Nothing comes from nothing  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Nothing comes from nothing (ex nihilo nihil fit) is a philosophical expression of a thesis first argued by Parmenides. It is associated with ancient Greek cosmology, such as is presented not just in the opus of Homer and Hesiod, but also in virtually every internal system – there is no break in between a world didn't exist, since it couldn't be created ex nihilo in the first place. Note that Greeks also believed that things cannot disappear into nothing, just as they can't be created from nothing, but if they ceased to exist, they transform into some other form of being. We can trace this idea to the teaching of Empedocles. Today the idea is loosely associated with the laws of conservation of mass and energy.

De Rerum Natura

The Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius expressed this principle in his first book of De Rerum Natura (eng. title On the Nature of Things, tr. William Ellery Leonard)

Principium cuius hinc nobis exordia sumet,
nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus umquam.

English translation:

But only Nature's aspect and her law,
Which, teaching us, hath this exordium:
Nothing from nothing ever yet was born.

He then continues on discussing how matter is required to make matter and that objects cannot spring forth without reasonable cause.

Nam si de nihilo fierent, ex omnibus rebus
omne genus nasci posset, nil semine egeret.
e mare primum homines, e terra posset oriri
squamigerum genus et volucres erumpere caelo;

English translation

Suppose all sprang from all things: any kind
Might take its origin from any thing,
No fixed seed required. Men from the sea
Might rise, and from the land the scaly breed,
And, fowl full fledged come bursting from the sky;

See also




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