Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"What is nothing?"

In one of the slides we discussed Heidegger and how we should study what a thing is not, instead of what the thing is.  So instead of looking at an object and trying to study it we should look at nothing and ask ourselves "What is nothing?" The word nothing breaks down into two words which are no and thing.  Logic tells us that nothing is "a negation of a positive" and when people hear this they usually become nervous and afraid, because in their mind they are thinking that nothing exists then.  Nothing is what shapes what actually exists, so the real question is "why we are something and not nothing?"

This seemed very interesting and confusing to me at the same time because it got me to thinking about why humans are something and not nothing, but I was also confused by what makes something something and what makes nothing nothing.  I feel like if you are to say nothing exists then that means nothing exists, but everything is still existing it is just considered nothing instead of something.

In the novel Les Misérables, Victor Hugo contrasts universal negation with universal affirmation (aka universal truth):  "All roads are blocked to a philosophy which reduces everything to the word ‘no.’ To ‘no’ there is only one answer and that is ‘yes.’ Nihilism has no substance. There is no such thing as nothingness, and zero does not exist. Everything is something. Nothing is nothing. Man lives more by affirmation than by bread. (1862, pt. 2, bk. 7, ch. 6)."


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