Why anything exists?

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Brian Holtz

Jan 12, 2001, 4:45:30 PM1/12/01
Why is there something instead of nothing?

I would guess that within the next few decades or centuries,
philosophy will reach one of two conclusions here:

1. No fact or cycle of facts can be meaningfully self-explaining,
and so the Big
Why is provably unanswerable.
2. The Big Why is rendered fundamentally incoherent by its
assumption that there pre-exists a tendency toward non-existence.

If we don't ever know the answer, here is a fundamentally unverifiable
answer that may nevertheless satisfy some people:

Nothing exists except logical possibility, which necessarily exists,
and our perception of material existence is an epiphenomenon of our
being logical subcomponents of a logically possible universe.

Consider gliders in Conway's game of Life. Even if nobody ever wrote
down the rules of Life, gliders would still be a logical consequent of
certain possible configurations of the logically possible game of
Life. It has been proven that Life is rich enough to instantiate a
Turing machine, which are of course known to be able to compute
anything computable. So if mind is computable, consider a
configuration of Life that instantiates a Turing machine that
instantiates some mind.

Consider the particular Life configuration in which that mind
eventually comes to ask itself "why is there something instead of
nothing?". Even if in our universe no such Life configuration is ever
instantiated, that particular configuration would still be logically
possible, and the asking of the Big Why would still be a virtual event
in the logically possible universe of that Life configuration. The
epiphenomenal quality of that event for that logically possible mind
would surely be the same, regardless of whether our universe ever
actually ran that Life configuration. So the answer to that mind's Big
Why would be: because your existence is logically possible.

So pop up a level, and consider that you are that mind, and that your
universe too is just a (highly complex) logically possible state
machine. In that case, the answer to your Big Why would be the same.

Note that, while the Life thought experiment depends on mind being
computable, the logically possible universe (LPU) thought experiment
only assumes that our universe could be considered as a logically
possible sequence of (not necessarily finitely describable)
universe-states. The LPU hypothesis also depends on the thesis that
physicalism is right and that qualia and consciousness are
epiphenomena. The LPU hypothesis is of course unparsimonious (sort of
like the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory), but parsimony
is perhaps inconsistent with *any* answer to the Big Why. The LPU
hypothesis is incompatible with strong free will (which itself may be
incoherent), but is compatible with weak free will (perhaps only if we
assume there are rules governing the transitions among

The idea that the world might be a dream is of course not new. But I
don't recall ever hearing that the world might be just a logically
possible dream for which no dreamer exists.


Knowledge is dangerous. Take a risk: http://humanknowledge.net

Richard Perry

Jan 12, 2001, 6:53:39 PM1/12/01
Brian Holtz wrote:
> Why is there something instead of nothing?

If there was ever nothing then it would be an eternal state
of affairs. But then again eternity requires the passage of
time, which is itself an illusion created by the change in
position of "Things". So nothing can only exist for an
instant, at the most:-)


Richard Perry

{new jersey}

Jan 12, 2001, 10:16:39 PM1/12/01
Hi to whoever is attentively listening:To a new born baby with eyes
cloudy and thought process also unclear,it slowly creates misunderstood
impressions misguided by the adult socalled world of authorities.It
certainly is not the world of baby moving into developing stages.With
the so-called authorities proclaming "this is your world" when truly it
isn't. It's unclear language usage help the young to react to thought
rather than take a step back weighing impressions that develops into
"the god given right" to be annoyed and rude to others.Whereby that
youth turns into another adult of "problem making pressures" to no
end,as a way of hard time misery as a legacy existance for the next
generation. REMarvin,N.J. or chi...@webtv.net

Curtiss Leung

Jan 12, 2001, 11:50:48 PM1/12/01

"Brian Holtz" <ho...@eng.sun.com> wrote in message

> Why is there something instead of nothing?

> <snippage>

> 2. The Big Why is rendered fundamentally incoherent by its
> self-contradictory assumption that there pre-exists a tendency toward

I like this response very much.

To hell with ontology--let's dance!


Jan 23, 2001, 7:17:57 PM1/23/01
Richard Perry wrote in message <3A5F9903...@cswnet.com>...

Nice answer, Richard.

I believe the nature of Reality is described in certain Laws of Oneness (I'm
making this up as I go.) Any one thing can and will be divided. The
evolution of our universe and the Reality we are experiencing can be
described rather simply as the continual dividing of the One, from the Big
Bang on... Divide and label.

Nothing is the first something. When it is divided....

Light from Darkness.
A Firmament out of the Void.

Richard Perry

Jan 23, 2001, 8:38:18 PM1/23/01

Nothin' from nothin' lea-HEA-eaves nuttin', but ya gotta have


Richard Perry


Jan 24, 2001, 10:00:27 AM1/24/01
> >> Why is there something instead of nothing?


Is this the proof that a God exists? ...or at least that something "magical"
has occurred?

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