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GeoBardRap 'none is a concept of absolute absence, or void which has received extensive theoretical treatment by Western philosophers, particularly existentialists as well as Zen Buddhists and those influenced by Zen, such as Miyamoto Musashi. It is directly and inextricably linked, if only through the polarity of negation, to the concept of existence.


The following references are cited by that German-language article:

followed by a list of that different-language article's references.


NA'comes from LatinPeopleNegen shot himselfnot gentemwhich meansperson. "

Differences between nothingness and emptiness[edit]

Do not confuse nothingnessandempty, which are two different concepts. The second relates to the notion of space (the vacuum is in space) itself incompatible with the concept ofnothing(in the sense of absolute nothing, but nothing etymologically is something we can therefore conclude that nothing can not bring themselves to the mere idea of ​​absolute nothing).

Nothingnessnot the vacuum and vice versa.

The vacuum is no substance in a defined space. Nothingness is the absence of existence, the design space becomes obsolete.

(Eg with a vacuum pump, you can remove the material (including air) of a jar. The vacuum then described his absence. Nothingness is the existence of what the empty area, it would have the same space as "contains" the jar does not exist, it would be impossible to exist in the jar.)

Dimensional Modeling == == nothingness

Thinking nothing rests on the capacity of abstract certain.

The == == nothingness and being

Analysis and nihilistic "negativity of nothingness"[edit]

The nothingness is so close to anything that affects easily design s of human being and meaning and fighting against any thinking [[Order | directed] ]. However some philosophers resorted to the problematization of the "negativity of nothingness" for trying to apprehend in thought, the concept of nothingness.

The nothingness is so staged, it is one thing for the denial of application fields of this thing in reality. This is a point of view denialist, which pushes everything in the trenches of "almost nothing". That is to say that the "negativity of nothingness" leads a movement, a evolution or become in reality.

According to Bergson nothingness would be a pseudo-concept without Essence or a single-cons can be said. This position fundamentally denies the identity affirmed by the human being, of all things including himself and thus generates a movement of change leading to a future. By this denial is made on the fields of applications in the real of all things Bergson highlights, in the presence of being polymorphic of death within ' a speech the assumption contrary in action requirement of limitation. This relativize anything directly from its foundation and seems to bring to the modeling of a dual state of things, both existing and as they both negations of itself, or being absent become history.

Hegel suggests that the "negativity of nothingness" is manifested in multiple ways with respect to levels of reality where she enrolled as a movement of change. This "néantification" stop any continuing evolution of identities, convictions and commitments. The work of Hegel's denial does not mean pushing all things in an absolute vacuum, it may be, on the contrary to an increase of life, sense of creativity or by transformation. Loss radical of a thing can not occur by the removal of the "negativity of nothing" by itself.

What seems to disappear by the operation of "negativity of nothingness" is preserved by transformation and is redrawn in a different form, different. The "negativity of nothingness" pushes things, it cleared the paths of fate and opens the path to renewal.

The void content of negativity in this operation is to stay on a power to evaporate without negation in the absence of existence, this relativity is directly inherent in the depths of our being that can be deleted, what is there before our eyes is difficult to refute. In conclusion, the "emptiness of negativity" is not a nil radical impossibility, practicing on something it creates a development that led to his becoming the thing which, however, it does not guarantee protection against a decisive error.

This "nothingness of relativity" is a seed of non-being that brings to its future, it is with him that life is growing, that enriched the discourse and the action s' intensifies. Negativity néantifie not only to better recreate. In the dense fabric of reality "negativity of nothingness" sets the trial of the History dialectical.

By exceeding the human negativity brings the concept of "negative work" to sometimes get lost in the maze of nihilism. This is a movement to destroy deadly against any expression of reality, nothing escapes his logic that deconstructs annihilating any construction of our planet.

Nihilism appears as a superior will to nothingness for the man who emerged as the profusion annihilation and wealth of things. Leading figures of this nihilism were raised during the time including Celine Bakunin Battle Gorgias and Nechaev. It is reassuring to know that even if, as the Huns, the grass never grows back where it passes by the nihilism is that it deconstructs and destroys revealing the impossibility of existence a perfect world.

