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IS NOTHING SACRED? 
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
I will try to explain yet again, Robert. When you imagine a universe without you, IT IS YOU WHO IS IMAGINING IT. (excuse the capitals). If you do not exist, you cannot imagine anything. Surely that is clear (?)

My positing the reality of a future is not fatalistic. I made it clear that I am not referring to events that will or will happen, but to the fact that we have a future. A FUTURE. It is only inevitable in the fact that the future will happen. Having a future is a necessary condition for an individual being alive.


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Robert Tulip
Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:28 am
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
There are numerous examples of humans imagining a world without humans, and also a world without themselves (as protagonists) in novels and movies. In fact, I myself have two novel outlines that do just that. Here are a few examples:

time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,17045 ... 84,00.html

history.com/shows/life-after-people/art ... ter-people

amazon.com/dp/0670862045/?tag=googhydr- ... z7j5k0nu_b

amazon.com/Its-Wonderful-Life-60th-Anni ... B000HEWEJO


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Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:34 am
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
rongreen5 wrote:
I will try to explain yet again, Robert. When you imagine a universe without you, IT IS YOU WHO IS IMAGINING IT. (excuse the capitals). If you do not exist, you cannot imagine anything. Surely that is clear (?)

My positing the reality of a future is not fatalistic. I made it clear that I am not referring to events that will or will happen, but to the fact that we have a future. A FUTURE. It is only inevitable in the fact that the future will happen. Having a future is a necessary condition for an individual being alive.


http://www.nothing-matters.org

Ron, I understand what you're saying. You are saying that it is impossible for us to imagine anything at all, if, we don't exist in the first place in which to imagine:

A) Existing Human > Imagining the past before humans, the present, and the future.

B) No Existing Human > No imaging the past before humans, the prest, and the future.

So what is the point?

Let me add this, whether or not it is impossible to imagine anything if one does not even exist in order to imagine, there was still a universe and existence before any human being was around to observe and imagine. There was space and matter before there was ever mind. There will be space and matter even if every mind on earth (or anywhere else in the universe life may exist) ceases to exist. You are talking about consciousness, as I pointed out in my opening post. But aside from consciousness there is still always "something" and "somethingness" in existence regardless.

A universe without us to imagine it is still an existing universe. Our dead bodies which have lost consciousness still exist in the form of matter. There is always "something", regardless of consciousness...


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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
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Interbane, if you think you know what it's like to be dead, then you are using "know" in a way that makes sense only to you. If you change language to make it mean what you want it to mean (as Alice says), then we cannot have a discussion about anything. The sentence "Green ideas sleep furiously" will mean something to you, but not to speakers of Eglish.


Apparently you're the one person around these parts who doesn't 'know' my connotation of 'know'.

Dig into the epistemology and pick the one that fits. Propositional knowledge? Inferential knowledge? Descriptive knowledge? There are many 'classifications' of knowledge that do not require you to experience the phenomenon. For example, what in the world do we "know" about infinity/dinosaurs/aliens/abiogenesis?

My knowledge of death is that it is that perfectly vacuous undreaming state where I go from laying down to waking up and the passage of time blinks forward. Without the waking up part, it is timeless nothingness. I cannot blank out my thoughts to recreate that state, but I understand very well what it means to have 'nothing' going on in my head. It takes recombination of different parts of knowledge. I cannot say that I experience this state, but experiential knowledge is not the only type of knowledge.

This is a ridiculous conversation, but entertaining. If nothing else Ron, you're able to cause quite a ruckus about nothing. :)

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Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:21 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Interbane wrote:
My knowledge of death is that it is that perfectly vacuous undreaming state where I go from laying down to waking up and the passage of time blinks forward. Without the waking up part, it is timeless nothingness. I cannot blank out my thoughts to recreate that state, but I understand very well what it means to have 'nothing' going on in my head. It takes recombination of different parts of knowledge. I cannot say that I experience this state, but experiential knowledge is not the only type of knowledge.



Sorry if this seems a little self-serving, but when I read your description of death, it immediately brought to mind the opening text of the first chapter in my latest novel (I won't mention the name because this really is not in any way intended to be a promotion). The chapter is called "Death," and I wrote it with a little anger at those folks who insist upon claiming that death is a part of life. It opens thusly:

Quote:
Death, they say, is a part of life.

Bullshit!

Death is no more a part of life than rot is a part of lettuce. Rot is not a part of lettuce; it is what happens to lettuce. It is the end of lettuce, the demise of lettuce; it makes lettuce into something else, something unusable, except, perhaps, as fertilizer. Everything lettuce was—edible, green, crisp, fragrant—goes away with rot. Just as everything that was life goes away with death.

I was dead, so I know.

