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Olinguito
Post  Post subject: What is nothing?  |  Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:23 am
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I had a friend used to keep a diary; he would assiduously write up exactly one page a day, struggling on boring days when hardly anything happened at all. I asked him, “What do you do when you have nothing to write about?” He replied: “Then I write about nothing.”

Or this advert for a brand of headache-relief tablets:

    Image

It prompted someone to say: “When you have a headache, taking nothing – because nothing acts faster than Anadin!”

Clearly, in each of these cases, nothing is not nothing but is up to something. So is nobody in Chapter 7 of Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll:

Quote:
“I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.

“I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone. “To be able to see Nobody! And at the distance too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!”


So what is this elusive thing called nothing (as well as the related nobody)? This is a question Jean-Paul Sartre tried to answer in his work Being and Nothingness (1943), subtitled “an essay on phenomemological ontology”, translated from the French by Hazel E. Barnes of the University of Colorado. I have been plodding through this 684-page monster for a month and got only as far as page 50.

Well, nothing definitely must be something if an eminent philosopher like Sartre needed almost seven hundred pages to write on it, if someone as important as a king would like to see it, if every conscientious diarist wants to write about it, and if it is more effective at relieving headaches than every other analgesic drug. But what exactly is it that makes nothing so special?

Any thoughts? :roll:

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scoobydoo1
Post  Post subject: Re: What is nothing?  |  Posted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:44 pm
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I took nothing, leaving everything else where they are. While you may be tempted to take something, I will have to insist that you take anything in its place.

Olinguito wrote:
What is nothing?

Nothing is what I took.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: What is nothing?  |  Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:43 am
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i think what you have here is the confusion between "nothing" as an object and "nothing" as the absence of an object - when you equate them you come to conclusions like the following

no cat has 5 tails
a cat has 1 tail more than no cat
hence, a cat has 6 tails

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: What is nothing?  |  Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 4:55 pm
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^have you seen the level of inbreeding that takes place among some of the local strays and feral animals? I have no doubt that six tailed cats are not only possible, but likely! ... and that's not nothing! ;)

Nothing is a concept whose definition shifts based on context. Much like the concept of zero. We must be careful not to "mix reference frames."

Nothing is certainly something when considered in the context of concepts, but when used as a quantity label becomes instead a descriptor that connotes the absence of some specific item or entity, or lack of content.

This is IMO more a problem with language and our struggle to remember that the map is not the territory than a true paradox or logical struggle.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: What is nothing?  |  Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:48 am
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reminds me of Asimov's "Currents of Space" - the main character was in the business of "analyzing Nothing", i.e. interstellar space

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Olinguito
Post  Post subject: Re: What is nothing?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 4:36 pm
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I am nobody.
Nobody is perfect.
Therefore I am perfect. :lol:

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