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Is ____ the absence of ____?


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#1    Watchers

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:19 AM

Is _____ the absence of _____ ? Or is _____ the absence of _____ ?


I'm not sure how much these subjects have been touched upon, but what I'm attempting to do is get some good discussion going on fairly paradoxical pairings such as "Is light the absence of dark? Or is dark the absence of light?"

I'm going to pose a few of these pairings that I've been thinking about lately, and I'd like to get everyone's feedback on what they believe (and perhaps an explanation of why).

Also, everyone is more than welcome to propose any other pairings like this for further discussion.

Here are my four that I'd like us to start discussing:

(1) Is dark the absence of light? Or is light the absence of dark?

(2) Is happiness the absence of sadness? Or is sadness the absence of happiness?

(3) Is heat the absence of cold? Or is cold the absence of heat?

(4) Is noise/sound the absence of quiet? Or is quiet the absence of noise/sound?


#2    Voyager10

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:23 AM

I think that in order for something to be absent you have to expect it to be there. So if you expect it to be light then darkness is the absence of it, but if you expect it to be dark, then vice versa.

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#3    000000000000000

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:26 AM

1) light is the absence of darkness
3) heat is the absence of cold
4) noise is the absence of quiet
I chose these 3 for a simple reason. Before the universe it was dark, cold, and quiet

2) Sadness is the absence of happiness
This one was a lot harder. I personally think happiness is a more primal emotion than sadness. You were happy you didn't get eaten. you did not have too much time to get sad. But that is a close one that could go either way


#4    Watchers

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:28 AM

View PostVoyager10, on 03 May 2010 - 03:23 AM, said:

I think that in order for something to be absent you have to expect it to be there. So if you expect it to be light then darkness is the absence of it, but if you expect it to be dark, then vice versa.

Interesting approach, but that is very subjective. I'm looking for fairly objective evidence (not sure if I'll be able to find any, or if anyone will). But I'm looking more for what is REAL versus what is perceived.

My first inclination is to think it's whatever is more common in the environment. For example, if you're in the middle of Antarctica with nothing but ice and freezing temperatures all around you--for you to introduce heat into the area is a great feat and would technically lend towards you believing that cold is the absence of heat. However, on the other hand, if you're sitting in the middle of the Sahara, and it's 120 degrees, without a means to get cool, you would probably say the contrary--that heat is the absence of cold. But then you could take things to a larger scale--and say perhaps 98 % of the universe is freezing cold, and only 2% is relatively "warm", so cold must be the absence of heat. Unfortunately, I don't think either of these examples is an accurate representation of what is real. That's why I think this is a good philosophical debate. (and the four I suggested seem to be all fairly unique and could warrant their own respective threads).


#5    Watchers

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:31 AM

View PostTheApostate, on 03 May 2010 - 03:26 AM, said:

1) light is the absence of darkness
3) heat is the absence of cold
4) noise is the absence of quiet
I chose these 3 for a simple reason. Before the universe it was dark, cold, and quiet

2) Sadness is the absence of happiness
This one was a lot harder. I personally think happiness is a more primal emotion than sadness. You were happy you didn't get eaten. you did not have too much time to get sad. But that is a close one that could go either way

Then don't you mean darkness is the absence of light, cold is the absence of heat, and quiet is the absence of noise? (because you were saying before the universe it was dark, cold and quiet).

To clarify: A is the absence of B means that B is typically thought of as being the more abundant item.

So did you mean what you wrote, or the opposite? And a second question for you is--how can we even be so sure that the universe was dark, cold and quiet before the big bang?


#6    000000000000000

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:33 AM

yea my mistake. I did it backwards ahaha.


#7    louisvilleseeker

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 03:41 AM

neither is the lack of the other. in order for the universe to exist, all eliments must coexist in harmony. i know that sounds uber cheesy, but IMO its true... withe out light, dark would be irrelevent, as there would be no darkness, only... nothing?


#8    ava1enzue1a

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 04:19 AM

Light is light, dark is dark. It can be as simple as that, it does not have to be that one is the absent of the other. A “dim” light is a “dim” light, “neither as ‘dark’ as that light over here nor as ‘bright’ as that light over there”. It is just whatever we make of it in that sense. Think of it as the yin-yang or the contrasting of one of the other, or it is just however we got to our conclusions.

