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Suppose you're God (just for the sake of the argument,you can in fact throw God out of the argument at any time ... ) and so you can see the universe from a special frame of reference X which contains the truth about everything in the universe (its origin ,why it is so etc... ), how can you answer then this question ?

Where does X take its explanation ?

In other words can a God answer the question why X is true ? Surely he must have the answer if he's God but that would imply an answer which is to find outside X ,so X must have an answer in another frame Y through which consider X ,but what proves Y then ?

You see that I could keep along for ever so I am led to the conclusion that there isn't a frame in which there are all the answer about the universe and there's no way we can attempt to explain everything about the universe .

In fact if I go even deeper I can state that there are some questions which can't possibly have an answer .

  • Why do you believe that Y is outside of X? – Conner N. Howell May 24 '17 at 19:39
  • Because X can't have itself as element of the frame otherwise it would be just another element as the rest of the others and not the frame that contains it all. – Jean Leroi May 24 '17 at 19:41
  • most of the questions can't possibly have an answer – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 24 '17 at 19:49
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    This is reminiscent of Cantor's Paradox as well as Tarski's definition of truth in relation to the object language vs meta language. Yes, you cannot define truth in the object language you need a metal language, how do you define truth in the meta language? You need a meta meta language, and so on. – Not_Here May 24 '17 at 19:49
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    42.. there's the answer. Yes, I'm quite certain. – Richard May 24 '17 at 20:29
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I’ll consider three interpretations of your question. I’m pretty sure you are thinking of the third, but the other two are useful for building up to give the final answer.

  1. "God's view" is not part of a formal system.

If the question is about non-formalized natural language, then there is no problem with allowing X (God’s frame of reference) to contain X. For example, we can talk about “everything”, which includes the concept of “everything”, without problems. We only have paradoxes resulting when we treat language and the objects language refers to formally.

  1. "God's view" is an object language in a hierarchy

Since your question refers to a frame of reference Y which is necessarily outside the frame of reference X, I assume that you are asking about formal systems. You are correct that this is exactly how formal systems are typically set up in order to avoid problems such as Russell’s paradox. As Not_Here points out in the comments, Y is the “meta-language” of the formal system, while X is the “object language”. Y can also be treated as an object language by a higher level meta-language Z, and this hierarchy goes up forever. In this framework, your “unanswerable question”, which I take to be “Where is the truth of X derived from?”, is not only unanswerable but also unaskable. That is, the question is not well-formed within the object language for X. Viewed in this way, your unanswerable question is similar to the liar’s paradox, which analyzes the sentence “This sentence is false.” If that sentence is true, then it must be false (because it says so), and if it is false, then it must be true (because it is false that it is false), so we have a contradiction. The solution is that the truth of any sentence in the object language X can only be asserted or denied in the meta-language Y.

  1. "God's view" is the entire hierarchy of all meta-languages

Since you set up your question with X being God’s view, you probably have the idea that there is no meta-language Y above X, but rather that X actually contains the entire hierarchy of languages all the way up. This is also legitimate in standard treatments of formal languages. Frames of references are usually formalized as sets in set theory. There is no set of all sets, but we can still talk about the class of all sets without any problems. The only issue is that the class of all sets is not a set and therefore is not part of any of the object languages in the hierarchy. So again questions about X (the class of all sets) can not be written in the language, so they are actually unaskable in addition to being unanswerable.


All of this is a description of what is typically done in formal systems. These systems are known to be consistent and to capture all of mathematics. Your observation of unanswerable questions is a good criticism of naive semantics for language, and observations like it are part of the reason that these hierarchical formal systems were developed instead.

  • Thanks for your instructive answer,may I ask you where can I deepen my studies in this regard ? – Jean Leroi Jun 16 '17 at 21:46
  • The SEP article on self-reference touches on the approach I described, which is called the "cumulative hierarchy". Specifically section 3. The version that I usually think of is ZF, referred to in that article in section 3.2. Unfortunately I don't know of any more introductory material. Usually you would have a course on the formal semantics of first order logic prior to studying the cumulative hierarchy. – Nanhee Byrnes PhD Jun 17 '17 at 5:24
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Some questions indeed can´t have an answer. I recommend you to investigate about Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

Basically, the first one tells you that all logic systems are either incomplete or incoherent. And the second implies that the only way to prove a system is coherent is if it is incoherent.

So even the "absolute truth " of god would be at the very least incomplete.

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Some questions definitely can't have an answer, but this is not one of them. There is a traditional answer that is quite logical: Berkeley-ism. Traditionally, God is a rationale in-and-of-himself.

If all things are the way they are just because God wants them to be that way, then asked this question, God can always answer, and be right. No need for regressive shell games. Whims, in particular, need have no traceable cause, or they wouldn't be whims.

More generally, a reference is not a containment. I can point at something, like 'The Will of God', and still have it be in the list of 'Causes of Things', even if it is the cause of the list itself, and of each of the things on it.

Whatever notion of 'frame of reference' you have seems to omit the idea that references are often circular. You can wish Russel's paradox away by imagining otherwise, but circular references are a real thing.

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