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The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All?



The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All?

John Leslie (Editor), Robert Lawrence Kuhn (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-470-67355-3 April 2013 Wiley-Blackwell 336 Pages

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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.

  • The first accessible volume to cover a wide range of possible reasons for the existence of all reality, from over 50 renowned thinkers, including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Hume, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Weinberg, Robert Nozick, Derek Parfit, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, John Polkinghorne, Paul Davies, and the Dalai Lama 
  • Features insights by scientists, philosophers, and theologians
  • Includes informative and helpful editorial introductions to each section
  • Provides a wealth of suggestions for further reading and research
  • Presents material that is both comprehensive and comprehensible



About the Editors vi

Acknowledgments vii

1 General Introduction (pages 1-12)

2 Some Quotations

Leibniz, Kant (page 13)

Schopenhauer, William James, George Santayana, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, J.J.C.Smart (14)

John A. Wheeler, Stephen Hawking, Steven Weinberg (15)

3 Possible Responses to "Why Anything?"

Nicholas Rescher (pages 16-17)

4 First Solution: A Blank is Absurd

Editorial Introduction (pages 18-24)

F.H. Bradley, Henri Bergson (24)

Bede Rundle (25-26)

David Lewis (26-30)

Peter Unger (30-38)

Steven Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (39-40)

5 Second Solution: No Explanation Needed

Editorial Introduction (pages 41-46)

Epicurus (46-47)

Hume (47-49)

Fred Hoyle (49-50)

W.B.Bonnor (51-52)

Bertrand Russell and F.C.Copleston (53-56)

Adolf Grünbaum (56-70)

6 Third Solution: Chance

Editorial Introduction (pages 71-77)

Alan Guth (77-82)

Stephen Hawking (82-90)

Alex Vilenkin (90-98)

Martin Rees (98)

Peter van Inwagen (98-100)

7 Fourth Solution: Value/ Perfection as Ultimate

Editorial Introduction (pages 101-109)

Plato (109-110)

Aristotle (110-111)

Plotinus (111-112)

Aquinas (112-113)

Anselm (113-114)

Descartes (114-115)

Alvin Plantinga (115-118)

Spinoza (118-119)

Leibniz (119-122)

Hegel (122-123)

A.C.Ewing (123-124)

Keith Ward (125)

John Polkinghorne (125-126)

John Leslie (126-141)

8 Fifth Solution: Mind/ Consciousness as Ultimate

Editorial Introduction (pages 142-147)

Richard Swinburne (147-153)

Timothy O'Connor (153-155)

William Lane Craig (155-159)

Sayyed Hossein Nasr (159-160)

Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama XIV (160-161)

Andrei Linde (161-163)

Paul Davies (163-170)

9 Fine-Tuning and Multiple Universes

Editorial Introduction (pages 171-178)

John Polkinghorne (178-189)

Leonard Susskind (189-192)

Steven Weinberg (192-194)

Max Tegmark (194-206)

Robin Collins (207-210)

10 The Problem Seems Genuine

Editorial Introduction (pages 211-219)

Derek Parfit (220-237)

Robert Nozick (238-246)

Robert Lawrence Kuhn (246-278)

Michael Heller (278-284)

Nicholas Rescher (284-288)

Bibliography and Further Reading 289

Index of Names 310

Index of Concepts 313

“In this deep and thoughtful book, philosopher John Leslie and public sage Robert Lawrence Kuhnorganize, integrate, and reassess past and current ideas about this most compelling of metaphysical questions.”  (Metapsychology, 13 August 2013)

“And now John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn have published The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All?, a very useful anthology of classic and contemporary readings.”  (First Things, 24 July 2013)

“Read the book by all means.  It's well written.  Inevitably.  After all its contributors number the greatest brains known to man.  But I think it has been misnamed.  The Mystery of Existence(There really isn't anything to concern us.).”  (New Nurturing Potential, 1 July 2013)

“I certainly recommend it, but it is not the sort of book you would buy to read in the train.”  (Magonia Blog, 6 June 2013)

"Their book, which I would recommend highly to students, researchers or indeed anyone with a curiosity about or stimulated by these deepest of questions, offers an abundance of suggestions for further reading and research on this inexhaustible topic."  (Mysterious Planet, 1 June 2013)