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  Brief survey of ideas on scientific and philosophical questions
 

We would be pleased to receive responses from academics and researchers to the following questions. The responses will help present current ideas among the academic community regarding these questions.

We are grateful to everyone who can take time to write a reply. Replies will be credited and will also appear online unless otherwise requested. Respondents can edit or withdraw their response at anytime.

 

1. Why is there something rather than nothing?

Some people wonder whether this question, which Leibniz termed the “Primordial Existential Question”, is actually meaningful, or whether it may in fact be a non-starter. For his part , Parmenides apparently asked it nonetheless, and concluded that “nothingness” or “non-being” was impossible, and that therefore things must have always existed (his way of avoiding an infinite regress). According to him no first cause for either matter or motion is possible and so if something exists at any time, it will have existed always; and will continue to exist unchangingly for eternity.

There are physicists who believe that a response is possible to this question, whether that is to explain why/how something can come from nothing; or that something has always existed.

Please write your views on this question, perhaps also indicating the following

  • Is it meaningful?
  • Can it be definitively answered one day?
  • What are the philosophical implications in the case of it being answered; and in the case of it not being answered?
  • Any suggestions for an answer, however outlandish?

Please send responses to inska@parmenideum.com with name, position and institute

Responses can be read here

 

2. Why do 2 + 2 = 4?

This question refers to the more general problem of necessity. Why are there necessary truths such as those of mathematics? From where do the constraints of logical necessity come from and where do they reside even when there is no physical reality to instantiate them?

  • In your view, is there an answer to this question?
  • Is it important, and why?
  • Any suggestions for an answer, however outlandish?

Please send responses to inska@parmenideum.com with name, position and institute

Responses can be read here

Note. The question does not ask “is the proposition 2 + 2 = 4 true?” That has already been shown by Russell and Whitehead in their famous proof.

 

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