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Sartre:Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

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  • gevans613@aol.com
    Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? Heidegger starts his enquiry with a question borrowed from Leibnitz: Why is there something rather than nothing?
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 9, 2001
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      Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?


      Heidegger starts his enquiry with a question borrowed from Leibnitz: 'Why is
      there something rather than nothing? " This seems at first glance to be a
      perfectly  legitimate question, but alas, like Leibnitz he has imperfectly
      framed it. It is a question which people have been asking since the
      beginning of time, and it is a question that is  still being asked by people
      like you and I and thousands of others. There is nothing wrong with the
      questioning itself, although many would argue and say that 'something
      exists because it is impossible for nothing to exist.  Parmenides makes this
      point, though in another way.

      But hold -  I do not want to begin to tender my own opinions as an answer to
      the question - my interest at this juncture is to make sure that the
      QUESTION is posed in a CORRECT form, for if it isn't  - then the whole of
      the subsequent  question and answer process that flows from it is completely
      valueless and will lead into more tangled brambles of  aporiai.

      When we come to examine the question  more closely,  we  suddenly see that
      it is a nonsensical query from the start, because of the form of language in
      which it has been cast, which questions existential modality and not the
      primal existential presence of the entity. (something.)

      No, I am not  translating 'existing' to 'being alive' (as opposed to dead )
      for a dead body still exists in a coffin, and in a grave, or as particles of
      carbon after life has ended - it has undergone an major existential modalic
      shift and has embarked upon a process which will eventually  return it to
      its original constituent elements.  Language of course is forced to adjust
      and supply a plethora of new extantal imbuancies to the matter of the body
      as it spirals downwards back to the detritus from which it emerged, and
      extantal imbuants like: cadaver, remains, skeleton, ashes, particles take
      over and are employed as we keep track of the drastic modalic modifications
      through which old Farmer Jones passes on his journey from ashes to ashes and
      dust to dust.   What I am doing is pointing out that we are addressing two
      different questions.

      The questions for philosophy regarding this subject are:

      (1) Why or how we and the rest of the entities in the cosmos are actually
      here in the world in the first place, rather than not being here in the
      first place?

      (2) To understand the WAY that we exist after we 'arrive' as an existing
      entity  -  the changing existential modalities or states that we pass
      through before we evanesce out of our existence as entities from our present
      existential modality of humanbeinghood.  Investigations concerning:  "Why am
      I existing in these particular unique and ever-changing modalities?"  are
      the sort of questions that are studied by physiology, molecular science,
      biology, dentistry, psychology, genetics, sociology, history, bacteriology,
      anthropology, linguistics, geometry, cosmology, meteorology etc.

      Heidegger/Leibnitz's question is imperfectly formed and misleading in that
      it should be: "Why is there something existing rather than nothing existing?
      "

      Leibnitz's question in its original form  is inappropriate,  because the
      'is' word is made to look as if it is addressing the simple existence of the
      'something' - as if the 'is' was conferring simple  existence [cosmic
      presence] on the 'something.'   The truth of the matter of course is that
      the 'is' NEVER confers or assigns simple existence on 'something' or
      'anything', and  to suggest so by the ill thought out framing of the
      sentence is extremely confusing and leads to perplexity. The 'is' always
      confers EXISTENTIAL MODALITY and NEVER the existence of  something. In the
      correctly framed question: "Why is there something existing rather than
      nothing existing? " the 'is' resumes its normal role of conferring or
      attributing the  existential modality of the something as that of existing.
      As a matter of interest, the role of the word 'there' is a locative one, and
      refers to the modalic positioning of the 'something' in the cosmos, it is
      just that the word  order has remained ossified from an  older English
      usage. A correct modern rendering of the question should thus be: "Why is
      something existing there rather than nothing existing  there? " To ask the
      question "Why do I exist" or "Why am I existing" is fine and dandy, for it
      is no longer a question of 'being,' [which has to do with the WAY that we
      exist] which is a non-question - but of existence, which is an entirely
      different matter.

