Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story - Jim Holt

If you’ve ever wondered, as Heidegger, put it, “why is there something rather than nothing?” try imagining nothing. That inconceivable void is the point of departure for Jim Holt’s thorough parsing of the question, Why Does the World Exist? (Liveright,$16.95). Holt, author of Stop Me If You’ve Heard This: A History and Philosophy of Jokes, is a genial and thoughtful guide to the many theories we’ve come up with to explain the universe, from creation myths and a benign deity to godless materialist theories and on to the wild, everything-goes scenarios of the multi-verse. For each line of inquiry, Holt surveys the major literature and interviews the experts, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each argument. So why is there something? Ultimately, the answers don’t resolve the matter but raise more questions, implicitly suggesting, perhaps, that the world exists to make us wonder.
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ISBN: 9780871403599
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright - April 8th, 2013

Love: A History - Simon May

What does Valentine’s Day celebrate, exactly, besides greeting cards and the consumption of chocolate? What is love? Simon May explores the foundations of Western ideas about love—– from the Bible to the Greeks to the troubadours –in order to understand our modern assumptions about what love should be like—and why it fails to meet our ideals. Even on a subject as ineffable as love, May writes articulately and persuasively on themes of fidelity and infidelity, idealized women, and vulnerability. Though he is not sentimental (a key theme of the book is that we must give up our divinization of love), the understanding of love that he proposes is ultimately a truer, deeper, and more fascinating emotion.

Love: A History By Simon May Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300187748
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Yale University Press - January 8th, 2013

Socrates: A Man for Our Times - Paul Johnson

I knew embarrassingly little about the ancient philosophers before I picked up Paul Johnson’s biography Socrates: A Man for Our Times (Viking, $25.95). The title promised that this slim volume would not be an ossified tome, but the story of a man who has remained relevant from 470 B.C. to the present. I wasn’t disappointed. In 192 pages, Johnson, in vivid and lucid prose, packs in a wealth of information about Socrates’s life from his birth to his execution. Along the way we learn curious details of the legend’s life as a man, an Athenian, a participant and witness to history, and one of the greatest thinkers who ever lived—even though not a single word of his writing survives.

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ISBN: 9780143122210
Availability: Backordered
Published: Penguin Books - November 27th, 2012