When I died, there were no end-of-tunnel bright lights or visits with family members and friends who had passed on. There was no feeling of being drawn to anything, no euphoria. Only a blank period with no memory, no sensation. Nothing. Did that worry me? No. I was incapable of worry, incapable of thought. I was dead, for Christ sake! At least for a while.


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Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:46 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
rongreen5 wrote:
I will try to explain yet again, Robert. When you imagine a universe without you, IT IS YOU WHO IS IMAGINING IT. (excuse the capitals). If you do not exist, you cannot imagine anything. Surely that is clear (?)

http://www.nothing-matters.org


Ron, the only interesting thing about talking about nothing is that it presents logical conundrums and traps, requiring what you say to be very precise and logical if you are going to make sense.

Fairly early on you made the entirely fallacious statement that "We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present, which is why we cannot grasp the concept of Nothing (the absence of everything)".

The premise of your conclusion is utterly flawed, as you yourself have admitted in completely revising it to a different statement, as you explain above. Several people have pointed out that your statement "We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present" is false. You have countered by saying that you actually meant a different statement "If you do not exist, you cannot imagine anything". That is fine, but you should understand how we got into such a storm in a teacup over nothing at all. Even so, your revised premise still does not justify your massive conclusion that you have a Theory of Nothing (a NOT).

Many would say that your revised Cartesian starting point - I think therefore I am - still does not enter the absurd terrain of nothing either, because nothing is utterly meaningless, and that is why we cannot grasp the concept. Descartes' point 'I am a thinking thing' is as weak as your original candidate, 'inability to imagine a universe in which we are not present'.

As the basis for the ungraspability of nothing and construction of a NOT, these logical premises barely scratch the skin of why nothing is so elusive. Nothing rests in sublime meaninglessness and pure mystery, and laughs at our attempts to explain it with our puny "concepts".

I feel happy to rip into you on this point of logic because what we are discussing is rather light and inconsequential. After all, nothing will never amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Quote:
My positing the reality of a future is not fatalistic. I made it clear that I am not referring to events that will or will happen, but to the fact that we have a future. A FUTURE. It is only inevitable in the fact that the future will happen. Having a future is a necessary condition for an individual being alive.

Ron, I assume you meant will or will not, before starting to chase you down more rabbit holes?


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:58 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
This reminds me of Campbell talking about deep dreamless sleep. Imagine going into deep dreamless sleep, awake. Experiencing consciousness, but consciousness of no specific thing. These eastern mystical concepts about "nothingness" are always about "something" in the grand scheme. All of the transcendent doctrines and all. The only real purpose is to come to a point of seeing how everything is interconnected and whole, or one as it were. All of this trying to back yourself right out of time and space to an incomprehensible "nothingness" is simply to try and put someone in accord with nature, seeing themselves as interconnected aspect of the whole of existence. That's all fine and well, but it's not to be taken too literally any more than the bible. These are all myths and mythology written in the language of metaphor and allegory.

And yes, this concept of "Nothing" is considered a sacred concept. But in every case the nothing which is considered sacred actually points back to "something" after all. I'd say that it's this mysterious "somethingness" cloaked as if it were "nothingness" which people have held up as sacred for so long.


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Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:27 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
It is interesting to note that nothing, when denoted as zero, actually had a major role in revolutionizing mathematics.


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Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:25 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
I agree with you, Tat, that the nothingness of Eastern faiths is something.

Robert, it is not my fault that you did not understand my statement "We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present, which is why we cannot grasp the concept of Nothing (the absence of everything)", and that it took another two times for you to understand what I meant.

And, yes, I have a theory of Nothing.

I agree that the concept of Nothing is entirely meaningless. I have explained why that is so, and I hope you don't want me to go through it a fourth time. You do, though, insist that I summarise 248 pages into a few lines in this forum. If I could do that, I would have saved myself all those pages.

From what you write, I am now waiting for you to ask whether Nothing exists. I would hope, though, that before you get into that, you will realise what my answer would be. I'm amused - but not surprised - that you consider a discussion of Nothing to be light and inconsequential.

R. LeBeaux, not only did zero revolutionarise mathematics (and science in consequence), but the Church in the Middle Ages did not allow the new numerical system containing zero to be practised and hence held back [Christian] civilization for some 600 years. All this while in Muslim Europe leapt ahead in mathematics and science, due to the use of the system brought in by the Muslims from India.

One not significant point: zero is not Nothing. The fact that the Church thought of it as Nothing is the reason that it was not allowed to be used. That is a long story, though.


www.nothing-matters.org



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
R. Lebeaux, I like the opening of your novel. As fiction, it's cute. As a basis for a discussion on Nothing, it is very problematic; but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't be interested to continue reading.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
rongreen5 wrote:
R. Lebeaux, I like the opening of your novel. As fiction, it's cute. As a basis for a discussion on Nothing, it is very problematic; but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't be interested to continue reading.


