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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Idea of Nothing
By Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)
 
From ‘Of Being’

A STATE of absolute nothing is a state of absolute contradiction. Absolute nothing is the aggregate of all the absurd contradictions in the world; a state wherein there is neither body nor spirit, nor space, neither empty space nor full space, neither little nor great, narrow nor broad, neither infinitely great space nor finite space, nor a mathematical point, neither up nor down, neither north nor south (I do not mean as it is with respect to the body of the earth or some other great body, but no contrary point nor positions or directions), no such thing as either here or there, this way or that way, or only one way. When we go about to form an idea of perfect nothing we must shut out all these things; we must shut out of our minds both space that has something in it, and space that has nothing in it. We must not allow ourselves to think of the least part of space, never so small. Nor must we suffer our thoughts to take sanctuary in a mathematical point. When we go to expel body out of our thoughts, we must cease not to leave empty space in the room of it; and when we go to expel emptiness from our thoughts, we must not think to squeeze it out by anything close, hard, and solid, but we must think of the same that the sleeping rocks dream of; and not till then shall we get a complete idea of nothing.  1
 
 
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