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Thread: My argument that our universe does not exist contingently

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    princeso Kirby's Avatar
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    Default My argument that our universe does not exist contingently

    I was pondering in philosophy class, and I think I came up with a pretty good argument that the universe is not contingent.

    First off, lets us set up the definitions I am using to frame this argument, they are from Leibniz's Modadology which I happen to agree with:
    • Monad 31: Our reasoning is based upon two great principles: first, that of contradiction, by means of which we decide that to be false which involves contradiction and that to be true which contradicts or is opposed to the false.
    • Monad 32: And second, the principle of sufficient reason, in virtue of which we believe that no fact can be real or existing and no statement true unless it has a sufficient reason why it should be thus and not otherwise. Most frequently, however, these reasons cannot be known by us.
    • Monad 33: There are also two kinds of truths: those of reasoning and those of fact. The truths of reasoning are necessary, and their opposite is impossible. Those of fact, however, are contingent, and their opposite is possible. When a truth is necessary, the reason can be found by analysis in resolving it into simpler ideas and into simpler truths until we reach those which are primary.

    The first part:
    1. You cannot think of absolutely nothing.
      • If you claim to be thinking of nothing, you are actually thinking of something. For example you may be thinking of blackness, this is something.
    2. If you think about the universe's non-existence, you are thinking about absolutely nothing
      • pretty straight forward IMO, if you have any issues, refer to point 1
    3. This is a contradiction, as you cannot think of absolutely nothing.
    4. Therefore the universe in general, must exist, necessarily.
      • The universes existence becomes a truth of reason by Monad 33, as the universe not existing is impossible to think of. And by Monad 31 the universe existing contingently is false.

    Pretty solid, I asked by philosophy professor about this and he said this makes sense within this framework. He doesn't agree with this, but that is because he disagrees with these Monads.

    Now as you imagine, this isn't that amazing, especially in the context of Leibniz as he says one can imagine an infinitude of universes.

    I hold that our universe in particular exists necessarily. First off I do admit this is a bit on more shaky foundation. I could actually stop here and post, but I wanted to present my entire argument.

    Also part 2 is not necessary for what I am saying later on about God, but I am posting it for completeness.

    Part 2:
    1. When you imagine something, in your imagining, you are there in some way
      • This is an axiom I hold, but I want to you try to imagine being somewhere. Got it? Now where is your perception, its in that place.
    2. If you imagine a different universe, you do not exist there
      • You may have some other version of you there, but that person is not you
    3. You cannot imagine your own non-existence
      • Try to imagine not having a perception... yeah its not happening.
      • Its a contradiction to do this, so Monad 31
    4. Therefore it is impossible to truly imagine a different universe
      • Basically if you are truly imagine another universe, your perception cannot be there, as you do not exist there in any form by definition, the universe is different.
      • A retort can be made that you can imagine your death or before you were born, but again, you have perception there imagining all this.
      • Again Monad 31
    5. Our universe then must exist necessarily.
      • Much like my earlier argument, our universe's existence becomes a truth of reason by Monad 33, as thinking of other universes is impossible. And by Monad 31 our universe existing contingently is false.

    Again, this is on much shakier ground, a few things here are a bit odd I admit, but I do think its follows.
    I am still not sure if all this implies that other universes don't exist, just that we can't think about them truly.

    Why does this Matter?


    It all circles back to Monad 32, the principle of sufficient reason, that being that the universe must have a cause. This lies upon the assumption the universe is contingent, which I argue that is is not.

    As far as God proofs go, the principle of sufficient reason is arguably the strongest card theists have, the only thing we can reply is that the universe may be eternal or that we do not know. This is important outside of Leibniz's Monadology, but for theological arguments in general: there basis is that the universe is contingent.

    I disagree, with the above argument.

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    This pic is definitely of me!! Solly's Avatar
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    The whole argument conflates human ability to imagine with possibility in general. Just because I can't imagine it doesn't mean it's not real. You're failing to make the distinction between perception and actual existence. In terms of perception the universe is most certainly contingent, the human brain constructs the universe in a certain way that is not necessarily "constant". However, the universe also exists as a constant through which consciousness is possible.

    But, I think I might just be reading this wrong. Mind breaking it down into less fancy language? If this is just an argument against solipsism, you're probably not going to get anywhere meaningful.

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    princeso Kirby's Avatar
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    Reworded a bit:

    You cannot think of absolutely nothing.

