Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0046, March 27, 2015

DEPT. OF LOGIC


Absolutely Impossible



Copyright 2015 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     Are there limits to what's possible? Are some things absolutely impossible? And, conversely, are some things absolutely necessary? Evidently yes. Without some things being absolutely impossible nothing would be possible. Absolute impossibility is one of those absolutely necessary things. "How so?" asks Prickles. I'll tell you.

     To begin with, it's absolutely impossible for there to be just one thing. There must be at least two so thing 1 can be distinguished from thing 2. With only one thing there is nothing to distinguish from anything else therefore there is nothing, period. Q.E.D. But wait, there's more! It is also absolutely impossible for two things to be identical. If they were, they would be one and the same, i.e. just one and we can't have just one. "But," Prickles objects, "you could have one thing here and another, identical thing over there." Those two things, one here and one over there, are not identical: they differ in at least one property - their location. Note that by the same token nothing can ever stay the same: "thing 1 now" is not the same as "thing 1 a moment from now" - if nothing else their location in time is different. If there were only one unchanging thing there would be no space and no time and therefore nothing at all. So it is absolutely impossible for any thing to remain the same. Again, Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

     And, conversely, it is absolutely necessary for the universe to be made up of many different things and constantly changing. "Gosh," says Prickles astonished, "who knew?" I wonder if she's pulling my leg...


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