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Questions tagged [existence]

Ontological and metaphysical questions about the study of existence, being and the structure of reality.

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Could 'cogito ergo sum' possibly be false?

I've heard it postulated by some people that "we can't truly know anything". While that does seem to apply to the vast majority of things, I can't see how 'cogito ergo sum' can possibly be false. ...
53
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25answers
7k views

Why is there something instead of nothing?

A simple but fundamental question. The "something" means the whole Universe (known and unknown), it could be represented as the reality version of the set of all sets, which is itself debated. It ...
34
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12answers
1k views

How can one differentiate nonexistent entities?

How is it possible for things that do not exist to not be the same? How can one differentiate nonexistent entities? How can I know the difference between ghosts and werewolves if neither exist?
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15answers
16k views

Being alive today: the most improbable coincidence?

Think about it; modern humans have been around for at least a couple hundred thousand years. Yet, your mind, your soul, your very awareness, happens to be "alive" today. If time is a flow, moving ...
25
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12answers
4k views

What arguments would support a secular pro-life position?

I've been thinking about the pro-life position (by "pro-life" I mean the position that abortion should be illegal. I.e. on par with murder) for awhile, and it is normally presented as a religious ...
22
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14answers
6k views

Is willful ignorance about one's own mortality escapism?

I don't mean if someone is dying of cancer and they refuse treatment or something -- I'm saying if a healthy person who is unhappy obsessing over his own inevitable death one day chooses to ignore ...
19
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17answers
18k views

If you place a pencil in an opaque box and close the box, does the pencil exist? [closed]

I’m trying to explain to my friends about things existing. I gave them this question: if you place a pencil in an opaque box and close the box, does the pencil exist? They say yes and I ask how do ...
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15answers
737 views

Why do things have a front and a back?

This question was asked by my three year old niece and I couldn't think of a good answer.
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11answers
29k views

Can something come out of nothing or not? Why?

In our current state of affairs it is safe and reasonable to assume something exists - be it a universe, pure conciousness, illusion or other designations. If some readers nevertheless claim something ...
13
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4answers
1k views

Proving that man is not born with certain skills?

I was arguing with my father about the nature of the human mind. I believe that a man is not born with a predetermined skill, such as painter or composer, and that through hard work and dedication, a ...
12
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7answers
3k views

Could it be possible that the universe doesn't exist?

Could it be possible that the universe doesn't exist? That nothing exists, not even you or me? And by not existing, I mean totally not existing, as in not even existing as a computer simulation, or a ...
11
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11answers
1k views

Can we logically prove that anything exists?

Suppose I want to prove that negative numbers exist. Well, I could easily do that using a mathematical proof. However, all I would be doing is adding another logical object to a list of known logical ...
11
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4answers
6k views

What is the meaning of “meaning of life” and why do people seek it?

One of the oldest questions is "What is the meaning of life?". But what does the concept of "meaning of life" actually mean? What does it mean for something to be the "meaning of life"? And why is it ...
11
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3answers
5k views

How should we understand the teletransportation thought experiment?

Please read the short story here:Beam me up First, I'd like to to know whether there is anything inherently inconsistent about this teletransportation idea? Is there fundamental reasons which say it'...
11
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6answers
3k views

Can one prove a negative existential claim?

A major concern in epistemology is just what we can know about existential claims, that is, claims about the existence (or lack of) something. Suppose for example that I assert the following: The ...
10
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4answers
1k views

How do the meanings of *to exist*, *to be*, and *real* differ?

What definition of to exist, of to be, and of real preponderates contemporary philosophy? How do the terms differ from one another?
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2answers
7k views

How well did Aristotle feel his belief in the eternity of the universe was established?

In the Middle Ages, Aristotle's belief that the world was eternal posed a major theological challenge for the many people who held a religious belief in Creation. Moses Maimonides, in his Guide for ...
9
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8answers
2k views

In what sense if any could something without mass or energy exist?

I have long been interested in physics as (working toward) a description of absolute truth and, as a consequence, have had a number of discussions with people with religious and metaphysical beliefs ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Defenses of Descartes's rationality in regards to “cogito” fallacy?

What philosophers and in what writings, if any, have attempted to explain or defend Descartes's rationalism in respect to the "cogito ergo sum" fallacy pointed out by philosophers like Russell, and ...
9
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6answers
897 views

Why isn't existence a predicate?

According to SEP There are two sets of reasons for denying that existence is a property of individuals. The first is Hume and Kant's puzzlement over what existence would add to an object. What is ...
9
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2answers
156 views

Does fictional discourse pose special difficulties for logic?

Natural language is context-dependent, like the statement “My uncle is a plumber”, which is true or false depending on who asserts it. There has been lots of discussion about fictional entities and ...
8
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11answers
1k views

Proof Universe Came From Nothing?

Consider the following proof: (1) Let the Universe be defined as the set of all things. (2) It is impossible for a thing to come from itself. (You can't be your own parent) (3) 2 implies a set of ...
8
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8answers
266 views

Is there a difference between things that can't be interacted with and things that don't exist?

Suppose there is a magical kingdom that is hidden somewhere over the rainbow and can never be reached by anything, most people would say that such a place might as well not exist. However, the same ...
8
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6answers
636 views

How is existence in presentism reconciled with relativity of simultaneity?

There is a famous question by Einstein which was reported by his biographer, the physicist Abraham Pais, and which expresses his concern with quantum physics: We often discussed his notions on ...
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3answers
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What is the meaning of “predicate” in this definition?

I have trouble understanding the article on existence in this Philosophy dictionary. Instantiation in reality, or actual being. Kant pointed out that existence is not a predicate. What is the ...
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8answers
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Consciousness without thoughts or feelings?

