Sunday, 26 January 2014

[R690.Ebook] PDF Download Why the World Does Not Exist, by Markus Gabriel

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Why the World Does Not Exist, by Markus Gabriel

Why the World Does Not Exist, by Markus Gabriel

Why the World Does Not Exist, by Markus Gabriel

PDF Download Why the World Does Not Exist, by Markus Gabriel

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Why the World Does Not Exist, by Markus Gabriel

Where do we come from? Are we merely a cluster of elementary particles in a gigantic world receptacle? And what does it all mean?

In this highly original new book, the philosopher Markus Gabriel challenges our notion of what exists and what it means to exist. He questions the idea that there is a world that encompasses everything like a container life, the universe, and everything else. This all-inclusive being does not exist and cannot exist. For the world itself is not found in the world. And even when we think about the world, the world about which we think is obviously not identical with the world in which we think. For, as we are thinking about the world, this is only a very small event in the world. Besides this, there are still innumerable other objects and events: rain showers, toothaches and the World Cup. Drawing on the recent history of philosophy, Gabriel asserts that the world cannot exist at all, because it is not found in the world. Yet with the exception of the world, everything else exists; even unicorns on the far side of the moon wearing police uniforms.

Revelling in witty thought experiments, word play, and the courage of provocation, Markus Gabriel demonstrates the necessity of a questioning mind and the role that humour can play in coming to terms with the abyss of human existence.

  • Sales Rank: #315565 in eBooks
  • Published on: 2015-07-06
  • Released on: 2015-07-06
  • Format: Kindle eBook


"A majestic thought experiment"
Slavoj ?i?ek

"Imagine a philosopher. This philosopher has the verve and pop-culture curiosity of Slavoj Zizek; Graham Priest's comfort with unresolved ambiguity; the transparent prose of John Gray; and Martin Heidegger's​ nose for the faint scent of being. Your imagined thinker is Markus Gabriel, and his book is Why the World Does Not Exist."
Sydney Morning Herald

"The world might not exist, but Markus Gabriel clearly does, and his fresh, buoyant and bracing intelligence is evidenced on every page of this compelling new book. It is a rare gift to be able to philosophize from first principles in a way that is neither patronizingly derivative nor technically arcane and in a manner that is accessible to the general reader. But Gabriel possesses that gift in bucketloads."
Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research

"Gabriel has written a gripping thriller, which is of course what all good philosophy should be."
Die Literarische Welt

"Markus Gabriel shows with great verve how to tackle fundamental philosophical questions, without being overly academic or dumbing down his subject matter."
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"With great wit and intellectual provocation, Markus Gabriel explores the perennial questions of humanity."
Der Spiegel

About the Author
Markus Gabriel was born in 1980 and studied in Heidelberg, Lisbon and New York. Since 2009 he has held the chair for Epistemology at the University of Bonn and with that is Germany’s youngest philosophy professor. He is also the director of the International Center for Philosophy in Bonn.

Most helpful customer reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful.
Well written and quite stimulating
By Sid Nuncius
This is a pretty demanding book. It's written with wit and in a rather engaging style, but it's still a tough intellectual work-out. On the whole I think it's worth the effort, but it's not an unmitigated intellectual treat by any means.

I am not a philosopher, although I have studied Philosophy of Science and it's an interest which I have kept up. Markus Gabriel makes a decent stab at moving on from the sort of postmodern nonsense we've been subjected to of "our internal view of the world cannot be the world itself, so therefore (!) anyone's internal view is equally valid." He does it with wit and verve and makes a decent case for his "New Realism."

It's not really for an amateur like me in a place like this to attempt to assess how valid Gabriel's ideas may be. However, with his admittedly slightly playful assertion in the title that the world as an entirety is not to be found within the world and therefore (!) cannot exist, he seems to me to be on some very thin philosophical ice. Philosophers do like to play fast and loose with logical operators like "therefore" and "because" and Gabriel isn't immune from this. For what it's worth, this just reads to me as a simple category error, like, "Here we have a pair of gloves. However, the *pair* is not contained within the gloves, so therefore (!) the pair cannot exist." The physical gloves and the concept of a pair are not of the same category, so this is plainly logical nonsense, and Gabriel seems to me to be making the same error about the world. I had a similar sense in a number of places, but it's reasonably cogent and sound enough to be stimulating rather than just infuriating. (This is a considerable relief to someone who has actually read the whole of Baudrillard's The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, for example.)

