Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics

Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics

Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics

Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics


The riddles of metaphysics are the deepest and most puzzling questions we can ponder. Riddles of Existence is the first book ever to make metaphysics genuinely accessible and fun. Its lively, informal style brings these questions to life and shows how stimulating it can be to think about them.

Earl Conee and Theodore Sider offer a lucid discussion of the major topics in metaphysics. What makes me the same person I was as a child? Is everything fated to be exactly as it is? Does time flow? How fast does it flow, and can one travel back in time, against the current? Does God exist? Why is there anything at all rather than nothing? If our actions are caused by things science can predict and control, how can we have free will? The authors approach these topics in an open-minded and undogmatic manner, giving readers a full sense of the issues involved. They don't try to convince us of their point of view. Instead, they hope that, by reading this book, we will come to appreciate the importance of such problems and develop reasoned opinions of our own.
Riddles of Existence shows that philosophy can be exciting and important, and understandable by anyone.


You have a choice before you. Will you continue reading this book? Take your time, make up your mind … OK, time’s up. What is your decision?

If you have reached this sentence, your decision must have been yes. Now, think back to your decision. Was it a free decision? Could you have put the book down? Or did you have to keep reading?

Of course you could have put the book down; of course your decision was free. We human beings have free will.

Not so fast. We human beings are made of matter, tiny particles studied by the sciences. And the sciences, especially physics, discover laws of nature that specify where these particles must move. Given the forces that were acting on the particles, your body had to move the way it did, and so you had to continue to read. How then was your decision free?

This is the problem of free will. It is a tough problem. We all believe that we have free will, and yet scientific laws govern the matter making up our bodies, determining what we will do next. So do we have free will? Chapter 6 discusses this problem in depth, and suggests a certain answer. But it is not so important to us that you agree with our answer. What we really hope is that . . .

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