I have noticed that I can sit in a room around people and be consciously aware ... but have no thoughts at all. People often say that your "mind is always thinking", but I can literally stare at a ...
7
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4answers
908 views

Descartes' Demon

This week I've been given to study from my highschool teacher Descartes' Demon argument but I have several doubts I fully understand it ,but let me put this in clear order : 1) I understand that ...
7
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4answers
783 views

What are the counterexamples to Kant's argument that existence is not a predicate?

Kant argued that considering existence as a predicate is wrong .A Predicate is a feature or characteristic of an object .But logically , existence adds nothing to characteristics of that object , ...
7
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9answers
269 views

How does being come into being? How does existence come into existence?

So, the universe was created by the big bang. And the big bang was created by some stringy things, or branes or whatever. But what created those strings? And what created the thing that created them? ...
7
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2answers
433 views

What is the logical structure of this argument by a Hindu philosopher about causation?

The Khandana Khanda Khadya is a work by the 12th century Hindu philosopher Sri Harsha which in some sense sets out to disprove epistemology - it seeks to show that all putative means of knowledge, ...
7
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1answer
258 views

How to express Kant's notion of existence on first-order logic according to Ayer?

In Language, Truth, and Logic, Ayer writes: [As] Kant pointed out, existence is not an attribute. For, when we ascribe an attribute to a thing, we covertly assert that it exists. However, I can't ...
7
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2answers
557 views

Are “to exist” and “to have being” the same?

I recently read an introduction about ontology. A section was about the debate whether to exist and to have being is the same. One position says (attributed to Meinong), that some things exist and ...
6
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3answers
23k views

What is objective morality?

It has been argued by some that God is a necessary and sufficient condition for objective morality. I can't accept this, because I don't even know what the analysis of moral objectivity is. It seems ...
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8answers
809 views

Are there any other things like 'Cogito ergo sum' that we can be certain of?

Are there any other things we can be certain of? Are there any 'hooks' that can be hooked into 'I think therefore I am', that one could be 100% certain are truthful as 'I think therefore I am' itself?
6
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3answers
459 views

Why does the philosophy concerned with the problem of negative existential statements not make use of mental representations to solve it?

Meinong, Frege, Russel and Kripke all seem to accept the principle, that for a statement to be true, its singular terms must denote an object. This leads to the problem, that a sentence like 'The ...
6
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4answers
2k views

What is the difference between existing in the mind and non-physical existence?

How could one detect the subtle difference, if any, between imagining a being and using the imagination to interact with a non-physical being? To provide some context for this question, I will give a ...
6
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5answers
2k views

What does it mean for something to exist?

When we say something exists, what do we mean by X? Specifically, my question is about whether there's something more primitive than saying something exists. In mathematics, existence is asserted by ...
6
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5answers
502 views

Is it possible to prove that the universe either is or isn't a simulation? [duplicate]

Can it be philosophically proven that the Universe either is or is not a simulation? If someone was in a simulation, could they tell? What would the differences be between a simulated universe and a "...
6
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2answers
292 views

Existence vs tertium non datur

This is my first question here, sorry if it turns out to be a duplicate. Mathematical constructivism states that contradicting the non-existence of something won't imply its existence. Does it mean ...
6
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1answer
394 views

For Husserl, how can we know things in themselves?

I don't quite understand the nature of "going back to things themselves". How does Husserl break away from Kant?
6
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2answers
387 views

Absolute Truth - Is there existence?

I restate the question in a simpler and more specific way; is there a proof or has a philosopher proved, that things can be absolute and observed by each in the same way? Are there like conserved ...
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6answers
4k views

Does anything you can think of exist?

Descartes famously says "I think therefore I am." Does it follow that anything I can think of exists?
5
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5answers
864 views

Does the concept of existence entail the concept of death?

Does the concept of existence entail the concept of death? I am asking this because many philosophers have tried to prove the existence of god (Descartes through the Meditations) by saying that he ...
5
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2answers
308 views

How to disprove “I'm entitled to my opinion”

Background There is an article in The Conversation that attempts to disprove the notion that people are "entitled to their opinions." That is, people have a right to believe whatever they wish. I ...
5
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1answer
405 views

If turtles see everything, and nothing seen can see, does it follow that non-turtles exist?

Consider the following argument: Turtles see everything. Seeing is asymmetric (for the sake of argument). Therefore, something is not a turtle. I have problems symbolizing these statements. My ...
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3answers
795 views

“I think, therefore I am” - How does “I” establish “I” before “I” can “think”?

The famous Cogito ergo sum opens with "I" can think, therefore "I" am. How does "I" establish "I" before "I" can "think"? in other words how did "I" establish "I" before it could think in the first ...
5
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3answers
283 views

If there is life, then there is more complex life as well?

Researchers in Switzerland have developed an Altruism algorithm that shows how altruism in a swarm of entities can, over time, evolve and result in more effective swarm behaviour. For an ant colony, ...
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4answers
652 views

Is the universe just a mathematical construct?

Consider some continuous mathematical function. You can define it as a set of initial conditions and a set of rules to extend it to the rest of its domain. For instance, for a linear function, y = mx +...
5
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3answers
366 views

Existence of abstract objects for a physicalist

Let's say I'm a physicalist. Usually then, I will think of abstract objects as mental constructs, which are dictated by mental states, which, as a physicalist will say, are manifestations of physical ...
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3answers
646 views

If ontology is theory of existence, then what is theory of essence?

Some words in philosophy are usually represented as theory of x. For example, logic is the theory of reasoning, epistemology is the theory of knowledge, ontology is the theory of existence, etc. On ...