The day had to come; there can be no beginning without an end.
Or can there be?
The End has been a point of debate for the philosophers throughout all of history.
The end, nothing, zero. The ancient Greeks debated that such a thing could even exist. How can nothing be something to count?
In a way, this post will be the complete opposite of my original post. Nothing is a no-thing; it is not a thing, and we can’t even properly imagine it. When we try to describe nothingness, we have to use what we know. Since what we know all falls under the category of being some-thing, it is physically impossible to accurately describe a no-thing. Anything that you can describe is, so do describe what is not by an is…is a bit of a mind melder.
Nothing is without reason, according to Leibniz, so it’s no wonder we can’t wrap our minds around it. All things have reason, but something that does not exist, is a no-thing and has no reason. It can’t - there is nothing to attach that reason to. Or, to put it more simply as Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am”. To try to think about absolute nothingness is impossible, for you are still using the cogito, or the conscious thought, to try and understand something that cannot be understood.
Is your brain mad at you yet for trying? I know I tried for a while when I was confronted with this idea. Of course you can think of nothing, that’s the point of TV isn’t it? (I kid, I kid.)
But in reality, nothingness, its concept, and our inability to understand its existence, or lack of existence, causes the human mind much anxiety.
Heidegger believes that nothingness is the number one cause of human anxiety. It is a way of being fearful of nothing in particular.
The ultimate experience of human anxiety is to confront your own connection to the nothingness, which can also be called considering your own mortality.
This sounds silly to say, but becoming nothingness is something no one has survived. It is something that we literally know nothing about, and yet we will all dissolve into the great nothingness that is the universe once we die.
When we contemplate nothingness, we contemplate our own mortality. However, Heidegger helps us out with our anxiety in the end.
Though the most negative experience is to be negated, we can stand confident and happy in the light that we exist.
We get to exist, this existence is ours, and we are not nothing.
Happy Philosophizing, my Fellows in Existence!
Emily Towsley, can be found either teasing her cat, or philosophizing with a customer over coffee in her second-life as a barista. Messages of support regarding her addiction to Netflix, and news of vintage teacup sales can be left on her twitter. Her spare time is spent reading copious amounts of books, or working on her latest pinterest project.
Tune in next week on the next philosophical breakdown from your average pedestrian. And feel free to leave her questions on her twitter - she's also up for suggestions on her next topic.