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  •  Weak Anthropic Principle (3+ / 0-)
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    NancyWH, MarkW53, DBunn serves us well, of course, but I don't mean my question in even a "local" sense. I mean it in a truly Universal one; why should ANYTHING exist?

    If there are universes or pockets of spacetime which have true nothing (true vacuum), that's "local". I mean the question in the truly, mind-blowingly, complete, absolutist sense; why should anything, any natural laws, any framewoks for quantum weirdness, any energy, and forces, anything exist?

    It's a tough question to even get your mind around in that sense; one keeps moving back to "well, because this", but's that's still causative. I'm referring to true nothing, no time, no space, no laws, no forces, which is, if you think about it, far more likely than anything.

    And Anthropic principles don't help either, because there's nothing to refer to in that sense; I've never liked the AP either (strong or weak) because it ignores the true meat of the question.

    Am I making sense yet? It's so tough a question to frame correctly. I've asked a few people and even physicists think I'm asking the question that you answered, instead of the horrible one I really did...

    Sunday Afternoon Composer: Like Monday Morning Quarterbacking, with music!

    by Freelance Escapologist on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 09:19:59 AM PST

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    •  On what basis (2+ / 0-)
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      NancyWH, Freelance Escapologist

      do you assume that nothing-ness is 'far more likely' than non-nothingness? Likely implies probability, and probability implies time. If there's no time, then there is no probability, so your question and assumptions don't really seem coherent.

      •  You're kind of missing my point... (4+ / 0-)
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        MarkW53, DBunn, 207wickedgood, side pocket

        ... which is understandable, since I'm not expressing myself clearly! :)

        Every theory of "Where The Universe Came From" requires, in some form or another, a functioning framework within which things can exist. Quantum fluctuations require a "sea" of forces within which a fluctuation can occur. Ekpyrotic Theory requires a bulk universe in which the branes can collide. Hawking's boundary hypothesis still requires a pre-existing quantum framework for anything like a boundary condition to exist. Even in the most rarefied theories, physicists never speak of creation ex nihilo</>, because such a thing cannot be described.

        My question is simply why? Why do such things exist? It's a pretty coherent question, but it's one that I believe may not actually have an answer, since any answer would almost certainly give rise to infinite regress ("and so where did x come from? And y? And then z?...")

        My point about the "likelihood" of nothingness was nothing to do with probability (and in the quantum world, infinite time and zero time actually equal the same thing, since the equations are time independent), but rather the observation that true nothingness (no-time, no-space) requires nothing; any "something" requires something in place beforehand, no matter how you try and sidestep it, even if that "something" is as esoteric as a framework within which forces and fields can exist. And the question then still pertains; why do they exist?

        I'm probably still meandering up the garden path on this; it's a tough concept to nail down in my mind to express correctly, since every time I try I fall into the same traps that I seem to have done with you, namely ideas of time and the notion of probabilities and so on, but in it's truest form, my question transcends such considerations. Why is there anything, rather than true nothing, with no possibility of anything, ever, because there is nothing to work with in any sense.

        Sunday Afternoon Composer: Like Monday Morning Quarterbacking, with music!

        by Freelance Escapologist on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 11:38:41 AM PST

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        •  Love your approach (2+ / 0-)

          Especially your last paragraph.

          I would like to suggest that tossing in the ingredient of consciousness as a basic quality inherent in the the stuff of the universe makes it an even more exciting proposition!

          Thanks for your post. I look forward to reading more.

          •  The Consciousness Problem... (2+ / 0-)
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            Yosef 52, side pocket

            ...knotty philosophy!

            I'm glad i'm starting to make some sort of sense here, though. It's so inherently inhuman a concept that even trying to parameterize it gives me existential headaches. You find yourself thinking, ” yeah, well, but eventually....” and you have to so yourself and say ” no, there's nothing at all.” It's a bizarre thought, when you get right down to it...disturbing, but oddly...calming.

            Sunday Afternoon Composer: Like Monday Morning Quarterbacking, with music!

            by Freelance Escapologist on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 02:18:51 PM PST

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            •  Serious comment (1+ / 0-)
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              side pocket

              So how about this as an answer to your ultimate existential question: All of this, all of existence, all of every- or anythingness, including any necessary pre-conditions of mathematical or logical truth, all of it... is but an idea or dream in the mind of God.