      When you produce an incomplete sentence such as: "Why am I...?" then you
      create an ambiguous utterance, for everybody is waiting for the sentence to
      be completed - waiting for the punch-line - the predicate. You will find
      that most people will reply to that statement not with some thoughtful
      philosophical answer, but with another question: "Why are you WHAT?"

      The BE word in all of its guises [was, were, is, am, being, will be,] ALWAYS
      and without exception, in ALL of the languages of the world, whether they be
      languages of some remote Amazonian tribe, or the tongue of the Greenland
      Eskimos, whether they be modern languages or dead languages, or artificial
      languages or agglutinative languages, ALWAYS refer to the existential
      modality of the subject of the sentence and NEVER-EVER relates directly to
      the simple existence of the subject.  For those who would point out that in
      the present tense of certain languages, an overt copula is absent, or that
      certain Indonesian tongues employ other syntactic devices to mark essivity,
      I would point out that these areas  of the workings of  copuletic
      enshellment, copula depletion and the covert zero copula
      in relation to existential modal mapping are already part and parcel of the
      AITist analysis.

      The truncated sentence: "Why am I?" is unacceptable, because the 'am' has
      been put in a position where it has no existential modality to bequeath to
      the subject, therefore giving the wrongful impression that the verb 'am'
      refers to the EXISTENCE of  'I' rather than to its missing existential
      modality, which in this case is 'existing.'   Thus correctly cast, the
      sentence: "Why am I existing?"  now becomes an acceptable sentence for the
      purposes of philosophical enquiry, and. the avoidance of Heideggerian-style
      aporia, allowing Plato and Aristotle to sleep peacefully beneath the sweet
      soil of Hellas, and the Eleatic Stranger to relax and suss out the local
      taverns.

      When one asks: "Must  philosophical inquiry be confined to grammatically
      correct statements?" the answer is a resounding YES, for the brain is a very
      logical instrument which is programmed only to respond to logical
      information, and to reject that which it perceives to be illogical.  It is
      for this reason that language creates all manner of periphrastic
      [alternative] constructions to avoid any existential modalic ambiguity or
      misunderstanding.  As the brain is extra-sensitive in regard to existence,
      and  WHOSE existential modality is being referred to in a sentence, it is
      very 'strict' about the way in which a sentence with two entities is framed
      from the point of view of modalic confusion or transfer. I will illustrate
      this with an example:

      "A dog is in the garden."

      Although this sentence makes sense in English, it is an unusual one and is
      felt to be ambiguous and English people feel uneasy using it, much
      preferring the alternative:

      "There is a dog in the garden."

      Linguists and grammarians have pondered over this for years. Using AITist
      analysis however the answer becomes quite clear.  In the first sentence: "A
      dog is in the garden." we are unclear as to whose existential modality is
      being identified - the dog's or the garden's. Does it mean that the dog's
      existential modality is that of being in the garden, or does it mean that
      the garden's existential modality is that of having a dog in it?

      The brain doesn't like lack of clarity like that, and so it rearranges the
      sentence to make it absolutely clear which of the two nouns' [entities]
      existential states is being indicated by the 'is' word. The sentence: "There
      is a dog in the garden"  makes it absolutely crystal clear that it is the
      garden's essivity [existential modality] which is being referred to, and all
      the ambiguity is thereby removed. It can be seen from this random example
      that the role of the BE word in all of its manifestations is critical for
      language - absolutely crucial, for it has the job of awarding or attributing
      the manner in which the subject of the sentence exists. Heidegger's mistake
      was to seize upon a word that AWARDS or CONFERS existential statehood or
      modality, and to try to force it into employment  as a STATE or MODALITY
      ITSELF.