Oh, hell, I knew that. I wasn't trying to add to the discussion, really; it's just that what Interbane said struck me as so close you my own words, I felt the need to post it. Sorry if it bothered you .


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Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:12 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
rongreen5 wrote:
One not significant point: zero is not Nothing.


That's correct, and it's why I said "when denoted as zero." The concept of zero is far more complex than a simple digit, particularly when it comes to theoretical mathematics.


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Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:17 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
rongreen5 wrote:
I agree with you, Tat, that the nothingness of Eastern faiths is something.
That is interesting. Why do you say that? The Tao Te Ching is a major source for Eastern views about nothing. For example:
We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends. We turn clay to make a vessel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends. We pierce doors and windows to make a house; And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends. Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not. (chap. 11, tr. Waley)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching#Emptiness
Quote:
Robert, it is not my fault that you did not understand my statement "We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present, which is why we cannot grasp the concept of Nothing (the absence of everything)", and that it took another two times for you to understand what I meant.
Ron, sorry to be repetitive, but my concern, which you may note was shared by others, was that your original statement was not true, and it was only when you changed your statement that you clarified your meaning. We can in fact imagine a universe in which we are not present, and pedantic and irritating as it may be, it is valuable to have some logical precision in the discussion.
Quote:
And, yes, I have a theory of Nothing. I agree that the concept of Nothing is entirely meaningless. I have explained why that is so, and I hope you don't want me to go through it a fourth time. You do, though, insist that I summarise 248 pages into a few lines in this forum. If I could do that, I would have saved myself all those pages. From what you write, I am now waiting for you to ask whether Nothing exists. I would hope, though, that before you get into that, you will realise what my answer would be. I'm amused - but not surprised - that you consider a discussion of Nothing to be light and inconsequential.

I'm sorry you did not see the Bogartian irony in my comment that nothing is a light topic. I actually think nothing is of the highest consequence. That is why I started this thread, which originally had the title Nothing, but Chris found this too disturbing and changed it. As you would recall, I referred you to this thread from your introduction of your book, where nothing has been said since my comment.

To repeat from your thread,
I wrote:
Hi Ron, welcome, thanks. I have long been fascinated by nothing, since reading Heidegger's analysis of nothing in his An Introduction to Metaphysics. I talk about nothing at http://rtulip.net/yahoo_site_admin/asse ... 191058.pdf and http://rtulip.net/yahoo_site_admin/asse ... 191138.pdf

Carlos Castaneda's concept of the nagual seems like nothing to me.

We discussed nothing in American Gods at a thread on whether nothing is sacred, which I hope you will be interested to read.

is-nothing-sacred-t6422.html

There are few more interesting semantic logic puzzles than whether we can make any sense of nothing.


All this illustrates that nothing can be said about nothing, and the paradox that to talk of nothing makes nothing into something. This illustrates Tat's point about metaphor and God, that as soon as we attempt to capture the beyond in language, we distort and misunderstand it, rather like the uncertainty principle in quantum physics. This is highly relevant to the thread topic, Is Nothing Sacred?. If we say God is nothing, in the sense that God is not an entity, we enter an atheist mindspace, but one that opens us to the mystery of existence and our relation to nature, reality and the sacred.

Another thread that discusses related themes, especially negative theology, is the-case-for-god-t8001.html


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
A fine essay about the great debate on nothing between Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Carnap, whereby science expresses its axiomatic rejection of mythical thinking, is at http://www.hnu.edu.ph/main/publication/ ... 061713.pdf

This reminds me of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, in relation to the liar paradox "this is false". By Carnap's logical positivist standards, all discussion of the paradox is utterly absurd, because it analyses a non-statement. And yet for some reason paradox is regarded as a serious topic in logic, whereas Heidegger is ignored except within the existential humanist traditions. People just don't like what he called the muffled bell of anxiety, with its discomforting sense that we have no answer to big why questions and know that we will become nothing. Yet it is perfectly reasonable to discuss anxiety about non-being in view of the likelihood of human extinction on present trends.


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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Robert, Sorry to be repetetive, but I stand by my original statement. We CANNOT imagine a universe without humans, since in order to do that we have to be not around in order to do that.

Since you insist on arguing with me without reading what I wrote on the subject, I am finding it tedious to answer every point of yours. So it goes with the issue of Eastern religions. Nothingness (the absence of something) is not Nothing. Tao deals with nothingness, which is something.

You state that "the paradox that to talk of nothing makes nothing into something." You are mixing up the term and the concept. There is no way we can talk about anything without using language. It's all we've got to discuss stuff. You are right, though, that we can't talk about the concept Nothing; the reason is that to touch Nothing in any way would mean that we would not be present. That is Nothing: the absence of everything, including ourselves.

Nothing is not a paradox. A paradox is something. Nothing simply isn't. As hard as that is to comprehend, it is what we have to contend with when we discuss Nothing using the word "nothing."



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DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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