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a category in a number of idealist systems of ontology, signifying the absence or nonexistence of a specific essence or the total absence of being.

From classical times, two fundamental approaches to nothing may be observed in the history of idealist philosophy. In the systems of one group (Platonism and Neoplatonism, medieval Christian mysticism, Hegelianism) nothing is one of the key categories of ontology (as god, being, the absolute) and the principle ex nihilo nihil fit (nothing can be created from nothing) is rejected. The second approach to the problem, dating back to the Eleatic school of Greek philosophy, affirms the origin of nothing from formal negation, that is, nothing is only a concept in formal logic. Thus, the problem of nothing in ontology is completely removed.

In materialist philosophy, nothing is not a philosophical category, since materialist philosophy proceeds from the fact that the material world is indestructible, and pure nonexistence and absolute emptiness are not possible.

References in classic literature ?
As the necessary result of the check thus encountered, he was now in Scotland with absolutely nothing to trust to as a means of effecting his release but the chapter of accidents, aided by his own resolution to marry Mrs.
There was absolutely nothing to stop her from presenting herself to Lady Janet Roy under Grace's name and in Grace's place!
Moore' in the coldest tone in the world--as if we had not even been friends--as if I meant absolutely nothing to him.
He remembered absolutely nothing, but she had been laughing at the joke for ten years now, and was fond of it.
Nothing else; absolutely nothing else, in the treacherous writing-desk on which I had implicitly relied to guide me to Alicia's hiding-place.
He had a most almighty row with the governor in this office only a month or two ago about absolutely nothing.
But that's just the worst of it all, don't you see, that there was absolutely nothing serious about the matter in reality
The valley and the huge rocky mountains are extremely barren: during the two previous nights the poor mules had absolutely nothing to eat, for excepting a few low resinous bushes, scarcely a plant can be seen.
One old dame had absolutely nothing on her person but a thread round her neck, from which was pendant a solitary bead.
I found out that he knew absolutely nothing - after first thinking otherwise.
Nothing, absolutely nothing could pass there without my seeing it.
On the contrary, he tells me absolutely nothing, even professionally.