Tactical Question for the Group Re Terminology In Discussing Reason and Logic

  • Cassius lol it's connected 😂. I finally watched that Krauss/Dawkins video last night, and it was excellent! It was clear that Dawkins was very excited about Krauss' "something from nothing" and was saying that it is a huge blow to religions, by demonstrating that something from nothing doesn't require a god. I agree with him. Although the "nothing" had gravitational fields, it had no matter but was unstable and then "something " appeared. It really is amazing that stuff, matter, could come into existence.

    It's definitely an example of how language, an abstraction, can't substitute for the reality it describes. But for most people, the phrasing is right. Most people don't consider a gravitational field with no particles to be a "thing". If you stretch the definition to include fields, then obviously the sentence falls apart and there is maybe no such thing as "nothing" anywhere, so it's a moot point.

    For most people, and I think for Epicurus based on his reasoning, getting all the "stuff" we see in the universe from a condition with no particles is at least like getting "more something" than you started with, and that's a violation of nothing comes from nothing. Because of that, something from nothing is closer to "more something from less something", and it's probably as good a description as can be made without coining new words.

    Epicurus' model really did not have elementary particles that could come from something else or change into each other. That is a big difference. They could come together to make different things but not one alphabet letter turn into another or a letter come from the page.

    I am with Dawkins on the god as barnacle!😂

    Anyway, Dawkins wasn't disagreeing with Krauss. If you mean the part where Krauss uses the analogy of biology from chemistry as something from nothing... it's again a difficulty of language, but Krauss is right in that consciousness remains confusing to the point that some researchers still wonder if it has to be some inherent property of matter that becomes more complex with structural complexity. Is consciousness emergent, a something of a new type, or something else? Nobody knows yet.

    You have said you don't like how Krauss acts as if we know this happened for sure, but he never said that! What he said is that it _could_ have happened, and that alone is marvelous. He was very careful not to exceed what was supported by observations. It was beautifully stated.

    It was also fun to hear them talk about the possibility that alternative physics could have arisen-- different universal constants, etc. Still minus god. There could have been, or maybe is, a universe where the observations we make about matter/energy are very different! But it still wouldn't need a god.

    I thought it was a lovely, friendly, enthusiastic discussion between friends. I'm glad I watched it. These men have the attitude towards science I wish everyone had-- they take delight in it. It's fun, pleasurable. And it consistently renders god a redundant barnacle of a notion. 😂

  • At the risk of wading in late to this discussion, I just would like to offer the following reminder. And I apologize if this had already been covered. I admit I haven't closely read all 60+ posts.

    As a start, arguing over Epicurus's saying "nothing comes from nothing" is specious. Epicurus never said, "Nothing comes from nothing." That's what English translators have made him say. As I've mentioned ad nauseum, Epicurus didn't speak English or Latin.

    His Letter to Herodotus states:


    πρῶτον μὲν ὅτι οὐδὲν γίνεται ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος.

    "First,... nothing comes into being from that which doesn't exist."



    To me, this is broad enough to cover everything y'all have been discussing on that point. He doesn't say "Nothing comes from nothing" although one can paraphrase it that way in English. However, that's not literally what it says. He says "οὐδὲν - no-thing" comes from "that which is not existing (τοῦ μὴ ("not") ὄντος (ontos 'being, existing'))." (Note: ὄντος is related to English ontology, ontological.) Atoms, energy, fields, space-time all *exist.* When one throws in "ex nihilo", Epicurus didn't say that either. That's an interpretation, a translation. There has to be something for something else to come into being from it. Dawkins even emphasizes this about new species in that video. You need a starter for new species. Things come from other existing things. Period.

    It might be good to go back to each of those twelve statements to see what Epicurus actually said before planting a flag on either side of any debate.

    Plus, taking Epicurus in context is important. What was he arguing against? What is the *import* of his statements (i.e., no supernatural realm)? Was he closer to our understanding than his peers? Was he "on the right track"? etc.

    Plus plus, I don't think that list exists as a list anywhere but in DeWitt. Does it? Diogenes Laertius mentioned Epicurus's "Twelve Rudiments" but that work is lost. I don't think we know for certain what twelve points were in that work. Please correct me if I missed something from another source!! My understanding is that the Herodotus letter is as close as we get, and DeWitt's Twelve don't seem to match up neatly one-to-one in order with that letter. I've tried.

  • Great post Don.

    I think you can add to the list that if I recall correctly, when Lucretius introduces the subject in book one, he adds the proviso that nothing comes from nothing "...at the will of the gods" or something to that effect.

    As to the twelve fundamental propositions, yes I have seen commentators with other versions of the list, but they are all assembling them from Lucretius and the letter to Herodotus. The main one that comes to mind was done by Diskin Clay, and one aspect of that one that always stuck with me is that he included the equivalent of PD1, that the gods are complete in themselves, as one of the twelve fundamental propositions.

    I believe he includes it in his article, "Epicurus' Last Will and Testamant." I don't remember the date but shortly after I first started studying Epicurus, probably in 2013. I contacted Mr. Clay when he was living in North Carolina (he's now deceased) and he sent me a printed copy. I will upload it and come back here and link it. I haven't read it in years but I am sure you will find it interesting.

    Here's the article: "Epicurus' Last Will and Testament" - by Diskin Clay

    In case anyone is interested in a Diskin Clay reading marathon, here is:

    - his 1967 thesis from the University of Washington: Lucretius' Translation of Greek Philosophy - By Diskin Clay

    - his article A Lost Epicurean Community - By Diskin Clay

    One more: Diskin Clay - A Brief Memoir for Angelo Casanova (regarding Oinoanda)

    Below is a photo of Mr. Clay in his younger years.