      One last word, which is relevant to the question: "Why am I?  The subjects
      of sentences don't NEED an 'is' or an 'am' or a 'being' word to help
      introduce or proclaim their existential modality in a sentence such as:

      "Sally is twenty-four years old"  the name Sally is sufficient to introduce
      Sally as a sentential  entity.

      If for example I stand at the door at a party and introduce each guest as
      they arrive and I suddenly shout:

      "Ladies and gentlemen - Sally!" there is no need for me to add any
      existential marker such as 'is'  - it is quite sufficient to merely say
      "Sally!" If however for example there was a bunch of people at the door all
      of whom had arrived  at the same time, then it might be clearer if I did
      employ the existential 'is' in order to discriminate which person amongst
      the crowd was Sally. In that case I might say: ""Ladies and gentlemen this
      is Sally," which the brain registers as "This is the entity with the
      existential mode of being known as Sally."

      The reason that the statement "Why am I?" seems so strange and provokes the
      retort:  "Why are you WHAT?" is because the mind knows  that the word 'I'
      has already introduced the fact of your existence and realises that the 'am'
      has been left out on a limb awaiting the opportunity to reveal the
      existential modality of exactly what 'I' is up to when the speaker finally
      decides to supply a predicate.  What does it mean the listening mind asks?
      Does he mean "Why am I lonely?" or perhaps "Why am I waiting?" or maybe "Why
      am I always the one who pays the bill?"

      Language DOES evolve, but NEVER in the direction of increased ambiguity
      regarding its most critical component -  the BE word, for it has the most
      important role of all in language -  it is the mechanism which allows us to
      talk about what things DO once they exist in the world.


      So the bottom line is: Being talks about the WAY we exist -  not the FACT
      that we exist.

      It is this misunderstanding of the BE function in a question like this, or
      in the statement: ""Why am I. . ? " on the behalf of Plato and Aristotle and
      their inability to grasp this logical  and semantic fact that was the cause
      of their aporiai, confusions that were perpetuated by Heidegger who was also
      incapable of understanding this simple mechanism of  essivity.   So when I
      say that 'the problem of being is a fraud,' I am not suggesting that a
      questioning of the existence of the contents of the cosmos, and our place in
      it, and the  possible significance or reason for its existence, [or lack of
      one] is not a worthy, worthwhile, and important inquiry, but rather that the
      methodology of this investigation should  be carried out with scrupulous
      regard to the correct  role of the 'is' and 'being' words, which are at the
      core of the whole investigation of existence, whether that spotlight is
      directed  upon simple 'existential occurrence'  - or the existential
      modalities of that cosmic presence once it occurs.


      Jud Evans.



    • Lewis Vella
      On the subject of the philosophy of the mind, below is a good example of an intellectual getting stuck in a loop , as in his thought processes getting stuck
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 10, 2001
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        On the subject of the philosophy of the mind, below is
        a good example of an intellectual "getting stuck in a
        loop", as in his thought processes getting stuck ON
        the
        brain, rather than being OF the brain. I ask you, has
        this person lost his mind? Or has he simply left it
        behind somewhere, like maybe some local tavern, where,
        free to relax and suss out its own nausea, it may some
        day fade away, permanently, into oblivion?

        Regards,

        L.V.

        P.S. Just the same, its references to existential
        modality are well received and much appreciated. Oh,
        but to transform it all into poetry: is it not to say
        "what a difference a word makes"?




