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Language and logic {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove section |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}} }} }}

Grammatically, the word "nothing" is an indefinite pronoun, which means that it refers to something{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}. One might argue that "nothing" is a concept, and since concepts are things, the concept of "nothing" itself is a thing. This logical fallacy is neatly demonstrated by the joke syllogism that contains a fallacy of four terms:

  1. The Devil is greater than nothing.
  2. Nothing is greater than God.
  3. Therefore, the Devil is greater than God.

The four terms in this example are God, the Devil, nothing-as-a-thing that the Devil is greater than, and nothing as no-thing or not-some-thing (there does not exist something that is greater than God). The error in the conclusion stems from equating nothing-as-a-thing with no-thing which are not the same thing.

Clauses can often be restated to avoid the appearance that "nothing" possesses an attribute. For example, the sentence "There is nothing in the basement" can be restated as "There is not one thing in the basement". "Nothing is missing" can be restated as "everything is present". Conversely, many fallacious conclusions follow from treating "nothing" as a noun.

Logician Alonzo Church describes this as all names having both a concept or sense, and a denotation. Church did not consider the name "nothingness", and its denotation.

Modern logic made it possible to articulate these points coherently as intended, and many philosophers hold that the word "nothing" does not function as a noun, as there is no object to which it refers. There remain various opposing views, however—for example, that our understanding of the world rests essentially on noticing absences and lacks as well as presences, and that "nothing" and related words serve to indicate these.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Failed verification |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[not in citation given] }}


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