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From the Why does anything exist? files …

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51YNLzzRVUL._SS500_.jpgWere we talking about philosophy? Maybe here. Meanwhile, in “Is there an explanation for existence?” (New Scientist, 25 June 2012), Amanda Gefter (the one that touchy Brit doc was suing over) relates, reviewing Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?

When Holt visits Adolf Grünbaum in Pittsburgh, the philosopher of science tries to convince him that the question is a waste of time, based as it is on the mistaken assumption that nothingness is a more natural state of affairs than the universe. There is no need to explain existence, he says, because there’s nothing astonishing about existence in the first place. “If, as Aristotle remarked, philosophy begins with wonder, then it ends with Grünbaum,” Holt writes.

Luckily for us, he doesn’t get discouraged and treks on, requesting a meeting with University of Oxford physicist David Deutsch. Yet he also puts a kink in Holt’s quest, by suggesting that the laws of physics are incapable of accounting for existence. “Laws don’t do that kind of work,” Deutsch says.

Mathematics, too, seems incapable of heavy existential lifting when Holt notes, somewhat unjustifiably, that mathematical structure “just doesn’t seem enough for genuine being”. Still, he presses on.

And goes downhill to physics.

Note: UD News thinks Britain’s libel laws are stupid and should be reformed. They should deal in material harm only. No one cares much what Amanda Gefter thinks, or what anybody thinks who does not have a red phone on their desk or a gun in their hand.


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