"Nothing Comes from Nothing" and Parmenides

  • Nothing comes from nothing...this is surely getting deep now.


    I feel Parmenides bursting out saying “this is my thing folks!”


    “And it’s my thing because my “thing” is something, and that which is no “thing” cannot be since some “thing”already is. Nothing cannot be!”


    I believe Parmenides held that the universe must always be, because it exists. If nothing existed, there would be no universe. But since something “is” then nothing cannot be.

  • I guess it stands to “reason” that all things come from something. Even creation in the biblical sense and in many other myths is not truly ex nihilo.


    “In the beginning (pre-existing object) created the heaven and the earth.”


    All things must have previously existed from eternity. Based on Parmenidean principles...if the universe exists it exists from eternity (in whatever form). And since something DOES exist, since even one atom exists, the concept of nothing is upended.


    This is not to say that void does not exist, void and nothing are conceptually different. Void conceptually is the “space” between “things”.

  • Cassius

    Changed the title of the thread from “Something From Nothing” to “"Nothing Comes from Nothing" and Parmenides”.
  • So is Parmenides the one who advocated a "plenum" and that there is no such thing as void? Or is this more of a formal logical proof? And if so, of what?


    If you're really into this Matt and would like to explain the background to those of us who don't know, that would be a good use of this thread in the forum. Whether it would be a good use of your time might be another question ;-) But if you'd enjoy writing it I feel sure that some of us would benefit from / enjoy reading your summary of it.

  • I believe it had to do with a general ontological concept of the eternity of the universe.


    That if nothing truly existed, there would be no universe. But since something is… And we know that for a fact, nothing cannot be. Had nothing “existed”, nothing would ever be.

  • He may have gone on to try to disprove void, I actually don’t know if that’s true, I’d have to look it up. He may have.


    But for my purposes I see this as an important thought experiment for recognizing the eternity of the material universe.

  • But for my purposes I see this as an important thought experiment for recognizing the eternity of the material universe.

    And at the very least Parmenides represents (as I understand it) one of the major views at the time of Epicurus, so his students would have been aware of it and thus some of his positions may be directed at it -- we can't recognize that if we don't know what Parmenides argued.

  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_comes_from_nothing


    The idea that "nothing comes from nothing", as articulated by Parmenides, first appears in Aristotle's Physics:



    τί δ᾽ ἄν μιν καὶ χρέος ὦρσεν ὕστερον ἢ πρόσθεν, τοῦ μηδενὸς ἀρξάμενον, φῦν; οὕτως ἢ πάμπαν πελέναι χρεών ἐστιν ἢ οὐχί.
    [1]


    The above, in a translation based on the John Burnet translation, appears as follows:

    “Yet why would it be created later rather than sooner, if it came from nothing; so, it must either be created altogether or not [created at all].”
  • It seems to me that Epicurus/Lucretius' version is clearly enough based at least in part on the observation that we do not see things being created from nothing, and therefore there is no reason to think that anything could be created from nothing by a god or by any other means. This kind of reasoning is discussed fairly clearly if I recall in "On Methods of Inference." To me that whole chain of reasoning is a fairly understandable inference of a deduction based on that which has been observed to be true. It's not just an assertion based on logic but one that is grounded in observation for it's persuasiveness.


    I don't see Parmenides' version being in the same league as it does not seem to be based on observation - or is it? Matt can you reword it into something more plain?

  • And yes he apparently did try to argue that void was nothing and nothing is not possible, but I would contend that purely from a conceptual standpoint on the existence of the universe, his position of something “being” as opposed to nothing ever being...is sound. In my mind at least.


    I don’t see conceptually how anything comes from nothing...


    If we are talking about physics like vacuum fluctuation states etc. you are still talking about a “concept” a thing born of something. It’s still not NO-thing since it is a concept. Nothing cannot be a concept.