Something v. Nothing

On the Docket of The Highest Court

Andrew Hartford
7 min readMar 17, 2022


The Judge: Order in the Court….

Back on The Docket, we have the case of Something, the Plaintiffs, versus Nothing, the Defendant…


A lawyer for the living stands.

Lawyer: May it please the Court.

Our story starts around 475 B.C. with the philosopher Parmenides.

2500 years later, and this trial remains ongoing…

The Judge: Be brief counselor… you’re running out of time.

Lawyer: Yes, your Honor….

In the early 1700s, Leibniz, a co-discoverer of calculus, asked a puzzling question at the end of his life: “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?”

Of course our universe exists as something.

So, Leibniz’s formal challenge is the ultimate counterfactual: No matter what exists, we wonder, could there have instead been only nothing? And if not, why?

We have properly given Nothing its day in court, treating non-existence as the Defendant, with the burden on us, the living.

The philosophers have long searched for an argument as to why something– and not nothing– must have existed.

This Court, and the good faith amongst us, remain unsatisfied with the reasoning so far presented.

Today, we have reconvened following new evidence because we believe this Court will deem it most relevant…

It runs thus:

  1. There must be something or nothing: one or the other, not neither and not both. This is because the 2 categories are mutually exclusive (not both) and collectively exhaustive (not neither).
  2. All things that exist do: that’s because something cannot ever exist IF it has never existed. Thus, all things that exist, however they do and whatever they are, have existed at least once (having identity of themselves). In this rationalist spirit, there can be no hidden existors and all differences from and within the global initial condition must be encoded.
  3. We exist as something.
  4. There cannot not have been a system IF there ever is a system, because it takes a system (something) to get a system (something). Thus, because you can’t get something without something, any original something that ever existed must have always existed. We exist, and therefore as a factual necessity, there was at least 1 “always” something. In a programming spirit, “always” is a condition that must have been satisfied by at least 1 existor; otherwise, we would not exist. In other words, “always” is properly interpreted as a noun, rather than as it has been historically, as a verb.
  5. Always has a nature. That is, all always somethings have specific properties: there is nothing before any always because to be always is to exist as pathless in full at “0”. That’s what it means to always exist. Because none can be before another, all always exist “in” and “as” the 1 global origin (0): the Eternal Past. The Eternal Past (EP) exists all together, all at once, and before all time: it’s the one 1st “where” existing as the only 1st “what” (and vice versa). That 1 Eternal Past is our EP because it’s the only EP.
  6. The 1 Eternal Past — the place where all the always somethings exist — cannot have been different. Because there can be no hidden existors or encodings, and there’s nothing before always, there are 0 possible other somethings or the alternative of nothing (i.e. there’s no “where” for anything else to be). Thus, there is only 1 Original Possibility. Something cannot be different before it first is. Because the 1st instance of this original identity exists before all process and time (path-less at 0), there is 0 capacity for change or difference in the EP. Therefore, the Eternal Past was necessarily ‘as is’! Therefore, all always somethings, including ours, are logically necessary (to have a specific 1st identity)! This originality (the 1 EP) is the full 1st totality, whether there is 1 or are infinite always somethings.
  7. Because there must be something in the one 1st place (the Eternal Past) — as the only possible and necessary original existor, whatever this Basis may be — there cannot ever have been and never will be only nothing: from the 1st place to the last place. That’s why!

We do not claim our spatio-temporal universe didn’t begin, and this a-cosmological argument is indifferent as to whether or not it did.

By “Eternal Past” (always, before all time, 0), we don’t mean “past eternal” as it’s been used (infinite past time, no beginning to our universe). Indeed, no amount of past time, even an infinite amount, arrives in the Eternal Past; no paths do.

Exactly because of the ontological priority of the original identity (always), one does not simply think backwards to the Eternal Past; only forwards from the EP, and only after the debt of 1st identity is paid in full.

So, while our existence is most exciting, the always is not necessary because we exist (i.e. it is not that because there is something there always was something); instead, we just can recognize their necessity because we do.

Lastly, please remember that this is not my argument; but indeed, yours.

The lawyer for the living sits.

The non-lawyer for the non-existent doesn’t say anything.

But in the gallery, some patrons jump to their feet.

Even though they are within the class, they reflexively object in earnest: proudly yelling loosely relevant statements in the direction of the Plaintiff’s table!

