3

While thinking about how the universe works and questioning it I have come to the conclusion that it might not actually sense and cannot ever make sense. It all starts with the question "Why?", you can tell me how but then there is also a why for that how answer. "The apple falls because of gravity." makes sense... but what is gravity "Gravity is caused by the curvature of space, curved by matter/energy." but the further and further you go the more and more specific it becomes. Until you reach this question "Why not anything else?"... so now you could suggest a multiverse with every possible configuration and thats why its so specific... but then you have to ask "How does this multiverse work and why does it exist"... then "Why can't nothing exist everywhere and there not be a multiverse?" and finally a more abstract one "Why can't space be made of yarn and math not be able to exist in this universe?"... The only thing that would fundamentally make sense would be nothing at all, literally. If nothing existed it would make more sense. But then you have to ask "Why can't there be something"... Its a question with no answer that completely destroys the very goal of making sense of everything at a fundamental scale. So the only way out is to acknowledge that our universe isn't based on the question why and that asking for a sensible answer isn't the right question to ask in the first place. That everything in the biggest and smallest picture just doesn't make sense. Which is hard to grasp and I am unsure of it being the right conclusion to this simple question.

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome on Philosophy.SE. Your question has been brought to our attention. The reason may be that it is hardly a question that can be definitely answered, which would be bad for a Q&A format like SE is one (see the tour and the help center). Reformulating the question towards whether philosophy tackled this problem would help. Immanuel Kant, for example, wrote 200 years ago that it is just our mind asking for reasons all the time, whereas nature does not necessarily work that way. – Philip Klöcking Sep 23 '17 at 20:17
  • 2
    So please, try to ask a concise question (some formatting would be perfect) and try to omit unnecessary noise that may be related to, but not crucial for your actual question. – Philip Klöcking Sep 23 '17 at 20:20
  • If one feels that even he himself is not real, reality is nonsense. Senses must work to feel something is nonsense. So there must be a reality even behind nonsense. – SonOfThought Sep 24 '17 at 10:07
  • All these questions and problems can be dealt with, but you need to chase the answers into stange places. Yes. it makes no sense that anything exists. So run with this. Just do the sums. If nothing really exists then ...what? Which philosophy claims that nothing really exists? It is a popular one, but one that is usually disallowed and not studied within the walls of academe. I'd recommend Paul Davies' 'Mind of God' as a starting point. – PeterJ Sep 24 '17 at 10:40
  • I wasn't really saying that nothing exist but that if nothing exists then it would make more sense than anything else, but still nonsense. Its this that makes it seem that sense is not part of the fundamental nature of anything that is based on making sense. And that a world founded on nonsense is more sensible than one that isn't. – Terran Sep 24 '17 at 22:17
3

Here is a beautiful talk of Feynman about chains of why questions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM

In his case the chain ends in why magnetic and electric forces attract:

I can't explain that attraction in terms of anything else that's familiar to you. For example, if we said the magnets attract like rubber bands, I would be cheating you. Because they're not connected by rubber bands. I'd soon be in trouble. And secondly, if you were curious enough, you'd ask me why rubber bands tend to pull back together again, and I would end up explaining that in terms of electrical forces, which are the very things that I'm trying to use the rubber bands to explain. So I have cheated very badly, you see. So I am not going to be able to give you an answer to why magnets attract each other except to tell you that they do. And to tell you that that's one of the elements in the world – there are electrical forces, magnetic forces, gravitational forces, and others, and those are some of the parts. If you were a student, I could go further. I could tell you that the magnetic forces are related to the electrical forces very intimately, that the relationship between the gravity forces and electrical forces remains unknown, and so on. But I really can't do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else you're more familiar with, because I don't understand it in terms of anything else that you're more familiar with.

As for existence vs non-existence, according to eastern thought / religious philosophy, in particular buddhism and hinduism, the nature of nature (pun intended) transcends the human concepts of existence and non-existence.

For example in The Royal Seal of Mahamudra, an 18th century Tibetan manuscript:

The evident concept-free wisdom of mind essence does not fall into any extreme whatsoever, whether of existence or nonexistence, being or nonbeing, eternalism or nihilism. (p.263)

In shows up in western thought as well in the claim that the world is fundamentally unintelligible. For example as put by Chomsky:

Instead of trying to show that the world is intelligible to us, we recognized that it’s not intelligible to us. But we just say, ‘Well, you know, unfortunately that’s the way it works. I can’t understand it but that’s the way it works.’ And then the aim of science is reduced from trying to show that the world is intelligible to us, which it is not, to trying to show that there are theories of the world which are intelligible to us. That’s what science is: It’s the study of intelligible theories which give an explanation of some aspect of reality.

And by David Hume:

While Newton seemed to draw off the veil from some of the mysteries of nature, he shewed at the same time the imperfections of the mechanical philosophy; and thereby restored her ultimate secrets to that obscurity, in which they ever did and ever will remain.

So yeah, according to some, nature fundamentally transcends our capacity for making sense of it, and therefore you could say that it cannot make sense.

  • I like to think about the computer from Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the question they asked it; "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything" and it replies "42"... what if it said anything else? It would make as much sense as saying 42 since any reply could be questioned and it is very much based on perspective and that the computer then says that they asked the wrong question. While Adams may not have been thinking to this extent I like to sometimes conclude that perhaps asking "Why?" is the wrong question. (cont.) – Terran Sep 24 '17 at 22:32
  • (cont.) And that the universe need not be founded on sense and thus it is very convincing nonsense. A nonsensical world with magic has it easy since they could just say "Magic!" but we live in a very grounded world so it must be a very convincingly sensible nonsensical world at that. – Terran Sep 24 '17 at 22:34
  • @nir Good answer, but Buddhism and Hinduism do not say the world is unintelligible. They say it is unintelligible to a mind that is uninformed by a realisation of 'nonduality' and unable to see beyond dualism. It would be dualism that renders the word unintelligible and nondualism that solves the problem. . – PeterJ Sep 27 '17 at 12:44
  • @peterj, what do you have to say about the following by Chomsky? "the galilean model of intelligibility has a corollary: when mechanism fails, understanding fails." - On Nature and Language in other words, the world transcends mechanism, logic, and description, and as such it is unintelligible. as far as I know that is inline with both buddhism and hinduism. in what sense is that statement wrong? – nir Sep 27 '17 at 17:28
  • What if it is just simply that sense, reason, questions, and answers are just a human idea and not actually relatable to the real world at a certain point? Not incomprehensible but just not where we have been looking. – Terran Sep 29 '17 at 22:28
3

Basically what you're describing is the Munchhausen trilemma:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

Knowledge is limited.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • Both replies are correctly address what I was asking in two complementary ways. Thanks for pointing me out to the essence of my dilemma. – Terran Sep 24 '17 at 22:23

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.