I do like louisvilleseeker’s “universe's elements coexisting in harmony” idea, or rather to the extent of things complimenting each other. Also - what goes up, must come down (in a gravity sense). And, what goes down (like in a buoyant sense) must come up.

Edited by ava1enzue1a, 03 May 2010 - 04:20 AM.

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#9    Watchers

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 04:22 AM

View Postava1enzue1a, on 03 May 2010 - 04:19 AM, said:

Light is light, dark is dark. It can be as simple as that, it does not have to be that one is the absent of the other. A “dim” light is a “dim” light, “neither as ‘dark’ as that light over here nor as ‘bright’ as that light over there”. It is just whatever we make of it in that sense. Think of it as the yin-yang or the contrasting of one of the other, or it is just however we got to our conclusions.

I do like louisvilleseeker’s “universe's elements coexisting in harmony” idea, or rather to the extent of things complimenting each other. Also - what goes up, must come down (in a gravity sense). And, what goes down (like in a buoyant sense) must come up.

Hmm, again we don't see eye to eye, but I do agree about louisville's perception on it. It's interesting to think you simply can't have one without the other. Or perhaps they are simply states of being? Like liquid, gas, and solid. What if there's a third reality for each of those things? Like something other than light and dark that is a state of being? Or perhaps something other than hot or cold (not necessarily just in-between).


#10    ava1enzue1a

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 04:54 AM

View PostWatchers, on 03 May 2010 - 04:22 AM, said:

Hmm, again we don't see eye to eye, but I do agree about louisville's perception on it. It's interesting to think you simply can't have one without the other. Or perhaps they are simply states of being? Like liquid, gas, and solid. What if there's a third reality for each of those things? Like something other than light and dark that is a state of being? Or perhaps something other than hot or cold (not necessarily just in-between).
I think I know what you mean. First though, I think you mean you CAN have one WITHOUT the other, there cannot be light and darkness at the same time, right? Or, I know (or think I know) what you are saying if you meant your context, with the knowledge of both, you then have one to compare it to the other. Anyway, back initially what I was saying - is everything existing all states of being/existence to us right now just as we know it - is there another reality that exists beyond our normal, everyday perceptions that we do not know of right now? I think so; it is interesting to think so. It is mysterious to us right now! Enigmatic; unexplained!

Edited by ava1enzue1a, 03 May 2010 - 05:02 AM.

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#11    JohnPeniel

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 07:23 AM

A similar instance is used when debating between the existence of UFOs, Conspiracies, Religion, etc...

"Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of absence."


#12    Torchwood

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 11:00 AM

Dark and Cold and Quiet are all examples of Privatives ( think I spelled that right) : things that dont actually exist, even though we talk about them as if they did. Plogiston is another good one: for centuries man wes convinced that it was the part of flammable things that made them burn, only problem was after they did a test to see how much phlogiston contained it turned out to have negative mass! What they should have been watching was the oxygen...

Privatives are quite handy in helping conversation flow: without them we'd talking a lot more sense, but it would sound really odd...

Edited by Torchwood, 03 May 2010 - 11:01 AM.

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#13    Childaeus

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 03:02 PM

Quote

Interesting approach, but that is very subjective. I'm looking for fairly objective evidence (not sure if I'll be able to find any, or if anyone will). But I'm looking more for what is REAL versus what is perceived.

I might be looking at this a bit too literally =\, but I think some of these can be explained in scientific terms to the best of my knoweldge. The way I'll try to answer will be as objective as I can, as opposed to the more subjective or answers that take how you percieve things into account. (e.g. Light is not the absence of Darkness, because if Light did not exist then how could you know Darkness without knowing Light to appreciate it for what it is. Things like that).



I've summarised my answers here. Read below for if you want a more indepth reasoning behind them.

1) Darkness is the absence of Light.
2) Neither, perhaps more: Apathy is the absence of Emotion. Or something more along those lines.
3) Coldness is the absence of Heat.
4) Silence is the absence of Noise.

NOTE: Below, in my reasonings, you probably understand much of this anyway. I'm just explaining the reasoning behind it, not assuming people don't know it, so don't read any of it with a condescending tone in mind or anything, and my understanding of it is pretty simple when you really get into it anyway.



