Why Does The World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story (2012)
Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story (2012)
3.73 of 5 Votes: 1
0871404095 (ISBN13: 9780871404091)
Liveright Publishing Corporation
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It was fascinating to read some advanced contemplations about ideas that are currently hopelessly beyond our ability to understand. The author is actually asking "why is there something rather than nothing". To me this is part of the more general question "why are things like they are". If one accepts that this is all God's will, then the quest could just end right there. For those of us who are more curious, it seems to me our tools fall into three main categories. These categories are science, religion, and philosophy. In my opinion the religious tools are matters of faith and not really very good at explaining physical things. Science gives us facts and theories about how things work. In my opinion philosophy works well when it has a solid scientific backing. Philosophy without science will quickly become lost. So the main problem for this inquiry at this point in our level of scientific understanding is going beyond the Big Bang. Science tells us everything came to be as a result of the Big Bang, including space and time. So how do you go beyond that? The author talks of multiverses and the many worlds approach, but these are still dependent on at least one Big Bang. Before we can go any farther there needs to be some kind of description or theory of a state of existence where there is no space and no time (this is incomplete I have more to say but for now I gotta go). This is of a breezy introduction to the various approaches contemporary philosophers take to investigate the fact of existence and to wrestle with the idea of nothingness, but I found myself sometimes frustrated by this book. I found the author as a character in his own book sometimes got in the way of my understanding of what each of the philosophers was trying to convey. I found myself following the logic of each and trying to grasp some of the subtleties of and holes in their arguments when Holt's voice would suddenly break in and explain the things I was working through in a way that I found irksome. But the interviews with the philosophers are fun, and Holt's account of his mother's death towards the end led me to forgive him for whatever it was about his voice that rubbed me the wrong way.
Good, readable survey of not just past and contemporary metaphysics but of philosophy in general.
The chapter on the self was fascinating. I'd love to sit down with Jim Holt and pick his brain.
exciting and rich in the beginning, boring, empty and narcistic in the end...
Interesting but is found the overall tone very depressing and too abstract.
A great exercise in thinking.
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