Thinking about Death

Michael Wood

  • Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt
    Profile, 307 pp, £12.99, June 2012, ISBN 978 1 84668 244 5

It’s easy enough to prove that the external world exists. Doors, rocks, other people, we keep running into them. But that’s not much of a proof. It doesn’t show that any particular piece of the world exists when we are not there to perceive it, and it doesn’t show why its existence should matter. It’s just in the way. The proof helps us still less with Stephen Hawking’s question, adduced on the first pages of Jim Holt’s book: ‘Why does the universe go through all the bother of existing?’

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