              This concept is not my invention-- it might belong to a guy named George Berkeley, aka Bishop Berkeley, who lived from 1685 to 1753 (Wikipedia)

              I do not literally believe this, or subscribe to any notion of some magic mega-person named God. I'm just waiting for a better explanation.

              It's a mystery.

              •  The idea that this is all God' dream (3+ / 0-)

                is a non-falsifiable proposition. Bishop Berkeley is responsible for the idea of idealism, which to my mind is as dangerous and misleading an idea as solipsism. No, I do not think the world comes into being only when someone is observing it. A few years ago, in response to another person on DKos, I wrote this assessment of idealism:

                philosophical idealism strikes me as a form of solipsism--"the world doesn't exist unless I am looking at it." I judge all forms of solipsism to be fundamentally irrational. Secondly, as I said, the Universe predates any intelligent life form capable of observing it. Its existence was a necessary pre-condition to the evolution of consciousness. To think that the fact of observation causes something to spring into existence is to confuse cause with effect. Observation causes perception to spring into existence (in a sufficiently evolved brain), and nothing more. Something logically had to exist capable of being perceived. Yes, the perception itself is "subjective" in that its nature is dependent on the kind of being doing the perceiving, but the physical reality that stimulates the perception is necessary.

                Finally, there is the test of consistency. Let's say we take 100 Americans who were all raised in homes that had a kitchen, and show each of them a model display kitchen of some sort. Although the observers will naturally notice different details, and those with more experience in cooking will be more knowledgeable about the functions of various pieces of equipment, it is highly likely that all 100 of these observers will call the display room a kitchen. Why? Why is it that 100 different people, each supposedly with the ability to cause reality to exist merely by perceiving it, perceive a kitchen, and not, variously, a dragon's lair, a zoo, an airport, or the Grand Canyon? Could it be that they each perceive a kitchen of some sort because the kitchen objectively exists as a physical object? That it constitutes some sort of independently existing entity? I think it likely that it does. We may not perceive the "real" reality, the Thing in Itself. But that doesn't mean that a normally functioning human nervous system is completely disconnected from reality. Its relationship to reality may be tangential, but it is an authentic one nonetheless. And the more our perception shares common ground with other humans, the more likely it is that the object being perceived exists independently of us. If you and I both look at a series of colors and each of us identifies the same set of colors in the same way, it is therefore likely (although not absolutely certain) that we have both been looking at an object that exists outside of us.

                Read a preview of Volume One of my book here.

                by Yosef 52 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 11:16:02 PM PST

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                •  Agreed! (3+ / 0-)
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                  RiveroftheWest, side pocket, Yosef 52

                  Solipsism and idealism are philosophical dead ends; they contribute nothing, and have little philosophical rigor. And, to continue my uber--pedant course, doesn't answer the question anyway.

                  If I may provide the only pseudo-answer I have come up with over the years to my query, ” it just is”.

                  As I said before,I don't think there's any way to avoid infinite regress in any description of why such frameworks or forces exist in a mechanistic way; such a thing can either have always existed (we're here because we're here because we're here...) or arise because of another force or structure that allowed it to exist, and so on. As mind-bogglingly amazing and beautiful as the universe (and your diary series!) is, the fact that it exists at all, that the ”multiverse”/bulk/quantum basement/what-have-you, enables such things as universes to arise in the first place, is almost more breath-takingly stunning.

                  Sunday Afternoon Composer: Like Monday Morning Quarterbacking, with music!

                  by Freelance Escapologist on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 04:52:58 AM PST

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    •  Why should anything exist? (3+ / 0-)

      Why shouldn't it? Both are equally likely, it seems.

      Read a preview of Volume One of my book here.

      by Yosef 52 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 01:00:34 PM PST

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    •  Who Says Consciousness Has To Be Anthropomorphic? (5+ / 0-)

      Why not re-examine the quality of consciousness as a basic element of the universe? That opens up many more fascinating possibilities. Energy equated to consciousness is an important avenue of exploration, in my opinion!

      Loved your post as I have asked those very same questions many many times.

      By the way, your Hinterland is beautiful!!!!  Simply wonderful!

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