Why Does The World Exist? An Existential Detective Story

Photo Courtesy of goodreads.com By Erin Silgardo '18

Why Does the World Exist is considered one of the best books of the year according to New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, Slate, Discover Magazine, and Christian Century. Author Jim Holt is a long time contributor to The New Yorker, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, and has written another book called Stop Me If You’ve Heard This.

In Why Does The World Exist, Holt tries to tackle the “darkest question in all of philosophy”: Why is there something rather than nothing? Through a series of interviews with modern philosophers, scientists, and writers, he gathers theories and tests them against each other. A wide variety of perspectives are taken into consideration, including those of the religious, atheists, and agnostics. He analyzes and explains these theories, using examples that even a philosophical novice could understand. His writing is almost entirely unprejudiced, which allows readers to come to their own conclusions about the theories he presents.

It is a wonderful, albeit frustrating, read because Holt provides no concrete answer for this burning question. Prominent British non-fiction author Sarah Bakewell might have been right when she said, “I can imagine few more enjoyable ways of thinking than to read this book.” However, in the end, this piece of literature helps one to understand his or her place in the seemingly huge and uncertain world, and is a worthwhile read.

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