The Instigator
Pro (for)
11 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

There exist thing(s) that are most likely humanly impossible.

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/19/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,566 times Debate No: 29354
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)





The full resolution is as follows: "There exist some endeavor or endeavors that are most likely impossible for humans to achieve."


Endeavor: any action or feat.

Impossible: not capable of happening or being true.

Achieve: attain or accomplish.

Most likely: probably the case, given evidence and/or reason.

Any word not specifically defined will assume its most common dictionary definition for the context of this debate.

Debate Structure

In this debate, I will be arguing that there is at least one endeavor that we can confidently deduce is impossible for humans to achieve, while my opponent will argue the converse: that there exists no such thing beyond the limitations of human action.

Further rules of the debate are as follows:

1) First round is for acceptance only. Following rounds can be used however we so please.

2) Any tactic that could be reasonably seen as semantics is forbidden.

3) The burden of proof is as equally shared as possible.

4) 8,000 characters and a 72-hour period are allotted for each round of debate. The voting period will last two weeks.

5) By accepting this debate, my opponent has agreed to all of this debate's definitions and stipulations. Any questions or issues must be dealt with in the comments section prior to acceptance.



The resolution for my argument is "There is no endeavor, action, or result that can't be achieved by human standards."

I will agree with the definitions given in the Pro side of the argument, therefore I do not need to post, save these two:

Action: something done or performed; act; deed.

Result: to spring, arise, or proceed as a consequence of actions, circumstances, premises, etc.; be the outcome.

Debate Structure

In this debate, I will argue that there is no action, endeavor, or result that we can achieve if we apply the right amount of will, strength, creativity, intelligence, or if all else fails, blind luck to achieve a favorable result that is needed.

And I agree with the debate rules as set in the paragraphs above.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you, dikicomma, for making this debate (where I can only imagine I am seen as the pessimist and you the optimist) possible. Without further ado, I present my arguments:

1. It is most likely humanly impossible to envision and/or create the logically incoherent.

We as humans, a creative and innovative species, can imagine all sorts of fantastical things; wizards and witches; monsters and gods; talking animals the size of planets. But there is a limit to what our imaginations can do. They can only conceive the contingent (that is to say in the jargon of modal logic, those things which exist in some possible worlds, but not all) and the necessary (those things which exist in all possible worlds). They cannot conceive, however, the impossible (those things which exist in no possible world).

An example of such a thing would be a shape which possesses all definitionally necessary characteristics of both a square and a circle (hereby known cleverly as a "squircle"). A squircle is, by its own nature, self-contradictory. Nothing can simultaneously have zero corners and four corners (or, to put it another way, zero corners and not zero corners). As Vizzini would say, it's "inconceivable".

Seeing as how the squircle (and other such paradoxes) are logically incoherent, it would be impossible for any human to imagine one, let alone draw one on a geometric plane. It would be a rather simple task, though, for my opponent to prove me wrong, assuming he has Microsoft Paint or another such program.

2. It is most likely humanly impossible to travel slower than a completely still position.

A completely still position is one where all present forces of velocity acting on a physical body, if any, cancel each other out, causing the body to be entirely stationary. To say it's possible to move slower than that would be equivalent to saying there is an age younger than conception.

3. It is most likely humanly impossible to travel faster than the speed of light.

Everyone knows E=mc^2 was once scribbled on Einstein's blackboard, but few seem to understand what it means (do raise your hand if you remember what "c" stands for; I'd be overcome with pride).

According to special relativity, any physical entity with a rest mass (including, of course, human beings) cannot physically achieve the same speed as a photon (a particle of light which has no rest mass). This is because the faster an object travels, the more mass it has (relative to a zero-velocity position).

If an object with a non-zero rest mass were to theoretically reach light speed, its relative mass would become infinite and the energy required to propel it forward at light speed would also be infinite. This is, of course, impossible since there is a finite amount of mass and energy in the universe.

Over to you, dikicomma.


And a good day to you sir. I will challenge your arguments directly.

1. It is likely to create anything including the logically incoherent because everything was incoherent at one point.

Now as humans, we do have the ability to create things, fantastical things, wonderous things, wizards, witches, dragons, and other creatures. But we also have the ability to create and make such things are airplanes, tvs, space shuttles, telescopes that can see all the way into space millions and millions of lightyears away.