A hive-mindless cacophony ensues!

The Judge (banging its gavel): There will be order and respect in this Court! You’ve had your opportunity to be heard, and you maintain your right to respond. But that time is not now!

While the upset onlookers knew they were angry, they had long since forgotten as to why.

And because their best nature too respected the Court, the shouting quickly turned to muttering — and the muttering to a dissenting glaze.

The Judge (to the jury): Having heard enough, here is your charge…

IF you believe this reasoning is the most rational alternative available to this Court, you shall find that the Defendant (nothing) is logically impossible and rule for the Plaintiffs (something).

Nothing requires there to be 0 existors or encodings across the totality; if we have at last output Necessity, we shall remove this long-standing case from The Docket.

The jury retired.

After many hours of thoughtful consideration, they came back and were seated as before.

The Judge: Has the jury reached a verdict?

The Jury: Yes, your Honor, we have…

As arguants making arguments– and as part of the System we seek to reason about– we must postulate and adjudicate the axioms (input).

We “believe” inputs (axioms/principles), and we “know” outputs (proven as true). Thus, the correctness of our knowledge (outputs) hinges on the originating correctness of our beliefs (inputs).

So, we realize that there is incompleteness both at “the top” and at “the bottom”…

By the “top”, we mean there is no last truth to output and no last axiom that will get us there.

And by “bottom”, we mean that logos is participatory: we instantiate the system of reasoning that we reason with.

Thus, we have a BYOS situation: “bring your own sensibility”.

Because, crucially, the rationality of such sensibility (the good axioms) cannot be proven without presupposition, and thus is understood as a root input necessarily.

It’s not that what is true is arbitrary, but that the process is participatory.

Thus, we find that each interested party needs to personally participate in making this argument, in order for that arguant to find the reasoning satisfactory.

That is, there are such things that one cannot prove to you, but which you need to “prove” to yourself.

The ​lawyer’s ​philosophy of ontology to understand the original identity, which satisfies the condition of “always”, is such a thing.

This is because the presented philosophy of the origin (0) needs to be postulated as an input principle or axiom: it cannot be output without presupposition.

But we do understand why this is so: It’s because all always somethings take their properties inherently and intrinsically (as pathless input) — and necessarily as the exclusive first (the original identity).

So, we inherit such condition because we are either part of this original identity — OR after it — but either way, a member of the same 1 existing totality.

After deliberation, we believe this philosophical axiom (the framework of premises 1–4, a sensible and self-consistent interpretation of the identity of an origin) is well justified within the history of the so-called laws of thought.

As a basic precursor to reason, reasoning and reasoners is a systematic existence principle: For all somethings (X), IF that something (X) exists, that something (X) *exists*: all things that “exist” have had self-identity of themselves (at least 1 instance).

That’s because, to a sensible mind, something cannot ever exist IF it has never existed.

At least 1 always something was factually necessary to have existed because we exist.

We then realize that all always somethings are logically necessary, including ours, because the one Eternal Past, where they all exist, whether there be 1 or many, cannot have been different (it’s as is).

Thus, we find the argument by the Plaintiffs to be “basic” rather than “trivial”: something more insightful and ‘true’ versus ‘not wrong’ and arbitrary.

Far from being nothing as the Greeks claimed, “0” is instead seen as the common Source of everything (the global origin or basis system is or sets the Domain across the totality, and there is only 1 possible and necessary “all possibilities”).

In conclusion: While this jury finds the reasoning of the Plaintiffs sound, we cannot make a ruling for this Court at-large: each must decide on their own — as a personal and participatory jury of 1.

The Judge (with a smile on its face, addressing the Court): At last, this case is closed; and yet still remains open to each!

An Eternal Spring has sprung, but full Knowledge never reached.

With one task done, let another begin… because nihilism and hopelessness will devour from within.

The stakes have never been higher; but the reward forever more.

Will you rise to the occasion? Will you become worthy of lore?

This Asimov-inspired short story exists within the backstory to the Delphi Universe (DU), a science-fiction cinematic universe being produced by HL and Winks. Basically the argument discussed in the above exists as an “infinity stones” analog (i.e. the underlying metaphysical ocean that the audience can deep dive into, or just casually enjoy from the sandy beach).



Andrew Hartford

American technology entrepreneur, lawyer, and writer (