Ask Jim Holt Anything

Jul 11 2012 @ 10:33am

Ask Jim Holt Anything

[Re-posted from yesterday with many questions added by readers]

Jim Holt has a new book out, Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story. From a review by Kathryn Schulz:

Mind, matter, abstract ideas: Where does all this stuff come from? Why is the universe characterized by such abundance and complexity? Why does it exist at all? How did it come into being? Could there have been something else instead? Could there have been nothing else—that is, nothingness—instead? Is the human mind capable of resolving these matters? Can anyone do justice to all this in a 279-page book? I can answer only the last of these questions. Yes, someone can: Jim Holt, in Why Does the World Exist? That title echoes a question famously posed by G. W. Leibniz, a brilliant philosopher, groundbreaking mathematician, and incurable optimist. The bit of optimism he’s best known for (largely because Voltaire made so much fun of it in Candide) is the claim that we live in the "best of all possible worlds."

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