  • Thank you very much Don. :thumbup: I very much appreciate that you did save my language, for which the english speaking claiming that is mysterious sounding and exotic!! Βut I do not misunderstand them, something similar was said by Lucretius, when he wondered how he would understand and how he could write in latin, about the dark meanings that are corresponded to the words of the Hellenes? :rolleyes:

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • For Lucretius is the blame as he confused Parmenides with Epicurus. :P

    Nothing comes from nothing (Greek: οὐδὲν ἐξ οὐδενός; Latin: ex nihilo nihil fit) is a philosophical dictum first argued by Parmenides.

    The Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius expressed this principle in his first book of De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

    But by observing Nature and her laws. And this will lay
    The warp out for us—her first principle: that nothing's brought
    Forth by any supernatural power out of naught.
    For certainly all men are in the clutches of a dread—
    Beholding many things take place in heaven overhead
    Or here on earth whose causes they can't fathom, they assign
    The explanation for these happenings to powers divine.
    Nothing can be made from nothing—once we see that's so,
    Already we are on the way to what we want to know.

    He then continues on discussing how matter is required to make matter and that objects cannot spring forth without reasonable cause.

    For if things were created out of nothing, any breed
    Could be born from any other; nothing would require a seed.
    People could pop out of the sea, the scaly tribes arise
    Out of the earth, and winged birds could hatch right from the skies.
    Born willy-nilly, every animal, both wild and tame,
    Would inhabit cultivated land and wilderness the same.
    The same tree would not always grow the same fruit—what might bear
    An apple one time, might, the next, produce a quince or pear.
    Since there would be no generating particles, then neither
    Would certain things arise from only a certain kind of mother.
    But since in fact each species rises from specific seeds,
    Each thing springs from the source that has the matter that it needs,
    The primary particles, and comes into the boundaries
    Of light, and that's the reason every thing cannot give rise
    To every other thing, because there is a separate power
    In distinct things.

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!

  • And a few words for Mr. Dawkins. I remember that a few years ago, I had made a post on FB.


    If you would like watch in the above link a video at the Youtube and answer this question :
    <<WHY WE ARE HERE>> ?
    This was one of the main questions that is dominated in this video at the youtube of a debate among the scientist Mr. Richard Dawkins and a Catholic priest. The Catholic priest gave the same banal answer, which is to live virtuously in accordance to ten commandments by an almighty God that has been invented by the minds of some persons. Persons that were lived and still are living in different places and as they keep their own interests they also claiming that their God is the only absolute true God, who is under their interpretation of how to live in accordance of his absolute justice.

    In this rhetorical question WHY WE ARE HERE ?? It is here also that we can understand that the whole point is missing. That outstanding scientist Mr. Dawkins has to read more and more philosophy and especially the Epicurean one. I urge him, with respect, to read Epicurus and Lucretius every night in his bed.

    Because he has demonstrated here that he can't answer this question properly. He has demonstrated that the science exist only for the science itself. He has point out where is the huge gap. And the huge gap as a trap is when the science goes by itself without Philosophy.

    Thus, he separated the science from ethics, and this happens in that point in which he agrees to say that the Darwinian theory of evolution is not suggested by him for placing us values or virtues on ΗΟW to live.
    Wrong Mr. Dawkins, if you connect the Darwinian theory of evolution with ethics you will realize clearly, how the human beings had evolved and escpecially how they had survived. And you would see also that the most adaptive has survived in Nature. This means that the clever specie which can preserve its genes can survive in Nature. How the human beings had preserved their genes ? Where is their cleverness ? On making such kind of societies with such kind of contracts within the majority of the persons understand and agreed that the solidarity and the friendship among them is something that can preserve them in life, against wild animals, earthquakes, plagues, famines, floods, diseases etc. Our specie, the human being, has proved with historical evidences that when we made social agreements to not harm each other, it was something that is PLEASING us and making us living a happy life. Ηuman's life, which is infront of the eternity, has a duration of a nanosecond. And this duration of a time does not deserve to be wasted of endless rhetorical and meaningless questions which are leading to the infinity.

    Why we are here, mr. Dawkins ? IMO the only proper response is this : Το fullfill our purpose, our end, our aim in life as set by the Nature and the evidences of evolution as occured by every individual person that is able to cooperate with others. And the human virtues, which are three or four in number, are THE MEANS for the achievement of this goal that is pleasure. Because if all the virtues would be connected with this goal of PLEASURE, EVERYBODY of US can live a pleasant, blissful and happy life. So simple is the response Mr. Dawkins.

    By the way, Mr. Dawkins, here is something of Diogenis of Oinoanda inscription that may would help you to give in future the proper response infront of an audience :

    <<Here is the point at issue between the other philosophers and the Epicureans. If we were both inquiring into, “what is the means of happiness?” and the other philosophers wanted to say, “the virtues,” (which would actually be true), it would not be necessary for us to take any other step than to agree with them.
    But the issue is not, “what is the means of happiness?” The issue is, “what is happiness?” Or, in other words, “What is the ultimate goal of our nature?”
    I say both now, and always, shouting out loudly, to all Greeks and non-Greeks, that pleasure is the highest end of life!
    The virtues, which are turned upside down by other philosophers, who transfer the virtues from “the means” to “the end”, are in no way the end in themselves! The virtues are not ends in themselves, but only the means to the end that Nature has set for us!
    This we affirm to be true in the strongest possible terms, and we take it as our starting point for how men should live.>>

    Beauty and virtue and such are worthy of honor, if they bring pleasure; but if not then bid them farewell!