Just imagine if we had had this argument 200 years ago, and if I had mentioned that there would be such a thing as a TV, an ark that would travel us to the moon and back, I would have been labeled a heretic, and put down like the atheist that I would have been portrayed as.

But because we had a necessity for it, we created vehicles that flew us in the air, we created boxes that connect us to other boxes in other countries.

So yes, if the end of the world demanded that we make a squared circle, then one would be created. Because that is how inventions are made, someone looks past logic and sees what isnt there, and then makes it.

2. It is easy to travel slower than still.

It's called death. Science states that if an object isnt moving, its de-evolving. So yeah, it ain't still, its decaying.

3. It is very likely for a human to travel faster than the speed of light.

There are two ways for us to do this:

1) We use our inventive minds- the ones that made us the most dominant force in the food chain, then the one that let us go past our inability to fly, then the ones that let us keep evolving past our boundaries. We make a machine, a spacecraft that will travel past the speed of light, well be in it, and well be protected.

2) Deep meditation. Its been said by the greatest meditation masters, that with the deepest of meditations they become light. They become one with the universe, and become one with everything in it. So when you are one with everything, travelling becomes un-needed, because you are everywhere.

Serve the volley back.
Debate Round No. 2


1. Imagining/creating the logically incoherent.

Much to the shock of the audience, I’m sure, I must wholeheartedly disagree with my opponent’s reasoning here.

He brings up the examples of airplanes and TVs in order to prove a point: that every invention was, at one time in history, unthinkable. And so every currently unthinkable thing now must therefore be able to be invented in the future.

Unfortunately, though, my opponent’s inductive reasoning fails in the sense that it is not… well, inductive. To clarify once again, the existence of things such as airplanes and TVs are, by the standards of modal logic, contingent. This means it is possible for them to exist. They do not, by their own nature, contradict their own nature.

A squircle, however, is in an entirely different category than mere machines. We can at least imagine grander machines than the ones we own today. We can imagine a water-powered android that can serve remarkably as a butler/crime fighter/sex slave, even though we can’t yet build one. (It’s not that it’s seen as logically incoherent, but merely beyond the scope of current technology and technological understanding, like airplanes and TVs once upon a time.)

On the other hand, we can’t imagine something which is at the same time itself and not itself, a square and a circle. It is a paradox, and therefore logically impossible. In no possible world can such a thing exist (including, quite obviously, our own, be it in the present or the future). [1]

Seeing as how he mistakenly concluded the logically impossible must actually be possible because the logically contingent has shown to be in the past, my opponent’s rebuttals are invalid.

2. Traveling slower than perfectly still.

“Death” is the speed which my opponent claims to be slower than still. The warrant for this seems to be some mysterious branch of science which states if something is not moving, it is decaying.

My rebuttal to this is twofold:

(A) Death is not a speed slower than zero miles per hour. It’s not a speed at all. It’s the condition of a once-living thing after its biology has ceased functioning.

One can be dead and still have a non-zero velocity if his/her body were being acted upon by some outside force. Therefore, it can be clearly deduced that whether or not one is living or dead has no relevance at all to one’s speed. My opponent’s response is totally inapplicable.

(B) Even if we were to agree that death is a speed slower than perfectly still (which, honestly, why would we?), then my opponent has only offered us something else we should think is most likely humanly impossible: to travel slower than death.

3. Traveling faster than the speed of light.

My opponent spits on the face of Einstein and of science itself with his response. A handsome face to spit on if one were obligated, for sure, but seeing as how we are men of reason, let’s keep our saliva to ourselves for now.

There are two ways for us to do this, he tells us: (1) we build a machine that can do it, and (2) we sit around and meditate.

(1) We build a machine. My God, why didn’t I think of that? It seems so obvious now that our physics maestro has kindly clued us in. Let’s start work on those blueprints straightaway. Oh, wait a minute. This completely ignores everything I just said in the last round: it is physically impossible for anything with rest mass to travel at the speed of light.