This nihilism decided it is important to differentiate the nihilism of despair that Nietzsche has studied and he showed the character false and decadent at the heart of the civilization Western devoid of its foundations Theological. This is for Nietzsche nihilism of decadence and ruin of asphyxiation values ​​the creative energy of humanity, so for him the worst of nihilism, suicide leaving about humanity-seeing in the dark side of nowhere . Nothingness from the collective despair eschatological acts as a vector, a movement calling for things that cause them to end their free will to become.

Analysis by the "impossibility of nothingness"[edit]

The poemofParmenides text precursor of a Western approach to metaphysics, suggests that "nothing is impossible", which is a kind of cons can be s' akin to nothing in his absolute negation of all existence, without the level of non-being, without actual physical apprehensions. This nothingness is defined by an inability for anyone to possess some knowledge or experience on it(the impossibility of nothingness)as all studies, so that it is possible, should settle in the heart of " nothing is impossible "that inevitably annihilate them.

"The nothingness of impossibility" apprehended spiritually as a horizon composed of recognized forms of nothingness, like: the emptiness of the atomic, the matter ended in the [[Ancient philosophy] ], the imperfection metaphysics of being, according to Descartes, the limitation of being along Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre, knowing that the design of this nothingness stands still from what exists.

"The impossibility of nothingness" and takes place at the heart of the ontology of being and not from outside of being, nothingness quota is in being. Being is never alone, without this nothing that marks both the failure in solitude and death.

Analysis Neoplatonic or "none of transcendence"[edit]

"Nothingness of transcendence" is an interpretation of nothing based on intervals of human existence, he settled on time or in humans is or where it exists. These are the Neoplatonic s Greek such as Plotinus Proclus or Damascius that by developing their inspirations on the theology negative initiated in part by Rhineland Mystics Template:S-of and Dionysius devised a "nil by excess" which they attributed the function of the absolute Principle be modeled on the The One theory.

The theory of A or The A-principle is defined as the nameless, inexpressible and unspeakable. The A-principle invalidates any statement that claims cover any object in its nature, it is however also unthought origin of everything.

This fundamental principle of the nothingness of transcendence is the cause of itself and the principle of all, it is a creative energy, it is the origin of everything that turns to him to exist, there is nothing philosophies of The One.

None of this transcendence can not be apprehended by the language and irreducible in existing, it is a God e ineffable.

Stanislas Breton sees this as nothing:The divine uncreated creator nothingness, the nothingness of the soul virginal intellectual ....

This is contrary to nothing is impossible, horizon beyond which nothing exists, a time origin, a movement of creative energy in making even the origins of being.

A few French phrases containing the word nil[edit]

Attention, the meanings provided here are common sense, common by the neophyte, the word none. In any case, this paragraph is a definition of nil or even a definition of the real philosophical meaning that includes these terms.

  • Reducesomething to nothing: Commonly used to meancompletely destroy;
  • Distinguishing features: None. Commonly used for French identity card to signify that the holder hasunremarkable;distinguishing characteristicsnonexistent;
  • Take something (or someone) for nothing: consider something (or someone) as nothing;
  • Making something from nothing: Commonly used to meancreating.

== Quotes == nil with the word

  • What does freedom mean, if nothing, when it is more relative to others?- Fatou Diome - From:The Belly of the Atlantic.
  • Should not be less capacity to go to nothingness to everything.- Blaise Pascal - Preview of:'Thoughts on religion.
  • After all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to the infinite, a whole with respect out of nothing, a mean between nothing and everything.- Blaise Pascal - Preview of:Thoughts, Section Template:Roma-Maj, paragraph 72.
  • The being or nothingness, is the problem.- Raymond Queneau - From:Zazie dans le Metro.
  • We have to look across the void to find triumph in- Louis Aragon - From:Poets.
  • A religion speaks of immortality, but means something that does not nothingness- Marcel Proust -From Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • The nothingness after death? Is not the state which we used before life?- Arthur Schopenhauer -
  • The tragedy of man is played less in the certainty of his nothingness in his stubbornness in not resigned to it.- Roland Jaccard - From: The temptationnihilistic .
  • The nothingness has no center and its boundaries are nothing.- Leonardo da Vinci - Preview of:notebooks.
  • I'm like a medium between God and nothingness.- René Descartes - From:Meditationfourth.
  • The plate full cache an empty plate, like the cache to be nothing.- Raymond Queneau - From:'Quackgrass.
  • There is always someone above self: beyond God himself rises Nothingness.- Emil Michel Cioran
  • The Void is a hole with nothing around. - Raymond Devos

