeavour to ensure that any further comments are more correctly on topic.

    Until then I am happy to get stuck into this with anyone who'd like to try to refute the idea that the existence of "something" is the only possibility.
     
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  5. Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!! Valued Senior Member

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    To have a purpose requires a purposer (a sapient life form). As there is no evidence for such a life form existing in this context, the teleological question doesn't apply.
     
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  7. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

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    I agree with what you say, but think your conclusion to be a non sequitur.

    While it's true that language takes for its object the ontological, it doesn't follow that the practice of language can be dismissed.
    In other words, people who dismiss an issue as being 'simply semantic' do themselves the disfavour of ignoring our only means of grappling with the issue.


    Somewhat offtopic but, I would say there's more inferential support for this position than any other contender....

    Sorry, again you're leaping to an illicit conclusion.
    Pragmatically, we do in fact control it. As for 'owning' it, well, that just doesn't make any sense (unless I'm misunderstanding you..).

    Regardless, the fact that we do use language does not mean that we must move directly to the ontological realm. For one, we cannot approach the ontological by bypassing the linguistic; there simply is no other way to approach. For two, the corollary, we cannot, as you propose, deal directly with the ontological without the mediation of language.

    [I could of course, bring up a third concern: that there is no ontological beyond the linguistic realm. But of course, that would open up the whole phenomenological can o worms....

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    I think in this case I am (as have most 'positivistic/linguistic' types) being misunderstood to a degree.

    I am not saying that all riddles are merely linguistic ones. I am however saying that attempting to solve the riddle without paying attention to linguistic concerns is both foolish and futile....

    I wouldn't go as far as Wittgenstein when he says that "All philosophical problems are really linguistic problems."
    But I would go so far as to say that 'All philosophical problems are at least linguistic problems'.

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    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Could be, but I don't see it that way.

    We often ask questions about why particular objects and states of affairs exist. And we typically answer those questions by pointing to other objects and states of affairs, and to their causal connections to whatever we hope to explain.

    But eventually the question arises: why does anything exist? Why is there such a thing as existence in the first place?

    I call that the fundamental ontological question because 'ontology' is the philosophical study of being in general and this seems to be the most fundamental question that I can ask about it: just simply Why?

    I realize that it's a philosophically peculiar question. And honestly, not only do I not know what the answer is, I don't even know how to approach answering it.

    That's cool. Positivism is certainly a legitimate philosophical position and it's good that somebody's here to fly its flag and to argue for it.

    Maybe you are right, but at this point I'm not convinced.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  9. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

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    Does it?
    Not necessarily...

    Of course, you're right. From the human perspective, we are indeed drawn to asking about what's 'really' out there. However, simply because the question arises, it doesn't follow that the question itself is legitimate.
     
  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    There seems to be a complete misunderstanding here.
    I am not dismissing the practice of language at all.


    Simply put: You, Glaucon, have not invented language. You can use it, but you are not its author.
    I maintain that language is like air to us: it is provided for us by the Universe, we use it, we cannot be wihout it, but we cannot really control it, only use it.


    Only if by "we" you are referring to 'all people who are capable of using or in any way influencing language'.
    But to me, "all people" is not a valid subject, as they cannot be said to have "one will, one mind".
    One person, like me, or you, is a valid subject.


    I agree that it is perhaps a peculiar phrase; I use it as a synonym to "control".


    I am not proposing that, but it seemed to me you did.


    I thought you were doing that ...



    Per default, I presume that there is something legitimate about each instance of language use.

    Per default, I presume there is something legitimate about questions like "Why does anything exist? Why is there such a thing as existence in the first place?"

    The fact that we can and do ask such questions is a reflection of some ontological given.
     
  11. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

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    I disagree.
    Language is a human artifice; it was not 'given to us' from on high...




    Of course....


    It is completely legitimate as a subject. You're assuming for some reason, that a singular will is required...





    And I thought you were...



    Not at all. There are, as Descartes noted, very few (if any) ontological 'givens'...
    What is the case, is that we presume the existence of such; not the other way round.

    We can, and often do in fact linguistically refer to things that do not exist. Simply because the logic of language allows one to refer to something, it doesn't follow that the something in question has a real ontological subject.