I blame myself really for not expounding enough. I did mention human beings have rest mass but failed to also mention machines do too. He says we’ll be in this machine when it’s traveling at light-speed and we’ll be protected. But protected from what? It’s not that it’s dangerous for humans to travel at light-speed like it’s dangerous to land on the sun. It’s mathematically impossible (and math is brutally honest, I'm afraid). [2, 3]

(2) We meditate. By doing so, apparently, we “become light”. I’m guessing these great meditation masters my opponent refers to have studied far more poetry than they have physics. Not that there’s anything wrong with poetry, certainly, but it really has no place in this particular debate.

In fact, it was clearly stated in the instigation (and agreed to by my opponent) that semantics is forbidden in this debate. So my opponent has either (A) used flowery language here to confuse the issue, a tactic which by all means could be reasonably seen as semantics, or (B) claimed that the minds and/or bodies of people in deep meditative states literally become photons.

I shudder to think my opponent would ever knowingly use semantics. But if the reality truly is (B) then it should be easy enough to refute. I’ve seen a meditating man before and he certainly didn’t transmogrify into particles of light. He didn’t even glow in the dark a little.

I must urge my opponent to prove, however minutely the universe can allow, that one can “become light” by meditating. Because as it stands, with absolutely no record of any such chemical/nuclear/magical reaction turning human beings into photons, my opponent’s rebuttal looks terribly ungrounded in reality.




Imagining the Logically Incoherent

1) You state that we cant perceive past what is illogical. I think of a man named Galileo who was a pioneer in his own day. Everyone in that day said the Earth is flat, square, and incapable of being anything other than that. This madman stated that "NAY, The earth is spherical, and we in fact will not fall off if we go too far.
So my original argument that if we needed to make a circle and a square, or a squircle would still be valid if we needed to make one. Evolving is the process of moving past yourself, whether it be on the evolutionary scale of swimming fins turning into air breathing lungs, or in the simple process of moving past a hard breakup so you can live your life. In the middle of a hard breakup, it seems illogical that you can move past it, but one day, your mindset changes and you move forward.

2) Traveling slower than perfectly still.

Like you said, death is not a speed, it is the condition of a once-living thing after its biology has ceased functional. If something is not moving, its stopped. But since energy does not stop moving, it only changes per Einstein (you know that guy, the one Im apparently dry humping in his grave) so it has to go somewhere. So the energy travels inside of itself, making the person move slower than still as it eats away at its human container, until death is achieved.

b) I could argue slower than death, but you would accuse me of semantics, so I will sidestep that for you.

3) First and foremost, I actually apologize for the meditation response. When you said semantics, I understood that to be no insulting of a person, creed, or race. I did not think that to mean, a play of a particular concept or evolving past ourselves. So, to show no insult I will drop that particular argument.

1) It is not impossible to travel at the speed of light. Think about what would happen if Einstein (again the man that I have somehow raped) had a discussion with Newton. Einstein would say that everything is fluid, energy is only change, and micro and macro universes, and Newton would take out a shotgun and blow his brains out.

But I will concede the fact that we have not come up with the concept as of yet. Now, as for the protection that is needed. In order for a human being to travel at the speed of light, he has to achieve the mass of light. Think about it on a smaller scale, if Im on a motorcycle and I go from 0 to 120 mph I better wear my helmet, because my mass is the equivalent of 120 mph and If I hit a pothole, then I will crack into many different pieces.

But humanity as a whole is always evolving, and based on where we have gone in 200 years. Think on it, 200 years ago, we had ships that were considered speed demons if they could travel from Europe to America in oh, about a month. People didnt live past 40-50 and everything was so labor intensive. Look at the world today, and in 200 years I cant wait to see it.
Debate Round No. 3


1. Imagining/creating the logically incoherent.

P1: Galileo once said the Earth is spherical, even though most other people believed it to be flat at the time.
C: Therefore, my original argument that we could make a squircle if need be remains valid.

Richard Dawkins comes to mind as the only other human being on the planet who might think this syllogism is sound. As already stated (I do hate repeating myself; thank goodness this is only a four-round debate), your original argument was unmistakably ill-founded in that it confused the categories of logical contingency with logical impossibility, an objection you never even once bothered acknowledging.

