[extropy-chat] something rather than nothing

Emlyn emlynoregan at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 11:13:33 UTC 2007

On 02/03/07, Anders Sandberg <asa at nada.kth.se> wrote:
> Damien Broderick wrote:
> > At 10:38 AM 2/28/2007 -0500, someone wrote:
> >>The question remains in our universe of thoughts, why is there
> >>something rather than nothing?
> >
> > Good dog in heat, I get so tired of this fake question. What makes
> > anyone suppose that "nothing" is the default physical or metaphysical
> > condition, or even an intelligible construct?
> I often ponder why there is something rather than everything.

Yes, I hear that. There may very well be everything of course, and we are
just by chance stuck in this particular bit of it.

My usual answer is the anthropic principle, but outside our neat little
> domain lies all the other Tegmark Level 4 possibilities.

Anthropic principle, definitely, that's the answer to the question. The hard
question is not "why is there something" but "why is there this particular,
arbitrary looking something". Again we can scale down the set of somethings
from everything to all the possible self consistent & intelligence
supporting somethings, but that still seems to hold a lot of somethings.

But I think you said that ;-)

Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to rewind time and run evolution on earth
again from the start, to see what comes up in alternate histories? Do you
think intelligence would evolve again, eventually? Would it be similar to
us? My guess is that alternate evolved intelligences would be pretty similar
mentally to us, even if physically they were to be pretty different. eg:
Reciprocal altruism, kinship preferences, reputation building behaviour, the
foundations of morality would be likely made of the same building blocks.

It makes me wonder how much all the alternate somethings that could be could
differ in substance, even given superficial differences.


> Anders Sandberg,
> Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
> Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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