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Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story

Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story

"Philosophy books can be difficult to pour over if you're an outsider to the discipline, especially when they rely heavily on alienating terminology. Jim Holt is able to overcome this common limitation, however, and produce philosophy writing that is accessible to anyone regardless of previous study. A clear, lucid narrator, Holt uses this book to take on the quintessential question in existentialism: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" While we can never answer definitively, Holt winds his way through many of the prevailing theories and contemporary responses to this classic puzzle. A mathematician, he focuses mainly on theories that fall within his specialty, though he also manages to incorporate some of the historical context for existentialism as a discipline. Most interestingly, the entire book is written as a classic mystery narrative, following his character on a journey around the world as he tries to explore the origins of reality. If you're looking for a good book to wet your feet in philosophy without getting bogged down by impenetrable writing, Why Does the World Exist? is a great place to start."

Melissa S.

See all my recommendations »

Author Jim Holt
Publisher Liveright
Publication Date 2013-04-08
Section New Titles - Paperback / Philosophy / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Melissa S.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780871403599

The Washington Post Notable Non-Fiction of 2013

“I can imagine few more enjoyable ways of thinking than to read this book.”―Sarah Bakewell, New York TimesBook Review, front-page review

Tackling the “darkest question in all of philosophy” with “raffish erudition” (Dwight Garner, New York Times), author Jim Holt explores the greatest metaphysical mystery of all: why is there something rather than nothing? This runaway bestseller, which has captured the imagination of critics and the public alike, traces our latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe. Holt adopts the role of cosmological detective, traveling the globe to interview a host of celebrated scientists, philosophers, and writers, “testing the contentions of one against the theories of the other” (Jeremy Bernstein, Wall Street Journal). As he interrogates his list of ontological culprits, the brilliant yet slyly humorous Holt contends that we might have been too narrow in limiting our suspects to God versus the Big Bang. This “deft and consuming” (David Ulin, Los Angeles Times) narrative humanizes the profound questions of meaning and existence it confronts.

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