I am asking this question because I read Lawrence Krauss's book "A Universe from Nothing". I have also read a lot of criticism of that book, saying that Krauss's "nothingness" is actually something, namely a quantum vacuum. But that raises the question, what is the true definition of nothingness? Also, have any philosophers written about, and perhaps even tried to define, nothingness? I would love to see some references.

  • SEP is a good place to start as usual. plato.stanford.edu/entries/nothingness
    – g s
    Commented Jan 1 at 7:12
  • lao-tsu uses it as the "opposite of beingness", so: no-thingness=idea/use/value, beingness=matter/possession/profit, which does not/rarely mean "the absolute nothingness" .."absolute nothingness" seems to be the(!) "ideal (no!) idea".
    – xerx593
    Commented Jan 1 at 9:30
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? What is "Nothing"?
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jan 1 at 9:33

2 Answers 2

  1. Many philosophers have written about nothingness, see Nothingness.

    Best known for this subject is Heidegger in his book "Being and Time" (German original: Sein und Zeit). The German term for the nothingness is “das Nichts”.

  2. The lingustic problem with the term nothingsness is that the term reifies the negation. To negate a statement does not create a new noun. And because there is no new noun, one cannot ask for properties of the noun nothingness.

    Therefore the main criticism of using the term nothingness is its tendency to create philosophical pseudo-problems.

  3. Quantum fluctuations are a physical – not a philosophical – concept, see Quantum fuctuations. Quantum fluctuations are the spontaneous creation and annihilation of particles from the vacuum. I assume that’s what Krauss’ book speaks about.

    Quantum fluctuations play an important role in quantum field theory. They are considered the seed for structure formation in cosmology during the early time of our cosmos. See Alan Guth Inflation and the New Era of High-Precision Cosmology.


If we go by "negation of everything", you essentially construct the set {P| P = ~Q, for all Q}, where P, Q are statements.

Interestingly, via Russels paradox the inconsistency of this set is swiftly established via the statement "The above set exists". It must contain its negation and its double negation.

If we go by logical independence, the second you construct a formal system that expresses Peano arithmetic, you will arive at statements that are not fully semantically encapsulated within the system itself. In that regard, from the perspective of the system the statements arise out of nothing, since there is no logical link between both.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 2 at 11:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .