I define ‘existence’ here as the totality of being, and I take it as obvious that existence is actual. In this context, ‘necessary’ will be defined as ‘must exist because it cannot fail to exist’.

The reason I ask this question is because the absence of existence, or what I will call ‘absolute nonexistence’, seems impossible to me. Unless we are prepared to entertain the idea that existence could have come out of absolute nonexistence, then it seems that existence has always been here in some form. Likewise, if we assume that existence’s presence cannot turn into absolute nonexistence, then it seems as though existence will always be here in some form.

I’m not denying that existence changes form, but what I’m stuck on is this idea that there could have been or could be absolute nonexistence.

And if it were true that absolute nonexistence is impossible, would that mean that existence itself is necessary? After all, if absolute nonexistence is ruled out as a possibility, then only existence remains.

  • 1
    There are different types of necessity, logical, metaphysical, physical, epistemic, etc., see Varieties of Modality, the question is unfinished until one is specified. The ideas of entities emerging out of nothing and vice versa have been entertained, and there is nothing logically contradictory about them. Nor is an empty world with no entities at all, ever, contradictory, it is even compatible with known physical laws. That something seems counterintuitive is not a good indicator of its impossibility, our experience is very limited.
    – Conifold
    Apr 18, 2021 at 19:30
  • See 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/821/… The uncertainty principle might be our deepest insight into the world, & existence be basically complicated uncertainty, so a kind of in between existence & non-existence. See relational quantum mechanics, which supports that I'd say.
    – CriglCragl
    Apr 18, 2021 at 19:54
  • The described belief of your essentialized existence from above seems at the level of physical energy which obeys law of conservation of energy which is not necessary, and all kinds of energy may be transformed to another kind, especially to heat energy (your final form of existence), thus it seems consistent with your belief. In logic existence of a specific thing usually means "to be a value of a bounded variable which satisfies its specific predicate", so it's very possible you cannot find such a value, thus at logic level your have such an absolute nonexistence... Apr 18, 2021 at 21:56
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    if we didn't exist, how would we know it? Apr 19, 2021 at 5:14

2 Answers 2


Obviously nothing is not a thing that can exist, and what does exist is nature (Gk: Physis) -- existence that "changes form" as you write, or "goes back into itself even as it unfolds" as Heidegger interprets Aristotle as he defines nature, (Sheehan 1998).

From section V.

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Even theories like quantum fluctuation and universal heat death do not posit the 'existence' of nothing (and therefore the non-existence of anything). So nature is necessary.

I would shy away from the term 'existence' in this instance. As the SEP mentions:

Existence remains ... a serious problem in philosophy of language, metaphysics, and logic and one connected to some of the deepest and most important problems in those areas.


You are asking about the validity of the permanence of existence. So you can confirm at least your existence from your question even though nothing exists except you. If you still deny your existence, there must be a cause (another existence) that controls you. And it can never be a non-existent thing even if it changed its form.

As in the case of existence, something must exist to know about non-existence also. Then, that also (what you called 'something') must be 'an' existence. You may ponder over it: "Would it ever be a non-existence?" I mean, whether the thing that knows the non-existence is a non-existent thing.

So, existence itself is always necessary.

This query will end only when you realise that permanent existence is nothing but 'the self' (Your self).

Until one realizes the truth, he / she will think that it is about someone's self. And they may also think that it is thing just for imagination. That was why (to avoid that confusion also) I used the term -- Your self.



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