Another boring existential ponderance....
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16-05-2014, 09:51 PM (This post was last modified: 16-05-2014 10:14 PM by evenheathen.)
Another boring existential ponderance....
Yeah, another alcohol-infused run around from the fair heathen.

Pondering the extremes tonight. Existence and nothing. Forever or never was/will be.

I started watching the original cosmos series with Sagan last night just to kill time in between the new series' episodes since it's got me all pumped up for science at the moment. So's I've been thinking about us and existence and the universe and whatnot.

Got to thinking about nothing again, I know I've brought it up before but it's an intriguing subject to me. I like to think about "nothing" because it's a word used so often, but with a meaning so absolutely impossible to grasp if you really think about it. Where is nothing?....It's nowhere, because by definition it doesn't exist.

So where does our universe end? Where does the edge of our universe butt up against nothing? What is the boundary between existence and nonexistence? By definition there is no such boundary and there cannot be one.

This leads me to have to consider that existence must be infinite. Actually it leads me to logically conclude that there is no alternative. Existence in one form or another must be infinite, by the very fact that there is existence, because there is no nothing.

So now my mind is blown, because I can't come up with a more abstract or confusing concept as infinity than nothing, but there you have it. Does that make any sense?

Just thinking......

Edit: man, this whole thing was much grander sounding and involved when it was rolling around in my head, I guess sometimes words are a less than ideal means of communication than ideas. Hope you smell what I'm stepping in.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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17-05-2014, 02:03 AM
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
Yep, aaaaand my brain just popped.

A person very dear to me was badly hurt through a misunderstanding and miscommunication. For this, I am sorry, and he knows it. That said, any blaming me for malicious intent is for the birds. I will not wear some scarlet letter, I will not be anybody's whipping girl, and I will not lurk in silence.
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17-05-2014, 02:34 AM
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
Is there a limit on size?

Could you potentially keep on looking at smaller and smaller things with ever increasing in power microscopes for infinity?

Would that then be true for the opposite?

I feel so much, and yet I feel nothing.
I am a rock, I am the sky, the birds and the trees and everything beyond.
I am the wind, in the fields in which I roar. I am the water, in which I drown.
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17-05-2014, 02:40 AM
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
(17-05-2014 02:34 AM)bemore Wrote:  Is there a limit on size?

Could you potentially keep on looking at smaller and smaller things with ever increasing in power microscopes for infinity?

Would that then be true for the opposite?

'Kay, going to go have a seizure now.
No, but really, I've often contemplated this very thing myself. Tylenol usually follows.

A person very dear to me was badly hurt through a misunderstanding and miscommunication. For this, I am sorry, and he knows it. That said, any blaming me for malicious intent is for the birds. I will not wear some scarlet letter, I will not be anybody's whipping girl, and I will not lurk in silence.
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17-05-2014, 03:10 AM
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
I find myself pondering the exact same thing quite often.

However, I always conclude that it's such a hard to grasp concept and that my human brain is too limited to ever make sense of it, so I simply give up Tongue

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
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17-05-2014, 04:40 AM
RE: Another "boring" existential ponderance....
Hello everyone, how's it going?

He he, I wonder how many philosophical conversations throughout our history have (not) been fuelled by some sort of drug. Anyway, here goes my possible load of bollocks about this fascinating subject in case anyone is interested in reading it; thanks, evenheathen, for bringing it up. It's not boring at all (at least not for me).

If the universe is a set of material things collectively moving in all possible directions, I view nothing as the lack of things between and beyond the things that does not prevent things from moving. I agree in that nothing does not exist, because it is not located specifically anywhere in relation to anything, but I find a clear conceptual boundary between existence and non-existence in the enclosing surface of things; things that exist are contained within a non-zero volume enclosed by a surface. The universe most likely butts up against nothing around every individual piece of matter.

But nothing is not made of pieces of matter; it is not contained within a volume enclosed by a surface. Empty space is an abstract notion reflecting matter's ability to move, and matter can move in any direction regardless of its location, as long as more matter does not prevent its motion. There is no geometrical limit in matter's ability to move; there is no geometrical limit to empty space. As a complex system, the real universe is as large as the largest distance between the two material structures furthermost apart, but nothing prevents them from moving further away, so the size of the real universe grows as time progresses. However, the total volume actually occupied by the real universe is most likely constant, because its expansion occurs through the separation of its inner constituents, not their growth; galaxies move away from each other but that does not mean that the things contained in them become larger.

