"There is still a difference between something and nothing --- but it is purely geometrical, and there is nothing behind the geometry," Martin Gardner said recently. That's a radical position, but maybe it's necessary. How else can one answer the radical (in the sense of "root") question: why is there anything in the universe?

The best non-mystical candidates for a solution start with mathematics, mind, and meaning:

(Well, perhaps "non-mystical" is a bit too strong a term for some of the above!)

A final tack, suggested by Robert Nozick (Philosophical Explanations), is to question the question itself, and to ask "Why should we be surprised at the existence of something?" Why do our prejudices suggest that nothingness is the more natural state of affairs?

(the Martin Gardner quote above appears in "From This Angle, Geometry Rules the Universe" by K. C. Cole, Los Angeles Times (4 Nov 1999); elsewhere it is attributed to his Mathematical Magic Show (1977) collection of Scientific American "Mathematical Games" columns; cf. No Concepts At All (22 Feb 2001), ApprovedMethods (12 Nov 2005), ...)

Monday, January 17, 2000 at 07:44:08 (EST) = 2000-01-17

TopicScience - TopicPhilosophy

(correlates: ApprovedMethods, NothingnessShowsThrough, No Concepts At All, ...)