Why Does the World Exist?, Jim Holt (2012)

Why Does the World Exist?
An Existential Detective Story,
Jim Holt (2012)

I’d say we’re at least five Einsteins away from answering that question,”

All of the thinkers I had already spoken . . . saw the world under some limited aspect. . . .  Each of these ways of seeing the world purported to yield the answer to why it exists. But none of these answers struck me as satisfactory.”

Jim Holt gives us a good book, a companion to, but perhaps not as powerful as About Time. Still, I’m glad I read both!

“For, as William James observed, “All of us are beggars here.””

The book is in fifteen chapters, with a few interludes (which I forget), discussing the scientific approaches – whose problem is that by existing within the scientific world, they attempt to describe the world that includes the explanation, and isn’t that a problem? – and philosophy. He even gets into death later, among other philosophical topics. Here’s an excellent key to remember when meditating:

“Like Schopenhauer before him, Wittgenstein compared the I to the eye. Just as the I is the source of consciousness, the eye is the source of the visual field. But the eye is not in the visual field. It cannot see itself.”

Holt even gets into the “ontological” argument of God, and the idea that “perfectness” or “goodness” is a philosophical quality.

Why is there something rather than nothing?” is debatable as a question:

“Here was a man who thought “Why is there something rather than nothing?” was as much of a cheat as the question “When did you stop beating your wife?””

This is a worthwhile “philosophy” book to regularly review, especially before situations that might warrant these conversations, as is About Time.



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