Is it possible to prove that something does not exist? I'm asking because I find it very difficult to think of any such idea.

  • why on earth not? are you saying something about induction or hume? i would have downvoted, because you are a new user, and the site isn't beta: you should be looking to provide more context for your ideas. if you can't do so, then sorry, try editing it to admit your confusion :)
    – user28660
    Sep 23, 2017 at 9:02

1 Answer 1


Interesting question. I may be misunderstanding it but here's one possible answer.

In the second-century CE the Buddhist sage Nagarjuna logically proved that nothing really exists. Here the word 'really' would mean 'metaphysically'. Nobody has ever invalidated, falsified or refuted his result. If they ever do they will have falsified the Perennial philosophy, which claims the Unity of All. We find the same argument made in Bradley's Appearance and Reality and in 'Laws of Form by G.S Brown.

For a theory in which the Universe is a Unity it is necessary that 'things' do not exist independently or truly and that they are reducible. So yes, lots of people claim that nothing really exists and a few have proved it. Usually it is considered a truth only knowable in experience but logic supports it. This would be why nobody can prove that anything exists, and why existence (as we usually think of it) is paradoxical.

It is a difficult idea, but not incomprehensible with a bit of work.

  • I believe that "I think, therefore I am" invalidates this argument. The fact that the question of existence can be asked implies there is an asker. Thus, the question exists and the questioner exists.
    – user935
    Sep 23, 2017 at 16:09
  • @barrycarter Your observeration helped me to understand better Nietzsche's possible objection to Descartes.
    – Gordon
    Sep 23, 2017 at 19:01
  • Essentially, what "I"? B. Singh has a question with a page attached from "Beyond Good and Evil". It is now in active questions.
    – Gordon
    Sep 23, 2017 at 19:05
  • Barinder Singh.
    – Gordon
    Sep 23, 2017 at 19:08
  • @barrycarter Your objection fails since the idea would be that 'I am' is real, and 'real' would not mean the same as 'exist'.
    – user20253
    Sep 24, 2017 at 10:31

You must log in to answer this question.

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