This compelling study of the origins of all that exists, including explanations of the entire material world, traces the responses of philosophers and scientists to the most elemental and haunting question of all: why is anything here—or anything anywhere? Why is there something rather than nothing? Why not nothing? It includes the thoughts of dozens of luminaries from Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas and Leibniz to modern thinkers such as physicists Stephen Hawking and Steven Weinberg, philosophers Robert Nozick and Derek Parfit, philosophers of religion Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne, and the Dalai Lama.
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The Mystery of Existence asks the haunting question: Why does anything exist? Anything of any kind, anywhere. The first edited volume to cover an extremely wide variety of solutions to what must be the ultimate mystery, it features dozens of luminaries. They range from Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas and Leibniz, and then to modern thinkers. These include physicists Stephen Hawking and Steven Weinberg, philosophers Robert Nozick and Derek Parfit, philosophers of religion Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne, and the Dalai Lama. Some answers are philosophical, some are theological or religious, and yet others come from physics and cosmology—fields in which debate on the deep origin of all reality continues to rage.
Whether you believe the universe began with a quantum-fluctuation big bang or in the creative consciousness of a divine designer, here is a feast for the mind. With enlightening introductions to each section, and offering a wealth of suggestions for further reading, The Mystery of Existence provides general readers, students, and researchers with a readily accessible map of the many diverse paths humans have followed when confronted by the most baffling of all enigmas – Why is there something rather than nothing?
John Leslie is University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, Canada, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Well-known in the philosophy of cosmology and religion, he has held visiting professorships at institutions including the Australian National University (Research Department of Philosophy) and the University of Liège (Institute of Astrophysics). He is the author of numerous publications including Value and Existence (Blackwell, 1979), Universes (Routledge, 1989), The End of the World: the Science and Ethics of Human Extinction (Routledge, 1996), Infinite Minds (Oxford University Press, 2001), and Immortality Defended (Blackwell, 2007).
Robert Lawrence Kuhn is a public intellectual and the creator and host of Closer To Truth, the long-running PBS / public television series on science and philosophy. With a doctorate in brain research (UCLA), he is the author or editor of more than 30 books, including Closer To Truth: Challenging Current Belief and Closer To Truth: Science, Meaning and the Future. A recognized expert on Chinese politics and economics, he is the author of The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin (Crown, 2005), China’s best-selling book of 2005, and How China’s Leaders Think (Wiley, 2011). He is a frequent commentator on the BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, China Central Television (CCTV), and Euronews.
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