As Torchwood said Dark, Cold and Quiet aren't things that "exist" in a sense.

Visible Light is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye is able to detect, and is made up of photons that exibit a wave-particle duality. In a room, their presence comes from being emitted and reflecting off the surfaces of objects. When it hits the human eye the brain deciphers this information to determine it's visual surroundings. The absence of light would mean no photons bouncing around and delivering the eye with information to tell the brain, and so it is dark. Darkness would then be the absence of Light. (I think Terry Pratchett mentioned in The Colour of Magic about how some evil creature somewhere was so evil It's domain wasn't just dark, it was the opposite of light.) As far as I know there isn't any suggested thing as an anti-photon, which would be the opposite, rather than absense, of normal photon's I think. (Though there is anti-matter.)


Heat is a form of energy which tries to equalize itself if given the chance. To my understanding "Cold" isn't a substance as such, as in you cannot apply coldness to something. However you can take heat away from something to make it colder. I think heat is stored in the atoms of an object by putting them in an excited state. This energy can then be transferred to other objects through conduction, convection, or radiation. Heat flows from a hotter object to a colder object as it tries to equalize out, sort of like the colder object sucks in the heat (though more like the heat finds it has more room to move out and explore).

One thing to keep in mind with this, however, is that heat (I believe) is a state of energy that stores up in matter, and so in a total vacuum there wouldn't be matter to be classified as "Cold". Though it can become emitted as electromagnetic radiation, which can convert back to heat when it comes into contact with other matter. This Radiation transfer of heat is much slower than the other two, but does not require a physical medium to do so. This just means that "nothingness" is not "cold" as it has no actual potential to hold heat itself, just matter that moves through nothingness is able to. So Outer Space is not actually cold in itself, and unless you come into physical contact with things that have had time to give off all of their heat energy then it will take a while for your body (free-floating in space) to freeze. I think there's meant to be more chance of it overheating due to unprotected exposure to the sun without the help of the earth's atmosphere to protect your body.


Sound is pressure that sort of vibrates through matter. This is already pretty long, and I have a harder time describing this than the others, so I'll just try to cut it shorter by basically saying: to my understanding, frequency, pitch and all that is based on the (very small) gaps, speeds, properties of the medium (such as air) etc... that occur as little pressure waves of the air molecules physically pushing further out and knocking more on a very tiny scale. Like ripples/waves. That might be oversimplifying it but that's generally the idea to my understanding (things vary more when it comes to things such as wood). So these vibrations/waves are gathered by the inner ear and sent as signals to the brain (such as with sight and light etc...) and interpreted as various identifying noises for one's surroundings. So quietness would mostly just be an absence of this form of activity, or at least within the hearing range of a human being.


The final one (Happiness and Sadness), I don't really know enough about myself. As in the theories behind the emotions based on chemical activity within the brain. My understanding will be mostly my own opinion. I do not think one is the absence of the other. As in if you had the ability to sap "happiness", I do not think doing so would result in someone being sad, just not happy (perhaps mad, or if no other emotion was present, apathetic?). And vice versa. And on a subtle level I believe a human being could be both happy and sad for varying reasons at the same time.

Perhaps "Is Emotion the absence of Apathy? Or is Apathy the absence of Emotion?" would be more something I could see as making more sense (to me). In this way I would still not know enough about the exact way these things are carried out in biology, though I would personally think that Apathy would be the absence of Emotion, as you do not feel anything in particular for whatever topic you are apathetic about.

NOTE: Apathy may not be the correct word but it's the one that seemed to mean what I was thinking.




When it comes to the human senses (such as Sight with Light, Hearing with Sound, Smell with Scent, etc...) I guess a simple way to think about it is those sensory organs evolved to detect the presence of something (e.g. An eye picking up light in the area.) rather than it's absence (e.g. An eye detecting there is less darkness here than elsewhere).

I don't know if any of this helps or is even what you're looking for, but at least it's here if you find a use for it.


#14    quiXilver

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 01:16 AM

In the realm of duality... these things define each other.  Without their opposite they lose all relativistic meaning.

"Unknowingly, we plow the dust of stars, blown about us by the wind and drink the universe in a glass of rain." ~ Ihab Hassan
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