        --- gevans613@... wrote:
        > Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
        >
        >
        > Heidegger starts his enquiry with a question
        > borrowed from Leibnitz: 'Why is
        > there something rather than nothing? " This seems at
        > first glance to be a
        > perfectly legitimate question, but alas, like
        > Leibnitz he has imperfectly
        > framed it. It is a question which people have been
        > asking since the
        > beginning of time, and it is a question that is
        > still being asked by people
        > like you and I and thousands of others. There is
        > nothing wrong with the
        > questioning itself, although many would argue and
        > say that 'something
        > exists because it is impossible for nothing to
        > exist. Parmenides makes this
        > point, though in another way.
        >
        > But hold - I do not want to begin to tender my own
        > opinions as an answer to
        > the question - my interest at this juncture is to
        > make sure that the
        > QUESTION is posed in a CORRECT form, for if it isn't
        > - then the whole of
        > the subsequent question and answer process that
        > flows from it is completely
        > valueless and will lead into more tangled brambles
        > of aporiai.
        >
        > When we come to examine the question more closely,
        > we suddenly see that
        > it is a nonsensical query from the start, because of
        > the form of language in
        > which it has been cast, which questions existential
        > modality and not the
        > primal existential presence of the entity.
        > (something.)
        >
        > No, I am not translating 'existing' to 'being
        > alive' (as opposed to dead )
        > for a dead body still exists in a coffin, and in a
        > grave, or as particles of
        > carbon after life has ended - it has undergone an
        > major existential modalic
        > shift and has embarked upon a process which will
        > eventually return it to
        > its original constituent elements. Language of
        > course is forced to adjust
        > and supply a plethora of new extantal imbuancies to
        > the matter of the body
        > as it spirals downwards back to the detritus from
        > which it emerged, and
        > extantal imbuants like: cadaver, remains, skeleton,
        > ashes, particles take
        > over and are employed as we keep track of the
        > drastic modalic modifications
        > through which old Farmer Jones passes on his journey
        > from ashes to ashes and
        > dust to dust. What I am doing is pointing out that
        > we are addressing two
        > different questions.
        >
        > The questions for philosophy regarding this subject
        > are:
        >
        > (1) Why or how we and the rest of the entities in
        > the cosmos are actually
        > here in the world in the first place, rather than
        > not being here in the
        > first place?
        >
        > (2) To understand the WAY that we exist after we
        > 'arrive' as an existing
        > entity - the changing existential modalities or
        > states that we pass
        > through before we evanesce out of our existence as
        > entities from our present
        > existential modality of humanbeinghood.
        > Investigations concerning: "Why am
        > I existing in these particular unique and
        > ever-changing modalities?" are
        > the sort of questions that are studied by
        > physiology, molecular science,
        > biology, dentistry, psychology, genetics, sociology,
        > history, bacteriology,
        > anthropology, linguistics, geometry, cosmology,
        > meteorology etc.
        >
        > Heidegger/Leibnitz's question is imperfectly formed
        > and misleading in that
        > it should be: "Why is there something existing
        > rather than nothing existing?
        > "
        >
        > Leibnitz's question in its original form is
        > inappropriate, because the
        > 'is' word is made to look as if it is addressing the
        > simple existence of the
        > 'something' - as if the 'is' was conferring simple
        > existence [cosmic
        > presence] on the 'something.' The truth of the
        > matter of course is that
        > the 'is' NEVER confers or assigns simple existence
        > on 'something' or
        > 'anything', and to suggest so by the ill thought
        > out framing of the
        > sentence is extremely confusing and leads to
        > perplexity. The 'is' always
        > confers EXISTENTIAL MODALITY and NEVER the existence
        > of something. In the
        > correctly framed question: "Why is there something
        > existing rather than
        > nothing existing? " the 'is' resumes its normal role
        > of conferring or
        > attributing the existential modality of the
        > something as that of existing.
        > As a matter of interest, the role of the word
        > 'there' is a locative one, and
        > refers to the modalic positioning of the 'something'
        > in the cosmos, it is
        > just that the word order has remained ossified from
        > an older English
        > usage. A correct modern rendering of the question
        > should thus be: "Why is
        > something existing there rather than nothing
        > existing there? " To ask the
        > question "Why do I exist" or "Why am I existing" is
        > fine and dandy, for it
        > is no longer a question of 'being,' [which has to do
        > with the WAY that we
        > exist] which is a non-question - but of existence,
        > which is an entirely
        > different matter.
        >
        > When you produce an incomplete sentence such as:
        > "Why am I...?" then you
        > create an ambiguous utterance, for everybody is
        > waiting for the sentence to
        > be completed - waiting for the punch-line - the
        > predicate. You will find
        > that most people will reply to that statement not
        > with some thoughtful
        > philosophical answer, but with another question:
        > "Why are you WHAT?"
        >
        > The BE word in all of its guises [was, were, is, am,
        > being, will be,] ALWAYS
        > and without exception, in ALL of the languages of
        > the world, whether they be
        > languages of some remote Amazonian tribe, or the
        > tongue of the Greenland
        > Eskimos, whether they be modern languages or dead
        > languages, or artificial
        > languages or agglutinative languages, ALWAYS refer
        > to the existential
        > modality of the subject of the sentence and
        > NEVER-EVER relates directly to
        > the simple existence of the subject. For those who
        > would point out that in
        > the present tense of certain languages, an overt
        > copula is absent, or that
        > certain Indonesian tongues employ other syntactic
        > devices to mark essivity,
        > I would point out that these areas of the workings
        > of copuletic
        > enshellment, copula depletion and the covert zero
        > copula
        > in relation to existential modal mapping are already
        > part and parcel of the
        > AITist analysis.
        >
        > The truncated sentence: "Why am I?" is unacceptable,
        > because the 'am' has
        > been put in a position where it has no existential
        > modality to bequeath to
        > the subject, therefore giving the wrongful
        > impression that the verb 'am'
        > refers to the EXISTENCE of 'I' rather than to its
        > missing existential
        > modality, which in this case is 'existing.' Thus
        > correctly cast, the
        > sentence: "Why am I existing?" now becomes an
        > acceptable sentence for the
        > purposes of philosophical enquiry, and. the
        > avoidance of Heideggerian-style
        > aporia, allowing Plato and Aristotle to sleep
        > peacefully beneath the sweet
        > soil of Hellas, and the Eleatic Stranger to relax
        > and suss out the local
        > taverns.
        >
        > When one asks: "Must philosophical inquiry be
        > confined to grammatically
        > correct statements?" the answer is a resounding YES,
        > for the brain is a very
        > logical instrument which is programmed only to
        > respond to logical
        > information, and to reject that which it perceives
        > to
        === message truncated ===


