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Objectivists say that universe has always existed, because existence exists. How does this apply to one item in the universe, lets say a particular apple. This apple did not exist a month ago, and will cease to exist after I eat it. So this means that existence exists but not forever? What about universe -- isn't it possible for all thins to disappear out of existence like apples that are eaten?

In general, "existence exists" is an axiom in Objectivism. But should coming into existence and disappearing from existence be just as fundamental?

asked May 27 '15 at 01:43

Bop's gravatar image


What Objectivists say that the universe has always existed because existence exists?

I don't think that's a very good explanation.

There can be no time that the universe does not exist because the concept of time is dependent on something existing (something by which time can be measured).

As far as the analogy with the apple, when we say that the apple ceases to exist what we mean is that the matter which makes up the apple changed form into something other than an apple. The matter itself didn't cease to exist.

(May 27 '15 at 22:33) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Objectivists say that universe has always existed...

(Underline added.) Where does Objectivism say this? "Always" is a concept relating to time, which is a concept formed by looking at existence and integrating what one observes. "Existence" itself does not presuppose anything about "time."

...because existence exists.

Where does Objectivism say that existence has to exist forever as a logically necessary implication of existence existing now?

It is a fact of reality that one can often observe change in that which exists. From observations of changing existents, one can integrate one's observations to form the concepts of past, present, future, and time in general.

One point that might be a source of confusion here is the following passage from ITOE2, p. 56:

The units of the concepts "existence" and "identity" are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist. The units of the concept "consciousness" are every state or process of awareness that one experiences, has ever experienced or will ever experience (as well as similar units, a similar faculty, which one infers in other living entities).

This doesn't say that existence has always existed and/or always will exist. It says only that if something exists (and/or ever existed or ever will exist), then it is a unit of the concepts "existence" and "identity." The fact that it exists makes it a unit of existence, and the fact that it is something (definite and specific) makes it a unit of identity.

(Update: A comment by Anthony has also pointed out an excerpt in the topic of "Matter" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon that might be assumed, inaccurately, to be a claim that the "universe has always existed." The context of that excerpt was Ayn Rand's response to questions such as, "If there is no God, who created the universe?" This and other aspects of that topic would be very worthwhile to discuss further in a separate question or questions, whether one's interest is primacy of consciousness versus primacy of existence, or the implications and errors in the theories of relativity and/or quantum mechanics in modern physics, or some other aspect.)

How does [existence] apply to one item in the universe, lets say a particular apple.

The particular item is an existent. Existents are the units of the concept "existence."

So this means that existence exists but not forever?

Yes, existents don't necessarily exist forever. How long an existent lasts depends on its nature, its identity. Different existents have different logevities, and this doesn't necessarily presuppose that all existents have finite longetivities, although man has generally discovered that all known existents do go out of existence eventually (though not necessarily out of man's knowledge that they once existed and that they may not have existed at some point before their longevity began). Different existents come and go all the time; but this is observational, not logically "necessary" by some line of thinking (or imagination or hallucination) divorced from reality as man observes and apprehends it.

...isn't it possible for all thins[sic] to disappear out of existence like apples that are eaten?

Things come as well as go. As long as new ones keep coming before all the old ones are gone, it will never happen that all things have disappeared simultaneously. It would be virtually impossible, under man's present state of knowledge, for all things to disappear before new ones can come along. (It's also the case that new things come from old things; but this again is observational, not an a priori necessity, although man's concept of "change" generally presupposes something that already exists changing into something different in some way (if not necessarily totally).

In general, "existence exists" is an axiom in Objectivism. But should coming into existence and disappearing from existence be just as fundamental?

Whether intentionally or not, this formulation reads as if axioms are chosen more or less arbitrarily, to suit some didactive purpose of man. That is not the Objectivist view of axioms. In Objectivism, axioms are integrations of observations, like all other concepts. They are the widest, most fundamental integrations possible. As the topic of "existence" explains in The Ayn Rand Lexicon:

An axiomatic concept is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest.

For more on axioms, refer to the Lexicon topics of "Axiomatic Concepts" and "Axioms." Refer also to "Existence," "Existent," "Identity," "Consciousness," "Causality," "Change," "Time," "Logic," "Contradictions," "Integration (Mental)," "Proof," "Validation," and numerous other related topics cross-referenced by these.

Regarding coming into existence and going out of existence, the observable phenomenon of change in existents subsumes it. In other words, by their nature, things that exist can very often change in various ways (as an observed fact), including going out of existence entirely, or sometimes coming into it for the first time, or even coming and going repeatedly over time in some way. Not everything can do everything, of course; things are what they are; A is A; things act in accord with their nature (causality).

If one asks: but if that's all "existence" means, isn't it so fundamentally self-evident and obvious that there is no need for such a concept at all? -- the answer is: yes, it's fundamentally self-evident and simple, but it is far from accepted by its deniers. Man does need an explicit identification of it to keep his most abstract thinking properly organized, hierarchical, and contextual. (See "Hierarchy of Knowledge" and "Context" in the Lexicon.) Whenever man begins to doubt that existence exists (or that reality is real), he can know positively (axiomatically) that he is erring -- which is vital to know.

If the question is: how can one know that existence will continue to exist -- one is confusing existence with particular existents. "Continue" is a concept relating to change over time. But man has absolutely no reason (no evidence) to think that existence might ever disappear entirely, from everything he can observe and know about existence as it is now and has ever been within man's range of available knowledge (notwithstanding the "Big Bang" idea, if it is proposed to mean ex nihilo creation, which is far from axiomatic or self-evident). Man can know that existence exists by direct perception; he can learn that it existed before he did; he can attempt to trace the history of existents existing ever farther back into the past; he can learn that change characteristically involves something changing into something else, which presupposes that something existed before it changed -- but from all his observations and integrations about everything that exists and is known ever to have existed, he needs a stupendous process of observation and inference to project any credible claim that an existent can come into existence out of nothing (non-existence). The causes of existents existing or vanishing are factual discoveries, not a priori axioms -- which means following the trail of the facts wherever it leads, and identifying and integrating the facts accurately.

answered May 28 '15 at 01:16

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited May 29 '15 at 00:28

Where does Objectivism say that existence has to exist forever as a logically necessary implication of existence existing now?

Maybe here: "To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence" http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/matter.html

Also see Peikoff's take on it at http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/time.html (personally I find Peikoff's explanation more convincing; "The universe is eternal in the literal sense: non-temporal, out of time.")

(May 28 '15 at 11:07) anthony anthony's gravatar image

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Asked: May 27 '15 at 01:43

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Last updated: May 29 '15 at 00:28