The Riddle of Existence

Topics: Ontology, Existence, Metaphysics Pages: 3 (1001 words) Published: May 3, 2013
The Riddle of Existence

Leibniz’s formulation: “Why is there something rather than nothing”, is perhaps one of the most important questions ever posed in Philosophy. It had taken philosophy into a level wherein ‘everything’ is included in its realm; not only abstracta but also concreta. However, the question is more focused on the origins and explanations of the existence of concrete objects. Aside from explaining why concrete objects exist and where they come from, and who/what made them; the other side of the query is – why not nothing? Why did those ‘something’ prevailed and continues to exist instead of simply ‘nothing’? Further, equally important is to answer why concrete objects are the way they are, why they look and function the way they are? Though, we can also ask if the riddle of existence is even possible to answer or not; does this question even matter?

Because of the complexity of answering such a very simply question, one is tempted to ignore it or easily discard it as unanswerable. It is even easier to say that “there is something, rather than nothing” because we exist; or Wittgenstein’s later response to it – ‘it is nonsense’[1], we cannot imagine non-existence or absolute nothingness. Some solve it by an ‘end-all-be-all” answer – God[2]. Some rejects the question as it is, apparently, illegitimate and illogical; it is simply impossible to answer the question because its structure prevents us to do so[3]. However, we see that these propositions did not actually dismiss it. Thus, the question may still be answerable.

The Hume-Edwards approach is somehow satisfying in that it says that matter is eternal – it can neither be created nor destroyed; mass-energy has existed at least at one time because matter is conserved. This did not, however, answer the follow up question – why not nothing? Let’s add some idealism to the approach – consciousness. We recognize the existence of concrete things because we are conscious about them. An example...
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