Words of French from the word nil[edit]

  • The verbannihilate'which means to wipe.
  • The nounlazy,which has doneandnonemeans lazy, which is little.
  • The neologismnihilate "created by Sartre to represent the action of pushing everything into nothing that is not in the knowledge from his point of view.


Bild der wissenschaft * 10/2006, "Nichts (S. 40-59)

See also[edit]



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The importance of free choice, a consequence of atheistic existentialism, and because of liability ("existence precedes essence"). It is a moral commitment to humanist calling.

Sartre makes a distinction between "being for itself '(conscious man of his life and liberty), and" being in itself "(animals, nature, objects that are not even aware of them) and "being for others" (conscious man who is defined in relation to others). He calls "bad faith" attitude of one who hides his freedom. This is a historical and a stance toward the man at once free and master of himself, which is defined through the spectrum of this triplicity in which he established a principle of the world on an ontology that develops from the first position "for itself" as absolute freedom through which he supports his phenomenology of being. It is within this idea that fits all the power and originality of his text, that is to say, "Man is condemned to be free" to choose without reason and before right, and he concludes that "life is useless passion." [Edit] Background

A sequel was promised, in this case a moral existentialist, which was never written, except by Simone de Beauvoir with The Ethics of Ambiguity, or in the Notebooks for an ethics, published after the Sartre's death. [Edit] See also Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Geofferybard / Nothingness

   Being and Nothingness is ranked at 13 in the 100 best books of the twentieth century.

[Edit] Notes e néant est un concept d'absence absolue,ou de nullité absolue. Il est directement et indissociablement liée à la notion d'existence.


néant vient du latin populaire negens tiré lui-même de ne gentem qui signifie « personne ».

Différence entre le néant et le vide[edit]

Il ne faut pas confondre néant et vide qui sont deux notions différentes. La seconde est relative à la notion d'espace (le vide s'inscrit dans un espace) elle-même incompatible avec la notion de néant (au sens de rien absolu, mais le rien étymologiquement est quelque chose, on peut donc conclure que le néant ne peut se résoudre à la simple idée du rien absolu).

Le néant n'est pas le vide et réciproquement.

Le vide est l'absence de matière dans un espace défini. Le néant étant l'absence d'existence, la conception même d'espace devient obsolète.

(e.g. Avec une pompe à vide, vous pouvez retirer la matière (y compris l'air) d'un bocal. Le vide décrira alors cette absence. Le néant étant à l'existence ce qu'est le vide à la matière, il faudrait que l'espace même que "contient" le bocal n'existe pas, il serait donc impossible au bocal d'exister.)

Modélisation dimensionnelle du néant[edit]

Penser le néant repose sur une capacité d'abstraction certaine.

Le néant et l'être[edit]

Analyse nihiliste et « négativité du néant »[edit]

Le néant est si proche du rien qu'il affecte aisément les conceptions humaines d'être et de sens luttant ainsi contre toute pensée ordonnée. Cela étant certains philosophes eurent recours à la problématisation de la « négativité du néant » pour tenter d'appréhender, par la pensée, la notion de néant.

Le néant est ainsi mis en scène, il est pour une chose la négation des champs d’applications de cette chose dans le réel. Il s’agit d’un point de vue négationniste qui repousse chaque chose dans les retranchements du « presque-rien ». C’est-à-dire que la « négativité du néant » induit un mouvement, une évolution ou un devenir au sein du réel.

