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Monday, February 23, 2015


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Mike's reasoning that "had there been nothing at all, then there would have been nothing to prevent something from arising" contrasts interestingly with that of Aquinas, who thought (ST, Q. 2, art. 3) that had there been nothing there would still be nothing, as there would have been nothing to cause something to begin to exist. Mike, unlike Thomas, thinks that things can begin to exist without a cause.

This reminds me of Kant's Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God from his pre-critical period.


I wasn't thinking of that pre-Critical text when I wrote the above, but you are right. Your point is more penetrating than you may realize inasmuch as the tension between the the first two sections of my entry above parallels the tension between the pre-Critical and the Critical in Kant.


Good observation.

As an aside - along these lines (and others) Bill's book "A Paradigm Theory of Existence (Onto-Theology Vindicated) is an exhilarating read. I borrowed a copy from the OSU library in Ashland, Oregon (I live nearby) and have been working at and enjoying the arguments very much. I'm about 1/2 way through. Recommended.
This is an unpaid and unsolicited blurb. :-)

One difficulty seems to be in conceptualizing "there could have been nothing at all" as NOT a state of affairs, a unity. Such an absolute Nothing seems to me only conceivable derivatively; the thought of its actuality is parasitic on Being; like a shadow, absolute Nothing apes existence. I couldn't help but be reminded of the theodicies of Augustine and Boethius as analogous to this matter. There surely are difficult consequences to the position that evil is the privation of good and enjoys no reality independent of the good, and the same seems true for the position that nothingness is the privation of existence.


Right, that is one, perhaps the main, difficulty.

You may recall Sartre's example of the absence of Pierre in the cafe. That is a determinate absence: the absence of Pierre. But the absence of everything that exists is also determinate. Even the absence or nonbeing of everything that could exist seems to be a determinate or definite nonbeing parasitic upon what is or what could be.

But then we are not succeeding in thinking pure nonbeing.

The Parmenidean conclusion is nigh: absolute nonbeing is utterly unthinkable and (this is a further step) impossible. Being is; Nonbeing is not.

And yet it seems that absolute nonbeing is something 'positive' as contradictory as that sounds just as evil is 'positive' in a way that makes trouble for the view that evil is just *privatio boni.*

Just as we cannot dismiss evil as a mere absence of good, we seem not to be able to dismiss nonbeing as a mere absence of Being.

And so I cannot decisively lay the follow specter: that of absolute nothingness as a threatening 'power' that cannot be domesticated or shown to be wholly negative by sheer thought.

Enter Heidegger und das Nichts.

Thanks, Dave!


(2) seems to presuppose the converse of (3), namely: All propositions are either true or false. But one might deny this later claim and therefore (2) one the ground that some propositions are neither true nor false since they lead to paradoxes (such as the liar paradox). Once one rejects (2), then (4) and (5) do not follow and the argument is blocked.


I think I need to restate my objection posted previously.
One might argue as follows. Some sentences are neither true nor false because they are paradoxical (e.g., the liar sentence). And a sentence that is neither true nor false fails to express a proposition. Therefore, one could deny (2) on the grounds that (1) is a sentence which fails to express a proposition. Why? Because (1) fails to be true or false on the grounds that it is paradoxical. Therefore, (6) would not follow and the argument is blocked.

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