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The Mystery of Existence

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
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Table of Contents

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 Grunbaum (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

About the Author

John Leslie is University Professor Emeritus ofPhilosophy at the University of Guelph, Canada, and Fellow of theRoyal Society of Canada. Well-known in the philosophy of cosmologyand religion, he has held visiting professorships at institutionsincluding the Australian National University (Research Departmentof Philosophy) and the University of Liege (Institute ofAstrophysics). He is the author of numerous publications includingValue and Existence (Blackwell, 1979), Universes(Routledge, 1989), The End of the World: the Science and Ethicsof Human Extinction (Routledge, 1996), Infinite Minds(Oxford University Press, 2001), and Immortality Defended(Blackwell, 2007). Robert Lawrence Kuhn is a public intellectual and thecreator and host of Closer To Truth, the long-running PBS /public television series on science and philosophy. With adoctorate in brain research (UCLA), he is the author or editor ofmore than 30 books, including Closer To Truth: ChallengingCurrent Belief and Closer To Truth: Science, Meaning and theFuture. A recognized expert on Chinese politics and economics,he is the author of The Man Who Changed China: The Life andLegacy of Jiang Zemin (Crown, 2005), China s best-sellingbook 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.


In this deep and thoughtful book, philosopher John Leslieand public sage RobertLawrence Kuhnorganize, integrate, and reassess past and currentideas about this most compelling of metaphysical questions. ( M etapsychology , 13 August 2013) And now John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn havepublished TheMystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All ? , avery useful anthology of classic and contemporaryreadings. ( First Things , 24 July 2013) Read the book by all means. It's wellwritten. Inevitably. After all its contributors numberthe greatest brains known to man. But I think it has beenmisnamed. The Mystery of Existence . (Therereally isn't anything to concern us.) . ( NewNurturing Potential , 1 July 2013) I certainly recommend it, but it is not the sort of bookyou would buy to read in the train. ( MagoniaBlog , 6 June 2013) "Their book, which I would recommend highly to students,researchers or indeed anyone with a curiosity about or stimulatedby these deepest of questions, offers an abundance of suggestionsfor further reading and research on this inexhaustibletopic." ( Mysterious Planet , 1 June 2013)

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