Quote of the Day: Hans-Richard Grumm on the Probability of Nothingness

This is a head-scratcher, this one. It comes from Hans-Richard Grumm in respins to a post Bert Bigelow wrote the other day: “Why is there anything?”

Since there is only exactly one state of reality where there is nothing, but an infinity of states where there is something, the a priori probability for “nothing” is vanishingly small.

These sorts of conversations often make the brain hurt. I asked:

Can you quantify nothing in that way? Could there be infinite instantiations of nothingness?

Can we put a single unitary value on the instantiation of nothingness? Okay, as H-R means here, you have one conceptual option for “existence” where there is nothing. Nothing at all. And all other versions of reality count as different instantiations of existence. Therefore, it appears, there is a higher probability of something rather than nothing when all instantiations have the same probability value, individually speaking.

My point above is that I am not sure about giving nothingness any meaningful property. It’s rather similar to evaluating existence over non-existence. People often naively think it’s better to be alive than non-existent. The problem is, you can’t compare them. Non-existence has no value, so you can’t compare it, evaluate it, against something with value. It is value-less.


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