Something and Nothing

It is really hot today and I am so grateful for my air conditioner which fills my office with nice cold air. Or so it seems.

Years ago I took an automotive air conditioning course at a technical school and learned to start looking at things in a different way.

An air conditioner does not add cold air to a room. An air conditioner removes heat. It is the removal of heat that makes the room feel cooler. So what, you might say, what does it matter as long as the room is now cool? Well, comfort-wise it doesn’t really matter, but philosophically it makes a great big difference because it brings up the ontological subject of “something and nothing.”

In the example concerning air conditioning we can look at “heat” as “something” and “cold” as “nothing,” wherein heat is “something” that must be removed in order to make it “cold.” Cold, then, would simply be the absence of heat and not “something.” The more heat we remove the less “something” is there and the closer we get to “nothing.” If we remove enough heat and achieve the condition of “no heat”, we would have “nothing” – which would mean that “cold” is “nothing.”

The same way of looking at “something” and “nothing” can be applied to lots of things in our everyday lives. Looking at things in this way, we can see that so much of what we call “opposites” are really degrees of the same thing, only moving closer or farther away from “something” to “nothing.”

What is the opposite of “Love?” Many of us would say “Hate.” But this is not so. The opposite of “Love” would be “Indifference.” By the same token, the opposite of “Hate” would be the same thing – “Indifference.” Love and Hate are “something,” but Indifference is “nothing” – I have no feeling for you whatsoever. I have removed my feelings so far from you that I have slid from the positive, or real feeling of Love or Hate (it’s funny to think of Hate as a positive thing, isn’t it?) all the way down the scale to the “nothing” of Indifference.

This is a very interesting way of looking at things isn’t it. Try it for yourself and let me know what you come up with!

Disagree? Leave a comment.


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