Friday, December 7, 2012

More on Why Does the Universe Exist?

Here is another article for those interested in the question, "Why Does the Universe Exist?" - from the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies.


Some text from this article (a pdf, no less):

The Problem
Heidegger (1959) considered the question, “Why does the universe exist?” to be the “fundamental
problem of metaphysics” (p. 61). A number of scholars suggested that such a question can be answered.

For example, Gilson (1941, p. 139) asserted that the cause of the universe is a “pure Act of existence” that is absolute and hence self-sufficient. In contrast, the question is frequently deemed an insoluble riddle and,
thus, inherently meaningless2 or simply ill-conceived. For instance, Huxley (1964, p. 108) suggested that one must learn to accept that the universe is an “irreducible mystery,” while Russell (Russell ; Copelston, 1973) contended that there is no ground whatsoever for the assumption that the universe as a whole must have a cause. One particularly noteworthy argument for the meaninglessness of the question, “Why does the universe exist?” is derived from the modern logic of Wittgenstein (1981/1922) and elucidated by  Koestenbaum (1962), Waisman (1967; cited in Edwards, 1973, p. 806) and others. Essentially, the argument is that “the question of why there is something and not nothing is either ill-formed or profitless, since any intelligible answer will merely invite the same question” (Blackburn, 1996, p. 40). This argument was advanced in Edwards’ (1973) influential essay “Why?”: In any of its familiar senses, when we ask anything 
of x, why it happens or why it is what it is- whether x is the collapse of an army, a case of lung cancer, the theft of a jewel, or the stalling of a car - we assume that there is some set of conditions, other than x, in terms of which it can be explained. We do not know what this other thing is that is suitably related to x, but unless it is in principle possible to go beyond x, and find such another thing, the question does not make any sense. Now, if by “the universe” we mean the totality of things, then our x in “Why does the universe exist?” is so all-inclusive that it is logically impossible to find anything which could be suitably related to that whose explanations we appear to be seeking. (p. 809)

Edwards’ (1973) thesis may be summarised by Wittgenstein’s (1981/1922, p. 183) statement that, “the sense of the world must lie outside the world.” It seems rather obvious that an explanation as to why someone, for example, engages in serial murder can...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's more interesting to ask why you think that there is a reason for the universe to exist.