There is sometimes the slightly arrogant feel which seems to occur in a lot of philosophical writing where authors adopt an "anyone who doesn't agree is too stupid to understand" tone. It's not as bad here as in some I've read, though, and at least the writing is largely comprehensible.

I'd say this is well worth a go if you're interested in this sort of thing. It is decently written, has some stimulating stuff in it and did make me think, which is, I suppose, what I'm looking for in a book like this. I can recommend it on that basis.

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
A Black Hole of a Book
By Faustus
It is a title that catches the eye but sadly the contents do not live up to the expectations that the title arouses. Most non-philosophical readers will assume that 'The world' means planet Earth or maybe just the whole of humanity. They are unlikely to be aware that Gabriel is using 'The world' to mean not just the entire physical universe but rather everything that exists – whether physical or not. In this sense, unicorns living on the far side of the moon (the author's own example) are part of 'The world' insofar as he has imagined them and therefore they exist – at least in his imagination. So the other part of the title is also being used in a way that is at best 'unusual' – since we don't normally accept that unicorns inhabit the far side of the moon – at least not without considerable qualification.

So once we assume that 'The world' means 'everything that exists – in all senses of exist' – then we are ready for Gabriel's not terribly exciting claim that this concept does not – because it cannot – exist. This is not to say that nothing exists – which would be quite a remarkable claim – though philosophers in the past have claimed it (but then philosophers in the past have claimed all sorts of things – as some do in the present!). The concept 'everything that exists' is paradoxical and it is its paradoxical nature which entails that it cannot exist. It is self-contradictory. Gabriel divides everything up into 'object domains'. It is easier – and just as accurate - to think of these as sets – the set of all unicorns, the set of all teaspoons, etc. Now clearly there can be some sets which are found entirely or partially inside other sets – 'unicorns' inside 'mythical creatures' and 'teaspoons' partially inside 'silver utensils' (since some teaspoons are made of steel or plastic). But then let's imagine the set of all sets – the set in which all sets are to be found – the granddaddy set. Then we get the big question – 'Is the set of all sets a member of itself?' Usually known as 'Russell's Paradox' this question is paradoxical for the following reasons. Clearly if it is not a member of itself then the set of all sets is deficient – it lacks one of its members – namely itself. But if it is a member of itself then it seems to exist in two places at once – inside itself and also itself. And even sets can't be in two places at once. Or as Gabriel expresses it, “The world is not found in the world” [P.74]. So the concept of 'the set of all sets' is incoherent – and in this sense, and only this sense, the world does not exist. But even in Gabriel's strained notion of 'The world' it doesn't follow that just because it doesn't exist that therefore, “One cannot think about the world” [P.79]. To which one can only respond, “Oh yes I can!”. Non-existence or even downright self-contradiction does not prevent me from thinking about it. I could spend the whole afternoon thinking about square circles if I chose.

Gabriel seems to have only a flimsy grasp on the distinction between brain states and mental events, coming out with such silly ideas as fantasies being brain states [P.30]. Doubtless fantasies are composed of brain states in much the same way as the Mona Lisa is composed of paint pigment on canvas but there is more (much more) to be said about both fantasies and the Mona Lisa than is captured by physics. His grasp of the history of philosophy is similarly shaky – claiming that, “Since the onset of modernity . . . there has been an ongoing dispute about how many substances actually exist” (P.56], seemingly unaware that this same dispute was raging amongst the Pre-Socratics. And any philosopher who talks about “true knowledge” [P.124] must have forgotten everything he once knew about basic epistemology. 'False knowledge' is somewhat less possible than unicorns on the moon.