    Similarly, you cannot think of the universe being absolutely nothing.

    It is held that whatever cannot be thought of, must be false: the universe not existing cannot be thought.

    The opposite of what is false is true: the universe existing.

    So then the universe must exist, necessarily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirby View Post
    It is held that whatever cannot be thought of, must be false: the universe not existing cannot be thought.
    There are alot of things that certainly exist, but can't be imagined. For example, zero dimensional elementary particles, like electrons and quarks. They are mere points (Kind of sort of) on a plane, but can't really be visually thought of in that way. You can only imagine them as a very small but 3D object. That doesn't undermine theories and maths about point particles, it just shows human thought limitations.

    Same thing with colors, there are a plethora of animals who can see way more colors than us (Most famously the mantis shrimp), but we can't even imagine the idea of colors we can't see. Again, thought limitations.

    I'm sorry if I'm nitpicking or missing the point, it is late and I am dumb

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    This pic is definitely of me!! Solly's Avatar
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    P. much what Celery said and I said earlier. This imagination=existence thing was actually originally used by St. Anselm to prove the existence of god. It is, of course, pure bologna.

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    This pic is definitely of me!! Solly's Avatar
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    Seriously, the main argument of solipsism (descartes, et al.) is that the universe might not exist BECAUSE it can be just imagined. The only thing you're proving to exist by not being able to imagine without it is CONSCIOUSNESS.

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    princeso Kirby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by on Spacebattles
    Quote Originally Posted by Axiomatict
    The flaw in the argument, as I see it, is that it makes a leap from "You cannot think about the universe not existing" to "the universe cannot exist".

    There is an unexamined assumption here - that because I cannot imagine the universe not existing, the universe can't not exist. And this assumption is, I think, wrong. Any flaw or limit in my imagination has absolutely no impact on the laws of the universe. Because I can imagine a thing, does not mean it is true, and because I can't imagine a thing, does not mean it is false.
    Perhaps I have not worded it correctly.

    I do not mean strictly that just because it can't be strictly imagined by us, that it cannot exist. As someone pointed out in another forum that we cannot truly imagine things like the electron as it really is.

    I mean that when thought about is inherently contradictory, cannot exist. There is nothing contradictory about the electron when you think about it.

    An example I use when thinking about this is a union of sets.



    If I was to for example ask you to imagine an element in the union of A and B, that was not in either A or B, you could not do that, as thinking about that is inherently contradictory. A set union is defined as all the elements in both sets.

    The same can be said here, roughly. On thinking about it it can demonstrate that the intersection of 2 sets A and B must have the elements of both A and B.
    ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solly View Post
    This imagination=existence thing was actually originally used by St. Anselm to prove the existence of god. It is, of course, pure bologna.
    Right, while twisting arguments to make a contrary point is fun and all, it requires supporting the shaky and unsubstantiated arguments to begin with, which is not good practice

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    I mean that when thought about is inherently contradictory, cannot exist. There is nothing contradictory about the electron when you think about it.
    Sure there is, an object with non zero volume, yet lies in a dimension where 3D volume doesn't exist? Alot of things in non classical physics fit this, as I'm sure you're aware. They contradict our imagination and thought, but can be expressed mathematically.

    As for your union set analogy, I think you're going about it wrong. Everything in A ∪ B has to be in A ∪ B, and we can't imagine something out of A ∪ B. But that only means the union is mathematically limited, not limited to what we can think. We may not be able to imagine this one particular instance, but that doesn't mean EVERYTHING that is contradictory to thought cannot exist

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    goddammit im going to have to respond to this eventually

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    Does hyperfocus or staring into space count has thinking of nothing because when I stare into space I really don't find myself thinking of anything.

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    This pic is definitely of me!! Solly's Avatar
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    There is nothing inherently contradictory about the universe not existing, as long as you accept that your own consciousness is stable. What you're basically doing here is arguing a reverse ontological argument. Check out what Kant has to say:

    Kant questioned the intelligibility of the concept of a necessary being. He considered examples of necessary propositions, such as "a triangle has three angles", and rejected the transfer of this logic to the existence of God. First, he argued that such necessary propositions are necessarily true only if such a being exists: If a triangle exists, it must have three angles. The necessary proposition, he argued, does not make the existence of a triangle necessary. Thus, he argued that, if the proposition "X exists" is posited, it would follow that, if X exists, it exists necessarily; this does not mean that X exists in reality.

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