Selon Bergson le néant ne serait qu'un pseudo-concept sans essence ou une simple contre-possibilité de l'être affirmé. Cette prise de position conteste radicalement l'identité affirmée, par l'être humain, de toutes choses y compris lui-même et engendre ainsi un mouvement d'évolution amenant à un devenir. Par cette négation qui est opérée sur les champs d'applications dans le réel de toutes choses Bergson met en évidence, au sein de l'être la présence polymorphe de la mort ; au sein d'un discours l'hypothèse contraire ; au sein de l'action l'exigence de limitation. Ceci relativise toute chose directement d’après son fondement d’être et semble amener à la modélisation d’un double états des choses, à la fois existantes tel qu’elles et à la fois négations d’elle-même, inexistantes ou étant en devenir d’existence.

Hegel suggère que la « négativité du néant » se manifeste de façons multiples relativement aux plans de la réalité où elle s'inscrit comme un mouvement d'évolution. Cette « néantification » stoppe toute évolution continue des identités, des certitudes et des engagements. L’œuvre de négation de Hegel ne repousse pas pour autant toutes choses dans un absolu vide, elle peut porter, au contraire jusqu'à un surcroît de vie, de sens ou de créativité par transformation. La perte radicale d'une chose ne pouvant survenir que par la suppression de la « négativité du néant » par elle-même.

Ce qui semble s'effacer par l'opération de « négativité du néant » se conserve par transformation et se redessine sous une autre forme, différente. La « négativité du néant » pousse les choses, elle défriche les sentiers du devenir et inaugure la voie du renouveau.

Le néant contenu dans cette opération de négativité reste relatif pour rester une force de négation sans s'évaporer dans l'absence d'existence, cette relativité est directement inhérente au fond de l’être qui ne peut être effacé, ce qui est là sous nos yeux est ardu à réfuter. En conclusion, le « néant de la négativité » n'est pas un néant radical d'impossibilité, en s'exerçant sur une chose il engendre une évolution qui amène la chose à son devenir qui, cependant, ne lui garantit nullement une protection contre un égarement décisif.

Ce « néant de la relativité » est un germe de non-être qui amène l'être à son devenir, c'est avec lui que la vie croît, que le discours s'enrichit et que l'action s'intensifie. La négativité ne néantifie que pour mieux recréer. Dans la toile dense du réel la « négativité du néant » instaure le procès de l’histoire dialectique.

En dépassant la négativité l’humain amène la notion de « travail du négatif » à parfois s‘égarer dans les dédales du nihilisme. Ce dernier est un mouvement de destruction mortelle contre toute expression du réel, rien ne réchappe à sa logique néantisante qui déstructure toute construction de notre planète.

Le nihilisme apparaît comme une volonté supérieure de néant pour l’homme qui s’affirme comme anéantissement devant la profusion et la richesse des choses. Des figures emblématiques de ce nihilisme furent évoquées au cours des temps notamment par Céline, Bakounine, Bataille, Gorgias et Netchaïev. Il est rassurant de savoir que même si, tel les Huns, l’herbe ne repousse jamais là où il passe, le nihilisme n’existe que par ce qu’il déstructure et anéantit révélant ainsi l’impossibilité d’existence d’un monde parfait.

De ce nihilisme décidé il est important de différencier le nihilisme du désespoir que Nietzsche a étudié et dont il a révélé le caractère perfide et décadent au cœur de la civilisation occidentale dépourvue de ses fondements théologiques. Tel est pour Nietzsche le nihilisme de la décadence et de la ruine des valeurs qui asphyxie l’énergie créatrice de l’humanité, tel est pour lui le pire des nihilismes, suicidaire qui laisse entre-apercevoir dans l’humanité le côté obscur du néant. Ce néant issu du désespoir collectif agit comme un vecteur eschatologique, communiquant aux choses un mouvement qui les amènent à leur fin sans volonté de devenir.