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      • Christopher Bobo
        ... behind somewhere, like maybe some local tavern, where, free to relax and suss out its own nausea, it may some day fade away, permanently, into oblivion?
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 10, 2001
        • 0 Attachment
          Lewis wrote:
          >>I ask you, has this person lost his mind? Or has he simply left it
          behind somewhere, like maybe some local tavern, where,
          free to relax and suss out its own nausea, it may some
          day fade away, permanently, into oblivion?<<
           
          Res ipsa loquitur.  If you are interested in reading about the issue of why there is something rather than nothing from people in full possession of their faculties, I refer you to two books--
          Nothingness by Henning Genz, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Karlsruhe, and The Book of Nothing by John D. Barrow, who is research professor of mathematical sciences in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University. 

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: Lewis Vella
          Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2001 11:08 AM
          To: Sartre@yahoogroups.com
          Cc: subcupub@...
          Subject: Re: [Sartre] Sartre:Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
           
          On the subject of the philosophy of the mind, below is
          a good example of an intellectual "getting stuck in a
          loop", as in his thought processes getting stuck ON
          the
          brain, rather than being OF the brain. I ask you, has
          this person lost his mind? Or has he simply left it
          behind somewhere, like maybe some local tavern, where,
          free to relax and suss out its own nausea, it may some
          day fade away, permanently, into oblivion?

          Regards,

          L.V.

          P.S. Just the same, its references to existential
          modality are well received and much appreciated. Oh,
          but to transform it all into poetry: is it not to say
          "what a difference a word makes"?
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