Existence is probably infinite over time, meaning that there was never a beginning of existence and there will never be an end; the pieces of matter that constitute the universe today are most likely the same ones that have always existed. It is the complex structures comprising several pieces of matter what have been changing as those pieces of matter moved, and that change will probably go on in the future. But existence is likely to be finite in space, because each piece of matter occupies a finite volume and there is probably a finite number of them, given the fact that there seem to be plenty of distances around objects void of any thing. If there were an infinite amount of matter, everything would be so tightly packed that no thing would be able to move.

The set of real information, comprising every material structure that occupies a non-zero volume of non-empty space, is finite. The set of virtual information, comprising every behaviour that occurs over a non-zero interval of time as well as any abstract implications conveyed by any form of change or lack thereof, is infinite. Energy cannot be created or destroyed; change happens during every non-zero time interval.

Or maybe not, I cannot really say I know; this may be pure brainwank. But does anyone understand what I mean?

In any case, have a great day!
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17-05-2014, 05:04 AM
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
(17-05-2014 02:34 AM)bemore Wrote:  ... Is there a limit on size?

As a strictly logical matter, no. An entity with the property of spatial dimension can always be cleaved in half by a mathematical axe, or doubled up. But what's mathematically possible isn't necessarily feasible. There's a function that describes an asymptotic cone that if rendered as a physical object could be filled with a finite quantity of paint (its volume approaches a limit), but couldn't be painted (its surface area approaches infinity).

Hence, while infinitesimal or infinitely gargantuan sizes are mathematically possible, as physical realities the observable universe has so far exhibited a breadth of only 32 orders of magnitude between the smallest and largest discrete entities: the entire universe (as far as is known) is 10^32 bigger than a quark (forgive me if it isn't 32 but something else: I'm too lazy right now to go get my Eames tour of the universe, but whether 32 or 42 or something else the range is only two digits).

I doubt deeper discovery of the physical universe would add more than a few orders of magnitude.

The concept I've had trouble getting my mental fingers to keep enclosed is the apparently finite size of the universe: if it's finite, what larger dimensional realm does it inhabit? The Earth's surface is finite yet borderless, but exists in the greater dimensional realm of space. How is it possible to exist without occupying any greater dimensional space?

The better analogy I've found isn't a borderless polygonic surface but something else that's finite without any edges: our field of vision. Our field of vision is decidedly finite yet has no edge, no border between the hidden and unhidden. The absence of an edge is a logical necessity: being able to perceive an edge would put the edge within the field of vision - and thus put something just outside the field of vision into the field of vision. So there's no perceivable edge (try to discern one - you won't succeed).

Our field of vision does not occupy a larger enclosing space, it exists without having the property of dimensionality at all. You can't measure its breadth with a tape measure. (You could describe its approximate shape as a cone, but the cone isn't an object you could put on your coffee table). While the universe isn't exactly analogous to field of vision, the fact that field of vision is a non-dimensional finite concept helps me grasp that not everything must occupy a larger space. The universe is physical and finite, but like field of vision it has no edges; there is no larger space to occupy.
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17-05-2014, 06:25 AM
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
Hello Airportkid, how are you? I know you are replying to someone else, but I hope you will not mind if I join you; I mostly agree with what you are saying but I would like some clarification on a few minor points.

(17-05-2014 05:04 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  
(17-05-2014 02:34 AM)bemore Wrote:  ... Is there a limit on size?
As a strictly logical matter, no.
If by "strictly logical matter" you mean from a purely abstract perspective, I agree with you. Even if there were a smallest level of structure not susceptible of being divided into simpler structures, I would still be able to consider half of those things, or a quarter, or even an infinitely small point on its surface. But as you suggest, what is possible in the abstract universe of mathematics isn't necessarily feasible in the real universe of material structures.