It is possible to imagine a round earth or a flat or triangular one. It is not possible to imagine one being all three at the same time, however. You make no attempt to challenge the laws of modal logic, or the inherent paradox of a squircle, which I might have suggested because, Hell, even a position of philosophical skepticism would have been preferred to your Galileo bedtime story.

I’m just going to go ahead and ignore all that bit about evolving fish and getting over breakups, because I fail to see how any of those don’t fit into the category of the logical contingent. (If modal logic, or logic itself, is not something of a métier to you, it would be beseeching to explore its principles before unwittingly skewing them.)

This argument remains, by all facets, unscathed (and almost entirely unaddressed).

2. Traveling slower than perfectly still.

My opponent concedes on both accounts. Thanks, I guess.

(A) He concedes death is not a speed. If death is not a speed, then it cannot be a speed slower than perfectly still. Apparently, though, he goes on to describe that the energy within a corpse causes that corpse to move slower than still as it decays. But the process of decaying is not a speed either.

I’ve already rebutted this in the previous round, anyway, when I said it is entirely possible for a corpse (decaying or not) to have a non-zero velocity if acted upon by an outside force. Similarly, a corpse could be not moving (you know, like most of them are). Therefore, it can be said that neither biological death nor biological decay has any relation to a thing’s speed (necessarily speaking).

(B) My opponent claims he “could” argue against that point I raised, but that I’d just accuse him of using semantics, so what the hell, we’ll just sit around thinking we’re superior instead of bothering to prove it. A wise strategy, indeed.

If an argument can only be made with the use or support of semantics, then it is by all means a weak argument. Even weaker, though, is the altogether nonexistent argument. This is where my opponent essentially concedes the debate.

I ask him “Then we should believe it’s most likely humanly impossible to travel slower than death” to which he responds “I might have a good rebuttal to that, but I won’t tell you what it is”.

3. Traveling faster than the speed of light.

My opponent had previously offered two ways humans could go faster than the speed of light: we build a machine, or we meditate. Fortunately, he’s dropped the meditation argument.

As for the machine argument, well, he says we’d need the protection going that fast because we’d need have to have the same mass as light to travel as fast as it. This is perfectly correct, and what I’ve been trying to explain this whole time: in order to achieve light-speed, we’d need to have the same mass as a particle of light, which is to say none at all. But no machine can “protect” us when we have zero mass traveling at light-speed, because whatever machine it is, it will have a non-zero mass (making it impossible to ever reach that speed)!



Alright, time for the final round.

1) Alright, my main argument has been that mankind can imagine anything it needs to, but you say that people cant imagine something that exists on two different levels. Well, that argument is easy.

On the most basic of levels, colors, duh. There is red, and then you add blue and bam you get purple.

But Im sure youll throw a tomato at me if I dont give you more, so Quantum Physics. Specifically, Multi Universes. We exist in a million different universes all at once, every option is ours, every possibility is valid, and yes, squircles can be made, or whatever shape you want to make, or all three at once.

2) Anything can be acted on by an outside force and gain speed, thats not the argument, and if that is the argument, that is quite weak. The argument is can a human move slower than still. And yes, if im standing still and you come and punch me in the face, then yes Im moving faster than still. But if I stay, then Im still. So, if an object is decaying and dying, then the body is destroying and decaying, hence moving slower than still. My argument stands.

b) Damned if you do, damned if you dont. You said, prove slower than still, so i did. You want to move slower than death, and take off your semantic thing, well do it again.

3) Traveling faster than the speed of light.

Like you said in argument 2, if an outside force affects something, it makes it move slower than still. So, all it takes is something to move it past the speed of light, and then, they become light. No further words needed.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Deadlykris 3 years ago
I think I see where this is headed.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by OhioGary 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: I noticed that Con misspelled "inventive" so S&G to Pro. Pro also provided sources whereas Con did not. But, Con made very logical arguments. Con said that he has the time on his side and, with an infinite amount of time at his back, anything really is possible. Argument to Con which splits my points.
Vote Placed by tmar19652 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was easy, death is not slower than still.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Con was unable to refute Pro's first point.