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Universal Solvent Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 15 November 2006
A solvent is a solution that dissolves something. There are solvents for dissolving grease, rust, salt (water works good for that), rubber, plastic, and so on. The solvent simply needs to come in contact with the substance and it will dissolve it. A universal solvent would be a solvent that was designed to dissolve anything. The question, then, is, what do you store a universal solvent in? Any container you store it in will dissolve as soon as the solvent touches it (if that's not the case then the solvent isn't universal). This difficulty extends beyond storing though. How do you make a universal solvent? Would the solvent dissolve and destroy the same machine that makes it?
It's not possible to have a universal solvent. Chemistry aside, think of what that means. If the solvent can dissolve everything then it can't be contained or created. All known mass would eventually end up as a big pool of liquid. Our post-modern society has tried to create the philosophical equivalent of a universal solvent with the statement "there are no absolutes". In considering this statement we have to figure out what kind of container holds it. Any context you try to put this statement in would dissolve by the very same statement. At some point you would end up with a big pool of philosophical goo and the ability to make sense of the world would ge lost. Somehow I think we're not that far off from that point now.
 

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