(17-05-2014 05:04 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  The concept I've had trouble getting my mental fingers to keep enclosed is the apparently finite size of the universe: if it's finite, what larger dimensional realm does it inhabit? The Earth's surface is finite yet borderless, but exists in the greater dimensional realm of space. How is it possible to exist without occupying any greater dimensional space?
I don't think it is possible to exist without occupying some space, and that is why I generally attach the notion of "occupying some volume" to the verb "exist". But I am not sure of what you mean by "any greater dimensional space".

The surface of the planet is borderless if you consider it a plane on which you can move forward, backwards and sideways. But material structures always occupy three-dimensional volumes. If you move down towards the surface of the planet, the planet is certainly not borderless. Planes and lines are abstract notions, just like sizeless points; in reality there are only three-dimensional structures. Beyond reality, in the broader scope of virtual information conveyed by change (including the abstract universes of our minds) infinite additional dimensions can be invented, but they all rely on change; that is why the fourth dimension in so-called 4D representations is achieved through the motion of things that exist in three dimensions.

Things occupy finite three-dimensional volumes enclosed by surfaces, I don't understand the meaning of "what larger dimensional realm does it [the universe] inhabit?", although I take it that inhabitation here means "filling a void" rather than "living somewhere" (not every thing that exists is alive). Would you mind please clarifying what the question means?

(17-05-2014 05:04 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  The better analogy I've found isn't a borderless polygonic surface but something else that's finite without any edges: our field of vision. Our field of vision is decidedly finite yet has no edge, no border between the hidden and unhidden.
That might be because our field of vision spans all usable photo-receptors, so our brain does not get any visual information beyond that which we can see, not even a blackness. However, it would be interesting to ask people who suffer from tunnel vision, where their field of view is drastically reduced. Do they see a blackness, or something, around a small circular moving picture? Unfortunately, I don't know of anyone who I can ask.

Nevertheless, I don't think it can be said that our field of vision occupies an enclosing space, because I don't see in what sense that space can be said to be occupied. Our visual organs, our brains and the rest of our bodies occupy the volumes where they exist; if something else that also occupies a volume moves towards the same volume, motion will be exchanged in a collision, although some energy may also be absorbed by the deformation of the colliding bodies. Two things able to see cannot have the exact same field of vision because they cannot both observe the universe around them from the exact same location during the same interval, but I would say it is the things what occupy the space in which they occur; fields of vision are complex abstract notions conveyed by the motion of things that occupy space.

Thanks, and have fun!
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17-05-2014, 09:26 AM (This post was last modified: 17-05-2014 09:30 AM by Airportkid.)
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
Whoops - a bad typo threw the message into another dimension, out of reach. See post below for what was intended.
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17-05-2014, 09:28 AM
RE: Another boring existential ponderance....
(17-05-2014 06:25 AM)living thing Wrote:  ... I don't think it is possible to exist without occupying some space, and that is why I generally attach the notion of "occupying some volume" to the verb "exist". But I am not sure of what you mean by "any greater dimensional space".

I disagree: existence must be possible without existing IN something, in what I was calling a "greater dimensional space", else existence would require an infinite succession of "housings", whatever ultra-dimensional form those "housings" would have. (I don't think even the multi-verse TOE purports an infinite succession, like a never ending Russian doll; all its universes exist in parallel).

At some level the last "house" exists without needing itself to be housed.

It's a difficult concept to explain because we don't have a vocabulary for it yet, so we have to wave our rhetorical hands a lot.

(17-05-2014 06:25 AM)living thing Wrote:  ... I don't think it can be said that our field of vision occupies an enclosing space, because I don't see in what sense that space can be said to be occupied.

Exactly. THAT's why I felt it makes a better analogy than a spatial one. Field of vision is its own "house"; it doesn't exist in some larger space.

You can see why rhetorical hand waving is awkward: you thought I'd meant something almost the opposite of what I'd intended. We need more vocabulary. I've looked for some on eBay but apparently no one's got any extra to sell. And trying to make your own fresh vocabulary doesn't produce reliable results.

The only hope is getting conversations like this more into the mainstream. But to do that means displacing conversations about what Brad Pitt and his latest squeeze last fought about over breakfast and there's very little hope of ever doing that.
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