Analyse selon le «néant d'impossibilité»[edit]

Le poème de Parménide texte précurseur d’une approche occidentale de la métaphysique, laisse entrevoir le « néant d’impossibilité», qui est une sorte de contre possibilité de l’être s’apparentant au rien dans son absolue négation de toute existence, sans niveau de non-être, sans appréhensions physiques réelles. Ce néant se définit par une impossibilité, pour quiconque, de posséder quelques connaissances ou expériences sur lui (le néant d’impossibilité) car toutes études, pour qu'elle soit possible, devraient s’établir au cœur même du « néant d’impossibilité» qui inéluctablement les annihilerait.

« Le néant d’impossibilité» s’appréhende spirituellement comme un horizon composé des formes reconnues de néant, comme : le vide de l’atomiste, la matière indéterminée dans la philosophie antique, l’imperfection métaphysique de l’être selon Descartes, la limitation de l’être selon Heidegger et Jean-Paul Sartre ; sachant que la conception de ce néant s’établit toujours à partir de ce qui existe.

« Le néant d’impossibilité» s’opère ainsi au cœur de l’ontologie de l’être et non pas à partir de l’extérieur de l’être, ce néant est contingenté dans l’être. L’être n’est jamais, seul, dépourvu de ce néant qui le marque aussi bien dans l’échec que dans la solitude ou la mort.

Analyse néoplatonicienne ou le «néant de transcendance»[edit]

Le « néant de transcendance » est une interprétation du néant fondée sur les intervalles humains d'existence, il s'établit sur les laps de temps ou l'humain est ou lorsqu'il existe. Ce sont les néoplatoniciens grecs tels que Plotin, Proclos ou Damascius qui en développant leurs inspirations sur la théologie négative initiée en partie par les Mystiques Rhénans du XIVe siècle et Denys l'Aréopagite imaginèrent un « néant par excès » auquel ils attribuèrent la fonction de Principe absolu de l'être sur le modèle de la théorie de L'Un.

La théorie de L'Un ou L'Un-principe est définis comme le sans nom, l'inexprimable et l'indicible. L'Un-principe infirme tout énoncé qui prétend viser quelque objet de sa nature, il est cependant également l'impensée origine de tout.

Ce principe fondamental qu'est le néant de transcendance est cause de soi et principe de tout, il s'agit d'une énergie de création, il est l'origine de tout ce qui se retourne vers lui pour exister, il est le néant des philosophies de L'Un.

Ce néant de transcendance ne peut pas s'appréhender par le langage et est irréductible à l'existant, il est une image divine ineffable.

Stanislas Breton perçoit ce néant comme : Le néant divin incréé créateur, le néant virginal de l'âme intellectuelle....

Il s'agit contrairement au néant d'impossibilité, horizon au-delà duquel rien n'existe, d'une origine temporelle, d'un mouvement d'énergie créatrice procédant au sein même des origines de l'être.

Quelques expressions françaises comportant le mot néant[edit]

Attention, les significations fournies ici correspondent au sens commun, usuel par le néophyte, du mot néant. En aucun cas, ce paragraphe n'est une définition du mot néant ni même une définition du sens réel philosophique que comporte ces expressions.

  • Réduire quelque chose à néant : couramment utilisée pour signifier détruire totalement ;
  • Signes particuliers : néant. Couramment utilisée pour les cartes d'identités françaises afin de signifier que le titulaire n'a aucun signe particulier ; signes particuliers inexistants ;
  • Tenir quelque chose (ou quelqu'un) pour néant : considérer quelque chose (ou quelqu'un) comme rien ;
  • Tirer quelque chose du néant : couramment utilisée pour signifier créer.

