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drake asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 2 months ago

Can nothing exist? Can nonbeing be?

The standard definition of nothing is not anything; no single thing.

I have two examples for this definition:

1) not existence

2) not fairies

*Existence in this sense is essentially the sum of all things in totality. 

Here’s the thing. Either of this examples include not anything or not a single thing. In the case of these examples of a nothing, the things themselves don’t exist, (for the sake of argument). But the non beingness of these things do exist. At all times, everywhere. In other words, fairies don’t exist at anytime, anywhere. For existence to not exist, the nothingness would have to exist. Since this is contradictory, absolute nothing cannot exist. 

Does this make sense?

9 Answers

  • Rita
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    The ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides (VI-V centuries B.C.) unambiguously asserted that "there is only the being, but nonbeing does not exist"; in saying so, the being was understood by him as the material globe-shaped world, solid, homogeneous and motionless.

  • Herve
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    You are talking about ontological nihilism

    Nobody seems to believe it is possible, but google it and you may find some interesting PDF discussing the concept.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Well not for long. According to physicists 'nothing' is unstable.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    No, it can't.

    A coworker and I were having a conversation about life after death where he insisted that death is absolute nothingness. 

    "I was pronounced dead for nearly 5 minutes," he said, "and during that time I experienced absolutely nothing.  No out of body experience.  No angels with harps, no tunnels of light, nothing!  That's how I know for certain there's no life after death."

    "But you're experiencing something now, right?" I asked.

    "Duh! I'm experiencing something now because I'm alive, stupid," he spewed.

    "Well, if you are alive now, how can you say there's no life after death?"

    We have names for our "ideas" about how and why we experience things the way we do: self awareness, consciousness, sensory input, and so on.  We attribute these abilities to either the complex evolution of our brains or the endowment of a soul by a creator.  No one is prepared or even interested in entertaining any other explanation.  Protecting that ignorance is the only thing holding this reality together.   

  • 2 months ago

    "Nothing exists" is an incomplete statement. There needs to be some location of which it is true - "nothing exists here". Nothing exists now", Nothing exists in my consciousness", etc. But as soon as you have a reference frame, whether that be the space-time continuum, or the consciousness of a mind, or something more abstract, then that reference frame, in itself, is something existing.

    Even laying aside that problem, if 'nothing' existed, then the statement 'nothing exists' would be true, and that would mean truth existed. And if truth existed, then that would be something, not nothing.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    No "nothing" does not exist except as an abstraction in ones's mind. The state of being called Existence must always exist. There can be two and only conditions: existence where phisical objects exist, and existence that is devoid of all objects. Philosophically, existence must always exist,  whether not anyone exists to take note of it. 

  • j153e
    Lv 7
    2 months ago


    p.s.  Fairies do would be more germane to define "not-X" as negation of X, X defined as All-in-all, the One without a second.  You are dealing with Boolean logic of Oneness and naughtness, reduced per se to "ones and zeros," "+/-". 

    "X^2 + 1 = 0" is an imaginary which has the von Neumannian framing function of providing answers for those polynomial equations that have real coefficients and yet express incompleteness, i.e. have no real number answers to their equational truth-claims, but are solved in the complex plane.

    It's worth noting that the notion of "zero" in maths = zero being both real and imaginary; in this dualism, zero is an indeterminate, a solipsistic form-in-itself without  re-presentation, referentiality, or bijection.  Thus, it is illogical or irreal to posit or imagine that a thing multiplied by itself, and then adding one to it, equals a solipsistic no-thingness:  if the thing is, even in imagination (one fairy squared = one fairy, aka  "I am that I am") and an abstract "one whatever" is added, "X^2 + 1" can't = no thing aka 0, but two things (one squared fairy (btw, "How do you square a fairy (or a pear, or a quark)?") and one "any thing").  Thus, maths are quite often von Neumannly useful, but it's well not to reify such i-ness.  The illogic just noted is occasionally expressed in contemplation, which illogic you have apparently parsed your way through:  nothingness as indeterminate 0 both exists and does not exist, both in "real" (pear-counting as classical physics, and quark-counting as quantum physics) and in "imaginary" (complex plane of the fairies, which plane Euler found was von Neumannly friendly re providing answers in its greater framing of the real polynomial axiomized system's Godelian incompleteness).  "For existence [1] to not exist, the nothingness [0] would have to exist.  Does this make sense?"  Descartes agrees with you; Euler posits "X^2 + 1 = 0".  One needn't consign fairies to indeterminacy...0 will do.



    The Neverending Story;

    The Man Who Loved Only Numbers.

  • 2 months ago

    Yes it does make sense. Things (XD) like this are curiosities.  

    I give an number of definitions for nothing in my book, "On Nothing and the Unconscious." It touches on what you are working with here, that is absolute nothingness and the non-existence of a something. 

    Plenty of people have the common conception that SOME things that are possible don't actually exist in the world. But when considering 1) the existence of something having existence as a thought, or 2) things having existence in other possible world, the non-existence of these IMAGINARY entities are questioned.

  • 2 months ago

    Even if there's nothing occupying space, there's still space itself.

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