I guess we could blame the translation for some of the incoherence of this book but we can hardly blame it for some of the howlers it contains. For example Liebniz is Gottfried Wilhelm not Georg Wilhelm. Even repeating this mistake twice does not render it correct [P.56 and P.206]. And why are we asked to believe that, for example, facts are to be found inside black holes? [P.48]. Gabriel is trying to make the fairly obvious point that there are some things that we know and some things we don't – and just because we don't know them, it doesn't follow that they therefore don't exist. We don't know what goes on inside black holes and despite this there might be (probably are) things going on in there. But whatever is going on in there doesn't include the presence of any facts. Let's use a simpler example – since black holes are fairly exotic objects. Let's assume that last year I had a small wooden box which has now been burned so that none of it remains and it has now been recycled. We can then ask the question – 'Did the box contain a copy of someone's will?'. Now of course we don't know the answer to this and can now never find out. Someone may come forward and claim they put their will in the box, but this doesn't prove that they did. So was there a will in the box or not? It's got to be 'yes' or 'no' but we don't know which. This can be expressed somewhat more formally as either 'It is a fact that the box contained a will' or 'It is a fact that the box did not contain a will'. But whatever the box contained it did not contain either of these facts. Facts are not amongst the sorts of things found in boxes. You might find wills, or pencils or mice - but never any facts – they are just not the right kind of logical object. In the same sort of way as you would never find loyalty in a box. Wrong category as the philosophers say. So whatever there might be inside black holes, you can be sure that there aren't any facts or indeed any loyalty. There are facts about black holes but these facts don't live inside the black holes themselves - they are abstract entities – a bit like unicorns.

'Why The World Does Not Exist' is a book well worth buying – but only if you enjoy counting logical fallacies and spotting factual errors. It is not a book for anyone wanting to be informed about anything – especially the world.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
By David Keymer
Gabriel (professor of philosophy at the University of Bonn) has tried to do one of the hardest tasks around for a serious academic: write a serious book on a complicated topic but in a style that will prove attractive to (intelligent) non-academics as well as his peers in his own specialized field of study, which on the basis of this book and references to his earlier published work, seems to be ontology, the puzzling out of existence: of what does it consist, why is it… His intent is to show that previous approaches to the question mislead us, or at best, provide partial (and still misleading) answers. This is not an easy subject to explain simply, much less popularize, but Gabriel has made a yeoman’s effort at doing it, and for that, he deserves kudos. He labels his philosophical stance “New Realism,” by which he means two things. 1. that we can know things in (for?) themselves, that perceptions and thoughts are not automatically illusions; and 2. That things, facts in themselves *(as opposed to perceptions of facts) do not fall in (belong to) one single domain of objects (and that’s it for you, Spinoza!). The argument by which he proves this is long and complicated, and takes on many other philosophers and philosophies. I did not find it sufficiently rigorous to convince me but the problem may be me, not the book in this case. I felt at times that Gabriel was building further proof on the grounds of statements he’d made, not proved. I may easily be wrong, but that doesn’t change that I found his proof muddy and hard to follow. When I read Bernhard Williams, for instance, or Isaiah Berlin or Thomas Nagel or Eric Dodds on the irrational and Greek thought or Martha Nussbaum on moral luck, I don’t have this problem: it’s work reading them but I leave convinced of their reasoning and in Gabriel’s case, I’m not, even though I generally agree with his position. What he’s saying, if I have it straight, is that different parts of the world organize in different ways, using different organizing principles and criteria, thus creating what may appear to be mutually exclusive orderings of meaning: you don’t find beauty next to science, nor an actual physical creature next to a troll or hippogriff, but all of these things/qualities exist –just in different parts of what we can know. My biggest objection to this otherwise acceptable book is the author’s too frequent attempts to make it hip by referring to artifacts of contemporary culture –movies and television shows a lot. These references will inevitably date the book, no matter how relevant they seem today. Though he says many good things in his chapter on “The Meaning of Religion,” I found the overarching argument in the chapter fuzzy. Still, his main point is well stated: religion is, or should be, more about why things are than what they are, and rule-bound religion is the wrong path to take. So ultimately, religion is one of the ways we situate and try to remake (improve) ourselves. (At this point, he writes a lovely sentence: “No one is simply a self in the way that a stone remains a stone.”) The concluding chapters on the meaning of art and on what television shows us about ourselves did little for me.

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