What is Nothing?


Ken Wais

The Concept of Nothing

Nothing, yes nothing what is it?Can it be called anything?This concept is possibly the most difficult of all to analyze.It will be even more difficult for me to form a coherent picture of nothing as I go through this essay.But, try I must and as you will see I may not give you a definitive explanation of this abstruse concept.


Nothing or the adjective Nothingness is so difficult because when you consider it, the concept defies definition.I will say that unlike previous concepts weíve considered: Perfection and Beauty, this one is not of our making.Nothing, as a concept is not a human contrivance.It is a concept weíve discovered however.Let us take a look at this word itself to get an idea of where it comes from and how it has evolved into such a difficult idea to interpret.


Nothing as you might suspect started out as two English words no and thing.These words separately express denotatively just what you might expect.That is no material existence to something.And yes the last word of the previous sentence expresses the opposite.When thing is preceded with no it does express that some matter doesnít exist.But, we know today that nothing describes much more than the simple idea of no matter existing.But this is what it originally meant in Old English.To be more precise, the word started out as two words--nȃn thing in Old English.With that first a sound pronounced like the, a in fan.It was meant to convey just the idea described.It was later contracted to one compound that eventually would be applied to more than just an expression of the non-existence of a matter or an object of matter.Today it has been conceptualized to mean many ideas the original two words never meant.This is a common result of agglutination in a Germanic language like English.When words are conjoined they generally yield new meanings that separately they never would have.Interesting to note is other words conjoined with no have not always sprung new conceptions.For instance, take no and place, these words compounded as noplace donít invoke a sense of a non-existent spatial dimension.What it does mean is there is no existing place to be experienced by the subject.As in I have noplace to go.Yes, noplace is not compounded in English now, but I betcha it will be in short order, as will others like no and where. While the words, no and body, go far beyond the idea of no human person in existence, to mean ideas of a conceptual sense having to do with people.Nobody usually refers to people in the plural and negative.As in nobody believes what you say anymore!Or in the sentence nobody would think a man could survive such a fall.It could be used to portray that something or someone does not exist in a spatial dimension, as in: nowhere do we find populations growing if food supplies dwindle.We now go back to the concept nothing with this brief linguistic survey in mind.

Nothing, the concept is separate from nothing the imperceptible experience.Strangely, the perceptual experience is tied to the conceptual.We have developed this concept of nothing, because we canít perceive nothing.Another way of saying this is, if we canít experience non-existence, we posit it doesnít exist. Thus, nothing the concept has existence in the realm of abstract non-material ideas.It exists in the physical matter of our brains, which forms in our minds as a concept.Its material existence is only in this sense.If we can localize the thought process in our brains that formulates the idea of nothing, then we could say in a roundabout way nothing does exists. Iím sure a CAT scan could do this.But, that would identify our physical manifestation of the idea of nothing only in our brains, not in the external world.So, the end result of this form of reasoning has to be the following:

Nothing, the concept does exist in the form of ideas in our minds.Since nothing is not a material reality, it cannot exist, but existence does exist, thus there has always been existence and non-existence has never existed.

This reasoning leads us to see the universe, for instance has always existed in one form or another.Incorporating the newer ideas in Cosmology of a Multiverse, the conglomerate of universes has always been in existence. There was no beginning to existence and there will be no end.It reminds me of the paradoxes of the Greek philosopher Zeno.He created several paradoxes concerning space and motion.Most of which have been contradicted by modern mathematics and physics.Let me state this clearly:

There is no state of existence that can be termed to be non-existent.

This is most important to physics.The Big Bang theory relied on this idea of non-existence in a state of instability that without rhyme or reason had a random event that is called a singularity that started existence.Well, not so now with Membrane theory in the new Standard Model of theoretical physics.

This is a just what I was hoping for in science.No creation doctrine, not need to appeal to a higher being for existence itself.But most of all no NOTHING!Once again a human imposed synthetic idea that Ödoesnít exist.Donít go looking for nothing, you wonít find it.