Citations contenant le mot néant[edit]

  • Que signifie la liberté, sinon le néant, quand elle n'est plus relative à autrui ? - Fatou Diome - Extrait de : Le ventre de l'Atlantique.
  • Il ne faut pas moins de capacité pour aller jusqu'au néant que jusqu'au tout. - Blaise Pascal - Extrait des : Pensées sur la religion.
  • Car enfin qu'est-ce que l'homme dans la nature ? Un néant à l'égard de l'infini, un tout à l'égard du néant, un milieu entre rien et tout. - Blaise Pascal - Extrait des : Pensées, Section Template:Rom-maj, paragraphe 72.
  • L'être ou le néant, voilà le problème. - Raymond Queneau - Extrait de : Zazie dans le métro.
  • Il faut regarder le néant en face pour savoir en triompher - Louis Aragon - Extrait de : Les poètes.
  • Une religion parle d'immortalité, mais entend par là quelque chose qui n'exclut pas le néant - Marcel Proust - Extrait de Sodome et Gomorrhe.
  • Le néant après la mort ? N'est-ce pas l'état auquel nous étions habitués avant la vie ? - Arthur Schopenhauer -
  • Le drame de l'homme se joue moins dans la certitude de son néant que dans son entêtement à ne point s'y résigner. - Roland Jaccard - Extrait de : La tentation nihiliste.
  • Le néant n'a point de centre et ses limites sont le néant. - Léonard de Vinci - Extrait des : Carnets.
  • Je suis comme un milieu entre Dieu et le néant. - René Descartes - Extrait de : Méditation quatrième.
  • L'assiette pleine cache une assiette vide, comme l'être cache le néant. - Raymond Queneau - Extrait de : Le chiendent.
  • On a toujours quelqu'un au-dessus de soi : par-delà Dieu même s'élève le Néant. - Émil Michel Cioran
  • Le Néant c'est un trou avec rien autour. - Raymond Devos

Mots de la langue française tirés du mot néant[edit]

  • Le verbe anéantir qui signifie réduire à néant.
  • Le substantif fainéant qui vient de fait et de néant signifie paresseux, qui fait peu.
  • Le néologisme néantiser créé par Sartre pour représenter l'action de repousser dans le néant tout ce qui n'appartient pas à la conscience de son point de vue.


van Inwage[edit]

