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Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story
 
 
Author
Jim Holt.
Publisher Liveright  
Format paperback
ISBN 9780871403599
Pages/Publication Date 307/2013
Daedalus Item Code 38561
This item is not available.
Description
(One of the New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of 2012) Whether framed philosophically ("Why is there a world rather than nothing at all?") or more colloquially ("But, Mommy, who made God?"), the metaphysical mystery about how we came into existence remains the most essential—and fractious—question of all time. Jim Holt takes on the role of a cosmological detective in this profound yet slyly humorous book, and contends that we might have been too narrow in limiting our suspects to God vs. the Big Bang. Interviewing such thinkers as a cranky Oxford philosopher, a Nobel Laureate in physics, and a French Buddhist monk, Holt pursues unexplored and often bizarre angles to this cosmic puzzle, resulting in a synthesis of cosmology, mathematics, and physics that propels his own work to the level of philosophy.

"Mr. Holt picks up this question about being versus nothingness and runs quite a long and stylish way with it. He combines his raffish erudition with accounts of traveling to tap the minds of cosmologists, theologians, particle physicists, philosophers, mystics and others."—NYTimes

"The pleasure of this book is watching the match: the staggeringly inventive human mind slamming its fantastic conjectures over the net, the universe coolly returning every serve.... Holt traffics in wonder, a word whose dual meanings—the absence of answers; the experience of awe—strike me as profoundly related. His book is not utilitarian. You can't profit from it, at least not in the narrow sense.... And yet it does what real science writing should: It helps us feel the fullness of the problem."—NYMagazine

"There could have been nothing. It might have been easier. Instead there is something. The universe exists, and we are here to ask about it. Why? ... Jim Holt, an elegant and witty writer comfortably at home in the problem's weird interzone between philosophy and scientific cosmology, sets out in search of such answers. ...There is no way to do justice to any of these theories in a brief review, but Holt traces the reasoning behind each one with care and clarity—such clarity that each idea seems resoundingly sensible even as it turns one's brain to a soup of incredulity.... I can imagine few more enjoyable ways of thinking than to read this book."—NYTBR

 
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