    In any case, I don't want to derail the thread off too far.
    Towards returning the thread back to its topic, how would you suggest we proceed? Clearly, we cannot evade linguistic concerns, yet we seem to be mired in them at this point...
     
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    It depends on what we mean by "exist".
    If we settle for naive realism, then what you say applies, but otherwise, not necessarily.


    Actually, I think these linguistic concerns are merely the superficial sign of the deeper problem - namely that of what our basic ontological and epistemological outlook is.
    If we operate from a mixture of naive realism and relativism, we are bound to get reeeeally confused.

    If anything, I'd say that we can, and often do in fact linguistically refer to things that we do not know much about or have a lot of confusion about, while at the same time being unaware of our ignorance and confusion.


    (Schopenhauer went so far as to say that nothing is easier than to speak in a manner that nobody understands it.)
     
  13. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

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    I agree with all you say here.
    (And yes, though I don't think of it as 'settling' (as I think it impossible to rationally support an alternate), I was thinking in terms of a naive realism.




    Agreed.

    I agree with this, with the exception of the last phrase...

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  14. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    Because it allows us to be able to ask, "WHY does anything exist??"
     
  15. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

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    because we need something to go with everything..
     
  16. sinister utopia Registered Senior Member

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    Because abosolute nothingness cannot exist.
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    That would depend on what is meant by "rational". People, including philosophers, are quite flexible on that.

    Also, the fact is
    1. some people do not hold on to naive realism,
    2. some people have changed their fundamental philosophical persuasions.

    IOW, naive realism is not a universal, inescapable given. (Although I would argue that it is a dead end.)


    Being unaware of one's ignorance and confusion is what does the trick.

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  18. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

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    Of course.
    Mind you, one consistent notion would be that it is not rational to support something that lacks any evidence....


    Moot point. There are no universals of any sort.


    Not quite. That assumes that there is a definitive truth....

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  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Evidence itself says and does nothing. It is all about how it is interpreted - and there are usually several ways to interpret it.


    But the statement "There are no universals of any sort." is not universal, eh?


    Otherwise, notions of truth are useless.
     
  20. NMSquirrel OCD ADHD THC IMO UR12 Valued Senior Member

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    Deja Vu..

    wasn't this conversation in another thread about a different topic??
    (at least the last three posts..)
     
  21. Spectrum Registered Senior Member

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    0 And 0 =1

    There is nothing until there is nothing AGAIN. There is nothing twice. Only when the nothing is repeated is there something. Are you an idiot or something?
     
  22. Emil Valued Senior Member

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  23. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    “Why does anything exist at all?” is much akin to the great philosophical question of “Why is there something instead of nothing?”

    Both questions are stated backwards, for something is the natural state, for, as Rav showed, nothing cannot exist, or even persist for an instant, even if this lack of anything even ‘tried’ to be so, since, as Spidergoat mentioned, the QM state of uncertainty must always be fuzzy, and zero (nothing) would be a certain state.

    The fundamental ‘something’, or perhaps even its ever being born of its basis of that nothing cannot be or stay, such as via the quantum fluctuations (the ‘how’), is, either way, the absolute ‘why’ of existence—since nothing cannot be, thus ‘something’ being the normal state of affairs.

    Furthermore, we can see that a total lack of anything did not occur, obviously, and so all the more we note that it could not occur, for if it did, and it was a stable state, there would still be a lack of anything ‘here’.

    Even if actual basic same stuff itself was not around forever, it being ever formed by QM pair production, some staying and some going back in, this process would still have been going on forever, and so that is really the same thing, basically, as stuff having around forever (it just wouldn’t be the same exact stuff), so, still, the something is the way all must be, not nothing.

    One might still say that a state of nothing would be perfectly unstable, since we do note that simple states are highly reactive and readily go through phase changes, which is fine, for then this nothing still couldn’t exist and never could, absolutely; yet, in the overview of Totality, it could, if all the positives and the negatives in the cosmos summed to zero. This solves what would have been the last remaining problem: that there was nothing to make stuff of, and so that could be the likely answer. Perhaps it is charge that nullifies all of existence, for matter and antimatter make light, not nothing.
     
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