Page 1 WHY IS THERE ANYTHING AT ALL? Peter van Inwagen and E. J. Lowe I-Peter van Inwagen T he question that is my title is supposed to be the most profound and difficult of all questions. Some, indeed, have said that it is a dangerous question, a question that can tear the mind asunder. But I think we can make some progress with it if we do not panic. Let us begin by asking what would count as an answer to it. One sort of answer, the best if we could get it, would consist in a demonstration that it was impossible for there to be nothing.1 Or so I would suppose: if showing that it is impossible for a certain state of affairs to obtain doesn't count as answering the question why that state of affairs does not obtain, I don't know what would count. How would one go about proving that it was impossible for there to be nothing? One way would be to prove the existence of a necessary being. By a 'being' I mean a concrete object-whatever that may mean-and, therefore, by a necessary being I mean a necessarily existent concrete object. I will assume that at least some abstract objects-numbers, pure sets, 'purely qualitative' properties and relations, possibilities, possible worlds themselves -exist in all possible worlds. I do not think that the question that people have actually intended to ask when they ask why anything at all should exist could be answered by pointing out-I will take 1. Most of the arguments of this paper will be modal arguments of one sort or another. In presenting these arguments, I am going to assume that David Lewis's metaphysics of modality-'Genuine Modal Realism'-is wrong, and that the 'abstractionist' modal metaphysic of Kripke and Plantinga and Stalnaker is right. Problems about the validity and cogency of modal reasoning are normally not particularly sensitive to how one answers the question whether possible worlds are what Lewis says they are or what his opponents say they are. The arguments we shall be considering, however, are exceptions to this general- ization. The question 'Why should there be anything at all?' looks very different when viewed from the perspective provided by Lewis and from the perspective provided by Kripke et al. I am sorry to have to begin this paper by simply assuming without argument that Lewis is wrong about the metaphysics of modality, but I can't address every question in one paper. I discuss Lewis's 'Genuine Modal Realism' in 'Two Concepts of Possible Worlds', Midwest Studies in Philosophy 11 (1986) pp. 185-213. Page 2 96 I--PETER VAN INWAGEN this statement to be true for the sake of the illustration; I certainly think it's true-that the number 510 would exist no matter what. If the notion of an abstract object makes sense at all, it seems evident that if everything were an abstract object, if the only objects were abstract objects, there is an obvious and perfectly good sense in which there would be nothing at all, for there would be no physical things, no stuffs, no events, no space, no time, no Cartesian egos, no God....2 When people want to know why there is anything at all, they want to know why that bleak state of affairs does not obtain. It is by no means a trivial assertion that a demonstration of the impossibility of there being nothing must take the form of a demonstration that there is a necessary being. If one could do it, it would certainly suffice to show that it was a necessary truth that there were some beings, and that proposition does not formally entail the proposition that there is a necessary being. (It might be that there is at least one being in every possible world, even if there is no being that exists in every possible world.) I can say only that it seems to me hopeless to try to devise any argument for the conclusion that it is a necessary truth that there are beings that is not also an argument for the conclusion that there is a necessary being. I simply have no idea of how one might even attempt that. It is at any rate true that showing that there is a necessary being would do the trick: if there is a necessary being then it is impossible for there to be nothing. But can it be done? Is it possible to show that there is a necessary being? The friends of the ontological argument (if there are any) will no doubt remind us that showing that there is a necessary being is just what their argument claims to be particularly good at. Let us see whether the ontological argument can help us with our question. Of all the versions of the ontological argument, the 2. Suppose there were pure stuffs: stuffs whose presence in a region of space did not require any being to be wholly or partly present in that region. (Butter would be a pure stuff if butter existed but, (i) nothing was made of butter, and (ii) some regions of space were filled with butter without there being any quarks, electrons, atoms, or other concrete things in those regions.) Then it would be possible for there to be no beings-and yet not nothing. Or suppose that there were pure events: events whose occurrence did not consist in a change in the intrinsic properties of any being or a change in the external relations that held among two or more beings. Then, again, it would be possible for there to be no beings-and yet not nothing. In my view, however, pure stuffs and events are metaphysically impossible. If I were to be convinced otherwise, certain aspects of the language of this paper would have to be revised, but not, I think, in any way that affected any of its central theses. Page 3 WHY IS THERE ANYTHING AT ALL? 97 version I have called the Minimal Modal Ontological Argument is the one that can be most profitably studied by the philosopher who wants an argument whose conclusion is the existence of a necessary being. (The argument is indisputably logically valid; it has just the desired conclusion; every other version of the ontological argument that is indisputably logically valid will have a premise or premises that it would be harder to defend than the premise of the Minimal Modal Argument.) The argument is easy to state: Consider the two properties, necessity (that is, necessary existence or existence in all possible worlds) and entity or concrescence (the property of being a being or concrete object). These two properties are compatible-it is not absolutely or metaphysically or intrinsically impossible for something to have both of them. Therefore, there is some- thing that has both of them; that is, there is a necessary being.3 But why should we accept the premise of the argument-that necessity and entity are compatible? I know of only one argument for the compatibility of these two properties that is even superficially