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Book review: Why Does the World Exist?, by Jim Holt

Quite a number of small children are concerned with the question that forms the title of this book. Jim Holt was one of them, and so was I; I can still remember the vertiginous terror I felt at the age of six as I contemplated the thought that there might have been nothing at all. Not everyone, it has to be said, agrees that there really is any mystery here, and even those who do don't always think that the question is answerable. In fact, it isn't very clear exactly what we mean by nothingness - it can't be imagined. This was realised right at the dawn of philosophy by Parmenides, one of the pre-Socratics. Later generations of philosophers have sought to clarify the issue, notably the Existentialists, but it remains contentious. [More]

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