plausible. This argument is a version of the cosmological argument. It has three premises: Every fact has an explanation; If a property F has, as a matter of contingent fact, a non-empty extension, then any explanation of this fact must somehow involve beings (concrete things) that do not have F; Contingency (the property of being a contingent being) has, as a matter of contingent fact, a non-empty extension. It obviously follows from these three premises that if there are, as a matter of contingent fact, contingent beings, there are also non- contingent beings-that is, necessary beings. But we know by observation that there are beings, and every being is either contingent or necessary. If, therefore, this version of the cosmological argument is sound, the observed fact that there are 3. For a discussion of the Minimal Modal Ontological Argument, a discussion that includes a demonstration of its validity, see my 'Ontological Arguments', Noas 11 (1977) pp. 375- 395. This essay is reprinted in Peter van Inwagen, God, Knowledge, and Mystery: Essays in Philosophical Theology (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995). Page 4 98 I-PETER VAN INWAGEN beings entails that there is at least one necessary being, and hence entails that it is impossible for there to be nothing. (This conclusion depends on our assumption that if there are contingent beings this state of affairs obtains only as a matter of contingent fact. But if there were contingent beings of necessity, it would also follow that it was impossible for there to be nothing.) We can, in fact, reach this conclusion without any appeal to observation. We can show that it is impossible for there to be nothing without using any observed fact as a premise, even the fact that there are some beings. If the first two premises of our argument are true at all, then, surely, they are necessarily true, and the argument is therefore sound in any world in which it is a contingent truth that there are contingent beings. Therefore, if our first two premises are true, and if the existence of beings, any beings at all, beings of any sort, is a possible state of affairs, then it is possible for there to be a necessary being-that is to say, necessity and entity are compatible properties. And, as we have learned from our examination of the Minimal Modal Ontological Argument, if necessity and entity are compatible properties, there is a necessary being. Therefore, if the first two premises of our version of the cosmological argument are true, it is a necessary truth that there are beings if there could be beings. In other words, given that the first two premises of our version of the cosmological argument are true, it is possible for there not to be anything only if it is impossible for there to be anything. And one could hardly be expected to do better with the question 'Why is there anything at all?' than to establish this conclusion. Unfortunately, however, we have not established this conclusion. We have failed to establish it because the first premise of our cosmological argument-a variant on the Principle of Sufficient Reason: that every fact has an explanation-is wholly unbelievable. It is unbelievable because it has an absurd consequence: that all truths are necessary truths. Or so, at least, it seems to me, and so I have argued elsewhere. The general form of my argument was this: Suppose 'Alpha' is a proper name of the actual world; if every fact has an explanation, the fact that Alpha is actual has an explanation; but if this fact has an explanation, then every truth is a necessary truth.4 4. For a demonstration, see my Metaphysics (London: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 104-107. Page 5 WHY IS THERE ANYTHING AT ALL? 99 In my judgment, there is no known argument that can plausibly be said to show that there is a necessary being, and there is therefore no known argument that can plausibly be said to show that it is impossible for there to be nothing. I propose, therefore, to try another sort of approach to the question, 'Why is there anything at all?' In the sequel, I will not try to show that it is impossible for there to be nothing. Rather I will argue that if there being nothing is not impossible, it is at any rate improbable-as improbable as anything can be. If something is as improbable as anything can be, its probability is, of course, 0: I am going to argue that the probability of there being nothing is 0.5 I confess I am unhappy about the argument I am going to present. Like Descartes's ontological argument, with which it shares the virtue of simplicity, it seems a bit too simple. No doubt there is something wrong with it-it may share that defect with Descartes's argument-but I should like to be told what it is.6 The argument has four premises: (1) There are some beings; (2) If there is more than one possible world, there are infinitely many; (3) There is at most one possible world in which there are no beings; (4) For any two possible worlds, the probability of their being actual is equal. 5. The probability of any impossible event is 0, but not all events whose probability is 0 are impossible. (For example-at least if we allow ourselves a little harmless idealization-the probability of a dart's hitting any particular point on a dart board is 0.) Or, at any rate, this is true if probabilities are real numbers, which is what I shall assume in this paper. I am not going to defend my assumption that probabilities are real numbers. The primary reason is that ifI were to reject this assumption and to assume that there were infinitesimal probabilities (probabilities greater than 0 but less than any real number greater than 0) the effect of this assumption on the argument would be mainly verbal: I'd have to word some of the things I say a bit differently. 6. Robin Collins has called my attention to the fact that a brief statement of the essence of the argument occurs in Robert Nozick's Philosophical Explanations (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), pp. 127-128. I had read Nozick's book when it first appeared-in fact, I had taught a graduate seminar on it-but, as far as I can tell, I had entirely forgotten this feature of it. I do not recall having seen the argument elsewhere in the philosophical literature, but it is so simple that it can hardly be unobvious. (Jim Holt, a science writer, has a version of the argument in his article 'Nothing Ventured'

Notes et références[edit]

  1. ^ Much of the content of this article comes from the equivalent German-language wikipedia article. Retrieved on September 30, 2004.

Catégorie:Concept philosophiqueen:Nothing